23 July 2006

i haven't put anything on here for a while. since zoe has arrived most of our life is dedicated to her. a couple of days before she was born though, lyala and i went to the kyiv morye (kiev sea). this is actually a reseviour for the a power station, like we call them lakes, they call them seas. i was looking on the map one day and i saw that the road by our apartment goes up to this large body of water on the map. maybe 30k, so lyala and i loaded up in the car to go and check it out. it was really beautiful out there. i wish we would have found it earlier.

here is a picture of lyala really pregnant with zoe, before we even knew it was a zoe!

meeshka takes a swim. he doesnt do it on his own, we have to coax him a little, but at least we dont have to throw him in.
meeshka caught a ladybug.
sunset on the "sea"
a church on the way ...

27 June 2006

Zoe Jacklynn Stowe, June 25th 2006, year of the dog, zodiac cancer. Day 2:

From now on I will post baby pictures to http://zoejacklynn.blogspot.com. This blog will still be used to pics and stories of what lyala, zoe, and i (i am outnumbered now) are doing. So check both!

12 June 2006

the spring has been a wet and cold one. this is a big difference from what i am used to a slightly wet and hot one. we get rain about everyday and the temp has been in the upper 60s. some days we get weather in the uppers 70s, not many, so we have to take advantage of it. we went to a lake nearby this weekend, which btw i learned that kiev has more swimmable lakes than any city in Europe. where we live, in obolon we are completely surrounded by lakes. here is a pic of the lake with my hood behind it. we went with our friend deima and his daughter kiatya. we played some durak, a russky card game, some chess and in the sand, aaaaaaa spring days. these are the ones that we live for.
a pic of lyala, baby, and meeshka

the other day i was walking meeshka and i saw something that i thought that most of you would kick out of. i personally thought it was pretty ironic myself, since it was 6/6/6.
sharpening the scythe for the next one! thanks for coming, and until next time ...

22 May 2006

After one year of being here we finally made it to russia. not so surprising because of how much of a big deal it is. the visa cost about $100, you have to have a letter of invite $30 (from a tourist company), and you have to register once you get there, meaning you have to stay in a hotel somewhere, sometime so they can register you. all in all though, it was worth it. st. petersburg is beautiful, moscow is an experience, and i met some great family there.

we took a night train from kyiv to moscow. surprisingly there were no problems at the border. we arrived about 8am in moscow the next day at one of the six train stations. moscow is huge! there are 10 million registered citizens. that means there are about 12 million people.(you can click on any pic to get a larger version) this says "moskva", what moscow is called in russian, why we call it moscow i dont know. please comment if you know. we actually traveled to st. pete that night. but i am going to describe all of moscow first then st. pete. so on to the tourist stuff.

we headed for the famous red square. to see the kremlin, st. basils, and lenin's old dried up, green body. for the upcoming holidays (may day and victory day)they had red square fenced off. this is probably a very rare picture of red square vacant.
you see st. basil's on the left(usually mistaken for the kremlin by us americans), the kremlin main gate in the center and lenin's tomb is the square building in front of the kremlin wall. well shit, lenin's tomb and the kremlin were closed during the holidays. so i can not see lenin's mummy. i guess there is one reason for me to go back. thats ok i got to see live (probably zombies)stalin and two lenins!

this is the history museum which is bright red. here is the difference between bright red and orange.
next we went to visit st. basils. probably the most iconic part of all of russia. when you think russia you think st. basils. interesting enough, stalin wanted to tear it down since it got in the way of his military parades. public outcry stopped that from happening. amazing the power of the people to be able to stop stalin from doing something. thought the architect that led the public outcry was imprisoned for 10 years, a very light punishment in stalin's time.
the front gate to the real kremlin.

it being holidays, lots of people come and lay flowers on monuments. this is the monument of the unknown soldier, please remain reverent or this guy will stick a foot up your a$$.
capitalism has come a long way in russia. even though there are still a lot of state run businesses there is american capitalistic culture everywhere. and yes there is a mcdonalds next to red square.

another tourist attraction that i have only seen in moscow and kyiv is the subway stations. this is the subway station "revolution square". it sports a lot of statues of the proletariat doing what they do best, kindof not working and staring into the distance.
a couple of days later we went to the "great patriotic war" museum park. here they have the fountains colored for victory day.
this is the state university, the most prestigious university in all of the CIS (modern USSR). a lot different from the universities that we are used to with campuses and such.
i got to drive a little in moscow, although it wasnt much fun cause this clown would not get his foot out of the door, plus i couldnt get the car started.

