Keep your eyes open when you wander around Moscow...you may see some unusual animals hanging about!
Just near Resurrection Gate there was some men standing around who had a couple of huge eagles and some monkeys. I assume it was some sort of tourist attraction/money making venture.
Tourists were lining up to have their photo taken with an eagle sitting on their shoulder (ouch, you should have seen it's talons!!) or to feed a monkey. I assume they were paying for the privilege.
I also came across a selection of large lizards & snakes sunning themselves by a pond in the park at the rear of the Kremlin. One guy was trying to wrap one of the snakes around a not so-keen-looking girl.
Needless to say, we steered clear of all the animals.
Russia is the country of cash, so it is best to pay everything in cash.
In the last years the Russian Ruble has been relatively stable, so it is best to pay in Russian Rubles instead of other currencies. Credit Cards are accepted in a few places like hotels, restaurants or airports.
There are enough cash points all over the town; you find at least one at every metro station. Apart from that, there are plenty of exchange offices in the city centre. Their rates vary slightly.
Before exchanging money at an exchange office, I highly recommend to ask how many Rubles you really get for your currency, just to make sure that no hidden commission will be added.
Unfortunately, people from mayn countries still need a visa for travelling to Russia. The most common visa is the tourist visa. If you are on a package tour the formalities will be sorted out for you by the travel agency.
If you are an independent traveller you firstly need an invitation letter from a prebooked accomodation. With this invitation you can apply for the visa at your local embassy.
On arrival in Russia you should get an Immigration Card and if you plan to stay more than 3 days you also need a registration in Russia.
Throughout Russia, the much-loved holiday of Feast of the Holy Trinity is celebrated in June. Houses are decorated with branches cut from birch trees , transforming them into woodland glades. The floor is strewn with cut grass and wildflowers. Celebrating in this way dates back to to ancient days as this feast day coincides with the old pagan holidays called Zeleniye Svyatki, or "Green Christmastide," which celebrated the worship of the "Spirits of Greenery." The birch tree was very important for these holidays, which explains why branches of the birch tree are still used to decorate houses and churches.
Even non-believers will often mark this day by visiting the graves of relatives and friends, leaving food on the tombs, though this practice has nothing to do with Christianity. The tradition is to give the dead some vodka or other alcohol and something to eat with it, such as bread or candy. It is considered a good thing to find that the offerings have disappeared when you come to the cemetery again.
Visitors to churches at this time will find, in the same tradition as in people's homes, the iconostasis is decorated with fresh young birch saplings, grass and flowers are scattered on the floor and an icon of the Holy Trinity is prominently displayed.
The Russian people paid an enormous price for the country's victory in WW2. Millions of Russians lost their lives, civilians and military alike. Children are brought up to remember and honour this sacrifice and even today, 60 years after the war ended, newly married couples come to the memorials to leave their wedding flowers in tribute.
Summer 2005 saw huge celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. Banners adorned Red Square, old men and women wearing chestsful of medals came to the city to take part in the celebrations and GUM's central arcade featured an exhibition of the letters and effects of ordinary servicemen and families caught up in the war.
The ranks of that generation are thinning rapidly now, and Russia is changing. How will they mark the 70th anniversary?
In one incarnation or another, TASS has been Russia's main source of news since 1904. The nation's biggest news-gathering agency, it was the official international voice of the USSR during the Soviet years, with access to its resources available to a only select few. Now known as ITAR-TASS, the agency makes these resources available to all and sundry, inside and outside Russia.
The agency's headquarters are on Pl Nikitski Vorota. The windows are usually full of current news photos.
Military service is no longer to be compulsory in Russia. A new law will soon provide an option of civilian service for those who do not wish to bear arms. They will be able to take the option of spending the same amount of time (42 or 21 months, depending on the length of time spent in further education) in this service to their country.
Given the pride in their country and the loyal recognition and honour shown towards the heroes of The Great Patriotic War (as WW2 is called in Russia) one wonders what this young guard at the Eternal Flame and the veteran with all his medals will think of the change.
