It seemed fitting that ‘the Sunshine Parents’ arrived the day after the ‘Circle of Light’ festival began in Moscow, which runs until Tuesday night (just in case one of my fellow students hasn’t yet checked it out).
The grey day quickly turned into a sunny afternoon, and I made my final preparations -figuring out where the ‘Rents’ would arrive, and how to ferry them to their hotel. All things considered, this arrival process went fairly well- apart from the fact that pretty much the first thing that happened was that we got separated on the Metro (The doors closed in front of me, and I somehow, I’m still not sure how, got the heal of my boot stuck in the doors until they released me). This was followed by a surprise: their hotel looks less than welcoming from the outside, with great iron doors, and a somewhat battered whitewash on the walls. I had to laugh- all I could think was ‘This is Russia…’
The inside is far more appealing, however, and the location ideal- once we had dropped off the bags (Including a suitcase full of sweets, YESS!) we walked to the Red Square and admired the buildings which are always beautifully lit up, giving it an even stronger ethereal feeling. Many ‘ooh’s, ‘aaah’s, and ‘wow, we live close to the centre’s later, we arrived at the jam-packed space in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, where the building had been turned into one big canvas, and colours, lights, figures (animals, people) danced and moved across it. Particularly breathtaking was the later rendition of Swan Lake, where dancers and a changing backdrop were projected onto the building, while loudspeakers serenaded their tinny version of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.
Dinner at the cafe/bar Moloko (or Milk) also deserves a mention, for a very nice (perhaps even posh?) atmosphere, and tasty food which was very enjoyable.
Sunday I simply adopted the parents into my usual routine- we took a long walk. They have chosen the perfect time to see the last of the gorgeous yellow and orange leaves, clinging to the trees, and so we headed to Gorky Park and walked along to Sparrow hills, escaping heavy rain until shortly before heading back into the city.
The leaves made their own ‘circle of light’- of colour at least, and we enjoyed rustling through them, and watching Russians bait Squirrels with small treats. After not seeing any wildlife for most of the month, seeing dozens of squirrels was a rare treat, and I delighted in the small creatures, which seem to be hybrids of the European and the American squirrels- grey bodies of the American squirrel, with red heads and feet, and the distinctive tufted ears of the Red European Squirrels. The Russians seemed equally excited by these furry friends- we even saw one man who managed to get a squirrel to sit on his arm while he fed it.
The only thing lacking was the sun, which we’ve had in abundance in the last month, but was hiding the last two days. Thankfully, that changed when we headed to the Kremlin today, but more on that another time!