Thursday, July 7, 2005

Walking, traffic, and exercise.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 7:30:57 AM

Well, I have learned Russian words for two, well (as in oh well, or "well, yes"), yes (hehe), no (not always nyet), what, thanks, and some others. "You're welcome" seems to be an all purpose phrase with more meaning than just where we use 'you're welcome'. It will also be used by a merchant to invite you to look at his goods. So it holds more connotation in the more traditional sense of 'welcome'.

I haven't even unpacked my bike yet. I'm getting plenty of exercise, and haven't had much spare time. There is plenty of walking, and space for walking if I wanted just to walk for exercise. But the sightseeing walking is providing some exercise, and certainly as much as my feet can stand. I see a very few tourists exercising, and no locals. However, I am still primarily in the downtown area. Locals frequently get more exercise as a part of their daily lives than Americans. They walk more to get places. The hotel provides a couple of treadmill type machines - boooring. But they get used by the hotel residents.

In addition to the walking I am doing for sightseeing and exercise, there is one other reason I haven't unpacked my bike: the traffic. As I've mentioned before, the drivers follow the Latin American driving style - aggressive. They are, quite frankly, a bit intimidating. At first I noticed that they do make way for pedestrians, but they do not always do this. If the pedestrian can stop and avoid a collision, the driver may take the space. One has to pay attention. It doesn't do to walk and daydream or let your mind wander. In addition to automobile hazards, there are the sidewalk hazards. Scaffolding will be constructed without any barriers, and may have protruding sharp edges. Sidewalk construction, street construction - no barriers. Some building construction has minimal screening as a barrier, but frankly, this may be more to keep people out and protect the site than to protect people. Ok, so you have to pay attention. Well, I can do that.

At least for a while longer, I'll still be walking for exercise, as I sightsee. One can use the metro to advantage here. I want to put the bike together soon, though. Oh, and it's a good thing I brought my fenders, eh? I have seen some parks on the map that look like good destinations to do loops, ala Central Park. I'm going to ask some of the locals about this, but the difficulty here is that they are not bicycle riders, and therefore have little idea of what will work and what won't. No changes from the US there. I haven't seen a whole lot of bicycles here. An occasional mountain bike being used for transportation, a few freestylers riding somewhere on the metro - that's it. Maybe because of the winters? Or maybe because the Russians haven't any good bicycle factories, or a combination of the above.

I think I'm moving again this weekend, into an apartment instead of the hotel. That will give me a bit more room to lay things out.

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