Jennifer Glinzak, AU Choral Manager
As Dan said, we left for Russia almost without a hitch, and flew a rather uneventful flight across the Atlantic/Artic. What struck me first about the Russian people was actually during the flight – they were constantly moving – having Vodka socials right behind me with the flight attendants. It was rather surreal.
We landed, went through immigration, and picked up our luggage. We then met u with Lana, our stellar tour guide for the duration of our stay, who immediately started giving us the lay of the land. The airport we landed in is outside the city, so driving into Red Square was a bit of a challenge. If you’ve ever seen those ‘crazy Russian drivers’ dash cam videos on YouTube, I can now assure you they are no faked or staged. This is just part of the culture.
What I didn’t expect was the juxtaposition of Soviet era Russia with Modern day Russia – imported cars (guess the Lada and Volga weren’t big with the folks out here) against the back-drop of Soviet Block housing. Driving through the city was in a word: bizarre. The grand scale of Russian architecture cannot be captured in pictures. Sure, you can see the photos of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s and the Bolshoi Theatre, but what you don’t see in any of them is just how impressive these structures are to behold. I remember touring Greece and walking up to the Parthenon with the exact opposite reaction – it was so small compared to what I had expected from online and in books. Their architecture can only be described as triumphant, rising out of the often snow-covered tundra that usually inhabits Moscow.
Today was different thought, with temperatures topping 31C (94F for you non-everyone but Americans) it looked somehow dirty. But it wasn’t, you see, when the snows cover the cityscape, the bold and muted colors come forth with such profundity that much is not needed to make an impression or create the stately beauty that these buildings possess. As to Red Square itself, St. Basil’s is smaller than the pictures let on, Red Square is massive, and the Kremlin is near brobdingnagian.
But it is all Gorgeous just the same!