I have recently returned from 3 weeks in the eastern USA. Wendy had a meeting in Washington for a few days, so I added a week on either side to visit New York and have a look around the Appalachians and Niagara Falls.
This might seem a little extravagant so soon after a fortnight in Turkey, but seeing these places while we are in Russia makes a lot of sense. I have always wanted to visit New York, but the journey from Australia takes about 24 hours and is considerably more expensive than the 9 hour flight from Moscow.
It was also pleasant to spend some time in an English-speaking country. It can become a bit isolating, spending one’s days in a city where most of the conversation is all but incomprehensible. Though the speech of some Americans can be as difficult to understand as Russian. I gave up trying to order at one salad bar in New York – the youth behind the counter was using an almost unrecognisable dialect of English.
I returned to Moscow last weekend and have been struggling with jet lag since. I find it much harder to go from west to east than the other direction. Heading in the same direction as the sun, one simply gets a longer day (or night).
But going west to east is like going against the grain of time. I woke in the morning, caught my flight, journeyed through a short sleepless night, arrived in Moscow the following morning and then had to stay up until the evening. Two short days, a short night and a completely confused biorhythm.
Moscow is transformed. There had been just a hint of spring before I left. But spring seems to have been and gone while I was away and the city has already moved into summer. Rather than a gradual transition between seasons, it is as if a coin has flipped.
All those trees I had become convinced were dead sticks are fully leaved, the snow has gone and cafes have put tables out on the footpath.
Yesterday I took a walk in a large forest park a little northwest of the city called Timiryazeva. Plenty of people enjoying the sun. Some have dusted off their bicycles. A couple of sunburnt backs beside the lake. This is a pleasant park, but probably not one a visitor to Moscow should bother with unless they have plenty of time on their hands (I’m talking months).
|Walking track in Timiryazeva Park. With the burst of green and accompanying tee shirt weather, Moscow is suddenly a different city.|
The northern end of the park, where the lake is located, is the most visitor friendly. Here most of the happy family activity occurs.
|Part of the lake in Timiryazeva. Just a few weeks ago, this would have been frozen.|
Towards the south, tracks deteriorate into muddy pools and there are far fewer people about. This end of the park is probably not the sort of place I would go for a stroll in the evening.
|The ubiquitous bird feeding house. I see these in most parks. They may help the few birds that hang around during winter to survive. After 6 months of seeing nothing but ravens, pigeons and sparrows, I am now seeing more varieties.|
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