Moscow, Dutcha and Protvino, Russia
May 16th - May 23rd, 2010

My good friend Tommy Trest and his wife Alla invited me and Johnna to go with them to visit Russia and Alla's family.  Johnna was working in an internship and was unable to go, and Johnna graciously allowed me this very nice opportunity.  I flew out of Houston on Sunday at 4pm and arrived in Moscow on Monday the 16th, where Boris Lytochhin met me at the airport.  Boris is married to Katyais who is Alla's oldest daughter.  They have a flat in downtown Moscow.  Tommy, Alla and Masha (Alla's second daughter - lives here) flew out the day before I left and were staying in Protvino.  I stayed through Thursday with Boris and Katyais at their flat where Boris and Kayais took me around Moscow on foot and metro train from about 8:30 am till 10:00pm.  At the end of each day, Boris plotted the map points and distance we traveled on foot, which averaged 9 miles a day.

I found the Russian people very nice and courteous.  Much of the old Soviet ways, which I have heard about, seemed to be disappearing in place of western capitalism.  One area that I found very interesting is the people are a very Christian people. 

The visit to Moscow, coincided with the 65 anniversary of victory over the Germans in World War II.  Everywhere I went, there are war  memorials that have been kept since WWII.  People are very faithful to continually putting flowers at all of the locations in and around Moscow.  On one of my trip excursions, I visited the WWII museum and was very moved to the point of holding back tears.  In the west, we have not necessarily heard of what the Russians went through at the hands of Hitler's war machine.  Nearly 30 million were lost.  In fact, Alla's father's father was killed when he was one year old.  Alla's father and his mother lived in a forest for nearly 3 years hiding until Russian forces retook the area and rescued them.

Organizing the trip was very easy, since Tommy had experience in this travels to Russia before marrying Alla.  We both used a website called ways of Russia to organize visiting documents.  I did have one slight inconvenience where I was suppose to have my paperwork stamped upon arrival with my arranged Hotel, even though I was not staying at it.  The hotel reneged on their business arrangement.  Katyais found another option for filing accommodation paperwork.  The catch was I had to pay a little less than $150 to have the paperwork done.  The Hotel then put notes in their registry that if authorities called to verify my accommodations, then the front desk would say that I am staying there but I left with a woman and they have not seen me for many days.  I found this hilarious.  If I ever go back, I would not do this, as the fine for not being registered is about the same cost and it is very obvious that the police are not checking tourist.

Moscow, Monday - May 16th
Arrived at Boris and Katyais's Flat around 6:30pm - walked a little around Moscow and ate at Taras Bulba Ukrain restaraunt.

1 Sputnik Hotel The initial fake registry hotel I was to stay at.  It is a 4 star.
2 Yuri Gagarin Statue
3 Looking out outside of Boris and Katyais's Flat.

Moscow, Tuesday - May 17th
Church of Christ, Old Arbat Street Art, Red Square, Army Museum, Moscow University, Vorobievy Gory City overlook, Tales of Pushkin & Krylov metal statue art outside of Kremlin.

1 Church of Christ - Keith
2 Church of Christ - Boris
3 The bridge next to the Church looking down Moscow river towards the Kremlin.   The other side had huge Statue of Tsar Peter the Great
4 Changing of the guard outside the Kremlin
5 The Emblem of Moscow, World Time Clock outside of the Kremlin - Moves and keeps time.  All the major cities in the world are marked
6 Keith standing at one of the sides of Red Square.
7 Outside of Lenin's mausoleum and graves of past Russian leaders in the center of Red Square - Stalin of the left.
8 At the entrance of Red Square, looking at Intercession Cathedral (St. Basil's)
9 Looking down towards Moscow River, right after St. Basil's Cathedral.   Kremlin is still on right.
10 Standing on bridge over Moscow River with Kremlin on right and Church Of Christ in the background left.
11 The beautiful shopping mall in front of Red Square - we went in to get something to drink.
12 Keith standing in front of center of Russia by History Museum .  It is a famous place where people throw coins over there shoulder for luck.
13 Actors portraying Lenin and Stalin by the statue of WWII hero Marshal Zhukov by the History Museum outside of the Kremlin.
14 Keith at the entrance of the very, very long Arbat Street Art walk.
15 The crowded Moscow Metro Trains.  While crowded, the trains move at nearly 60 mph and one comes every three to four minutes.
16 Keith in front of Moscow University which was built by German prisoners turned into slaves to rebuild many, many cities.
17 Looking at the beautiful entrance to the University.
18 Vorobievy Gory Overlook, outside of Moscow University.  Looking at Moscow.
19 Another overlook from Vorobievy Gory
20 A third view from Vorobievy Gory showing Moscow and the huge Sports Complex used in the Olympics of 1976.