ok, on to st petersburg.
st. petersburg was built by peter the great. he wanted to build a city to connect russia with europe and also have a western navy. this city was built in grand style in the 18th century on top of a finish swamp. it was built to show off to the world russian glory. and that it does. it is very baroque.
we get there and check into a hotel. we had a very communist room (barebones) but with a great view.
it is a bit hazy, but it is one of the first sunny days in a long time we were told by the locals. that is the neva river. in the distance on the left is the cathedral of savior on the blood(strange name), and on the right is the aurora, the ship that fired a blank to start the russian revolution. this is the cannon fired to start almost a hundred years of a totalitarian government. communism doesnt have much to do with being totalitarian, but that was how lenin and his boys took it.
we visited a fortress called peter and paul fortress. the cathedral is the tallest point in st. pete. in communist times it was a political prison, the nevsky gates on the left are dubbed the "death gates."

in the cathedral, it houses the resting places of most of russia's tsars.
also in the cathedral, as in most, the ceilings are extravagantly painted. i particularly like the optical illusion of the columns to the window to heaven on this one.
st. pete has many waterways. in fact the neva river is considered the main street, even though there are not many boats besides tourist. st. pete has twice as many islands as venice and the bridges are raised at night and dont go down until the morning, so make sure that you are on the right side. you say, no problem it only happens at night, but in st pete there is a month and a half of constant daylight, called white nights(or party central). when we were there the sun didnt go down till close to 11pm.
being the holidays i did get to see a little of a military parade, but no tanks and missiles :(
we went to a lot of museums in st. pete. i went to kunstkamera, a collection of deformities and organs in jars collected by peter the great. we also went to the world famous hermitage, second only to the louvre, it is an awesome museum of art and artifacts from all over the world.this is the courtyard of the hermitage, where the military parade was the day before. where's waldo?close up of the church of savior on the blood, built on top of the place of the assassination of alexander ii. also known as the church of the bleeding savior.
st. isaac's cathedral (below). it was built by a french architect. it took 40 years to build, finished in 1858. it was a church for about the same time. it was turned into a museum of atheism by the communist, then destroyed in ww2, and now a museum. the architect wanted to be buried in his life's work but was not because he was not orthodox.
st. pete is definitely beautiful, and does not seem like russia, or the ussr at all. it is very 1700s european. moscow is a vast contrast, and there are more differences than i thought would be between it and kyiv, but that may be cause i have lived here ONE YEAR now. and i still dont know russian, but i guess i wont have to in a couple of months.
well that about sums it up. if you made it this far, thanks and let me know what you think.

25 April 2006

hello everyone,

spring is finally here.

the weather is warming up a good bit, and the allergies aren't too bad so it is good. we are planning a final trip to russia. we are going to spend some time in moscow and st. petersburg. i will definitely have a good bit of photos from that, so check back in a couple of weeks.

people have been asking our plans lately, well the plan is to move back to charlotte for a short time. i hopefully can get a six month contract or something of the like, while i look for a job in CT. i will be coming back at the end of july or so, then lyala will come later if when i get apartments and such set up. once i find a job in CT then we will move up to there to get ready to start school. well there it is, all subject to change of course.

and by popular request, a pic of "the belly"

30 March 2006

oh man, i don't know much else to say. i think that we went to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and we have been to paris. budapest, it is simply amazing, but i am getting too ahead of myself. lets start from the beginning,

our trip started out good, save lyala's boots falling apart as soon as we left the apartment. it turned out to be no problem at all though, who needs tread anyways! the train was pretty packed when we got on, so i was scared that we were not going to have our own compartment (there are 4 to a compartment), but it eventually thinned out enough so that we would get our own. most of the train trip to transylvania i have already been on and talked about when i went to bulgaria. a couple of notes: we stopped at a town in ukraine for about 20 min, enough time to get out and look around the train station. we were on a mad search for romanian money, cause we had to buy tickets at a non-touristy romania train station that probably would not have atms, money exchangers, ect.. i was also on a search for local beer, with the pregnant woman's approval of course. here, in ukraine, i have found a very unique brew of beer. it is called live beer. it is only sold where it is brewed because it only last 2 weeks. it has no preservatives and is sometimes made with things that spoil like green tea. we were successful, but we didn't find any money. the snow was falling and the station had a very fifties feel to it.
the next day we traveled through romainia. it looks a lot different under snow, our car was turned around so we saw the other side than what we saw through our window last time(make sense?). i was really hoping to catch this

