Posts Tagged ‘transportation’


I thought it would be dirty.

Blame it on my youth.  Blame it on my naivete, or on the fact that Russia was a gigantic, scary propagandized place for a blonde, blue-eyed California teenager.  I was only 16.  I was sheltered in the way that only a young person from a warm, affluent, paradisical land can be; Wasn’t every place like California? Didn’t everyone have sunshine and air conditioning and the ocean only minutes away? Even if not affluent, we always had plenty.

And then I was travelling, my first big trip away from California.  And it was a big trip; half a world away, to Moscow, for a foreign exchange program.  It was 1988.  The wall was still up.  Soviet Russia still held its thrall on the US, as a mysterious communist nation (which I didn’t even UNDERSTAND back then, it was just a strange, scary thing that was NOTWHATWEWERE). Russia was the boogeyman built on propaganda.

I’d been raised on Cold Wars, on Gorbachev and Reagan and the rhetoric of world leaders who used each other as the threat to subdue their own populations.  I expected poverty.  I expected grime and dirt, and people lined up in the streets for a loaf of bread.  I expected chain gangs of people, working hard labor for their meager salaries. This is what I’d been programmed to expect.

What I found was the same thing I’ve found in every city I’ve visited since.  I found people, and beauty, and laughter.  I found artwork, and science, and literature, and history. I found national pride, and curiosity.

Today, a friend of mine posted a brief video about the method the Olympic committee in Moscow is using to get people excited for the upcoming games.  For one brief moment in that video, I saw some of the stunning interior shots of the Moscow Metro system – and was instantly transported back in time to July 1988, when I stepped into those underground tunnels for the first time and felt…awe.  I was not in a subway, a metropolitan train line, like we have in New York or Chicago or Boston.  I was in an art gallery, a museum, a gorgeous Baroque era mansion – this was not the dirty I was expecting. This piece of mundane, everyday city life in Moscow was BEAUTIFUL. It showed pride and exceptionalism and a population that cared about their city, their country, and themselves.  I found this throughout the city – in its parks, in its shopping areas, in its streets and in its gutters.  Clean, maintained – even in the poorer parts of the city.  These were not the boogeymen I’d been taught to fear.  They were a population of people, with different values than the ones I’d been taught, yes – but mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons.  Happy.  Smiling.  Hard working.  As afraid of us as we were of them.

I haven’t been back to Moscow since – I’d like to see how the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Capitalism has changed things – but I do now know that I’ll see that same magnificent Metro when I do make it back there.  My travels since have taught me that I will see the same people – the people I’ve met the world over in my travels.  The people just like me.

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We’ve been working away at the move, but seem to be accomplishing little.  DH is in Liverpool as we speak.  He says the weather is gorgeous, warm and sunny. I’m worried he will use up all the yearly allotment of sunlight before I get there.  Which will be ironic, because he doesn’t even LIKE sunshine.

He is at the Hilton in Liverpool, which looks like it’s a real hardship to stay at:

Obviously slumming it, no?

He says I’d love it there, his room overlooks the water and is right on the corner up top so is full of windows.  It is also across from a shopping complex, where he swears I will love the Costa (coffee) shop, and the John Lewis (apparently like a Nordstrom’s).  I told him on a sunny day like that, he wouldn’t get me away from the water’s edge.

We’ve been having a bit of difficulty getting final numbers from DH’s company, which is hindering the work we’re doing with the relocation agency. They need details to help us, we don’t have details, and thus we are at an impasse. We haven’t even determined whether they’ll pay for a car lease for us, or only public transport options.  The danger here is that we end up paying out of pocket for the privilege of working slavishly to convert hospital systems over there, which would defeat the purpose for us.  The exchange rate is not in our favor.

We’ve looked into a few suburbs near the hospital; in terms of places I’ve found that I like, the suburbs of Childwall and Allerton.  There’s a particularly nice house right across the street from a large park in Allerton that I’ve had my eye on, but since he’s been there, DH is interested in a suburb called Warrington that I’ve not found yet on my searches.  Apparently his peers at the hospital all highly recommend the area and most of them live there as well.

I’ve been blessed with many wonderful friends who are across the pond who are pointing me out to council websites and educational resources, all of which are greatly appreciated and highly overwhelming.  I’m tempted to throw my hands up and say “Somehow, it all comes out right in the end”.

Saying goodbye has been really difficult, on many levels.  For someone such as myself, who doesn’t shed tears at all (I can seriously not remember the last time I cried), there have been many “almost” moments already.  I’m sure they will fall before I’m done here.  And I’m sure there are heartbreaks still to come.  I am overall excited about this prospect, though, very much so.  I cannot wait to learn new things – this is who I am, at the core.  A student.  There are no bits of knowledge I will not welcome, even the most difficult lessons.

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