St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow city centre, and blue skies.

I must have been about 10 years old. And I can still see and feel this moment very clearly. I was in the living room by myself (which is unusual when you have 9 siblings…). I loved watching sport events on tv (still do) and was watching what must have been an IAAF World Championship taking place in Moscow. The TV cameras would go wide, showing spectacular views of gold onion domes against blue skies. This is the moment I first thought “I want to go to places like this”. My mum was in the kitchen and I asked her “mum, have you ever wanted to travel?”. Of course she had – but then 10 kids came along…

I have been supremely lucky and have traveled to a number of countries for both work and play. And last year I found myself in Moscow – the city that first inspired my desire to see the world. Seeing those onion domes in person for the first time. WOW! I was there on a work trip, and I know that afforded me access to places I would never have been able to go – a very privileged visit and experience of Moscow. Lucky me.


At times it felt so surreal –  rushing around for site visits and meetings, all the while being aware that I was seeing these iconic images in person. And the memory of my 10-year old self clearly stating “I want to see places like this in person, I want to travel” was present throughout my stay. It may have taken a while, but it certainly is true what they say about putting a thought/desire out there into the universe and then just sitting back and letting the universe bring it to you — in ways you could never have imaged.

No pre-conceived ideas, no expectations, just a desire voiced in my head and out loud at age 10. A good reminder to be clear about what my heart wants and to let the universe help it along.

Graced with a hostess who is generous, kind, clearly proud of her city and country, and connected meant an experience I would not have otherwise had. Places like Gorky Park and the Kremlin came to life.


My trip to Moscow coincided with their May 9th national day parade – a very seriously impressive parade of military might. More impressive to me, however, was the march that followed. Hours and hours of a 6-lane street filled with people marching in honour of family members and loved ones lost in war (many of whom perished during WW2), carrying photos of their dearly departed. Now that’s a “remembrance day” parade! Just outside my hotel room window was an old veteran with who I imagine to have been his grandson. People marching by thanked him for his service and saluted and you could see and feel the emotion on his face. I hate war. I hate people killing others in the name of whatever belief. I have never understood why some people believe it is okay to hurt or kill others just because they are different. And the emotion of this march…the emotion of people honouring lost loved ones…this…was inescapable. It took a while for me to process my experiences of that day – from military might to heart might.

Parade Veteran

And then there are the cultural and athletic sides to this country. I’ve spent many an Olympic Games and world championships watching Russian gymnasts and figure skaters and have seen countless clips of the Bolshoi Ballet on TV. So imagine my excitement at the thought of actually going to the Bolshoi! Incredibly beautiful – the theatre, the dancers, the entire experience. Definitely a “pinch me” moment.

We were told that no photos of the performance are allowed…and yet people around me were snapping shots on their phones. I wanted to…but I knew the “rule”, so I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The final bows were all I could manage. And that’s okay – the memory of the ballet remains vivid.

And there was dinner at the Zhivago Grand Café – just the name itself “Zhivago” inspires and evokes – and the food was pretty darn good too.

No trip to Moscow would be complete without a glass of champagne – I saw it flowing on a number of occasions. Apparently they love their champagne – just as much as they love their vodka! It may have been the middle of the afternoon on a busy day, however it would have been rude to let one of my hosts drink on his own…sacrifices….

Although my days were filled with work-related meetings and site visits, I did manage a quick walk one evening, delighting in watching Muscovites rush around, enjoying themselves on a warm spring evening.

All in all – what an amazing opportunity and trip. It was my second trip to Russia, and the first to Moscow. I love seeing the history of places all around the world – be it in the architecture, music, culture, cuisine, people. So very thankful to my hosts for this trip!

It would seem that mum was with me – I thought of her often and of our conversation so many years ago. She loved music – there was always music playing and she sang often. Seeing these larger than life music notes in day time, and then lit up at night, felt like a sign that she was watching from above with a great big smile on her face – which of course put an even bigger smile on mine, and filled my heart. Merci maman.