Moscow, Wednesday - May 19th
Botanical Gardens, Kremlin and the churches, Red Square, Flee Market & My My Restaurant.

1 Katyais on one of the streets outside of the Moscow Botanical Gardens
2 Keith at the entrance of the Gardens.
3 Keith in one of the walks inside the Gardens.
4 Tales of Pushkin and Krylov metal statues by the Kremlin
5 Masha, Boris, Katyais, Alla and Tommy by the Pushkin and Krylov statues
6 Inside the huge Kremlin complex viewing the many churches.
7 Two of the Churches with the main Kremlin (off limits) Administration building in the background.
8 Another view of some of the Churches.
9 Tsar Cannon.  An Artillery Cannon in front of the Kremlin Administration buildings. 
10 Tsar Bell. 
11 Looking at the Administration buildings with the "blue cowboys" cars in front.
12 In front of one of the exits, far background, to the Kremlin
13 Eating at My My Restaurant

Moscow, Thursday - May 20th
Park Pobedy "Victory Park", Novedevich Monastery/Convent and Cemetery, Great Patriotic War Park/Museum, Pushkin Square.  The World War II park was a very large park which had many miles of walks with the center being the Museum.

1 Masha, Katyais, Boris, Alla and Tommy at the entrance to Park Pobedy
2 Novedevich Cemetery.  A very well kept and elaborate cemetery which has the graves of many, many famous Russians.
3 Another photo at the cemetery.  Alla and Masha viewing some of the graves.
4 Inside Novedevich Convent and Monastery.  Viewing a scaled model.
5 One of the Moscow Metro's underground palaces.  The Mayakovskaya station.
6 Keith at the mural end of the Mayakovskaya station.
7 Tommy, Masha, Katyais, Alla and Keith exiting from Train
8 Photo of multiple story high escalator near at one of the Train Stations
9 Boris near the World War II Park and Museum.
10 Looking down towards the the War Museum
11 Keith in front of the huge Victory Monument
12 Keith next to one of the multiple tanks along the outer circle road the encompasses the park.
13 Keith at the submarine and boat exhibits.
14 At the back part of the extensive tank, artillery and plane exhibit area from WWII.
15 Inside the War Museum, in the center Mausoleum.  The circular room lists the hero cities and heroes lost.
16 At the Red Square parade of victory at the end of WWII the center was covered with captured 3rd riche flags and crosses which were marched upon.  These are some of the flags and crosses from that parade.
17 Frontal view of the Victory Monument.
18 Panoramic view of the the entire center area of the WWII park.   (LARGE FILE)
19 Great Patriotic War Museum Exit walk.

Dutcha, Friday - May 21st
This is like a cabin or vacation house in the country.

1 The back of the Dutcha showing the vegetable garden.  Boris looking down at Kebabs that he was cooking for lunch.  Katyais at the door.
2 Same view with Alla's mother at the door and father to the right of Boris.
3 View of the front of the house from the narrow street.
4 Lunch: Masha, Katyais, Mrs Tokacheva, Alla, Tommy Keith, Mr. Tokachev and Boris in front.
5 Alla, Tommy and Keith eating dinner later that day.

Protvino, Saturday - May 22nd
Alla and Masha's home town, where Alla's parent's still live and also where Boris is from.  We walked about 7 miles around the town and stayed two nights at Alla's Flat which she still owns.

1 The Protvino city entrance.  Tommy and Keith
2 View outside of Alla's Flat with a view of the twin building across from hers where her parents have been living for over 25 years.
3 Protvino's war memory park.  Keith and Tommy
4 Boris and Tommy going toward the main monument which had numerous fresh bouquets of flowers.  We started a walk down the trail to the left that went about 4 miles returning to this park.
5 The Monument with explanation of the significance of this location which was the front to holding off the Germans.
6 Sand Pit Lake.  This is on the walk about away from Monument and towards the bombed out Mill and infamous shaky bridge.
7 The bombed out mill from WWII.  Someone put a Russian flag on top but it is no longer scalable and the story is people have fallen to their death climbing inside of it.
8 Tommy and Keith crossing the small river going toward the bombed out Mill.  Locals swim in this river also.
9 The "Shaky Bridge" leading back on the trail towards the monument.
10 Tommy and Boris as we walked a few miles inside the city of Protvino
11 Boris, Katyais, Mrs/Mrs Tokachev, Tommy and Keith at the Tokachev's Flat before eating dinner.

Protvino back to Moscow, Sunday - May 23nd

We got up at 5am and took the two hour drive back to Moscow's DMO airport.  Alla's and Boris's Father took both of their cars to drive us all there.  When we got to the airport, we all had a very nice Sunday brunch before boarding for the flight back.