Russians were wearing their navy and orange striped ribbon on their person to show their loyalty to Russia and against German fascism.
Since the people were under communism back in WW2, I asked our Russian lawyer friend what they would consider the government now. She said matter-of-factly "democratic". I wondered if Russians still had ties to communism, and what exactly they were celebrating, other than victory over Hitler and his troops towards the end of the war.
We did see a communist group "rally", and a few hammer and sickle flags, but generally, people were just celebrating their nationalism.
Dan and I wondered how many holiday and traditions we Americans follow without knowing their origins.
Even in Vladimir yesterday, the square was decorated for today's celebration, as school children practiced for the event.
Here is a monument fashioned to represent a soldier and a peasant working together to protect thier mother who in turn, protects her sons. Thus the term, "mother Russia" . . .
I was given a ribbon as a gift by our driver, so I gladly wore it today as did the majority of Russians everywhere. Last night, at dinner, the host gave me a thumbs up when he saw it, and today, a young woman (in very good English), thanked me for coming to her country to celebrate May 9th with the Russian people! Any time I can avoid being an "ugly American", it gives me joy.
Well, we got within a block of the route, when we were stopped by a baracade. We waited for over a hour, not knowing what was going on. I finally could stand it no longer, and asked a young father next to me, in (I'm sure very poor) Russian: "Do you speak English?" He said "a little" and proceeded to tell me that the parade had begun in Red Square with tanks and military vehicles, so the police were not allowing us to go down to the road until they had cleared the route. Dan thought it would not be good press to have someone die because a tank ran over them!
A school boy, probably in early high school, continued the conversation and filled in a few more gaps. They both let me watch (on their phones) the speeches of Putin and other officials as they spoke from the Square while waiting for the security scanners to be set up. It was a painful process, which took over an hour. Finally, we discovered from the police (who were standing around just chatting), that the parade wouldn't come that way for another two hours!
Dan and I deemed it a failure, and decided to walk towards Red Square, but saw nothing. Disappointed, The three of us decided to go back to the room, and collect Mario for lunch. He said the American Embassy told us we were to stay clear of demonstrations and gatherings of any sort, so he stayed back and hid under the bed.
Just kidding . . . But I laughed because we have encountered nothing even remotely resembling trouble. In fact, Tania informed us that there are no troops in the Ukraine, and since it is a very poor country, they WANT to become part of Russia because of its economic benefits. The killings and pillaging you see on TV evidently, is done by the radical fascist that want Ukraine for themselves. Chalk it up to media once more to confuse the issue and give false information!
After lunch we walked the two or so miles to Old Arbat Street, the oldest shopping area in Moscow. Here the vendors, musicians and portrait artists line the center of the street, and souvenir shops galore abound. Believe it or not, we bought nothing!
Since it was late, and we needed to return home to get ready for the circus, we decided to try the Moscow Metra.
What an adventure to try to figure out which line to take and what stop to get off, especially since very few people speak English.
Well, after a bit of confusion, and a little help from a female police, we did it.
Dan said we can be proud to have mastered the London Tube, the Paris Metro, and now the Moscow Metro!
I can't say much for bread, but I would give the Moscow Circus five stars in the circus department.
There were the usual acrobats, dancers and a very personable and clever clown who held the show together. Not much by way of animal acts unfortunately but an enjoyable performance by seals and a walrus, believe it or not. My favorite was watching them swing hula hoops around their necks and flipper, that they had started themselves!
I thought the best of the show was a troup of acrobats trained to jump off a teeter totter type device, and land on someone's shoulders and/or a chair. They became higher and higher until you couldn't believe your eyes how far they had to jump and spin. Oh. . . did I tell you they did all this against a background of Beethoven, and dress like Marie Antoinette and her court? And yes, they wore wigs!!
Since we couldn't take photos inside, I sneaked this one from the cafe window. They had animals lined up to photograph with your child for a fee. This bear was adorable!
To close, here is a "then and now" pic. Who except God would know that we would return 16 years later to the same spot?