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Monday, May 3

Rodina nepavtarimaja...

(translation of the headline is somewhere on the lines - "Russia, the one and only")
I really have not told you about my home town yet... it's so lovely! Small - only 500 000 inhabitants, not many people - lots of room for everyone, air is breathable,  the architecture is nice and although  I used to think our city planners are a bunch of wahooneys they're actually quite nice hard working people,  traffic jams are rare, shops are good and well supplied, all sorts of officials helpful and polite, streets clean and spitting on the street is becoming increasingly rare... I love Tallinn!

(I've just come from Moscow)

This is a typical banlieue house - the type most inhabitants in Moscow live in. The yellow pipe is the main gas pipe (could be a usual sight for ppl from the UK, they also have pipes outside the house), first floor apartments are usually converted into tiny shops and the balconies are generally a mess, used as storage space (note the skies and sledges hanging from the house wall).

The city center holds some gems too - I liked the new high-rise buildings (and at the same time wondered about the thought capacity of city planners cause on that spot the parking was already pure hell, people park in 3 rows, on the sides of highway etc - where are the people working in those towers going to keep their cars? and trust me, people working in THOSE buildings will not be caught riding the metro while alive and kicking).
(note the small square box-housing on the first picture - that's where the builders live)

Novoi Arbat (one of the main streets in the center of the city) in daylight (in the nighttime it's not as bad) is a total nightmare (moscovites themselves are in uproar cause of it's ugliness - beautiful old buildings were destroyed in the 70s and replaced with "progressive" concrete architecture seen below):
I did not see many representatives of my favorite style: art deco and funk... :S They were usually overcast by horrible monstrosities built nearby. Or maybe I just did not get to see those proper streets. It was actually very sad - lots of pretty buildings were looking quite shabby. The following pics are taken in the city center:
Some more beauties: first the GUM (a famous large store built in the 1800s - amazingly gorgeous and holds every luxury brand ever made). It's a large rectangular complex, 3 stories high and consisting of 3 parallel galleries.Unfortunately I did not take any pics of the outside, it's one of the prettiest buildings on red square. Mausoleum ranks second, imho. Red brick constructions look rather tacky to me.
Russians can build some pretty nice pieces of state architecture too as this house of parliament proves:
I also like the stalinist style buildings and I must say - after Stalin the public architecture in Soviet union went straight to shit (with very, very few exceptions). Example of Stalin era architecture here:
The city reminds me of a big village... and I think it looks like an asian city. The further one moves from the center the more asian people one meets - the janitors, builders and salespersons are predominantly asian: uzbek, kazakh - I don't think Russia's capitol looks particularly European.

All the "normal" shops are either huge malls or the boutiques in the city center, the food stores  near the housing areas in the city edges look like "hell no - I wont buy my food here." Usually it's a big concrete house with the first floor apartments converted into a shop. The soviet time shop buildings are often converted into a mini-market and house little stalls, people selling pottery, ham and plumbing stuff just half a meter apart from each other. What makes it funny is the fact, that outside the sign says "Fresh bread every day!" - in the old times, it apparently used to be a decent sized bread shop.

A typical fugly appartment building:

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