Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sights and Sounds Around the Capital

While in the capital, we did not have much of a chance to do more touristy things like visit the museum, opera, or some of the beautiful churches and statues around town, but we have enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of the city. Here is a small glimpse.

It has been unusually warm the last couple of days. It is cold but not unbearable. We have layered on top, but have not needed our thermal undies. It is very walk inside buildings. We have opened windows in the apartment to cool it down. If you are an RR family traveling soon, the packing lists say to bring warm clothing for sleeping, I would also recommend something light in case your apartment is as warm as ours.

People dress very fashionably. There are lots of dark colors, boots of every size, style, and height, and furs. Women always seem to be made up. Layers, scarves, and a big heavy coat is the norm.

This is a large supermarket near our apartment in the capital. It is like a Sam’s club. It is located at the corner street from our apartment, and it was the landmark that helped us find our way home the other day. The first floor is food, the second floor had Christmas decorations, and the third floor has anything and everything you could possibly need including toys.  It is set up like our super markets. I highly recommend the breads and pastries. They are delicious. An interesting side note, all the cashiers sit down and they place your change on the little tray on the counter.  Also, milk is delicious, 2% tastes like whole milk.

There are several malls in the center of the capital.  We went to one that had 5 stories of shopping and had a coi pond on the bottom floor. It was very clean and the stores look more like boutiques with a minimalist approach to how items are displayed. I wonder if there is a Walmart or Target type of stores? We have not seen one yet, but there is a large underground mall and the prices there were lower than the fancy mall. There is lots of shopping around the center of the capital, but we are enjoying all the “window watching”. Our $ is going to something more valuable than anything the capital has to offer.

Traffic and Parking
Traffic laws, what traffic laws!? Your eyes do not deceive you, people do drive and park on the sidewalks. : ) Walking around town is like a game of Frogger. Interesting enough, they are not angry drivers. They push their way through without much honking, screaming, or making certain hand gestures that are common in the US. : )

The buses are small and packed, but they run regularly and easy to access if you know where you are going.  Since we already got lost walking, taking a bus is not an option.  If you know Randell and I, you would know that we get lost regularly.  They also have electric trolleys which are really more like 2 large buses that are connected and run on electricity similar to those in the US.

This is a coffee truck. Do not be deceived, although it looks like there is a line in front of the truck, it is actually a blob of people. There is no such thing as forming a line. You push your way in and ask for what you need. For those of you who know me, I was very excited to see that… they sell expresso everywhere!  

 This is the view down our street. There is lots of shopping and old architecture in the capital. Walking is part of life here. Drinking is allowed on the streets, and alcohol is sold in kiosks or a type of stand that sell magazines, cigarettes, and odds and ends. Smoking is the national sport. : ) Often you can see people in clusters hanging out on the corners smoking. Smoke usually triggers my asthma, but after the first couple of days, I have gotten use to it.

Some building and shopping areas have Christmas decorations. I have see some of the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the store fronts.

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