My hotel is purple

Russia is quite a different experience for me. The color of buildings, the gregariousness of the people, the rushing, the waiting, and the massive traffic jams—all these things make up the city that Muscovites inhabit. I just returned from a teaching trip to Moscow, and the days were as busy as the city itself.

On my final day in this cosmopolitan center, I spent 5 hours walking through the central city along the rings that make up the traffic circles. How shall I describe it? "Too many cars, park where you can, and traffic traffic traffic."  I saw the statues celebrating authors, playwrights and generals.  Remnants of the USSR are everywhere with the hammer and sickle on building and in the subways. Little stores are found in passageways under the streets and down dark staircases. There are many farmers' markets vending fresh fish, meats, honey and vegetables.  The smells of roasting food, fast food and sweets are everywhere.  

Foods are my hobby, and eating in Russia for me was a foodie paradise. I had a very special herring dish, described as "Under the Fur Coat - chopped herring covered with beets and chilled." I enjoyed salmon shashlik with fries, current/cranberry pie, pickles and more pickles and of course, what every russian consumes, Vodka.  This Vodka was cloudy and flavored with horseradish juice.  I found it to be spicy hot in flavor and quite tasty during and after the many toasts to health, business, families, our pets and anything else that came to mind.  We accompanied this with glasses of raspberry juice and mead.  I enjoyed the salmon soup, the chicken noodle and the Russian traditional soups.  I do not eat beef , so i did not have the borscht. Honey was abundant this time of year as well as a variety of teas (chi) and lots of espresso.  

Traveling to the consumer craft show, we rode by car.  A 35-minute ride took three hours down and two hours back. Since traveling overseas can be quite exhausting, the car ride was a great way to catch up on sleep.  The last day, however, i rode the subway and the train, which proved to be a better way to travel in this city.

The consumer show had crafts from all over the country, from traditional embroideries, crochet and pieced quilts to stitched and beaded icons, large origami designs, jewelry, sewing, felting, doll making, and of course decoupage.  The most amazing products were racks of decorative paper napkins.  These are purchased as inexpensive designs for decoupage. The crochet was made from very bright colors.  There were felted bags, hats and lots of slippers.  And of course there were food vendors selling traditional pierogi in the shapes of rabbits, pigs and fish.

I taught two master classes, the second being a sell-out.  Even though I spoke no Russian except Dah and Nyet we all understood each other, including a few jokes which I slipped in on Anton, my interpreter.  I introduced many ideas in stitchery that we have used and taught in the US for years.  They were a great, patient audience.  I am looking forward to returning.  First though, I want to learn the Russian alphabet.

by Doug Kreinik

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