Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Yesterday was Victory Day, the commemoration of the day that the German Instrument of Surrender in WWII entered into force (if you are a history nerd, you may know that this date is documented as May 8 - however, as it was 11:01 p.m. in Germany, it was already May 9 in the USSR). We went to see the parade - well, actually, since the real parade takes place only on Red Square, we went to watch the artillery driving back from the parade. Their return route passes right by the Embassy, so we only had to walk two blocks to find a good viewing spot.
The police were out en force, likely to ensure that we didn't rush the artillery thundering down the road. It was kind of surreal to watch scores (possibly hundreds; I didn't count) of enormous military vehicles roll through. I kept wondering whether this was a little taste of what it was actually like to watch military occupations (or liberations) in progress in the last century.
(Not really related, but see the building at the back of the photo below, with the tall spire? That's the Radisson/Hotel Ukraina. This will be relevant later in the post.)
Also, we were relieved to know that we had picked the right side of the street for exhaust-less viewing.
Later in the evening, Jeremy and I went out to dinner and to watch the fireworks. On our way, we stopped in at the Radisson to check out their cool Kremlin diorama, and to marvel at the sheer outrageousness of the mark-ups on souvenirs in the gift shop (like a set of Christmas tree ornaments, offered for just shy of $90, which were identical to a set I got for $10 at Izmailovo market last year). And then we saw this:
Guess it's a problem.
After dinner, we watched the fireworks. Had we known that they were going to be at Victory Park, we would have gone there, but we ended up just watching from the bridge by the Radisson.
Also, I was going to do a separate post about Mother's Day, but blogging time has been hard to come by recently, so I will just say it was a great day, and leave you with this visual: