Trip Report: Part 5: The Moscow Circus

(Note: Please read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 first)

A few days before I was scheduled to fly back to Malta to catch my return flight to NYC via London (yeah, crazy flight path) Lena and I decided to go see the famous Nikulin Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, an easy walk form the flat I had rented from Moscow Rick.

I hadn’t been to a circus since I was a kid (one of those crappy traveling circuses that criss-cross the Midwest every year) so I had no idea what to expect. This was a real circus, with a real ring, inside a building specially designed for a circus. We arrived and after buying some expensive Pepsi and cotton candy, found our seats. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was a performer dressed up as an American tourist in a trenchcoat who, about 10 minutes before the show started, would start looking for his seat by making the entire row get up so he could get past. Halfway down the row, he’d look at his ticket, shake his head and say something in English (sometimes German) to the audience members nearest him. He would then back out of the row, making everyone get up again, climb up the stands to another row and repeat this process. He had done this about three times before I even realized that he was part of the act, and not some bumbling clueless tourist. His act was that believable.

The circus act began with an amazing group of trapeze fliers, these guys would swing and fly around the ring on ropes at amazing speeds. At one point, they used these long elastic ropes to fling themselves into a net at about 30 miles an hour, tumbling the entire way. I managed to snap a picture of one of them hitting the net. I was only able to take a few pictures before the ushers told me that pictures were not allowed but I grabbed a few later by leaving my camera sitting on my leg and leaving the flash off. I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the light-show and dancers. Amazing stuff.

The circus act was about 90 minutes long, and well worth the $10 or so the tickets cost. Despite the high cost-of-living in Moscow, the prices for entertainment are still lower than when compared to places like New York City and London. If you ever get to Moscow, I recommend the Nikulin Moscow Circus.

Soon, the time for me to leave came. The week I spent in Moscow with Lena was a memorable one. If and when I go back to Russia, I think I’ll spent some more time in Moscow but as much as I hear about the beauty of St. Petersburg (celebrating 300 years this year), I might skip Moscow and go there instead. I also thought a lot about taking the Tans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing this summer or fall but it depends on my job situation and funding.

The morning we had to leave, Moscow Rick arranged a car service to take us both back to Domodedovo airport so I could catch my flight to Malta and Lena’s to Krasnoyarsk. Even though our flights were about 6 hours apart, I ended up sitting at the gate for most of this time while they tried to de-ice the latch to the luggage compartment on the plane. I befriended a guy named Marc who worked at the Maltese embassy in Moscow and was going back to Malta to visit his family for the Christmas holidays. When the plane finally arrived in Malta more than seven hours late, Marc’s family gave me a ride to my hotel.

I had about 12 hours before my flight to London, so I dropped my bags off at the hotel and went to the nearby casino to lose another $100. In Malta, the casinos play a version of poker called Oasis Poker that is pretty easy to learn. I found it interesting that the casinos in Russia also have Oasis Poker tables, but nothing like Let It Ride or Caribbean Stud which are prominent in most of the casinos in America.

I eventually caught my flight back to London, which landed at Gatwick airport after midnight. I needed to transfer to Heathrow but unfortunately all of the buses and trains between Gatwick and Heathrow stop running after 11:30 PM, so the only option was to take an expensive taxi. I knew ahead of time that this was going to be a problem, so I stayed alert and ended up finding an older Australian couple who had the same problem so we shared the cost of a taxi to Heathrow. They were extremely nice too and insisted I come visit Australia, since I had never been there.

I’ve been back in NYC since the middle of March, and even though I still have a bad case of wanderlust I know that I cannot travel again for a little while. I need to re-focus, find a good job, rebuild my finances and figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life. I’m in the middle of re-launching my weblog, am working on a number of freelance projects so I can pay my bills and have a contractor in Siberia writing some back-end PHP code for me to drive a web site idea I’ve been sitting on for a few years now. All told, I am happy I made the decision to travel. It opened my eyes up to a world I had almost forgotten from my childhood travels.

For the July 4th weekend, my twin brother and I are traveling back to Michigan to attend the wedding of our older brother. Packed away in my mom’s house are thousands of slides and photographs that our father took during the first 13 years of my life. My plan is to buy a slide scanner, get all of these pictures transferred to digital, and build a web site for our family. I will also publish some of the better ones on camworld. I feel that doing this will reconnect me with my own past and help me understand myself. I’m a little giddy at the thought but I know it will be a fun personal project. I can’t wait.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at May 18, 2003 07:11 PM

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