After the positive response to my last "stuck in traffic" post with a picture of the Kremlin, I decided to take some more pictures of notable landmarks when just sitting there, waiting to roll...
So now for your viewing pleasure, let's create a virtual traffic jam. Imagine you are inching your way through the city, darting old Soviet cars and luxury SUVs as they cut you off repeatedly. Today it really doesn't matter if you can read Russian road signs; you're moving so slowly that you'll figure it out without too much difficulty. In any case, the traffic cops probably won't pull you over if you make a small mistake; they're too busy writing up reports for all the accidents that have happened as people rear-end each other or get angry and make unexpected, stupid moves.
Consider yourself quite lucky to be stuck near any of these pretty spots...
Christ the Savior Cathedral
The Moscow University of Linguistics on Ostozhenka St.
St. Nicholas the Weaver Church at Park Kultury. I'll have to go back there some time to take more pictures; the intricate carved wooden doors are absolutely beautiful. Tolstoy and his family used to attend church there; they had a home on the street adjacent to it.
This pretty church on Arbat St. I forget what's it called... I really love it, though. It looks so out of place next to the gaudy casinos and modern buildings!
This residential building on Prechistinka. I love the detail in the swirling iron window frames and balconies! If you look at the details closely, this building is gorgeous!
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Smolenskaya
Now that Katya is on summer break, we've been driving by places we don't usually see; she has been getting together with various classmates before they all leave the city. She and I have also been doing things together (will blog about different spots later) and running errands that had been put off for a while. We take the subway when possible, but we've needed to drive since we have multiple stops in different locations not connected by reasonably direct routes--or we have heavy bags to carry. That's why all of the sudden I'm writing about traffic, traffic, traffic--we're in it much more.
I was about to say, "It's not that all of the sudden it has gotten worse...", but that wouldn't be true... The situation with traffic HAS gotten much, much worse in the past year--and it seems like "all of the sudden" to me because I'm used to working and having a driver transport Natalia to and from school most days since I can't (no such thing as school buses). Katya and I drove Natalia this week and it was horrid; we spent most of the afternoon simply in traffic by the time we dropped her off and then turned around to get her again... One day we couldn't even make it there in time; our gridlock wasn't moving at all and another mom had to take Natalia back to their place for us until we could get there.
I am SOOOO THANKFUL that I'm not subjected to this vehicular stress on a daily basis; I'd be seriously depressed about living here and in a VERY unhealthy "place" mentally.
Edited next morning:
Rach, we *do* live right near a metro station! It takes about 8 minutes for an adult to walk there at a reasonable pace. It's doing it with KIDS that's another matter; they end up "melting down" at some point--either while IN public transport (which is a nightmare) or during the walk home (so you're kind of stranded). If we "hoof" it and we're carrying anything or had to make multiple transfers, we get home and everyone is in a ROTTEN mood. The kids are OK taking the subway (they actually enjoy it) if we're going somewhere directly or with a relatively easy transfer mid-route; most places we need to go, however, would then require waiting around for an overcrowded bus or tram to get the final destination, or walking quite a ways again.
We also usually have "multiple stops;" I need to pick up *both* kids at separate schools... pick up the kitty litter or bread we've run out of... or the item at the grocery store would be way too heavy to carry (we buy all our water in 5 liter bottles)... or the kids have stuffed backpacks, art projects, etc. If we're going to more than one place and I have both kids with me, I need to use the car.
The dacha where Katya visited her friend yesterday is connected to public transport, but it would have meant taking the subway with two transfers and then a long bus ride I might have had to wait quite a while for (with no air conditioning, with other people who also have their hot water shut off and aren't bathing much, packed in like sardines), then a long walk-- it might have ended up taking even longer than driving in bad traffic, and it would have been much, much more miserable. (I could do it alone and keep my cool, but not with the kids...)
I lived here with both kids without our car our first two years... That's part of the reason why I was so utterly miserable, often crying myself to sleep after long days of walking, transfers, carrying too much, children who "lost it" in public and then *completely* "lost it" once we got home again... At least with driving the kids stay calm; that's worth way more to me... By the time you'd figure in all the multiple stops on different modes of transport that aren't directly connected, the car is usually just as fast.