Moscow celebrates Sacred Patrick's day in thirteenth time. This national holiday of Ireland is a unique holiday which is authorized for celebrating in such scale. Any other state in the world has not received such privileges.
This time celebratory columns have passed on New Arbat from Sadovoje Koltzo up to the Arbat square. The holiday has turned out bright and cheerful. The national Irish melodies executed on delays and national tool ensemble of club " Heather " have especially been liked. The Irish wolfhounds looked funny. Knights and soldiers participated in an ancient armour in the procession. Thousand spectators observed the holiday.
Many old flat have a system to open the door totally original.
You do not have the key to open the ground floor.
You find a keyboard with ten numbers from 0 to 9 and you have o push the code in order to open the door.
I have been told that the 3 numbers of the code must be pushed at the same time, so i got worried about my skills in the night afte some drinks, fortunatly after some attempts I found out that you just have to push the 3 numbers quikly, not at the same time.
Pancake week is one of the most cheerful holidays in Russia.
This holiday we celebrate in Russia since pre-christian times. It was accepted to burn a scarecrow of winter before spring. People eat pancakes as symbols of the spring sun. Now this holiday anticipates a great post before easter.
Usually after visiting the registry office on a wedding day and before the wedding dinner at a restaurant (cafe or just at home) newly-married couple, their freinds and relatives are going for a walk around Moscow. There are some traditional places (points) for such wedding walks. Vorobievy Gory view point is one of them. On a Saturday (especially during summer or early autumn time) there are a lot of weddings there drinking champagne, eating chocolates, taking photographs of the couple with Moscow at background.
Some people find it interesting to come to the place, to compare wedding dresses of brides and guest's costumes :)
Usually, brides wear white dresses but sometimes it's possible to meet a bride in a red dress (by the way, the red colour was the traditional wedding dress colour in the ancient Russia)
You may obviously find and listen to the concert of Russian folk instruments if you visit Arkhangelskoye in week-ends. I was admired by the Gusli concert in the Gala Yard of the Great Palace.
Gusli is a Russian folk psaltery, a kind of a harp. In Finland Gusli are called "Kantele" or "Kannel", in Estonia "Kannel", in Karelia "Kandele", in Latvia "Kokle" or "Kuokle" and in Lithuania "Kankles". The Greek historians Theofilact and Theophan were the first to mention the gusli.
In the end of the 6th Century the Greeks took Slavonic prisoners and found a musical instrument named gusli. Ancient gusli also mentioned in the Russian chronicles (byliny). In the famous Russian folk epic "The Lay of the Host of Igor" it is played by the eleventh-century court bard Boyan.
The Gusli was only used as accompaniment to the song and especially to the travelling scalds who used their songs to tell about the antiquity and to praise the princes and their relations.
The tomb of the unknown soldier which is located at the Kremlin Wall near the northern end of the Alexander Gardens is guarded by two soldiers from the presidential regiment.
The changing of the guard takes place every hour on the hour from 8.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m (half hourly in winter).
Long ago, the Russian wedding ceremony was a lengthy, original, poetic and highly musical event. It was a kind of event, which could safely be called a folk theatre performance. Typically, things would get started like this Russian style wedding.
I’ve never seen so many wedding pairs like in Arkhangelskoye Estate that week-end in Au-gust,19! I've counted more than 20 pairs with wedding corteges… That was an impressive show! I think every wedding pair imagined themselves as Jusupov’s or Golitzin’s in XIX or XVIIIth centuries…
The Durasov serf theatre was well-known in Moscow in the 19th century: there were about 100 musicians and actors in his orchestra and in his troupe who studied at a special school in his estate. Performances, balls, evening-parties… life was in full swing in his estate.
Today the spirit of art has again returned to the Durasov estate that was restored some time ago. The music of Hydn and Shostakovich, and also Schubert and Rakhmaninoff are performed there. And the music of England, France and Russia of the 16th to the 18th centuries restore the historical spirit of the Durasov Palace.
The “Musical Festivals” will continue in the Durasov Palace in Lyublino.
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