Monday, September 5, 2011

Moscow City Day

My first and probably last Moscow City Day. It celebrates the birthday of the city (864th this year) and is a pretty big deal here. The city pretty much shuts down and everyone goes out and walks the streets and has a good time. There are all kinds of booths and displays along the green spaces and they shut the Garden Ring down to cars and it becomes a big pedistrian walkway.

Some of the highlights for me were the big Chess display they had near Pushkin Square. There were several games going with some pretty fast and skilled players. Then there was this guy. He just paced back and forth playing 10 people all at one time. I didn't stay till the end but I am pretty sure he was 10-0 by the end of it.

After a full day of walking I headed back for some dinner and got ready to head back out again. This year there was a lights/fireworks/video/fire/sound display all with the Moscow University as the backdrop. It was designed by the person that did the closing ceremonies for a few of the last few Olympics. So I decided to get out amoung the Moscovites and enjoy... just didn't realize it would be 3 million of them.

It was absolute maddness. I should have known what I was in for when by the 2nd stop down from me on the Metro the train was already packed (and I live 9 stops away). By the time we got off the subway it was wall to wall people in the Metro stop. You just kind of waddled along until you got out of the Metro. At least at this point you had oxygen, but then it was another sea of people along the 1 mile walk to the university. It was busy enough but then once you got within 200 feet you realize that they are sending everyone through 5 metal detectors. You can paint your own mental picture of 100,000 people going through 5 metal detectors. At one point within 20 feet I just picked up my feet and didnt stayed put, the pack literally was so smashed together you didnt have to walk, its just carried you through.

Then you finally get within viewing distance of the University and the pushing continues. This is the point it became life threatening and we realized we better get out before we get hurt. So we fight through people another 20 feet after somehow not breaking ribs, then its completely open. I'll never understand this city. It was a solid block of humanity for 100 yards, then you go another 20 feet and there are bunch of militia around and plenty of open space with a great view. Who knows...

So we decided we'd stay after all and the show was awesome. This link has the video of the show: MGU display. It was projected onto the University and in a very hard to describe fashion told the story of the city through designs and computer renderings. Cool firework display at the end.

We went the other direction home and wasn't so bad. I'll take a longer walk over the prior alternative anyday. So it was a good, if not memorable, experiance. I had a great time enjoying City Day and also learned that I have zero interest in going to New Years in Times Square.

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