Travel around the world and back.
Olessia has three weeks of vacation. Me, on the other hand, has been switching jobs so much I am lucky to get a week here and there. I made the switch to Progressive at the beginning of January and the trip to Russia had been on hold due to the situation at National City Bank. It was looking pretty good I would have enough comp. time and vacation time at National City Bank that I could take three weeks off. But the bank was in trouble and then bought out and my job security wasn’t looking all that great. At Progressive, you accrue vacation time on an hourly basis. The Russia trip looked like it was in jeapordy.
With some checking with my boss, I am able to take three weeks! Granted, one is unpaid, but that’s ok!
Olessia has some paperwork to take care of back in Moscow. That’s the number one priority. I’m having fun looking into number two: touristy things to do. So far, I think the following (in and around Moscow) might be fun:
- KGB Museum
- Polytechnical Museum (science museum)
- Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
- Moscow House of Photography
- Dubna: Swimming pool Olessia went to
- Moscow University (Not sure if that is the right name. The uni Olessia went to school)
- MAKC (2009 Moscow air show)
Notice, there’s no McDs on this list like in 2007. As I come up with more ideas, I’ll post them here. If you have ideas, feel free to leave a comment.
There’s plans in the air for returning back to Moscow in 2009. It looks like the current plan is to try to catch the 2009 MAKC airshow and at the same time, try to not miss any school classes.
The trip specifics are a bit unknown at the moment. Olessia has some paperwork she needs to catch up on while back in Dubna. We are thinking to aim for taking 3 weeks this time, if my work will let me swing it. If so, we might try stopping in Western Europe, such as Paris.
I’m looking forward to returning and taking more photos. This time I will be armed with a DSLR which will offer a lot more control in the picture taking process.
Olessia hadn’t been to DC yet. We took advantage of the labor day weekend and headed out on Friday and arrived in downtown Washington DC in the afternoon. We did a quick walk to the White House and returned back to the hotel for food.
I haven’t been able to figure out how to summarize the trip. In one word, I think “awesome” would summarize it pretty nicely. Russia is an amazing country. The United States goes back 300 years, while the city of Moscow alone goes back 860 years! The country is HUGE too.
It is easy to write about it, or look at pictures of Russia. But to actually go there, smell the air, and experience life, it is something else. I think for everything that is good about Russia, you can find the negative. It is still a tough place to live, in my opinion, although it does appear to be getting better. The trip allowed me to meet Masha, Olessia’s sister, as well as see where Masha and Olessia grew up and lived. I also saw where Olessia went to school, where she used to work, as well as where her mom and dad used to work and where her mom works currently. I experienced travel by road, boat, train, and metro (the subway).
Olessia’s mom cooked for us often. I tasted Russian ice cream and can say it is really good, so good in fact, I could see it being worth while eating outside in the cold of winter (which Russians do). It was a real treat to be able to go to Saint Petersburg as well as make it to the air show (the air show runs only once every two years). We ran out of time before we could see or do everything we wanted. This just means we’ll have to go back some time.
Pictures are available. I’ll try to narrate them here. Each album in the gallery is one day. So the first album is day one, the next album is day two, and so on.
The end of March, Olessia and I made a trip out to Las Cruces, New Mexico to visit my grandparents. It was a just a weekend trip, although we wish we had more time. It had been probably ten years since I was in Las Cruces the last time. The temperatures in Cleveland were just starting to warm up from 40F. I remember scraping frost off the car before leaving for the airport. We arrived and it was in the low 70F. The weather was absolutely awesome.
My grandparents took us out for lunch and we got some authentic southwestern BBQ food. From there we stopped in Old Mesilla. We had fun checking out the local crafts, jewelry, souvenirs, and art. Olessia found some jewelry and I found a pretty spiffy hat (which came in handy for the hiking we were to do). We stopped at some local art galleries and discovered some great water color works done of the southwest. Olessia enjoyed them and even had a chance to talk to the artist!
Later in the trip, we hiked the Organ Mountains, visited a pecan farm, and eat at an awesome local Mexican restaurant (definitely not the same as the Mexican food found in Ohio!).
The best part of the trip was hanging out with my grandparents. They took us all over and hiked and walked. They wore US out!
Ah ha! Someone posted some nice video from the 2007 MAKC air show on Youtube:
Update: The video posted is a highlight of the stars of the 2007 MAKC air show. It is not actual footage of the air show itself. Still, very entertaining to watch…
I’ve been trying not to get too excited about our upcoming trip to Moscow. I haven’t received my Russian visa yet. The good news is just yesterday we received a slip from the post office. This should be the invitation from Olessia’s mom (it has to be signed for). I’ll be picking it up shortly. If everything looks good, it and my passport will be sent off to the Russian Embassy in D.C. With this document coming in, it is now permission to get excited. We can now purchase the airline tickets. We can start planning and packing for the trip. I’m looking forward to meeting all the new people, trying all the new food, seeing all the sites, sounds, and smells!