(Written on 5/12, but posted on 5/9, since that's when this occurred).
Saturday morning the girls and I packed up the car and headed out to Lesniye Dali, a "дом отдыха" outside of Moscow. Gosh, just how do I translate that? It's not a hotel... It's not quite a resort... It's not really a village...
How about this... It's an enclosed (i.e. gated, private) "camp" in the woods where you stay in rooms that have a mini kitchen and bathroom. There are at least seven buildings with rooms, plus a main building with more sparse rooms and a Soviet-style dining room. On the grounds you'll find: a neat playground; great paths for roller skating and biking; sports areas; a tennis court; a beach along the river bank; an area with horses; and a ski area (not sure if it actually works).
They loved the swings under the tall pines.
This rope swing is the coolest! Both girls love it!
Hanging out in Baba Yaga's house at the playground...
You can go there year-round and it's the perfect get-away from Moscow, while not actually being all that far since it's at at the very end of Rublyovka (the snazzy road that Russia's most wealthy call home). Here's a link to the place; click on the arrows beneath the photo to see more.
The place is very Soviet in feel, which is fun. It's not fancy at all, but just fine! Think really nice Girl Scout camp plus motel. Staying there used to be a perk reserved for top people in the Soviet government; now anyone can pretty much pay to go. (There is, however, still the main building where government workers stay for a fraction of what others pay). Many people go there a few, a few weeks, or even months during the summer.
Friends of ours were there for the weekend, and they suggested we join them. I'm so glad we did! We NEEDED a break.
Sunday was great there... We spent Victory Day FAR, FAR from the crowds in Moscow, enjoying the distant sounds of fireworks instead of the actual displays. At lunch there was free "gruel" typical during wartime: buckwheat kasha with meat and carrots. It was actually pretty darn tasty; Natalia gladly ate it up. It was certainly MUCH tastier than what poor Soviets subsisted on then...
There was also a little band playing music while people lounged around outside. Wish I'd brought my camera along! (Many thanks to my friend for taking this picture at lunch with her phone!)
One highlight of the weekend? Natalia now seems on the path to loving reading!!! It has been a rough road... She seems determined to reject anything her sister excels at or loves. Reading has been one of those things this past year... But now she's really enjoying the books based on the "Wizards of Waverly Place" series on Disney. Hardly "literature." But I'll take whatever I can get... !
Another highlight of the weekend for both girls was rollerblading! As ridiculous as it sounds, they had only skated indoors during the past two years. Either we were in the USA during nice weather, or they were thrilled to scooter... In any case, they hadn't skated in a long time, and Natalia is now HOOKED. Katya was so afraid for most of her first time out, but she ended up feeling rather proud, too.