Monday, July 8, 2013

City of Spires, City of Music, City of Mine

Well, it's about time I finally posted again about all my adventures. There have been quite a lot.

Prague: City of Spires
Prague was a very interesting experience for me. I fell in love. It is such a beautiful, beautiful city. I don't think I walked down a not-breathtakingly-beautiful street the entire three days I was there. And yet, although I loved it and would love to go back, I don't think I would want to live in Prague. It was just very touristy, and I didn't feel disappointed leaving after a few days. And, especially after getting used to Moscow, I know I would get accustomed to the beauty after a while and it would cease to lose its charm. It wouldn't get old, but I would just stop noticing it, I think. But we had many adventures, buying bread and cheese and strawberries and eating lunch on Old Town Square, seeing a free Czech Symphony and Bobby McFerrin concert on same square, just wandering, hiking the hill to the castle 3 times, seeing a lot of beautiful churches and the Jewish Quarter and buying ice cream every day. Prague helped me remember why I love traveling--from the thrill of the first sight of a new place from the plane to learning the spirit of a new place through wandering. Not to mention, we rode a train to Vienna(which is obviously the best way to travel, as long as it's a fairly nice train), which had its own adventures including a ticket mix-up and desperate scramble and a wonderful, spiritual missionary experience with a woman named Katka. Oh, and Tracy and I had fun comparing Russian and Polish to Czech. I was actually really surprised with how much I could read, and how much Russian I heard and saw.
One of my favorite picture from Prague

Vienna: City of Music
Although I fell in love with Prague's beauty and how she taught me how to be a tourist again, Vienna captured my soul in a way Prague couldn't. I could seriously see myself living in Vienna--it's a lot like London, half really beautiful and half nitty-gritty, with a lot of old history, and new life, and culture and art and music and museums and everything that I love. It was rainy our whole time there, which provided its own adventures, but even with wet shoes we enjoyed wandering the streets that glistened in the rain, riding the wonderful public transport, trying to remember my German, and other wonderful things. We ate lunch our first day at a little cafe, where I finally settled my craving for Indian food and we shared hot chocolate. We bought lots of pastries and breads every day. We went to a concert in the Golden Hall where all the performers were dressed up in period dress and everything was Mozart or Strauss and got standing tickets to the opera, which had the best soprano I have maybe ever heard. We saw Rubens and Monet and Rodin and Klimt and Picasso and had discussions about art and life as we wandered around art galleries and the streets. I was disappointed to leave Vienna, and not just because I was leaving Megs and Tracy. I felt like there was a part of my soul there, just like I did in London and just like I do in Moscow.
Our first rainy day in Vienna

It is interesting, because I haven't really been a tourist for a LONG time. Both on my mission (obviously) and this time in Moscow, I am definitely not a tourist. Even now, even though I do touristy things, I never feel like one since I already know the city and the language and people and have LIVED in the city for a year and a half and am living there for the summer. So it was fun to really just be wandering a completely new place in a fully tourist way. No commitment, just wandering and loving it. It was such an interesting experience. Especially being with Megan and Tracy. Not that I don't love my internship friends--they have become such a huge part of my life and I enjoy being with them. And not that I don't love the people in Moscow. But there's something about having been roommates for so long that just binds us (and the rest of our 208/Lookout extended family) together. They bring out parts of me that I love--a good balance of intellectual and adventure and goofy, which honestly, is the perfect attitude for traveling.

Moscow: City of Mine
Right after I got back from traveling, I was off again to Nizhniy Novgorod with the YSAs for a mini conference. It was fun to be with the youth and ride more trains (a sleeper one this time) and see a different part of Russia. Since coming back to Moscow, it's been interesting--not that I don't love Moscow or that I want to leave, but I just feel an itch to go do something else, but also to not. It was nice to come home and know the language and where I'm going and I have been trying to experience more of the city; for example, I went to an art gallery with Ksusha the other day. But at the same time, I have really been throwing myself into my internship when I'm there, to be productive. And I have wanted to spend a lot of time by myself, reading and thinking and writing and even doing a puzzle. I have been noticing things that I miss about America-home and things that I dislike about Moscow-home: the smell, carpet (or lack thereof), just to name a couple. I have spent a lot of time skyping with friends from home (or who are at least not in Moscow right now). I think that I won't miss Russia as much this time around. Which is kind of sad, but is good. Not that I won't miss it, but one thing that traveling to Prague and Vienna helped me remember is that there are other places that I love and other people I love, and Moscow is allowed to share my heart.

Sorry for the long post. This weekend I'm off to Saint Petersburg with 3 of the other interns, which should be fabulous. And I am determined to start writing regularly again. (I know, I know, how many times have I said that?)

1 comment:

Tracy Allen said...

Rachel, I love this post because it's exactly how I feel about Poland. I still love Poland and I'm glad I'm here, but I miss home, which I realize is no longer Poland. As sad as that fact is, and knowing that Poland will always have a part of my heart, it will be easier to go home this time.