(Editor's note: Elsa Evans-Kummer, of Onchiota, is living in Gorno-Altaisk, in the Altai Republic in Siberia, Russia, with her mother and sister from September to Dec. 1. She plans to write a regular column for the Just for Kids page about her impressions of living there.)
We stopped for two days in Moscow on our way to our final Russian destination.
It has been said that first impressions make lasting impressions. Moscow city has made a lasting impression on me. The architecture is unique and not like anything I've seen in the U.S. Although the building structures in general are intriguing with their different shapes, Moscow is famous for the churches - a highlight for me with their domes shaped like Hershey's Kisses!
The driving also caught my attention. The rules of the road are equivalent to those you might find on a roller-coaster ride: Keep your hands in, and buckle up! That is, if you can find a buckle! In Russia, the crosswalks and medians are brilliant parking spots, and why waste a good parking space? In the city, the middle of the road, for example, has lots of space to park, and sometimes the sidewalks, too. Other cars just swerve to get around, no problem. What happened to lanes? I think the white lines meant something at one point. As for speed limits, if there are any, they don't count for much in Russia. Toward the smaller towns and cities there are policemen who are on patrol for speeding cars, but all the good drivers have radar detectors, so when there's a policeman nearby, the driver slows down. The driver who drove us around was a safe driver compared to some, but it was still an unnerving ride to our apartment.
Our apartment building, built during the time of the Soviet Union, showed signs of lack of upkeep. There were some areas of crumbling cement and missing tiles in the hallways, but the owners of the building were obviously working hard to make the functional structure nicer, starting with its apartments and working out into the hallways. The apartment we stayed in was on the 23rd floor, the second-to-last floor of the building. It was small but neat and made the perfect home for the two days we stayed.
At night, all of the weather-beaten buildings on our street - Novyi Arbat, one of the fancier streets, being closer to Red Square - lit up with pulsing bright colors and advertisements all up and down! The lights at night were by far my most memorable impressions of Moscow so far.