Today, we all headed for Sparrow Hill again where Moscow State University is located. There’s a big hill that you can do sledding on, so we decided to take Grisha out for some fun in the snow. On the way there, we dropped Masha off at MEGA, a huge mall that we would later join her for shopping. When we arrived at Sparrow Hill, Evgeny, Grisha, and I went down the hill to find a good place to sled. It reminded me of when I was a kid in Tennessee, and there was actually snow that fell to the ground, the discs that we would use to slide down. Grisha had a little hand held one, that was simply a rubber circle, with a handle on the end for you to hold on the way down. Evgeny put Grisha on his lap, and away they went–much faster than we thought, and he went straight for a wooden post! After seeing that, I wasn’t keen on doing sledding in my jeans, plus, I needed to keep my camera equipment close to me to keep it from freezing! After watching them sled for a while, I went back up to the top of the hill to look at the stalls selling souvenir type goods. Fur hats were everywhere, as well as war paraphernalia. It seems like everyone sells the same thing, and I did find a tshirt that I want, so I’ll wait til my final day where I go to the Izmailovo Markets to find my souvenirs. At this point, I couldn’t believe how cold it was getting. I suppose when you’re out in it for a while, your core just starts dropping more and more in temperature! But as I’ve said before, my body felt fine, it’s just the face and digits that seem to be vulnerable to the cold. In the beginning of the trip, when the temperature was a warm, 32F/0C, I didn’t even think I’d need all the handwarmers that I brought, but sure enough, I’ve been using them everyday now. They are definitely handy–all I do is tear open the bag, and these little packets stay warm for 7 hours! Sometimes they even get too hot to keep in my gloves!
After the stalls, I went to get some hot cocoa. When I ordered it, (good thing I know the Russian spelling for chocolate), it came out boiling–I mean this thing was bubbling. My mouth is quite sensitive–even cinnamon gum will send my tastebuds burning for 2 weeks. I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this cup of hot chocolate for a good half hour, but within 2 minutes, and I tried my first sip, it was already getting warm. By the time I was able to finish it, it had already cooled off to the point of being lukewarm. This was a .1L cup as well, so it was practically a tiny bit of hot chocolate to begin with anyway. It sure was good though.
I then went to the near by church to check it out. It was perched up on the side of the hill and seemed peaceful. I did have a little ulterior motive which was to go in and thaw out for a bit. But upon entrance, I remembered exactly how my impressions of Russia were back in 1997 because of how many churches we visited. Inside was all golden icons, paintings, gold this gold that, it was what one could call gaudy, yet it had the prestige of being such a holy environment. I simply love the feeling of it, and sure, a warmth both physically and mentally, when sitting in this peaceful domed palace filled with crackling candles, and amazingly detailed religious paintings.
Evgeny, Grisha and I then met up and we headed back to Mega to meet with Masha, and for me to do some shopping. We had a quick dinner, and then we all went our separate ways for shopping. I found some cool things that I got, so I felt it was a success. After a couple of hours, we all met back up and headed home. Tomorrow is a visit to Sergeiv Posad, a little town outside Moscow that is famous for it’s Monastery.