Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Ostrankino Tower

From our apartment we occasionally see accidents at the intersections along our street, such as the one below. I have been told that Russian road law requires the vehicles involved in an accident, however minor, not be moved until the scene is attended by the traffic police. The police, being very busy dealing with the mayhem on Moscow's roads, can take a while to arrive. This vehicle was in the middle of the intersection for 3 hours.

Notice the 'pedestrian crossings'. These are purely decorative and serve no practical purpose.

Something else we can see from our apartment is the 7th tallest freestanding structure in the world. Ostrankino Tower. At 540.1 metres it is also the tallest freestanding structure in Europe, and has been so for 46 years since construction was completed in 1967. Note that I say freestanding - there are taller masts guyed by wires and drilling rigs in the ocean.

If you are curious, the current list is:
1. Burj Khalifa - Dubai - 829.8 m
2. Tokyo Skytree - Tokyo - 634 m
3. Abraj Al Bait Tower - Mecca - 601 m
4. Canton Tower - Guangzhou - 600 m
5. CN Tower - Toronto - 553 m
6. One World Trade Centre (Freedom Tower) - New York - 541.3
7. Ostrankino Tower - Moscow - 540.1

I'm a little surprised the Moscow authorities haven't sent some chap up to the top of the mast to attach a broomstick - that should be just about long enough to get 6th place back from the Freedom Tower.

After I told him he was looking at the 7th highest structure, a visitor recently remarked that it didn't look tall enough to be in the top 10 and I have to agree, I was also surprised when I found out. Maybe its the lack of bulk.

The interior of the tower was burnt out in a fire on 27 August 2000, which killed 3 people. Fortunately the fire broke out above the observation deck and restaurant, so most people were safely evacuated. This occurred soon after the Kursk submarine tragedy on 12 August, with which non-Russians are probably more familiar. Not a good month for Russia.

The observation deck is now open for guided groups, though there is no sign of the restaurant reappearing.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day

Lunchtime at Sparrow Hills last week produced the first evidence of Spring in the form of a worker enjoying a lunchtime sunbathe beside the Moscow River. Personally I don't think 15 degrees is quite warm enough to shed my shirt, but it has been a long winter.

Oh my, that feels sooo good!

Today is May Day. Traditionally a worker's holiday, it seems to be as much, if not more, a celebration of the arrival of Spring. The length of Tverskaya Ulitsa (a couple of kilometres) was blocked to traffic and access to pedestrians permitted only after passing through security checks. Ever security conscious, I expect the Moscow authorities are even more jumpy after recent events in Boston.

No sign, though, of anyone doing anything other than enjoying the day.

Excuse me, has anyone seen my balloon?
All right, you lot, just wait for the signal
Always on the alert for unauthorized interplanetary beings, a Man in Black mingles unobtrusively with the sunflower squad at the May Day parade.
Igor, put the kettle on, love. The family's arrived

No dear, I really haven't seen your balloon.