SAMARA: This couple was returning home on Woman's Day from their walk across the frozen Volga with their 8 month-old dog. They said it only took about 15-20 minutes to make the cross, which others complete via a boat ride across the ice. They said their daughter has been living in Los Angeles for the last three years with her Russian husband, having opened a music retail store.
Ksenia and Danil, 14, were walking along the frozen Volga in Samara around sunset time on Woman's Day. Danil had given her five tulips, red and yellow, but Ksenia left them at a cafe fearing they would freeze if she took them on their Volga River walk. Both teenagers study English 6 times a week at an advanced high school and both have studied English abroad, Ksenia having spent 3 weeks in upstate New York. Danil would like to be a chemist while Ksenia said she would like to become an engineer. When I asked them what is lacking in Samara, they were quick to answer: ''We want a Starbucks in the middle of the city,'' said Danil. ''It is the best coffee in the world,'' chimed in Ksenia. Starbucks is in fact opening at the moment their first store in Samara, but it is located at the airport, a good 30 minutes from the center of town.
RAMENSKOE, MOSCOW SUBURBS: I could see a group of school children from across a pond playing on the ice. One was skating in circles with a hockey stick. As I git closer, I realized the hockey player was an adult. As I got around to that end of the pond, I realized it was a pensioner. He said his name was Nikolai and had worked his whole life as a machine factory. Now in his mid 60s and retired, he got back into ice skating a few years ago to stay in shape. He said he had gone a few decades without skating, but quickly got back in the grove.