Moscow SunDay глазами австралийского роллер-гостя!
20 июля на нашей Московской Дневной
прокатился John Cargnelo - роллер из Австралии,
где до сих пор много-много диких кенгуру.
John уже второй раз спецом приезжает в Россию,
чтобы в Москве и Питере покататься на роликах.
Skating Moscow; an Aussie’s Perspective!
The Red Arrow arrives in Moscow at about 8:00 AM in the morning. It’s a famous overnight sleeper train that travels between St. Petersburg and Moscow in lavish old world style. I found the trip delightful! However, having had a bad experience with the taxi drivers that hang out on the platform on my last visit to Moscow I had been warned by friends in St. Petersburg to find a taxi on the street rather than at the station which is exactly what I did. I flagged a driver down and showed him the name and address of my hotel, which he professed to understand, and we settled on a reasonable price. Unfortunately, whether it was due to the confusion from just waking or the lack of sleep in the days prior to my departure from St. Petersburg I forgot that the Russian use a completely different alphabet. As a consequence, I was dropped not at my hotel but at an old hotel built by Stalin at the entrance to Red Square. By the time I realized I was in the wrong place the taxi driver had departed and I had to flag down a car and once again negotiate a price to my hotel. You don’t necessarily need a taxi in Russia as there are many drivers that will carry you for a small price. This time however I made sure that the driver understood the address and knew where he was going.
I finally arrived at my hotel around 9:20 AM but before I even had a chance to unpack I received a call from Katya inviting me to tour Moscow on skates. She said she would pick me up at 10:30 AM. I had never met Katya before this. All I know is that she was a friend of Oleg, whom I knew from St. Petersburg, and that she was one of the top artistic and speed slalom skaters in Russia. She had also been kind enough to arrange and pre-pay my hotel, a great service for a foreigner like myself with neither a command of the language or the Russian way of doing business.
Despite feeling tired from my exertions and utter lack of sleep during my time in St. Petersburg I was enthusiastically in the lobby at 10:30 AM only to find Katya already there. We set off along the streets and sidewalk toward Victory Park, a major congregating ground for Moscow skaters. Victory Park is magnificent by any world standard and it literally has kilometers of smoothly paved roads, parking lots and trails with virtually no cars. It has ideal skating grounds and provides some of the most interesting sight seeing if you’re into World War II military machinery.
After circuiting the park we headed toward downtown along one of Moscow’s famous boulevards. Katya knew a wealth of tourist information and pointed out all the interesting buildings, landmarks and scenic spots along the route. I later found out that Katya actually works in the travel industry and she is an experienced tourist guide, although not usually on skates. We ended up at Red Square, skating completely around the Kremlin and passing some truly amazing old churches and buildings, and well… some hideous new building constructed during the Communist era requiring the demolition of a major portion of a monastery dating back several centuries.
Moscow, I must admit, is an excellent place to skate. The sidewalks are generally smooth, wide and paved with fresh asphalt rather than the trendy bricks and pavers that they use more and more it the west. Even when you have to skate on the road it’s not bad because the traffic is nothing like what I’m used to, perhaps because only about 20% of Russians own cars.
From Red Square we skated up Tverskaya, Moscow’s main business and tourist street ending up at an unusual Russian restaurant for lunch. At this restaurant you pick your own meat, vegetables and sauces and take it over to a chef who grills it on large stone grill while you wait. I was a little unsure about how my mixture of ingredients would taste but it came out sumptuous - not to mention very reasonably priced.
We were just finishing lunch when Katya received a call from Barh, the Editor for Russia’s inline skating site www.roller.ru inviting me to an organized street skate starting about 4:00 PM. Barh was also the organizer of the skate. I was by now even more tired but Katya informed me that given the skate was one for novices I’d have no trouble keeping up and it was unlikely to be very exerting. I was given directions to a metro station and I was told I would be met on the platform.
The Moscow metro is like no other in the world that I’ve experienced. Many of the stations look like opera houses, all with a different and unique architectural style. The frequency of trains varies from about 30 seconds during the day to around 5 minutes toward the end of the night. Nobody bothers running for trains because they know another will usually be along within minutes, if not seconds. After experiencing this I understood why Russians were the only people I had ever met that had complained about the lack of frequency on the London Underground, which is quite understandable if you compare it to Moscow.
Ac As promised when I got off the train I was met by Barh and Yulia, another female skater who spoke excellent English and took it upon herself to be my companion, guide and interpreter for the rest of the day as well as the days that followed. We gathered at Gorky Park and by about 4:15 PM about 90 skaters headed of on a skate to “the beach”.
Now the first thing I realized is the Russian idea of “novice” is somewhat different form the view that we might have in the West. In Russia novice means skating relatively fast on streets and sidewalks, up and down curbs that require fraction of a second accuracy and the ability to negotiate all manner of obstacles. It does however also mean frequent breaks at the numerous roadside shops that sell everything from ice cream to beer.
Before we started Barh had introduced me to the rest of the skaters in the group. I knew he was talking about me because I’m an Australian and he was doing Kangaroo impressions accompanying the introduction. From then on the hospitality of the Russian skaters was nonstop. I had been impressed by the friendliness of the St. Petersburg skaters but I found those in Moscow even more hospitable. Every time we stopped skaters would come up to chat with me and Yulia would be there to translate should the need arise. She also went out of her way to make sure I was well fed and watered.By about 10:00 PM we finally arrived at the beach; a nicely shaded spot on the Moscow River, just on the outskirts of the city. The last 200 meters or so was down a dirt track (on skates) with a gravel road at the bottom that surprisingly, I managed to negotiate OK. Perhaps it was a novice skate after all!
After a swim, which I declined having come unprepared; we ate and then skated back to the local metro station around 11:45 PM. I wasn’t sure how to get from my local metro station to my hotel and wasn’t even sure of what metro station to travel to so Barh and Yulia actually went with me to the correct station and even walked me to my hotel before setting off home themselves.
After a good night’s rest I did some sight seeing and once again returned to Victory Park on my skates meeting Yulia at first, and Katya later on. Again I was introduced to a number of local slalom skaters practicing for the upcoming titles in Lassaune as well as some of the “tricks” associated with skating Victory Park.
The following day was my last so I did a little shopping and again returned to skate Victory Park with Katya. She gave me some skating advice and taught me a few tricks, which, with proper instruction, were a lot easier than I had imagined. I made sure to say goodbye to all my friends, saying “Ya budu skuchat’ bez” (“I’ll miss you”) vowing to return again sometime in the near future.
As with my last visit I was sad to board my plane the next day. Leaving Russia only to soon but pleased that my visit had once again exceeded my expectations!
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