it is a two piece set now, kinda like monet's haystacks (i am not comparing myself with monet, just telling you that i stole his idea about the same scene over time, something i learned from that art and physics book to the right).
we got to our stop at about 6pm, since it was a non-tourist stop, the train only stops for like two minutes, so we hopped off in our first romainia town. now we were warned about gypsies, tramps and thieves(yes that damn cher song was stuck in my head forever in romania) many times before we went, so i am proud to say that lyala and i only spoke russian to each other (cause english speakers would be more of a target to pickpockets). we had just enough money that we got from a peddler on the train to buy our train ticket to the next town, brosov. brosov is a beautiful town tucked in the transylvania carpathian mountains. it is an walled town settled by the germans in the middle ages. here's a half-panorama i put together.
we stayed in a hostel in brosov, which was great! we met lots of cool travelers from all over the world backpacking their way through europe. we did a lot of walking around the town and went to some of their small museums.one day we went on a tour of peles palace, a bran's castle and a fortress. peles palace was absolutely amazing. i liked it better than versailles. they had a library with a secret passage behind the books, a turkish smoking room, a dining room with indian furniture that took 100years and three generations to make, and one of the largest armories in the world. do you remember the first batman movie with bruce wayne's armory? well like that except a lot more weapons, including full horse armor too. it also had an executioners sword mounted on the mantle (it looked like a big meat cleaver, which i guess that is what it was). sorry no pics inside. you have to go yourself i guess. but here is the outside.
next was the fortress. it was built for the peasants to escape the constant turkish and mongol raids. it had an interesting museum and a cool layout, nothing very picturesque except for the view from the top. i was going to do a full panoramic here, but my camera ran out of batteries.
the last of the tour was bran castle, which is advertised as dracula's castle, but it isn't really. they think he might have been held there for a couple of days. but that doesn't stop all the shops from selling cheap chinese made dracula shit outside. there were some cool things in the castle, but nothing really worth wasting bandwidth on.
next destination: sighisoara, dracula's(vlad teres) real birthplace, and the area where he was a voivod. for those of you familiar with the band, it is what the band is named after, a transylvania lord or prince (there were no titles of count). this town is mostly off the beaten path, but it is everything you think it would be. very gothic, darkish, coldish, lots of graveyards, and crumbling churches, and lots of (medieval)guild towers. here is a spooky, cemetary gates pic.
old vlad himself (i love the irony of this pic, email me if you need an explanation)
dracula's home town as you would expect it.
we loved this town so i have lots of pics. streets of the old town at night.

next we hoped on a train to go to budapest, hungary. yah! we made it out of the cher song without getting ripped off, but wait! we had to buy a sleeping cart on the train after you get on the train, that is where we got ripped off, so it is not the gypsies that you have to watch out for it is the conductors on the sleeping carts and what they charge that you have to watch.

Budapest, i know i don't capitalize things often, but this is one of the only instances that i think that i should. it is made up of two towns, buda and pest. like most towns in eastern europe (they consider themselves central) an old town(buda) and a new town(pest). they had a golden age at the turn of the 19th century, you know the austrian-hungarian empire. during this golden age they built many many museums and monuments and i guess most weren't destroyed by the nazi's since they joined the nazis, and it was the soviets that took them over and they didn't have the same bomb everything into oblivion attitude that the rest of the allies had. (stalin's people were cheaper than bombs is my guess). we spent a lot of time in museums and walking around town. this town is very modern for what i am used to nowadays. coffee shops everywhere and even some 'subways'. you know the sandwich shop. by the way, they boast the first subway, you know the underground trains, in europe. one of the lines stations, still has an antique feel. with the subway and the trams, it is very easy to get anywhere you want to go.
in buda they have a castle, that was rebuilt after the red army destroyed it. the church in the castle was not destroyed, and is one of the most pictured building in budapest
it was useful to those armies as a stable. in other wars with the turks, the turks took over budapest and change the cathedral into a mosque over night. they didn't want to desecrate the madonna so they just walled it up. in later wars with the turks, after this story was forgotten. a bomb dislodge the wall and poof! appears the virgin mary. that scared the turks, in the converted mosque, enough to leave the cathedral alone.
there is a very elaborate wall that goes around about a twenty city block area that is the buda castle
a view from the wall, across the brown danube river, to the parliament building that is modeled after the one in london, all the way down to being next to the river.
a cool hunting fountain at the palace on the castle hill
hero's' square in city park
i particularly liked this hero. a google search for 'hungarian hero deer antler bridle' doesn't really come up with much though.
another palace inside of central park. there are so many of these, we were just able to walk around and look at them from the outside.
a true hungarian hero
parliament at night

i cant say much more. i have a lot more pics of budapest, but i think i hit most of the highlights. the art and history museums were outstanding. the people speak a really funny language that is more impossible than russian, i mean for god sake, they have a different word for passport(that is about as an international word as i can think of). but luckily most everyone that we came in contact with spoke english, except at the american sandwich shop that was previously mentioned. our trip back was great. and here we are in the now.