Russia Christmas 2011

Jack and I have just returned from Moscow and what a memorable trip we had. I have done a lot of traveling with many different people, but Jack, at the age of 8, is without doubt the most incredible traveling companion I have ever been on the road with.

I just love spending time with him. We did a lot of fun things daily, totally off schedule, which is part of the fun: staying up late playing cards, reading, late night dinners, goofing off, telling jokes, then sleeping till noon.

Yet every day was filled with something different: skating in Gorky Park, an absolutely magical setting and one of the largest open ice parks in the world with lights and music to delight everyone. The weather was fantastic, averaging just around the freezing mark, not too warm yet not too cold to enjoy the skate.

We went skiing at a resort 1.5 hour drive outside of Moscow that Putin frequents when he is in town.
We visited pet shops to look at fish (his latest obsession). Jack was doing his research as he was set on getting his first pet fish and a small aquarium. We also went to one of the largest indoor/outdoor pet markets I have ever seen.  Because Russian kids have their holidays from December 26th to January 9th, all of Moscow`s 83 Museums were free to the public. Moscow is one of the biggest arts and culture capitals of the world. The line ups were huge, but we still managed to visit the Darwin Museum of History of Evolution, the Toy Museum, the newly opened Oceanarium (2 hour line up), an underwater aquarium that makes you feel like you are at the bottom of the ocean, the Aeronautic and Space Museum and the Museum of Cosmonautics. (

The end of our trip was marred with my father suffering a  heart attack the day before we left. He was taken away by ambulance and had to be hospitalized. He is recovering, but will need constant care, which I am frantically trying to arrange before he is released. (I won’t go into the details of hospitals and healthcare in Russia. That is a whole separate chapter). Aging is a natural part of life (he is now 88 and has had a very hard life), but in some parts of the world, including Russia, aging is infinitely harder. Trustworthy people are hard to find, retirement homes are almost nonexistent (and you can’t trust those either), private live-in caregivers recommended by some agencies have ulterior motives (people need a place to live in Moscow and often are abusive to the elderly they are entrusted to care for).

As always, I end my travel updates with this: I like to travel and explore strange and far-away places, but nothing even comes close to being back home in Canada. I am grateful to this wonderful country where life is normal, dignified and respected, where opportunities exist for everyone, where you don't have to bribe everyone everywhere every time to get anything at all, where people are polite and not afraid to say "I am sorry”. (Yes, we are often laughed at worldwide as Canadians are viewed as overly polite and apologetic, and I love it). I count my blessings and remind you to count yours if you don't already.

I am back to my hectic and exciting life. I have a busy year coming up: one of my main goals will involve building a house (which I intend to document on video and post on my Blog). That should be a lot of work and a lot of fun. Another is to take my business to a new level: I have remained stagnant, by choice, for the last few years. It worked for me as I was busy "playing" with Jack, but I am now ready to grow again. Stagnation, even by choice, is not a fun place for someone with my level of energy and expertise. I need to be involved, to help, advise, solve problems, share my knowledge and skills, and communicate.

As most of my business has always come from referrals from my happy clients, I will be asking you more vocally this year for your recommendations. I guess that means you will be hearing a lot more from me this coming year and years to come :):)

As always, I am here for you whenever you need my help.

Happy New Year!

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