Saturday, September 27, 2008
Two kids in our school had birthdays this week. One turned six and the other three. Normally that wouldn’t be something to write home about, but these kids’ school parties included a puppet show, pony rides, and a circus (no live animals, but performers and clowns). We weren’t complaining either, because we didn’t have to teach the little kids on Friday due to the festivities. At the end of one of the parties they had everyone come to the middle of the room and dance. We joined in with the kids, and they played the hokie pokey!
This morning we toured the All-Russia Exhibition Center. The buildings are beautiful, but we were disappointed that they’d already turned the fountains off for winter. We still got some great pictures though, and did some shopping in some of the buildings. We went from there to the soccer stadium to watch Moscow play St. Petersburg. That’s not something I’d want to do again, but it was definitely a great cultural experience.
We were greeted by a line of guards who surrounded the entire stadium. We had to be patted down and have our bags searched, plus walk through two metal detectors. Once we were inside the stadium we realized our seats were on the other side, so we tried to walk around and get to the other end. But, once again, saw just more guards and lots of dead ends. We finally realized that the stadium was divided into four sections, and there is no way to cross between sections. We decided we would just have to leave, be searched all over again, and enter in the right section. But then someone brought it to our attention that our tickets had already been ripped and they may not let us back in. Finally we decided to be brave enough to approach one of the guards who very patiently pointed out to us that we were on the wrong side of the stadium. Duh! Then he realized we couldn’t get there because we’d already entered this side, and that our situation was actually quite complicated. But, before we knew it, someone sent out a guard with a security vest in English, ready to help the Americans. I think it was the highlight of his day. He had to give us a personal escort out of the stadium, walk us around to the other side (in front of the lines of guards we’d already passed twice—embarrassing!), and then through security again, and finally to our seats. He then informed us that our seats were in the midst of Moscow fans (not surprising, considering we’re in Moscow), and that they’re not a very good team, and probably wouldn’t even score, but that we should cheer for them no matter what. Gulya had already given us that warning, and also told us not to buy any paraphernalia associated with either team because if a fight breaks out we don’t want to be associated with the wrong side. Scary! I was actually glad Moscow didn’t score, because every time St. Petersburg did they lit flares and fireworks and threw confetti and flags. I was scared to see what would happen if our side scored. We decided to leave a little early because we didn’t want to have to be in the subway with that crowd of people, and I’m very glad we did because there were guards at every metro stop. I didn’t want to wait around long enough to find out why!