200-year-old shoes on Tverskaya
In 1786, a ship called the Catherina von Flensburg sank off the shores of Cornwall, England. The ill-fated vessel’s cargo included top-quality reindeer calf leather on its way from St. Petersburg to Genoa. Two hundred years later this very same precious leather is back in Russia - in the form of a pair of shoes on display in a Tverskaya Street boutique.
The English shoe salon Hampton Hall adjacent to the Marriott Tverskaya Hotel is the proud curator of these precious shoes. Hampton Hall owner Linda Alexandrov says the shoes are more of a "museum piece" than an item for sale, but admits that the store can special-order the shoes from New & Lingwood in England if Moscow-based clients are willing to pay the price of $2,000.00.
In the 18th century, Russian reindeer calf was famous for its water resistance and pleasing aroma. The leather was specially treated with seal and mink oils, as well as birch tanning oil. Although nowadays the basic ingredients are known, the exact tanning recipe was lost in the early 1900s and has yet to be rediscovered. That is why the discovery of the 200-year-old Russia calf leather on the bottom of the sea caused quite a bit of excitement among craftsmen of fine shoes. The Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall, was the rightful owner of the Catherina’s treasures, but he waived his claim to the hides stating that the hides should be sold to finance excavation of the whole brig.
To have a look at these exquisite shoes, touch them, and smell them - they smell surprisingly fresh, considering they were underwater for two centuries - contact Hampton Hall at 34 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya, Tel. 540 7464.
Ohm Sweet Ohm
If you’re feeling stressed out by office life, blitzed by metro hassle or just suffering the Moscow blues and need to find a little inner peace, you may be interested to know that Yoga classes are now available in the city in English. The Yoga Studio on the Old Arbat offers a variety of classes rooted in different schools offering visitors everything from purely physical relief to a path to spiritual enlightenment.
Following the methods of the 85-year old Indian guru Yengar, the studio teaches asanas (static body positions) and pranayma (breathing practices). Interested parties are welcome to attend class in English on Mondays between 10am and 11:30am. If you’re busy at that time you can register for a new class which will be held on Thursdays at 8am, making it possible for office workers to attain a little transcendental bliss before work. The studio is at 51 Arbat, Bldg. 2. 250 rubles per class, monthly passes available. Contact: Alla Malloy in the studio at 241 6839, email@example.com, www.yogastudio.ru
Meanwhile Sahaja ("spontaneous") yoga teaches mediation right away, and for free. A new class starts on June, 12, and will run every Saturday from 10 am to 12am at Leninsky Prospekt 45, apt.465, entrance 16, 6th floor, code 465 (M. Leninsky prospect, 10 min. walk from the station). For details please call: 135 1176 (Sveta or Jimmy Kotwani), 8 903 160 41 63 (Dr. Nishi Pachnina, mobile). Finally the Iyengar yoga center in Moscow operates an informative website you can visit at www.yoga.ru.
Moscow is speeding up, but it ain’t cheap
Fed up with dialup? Can’t wait months or years until high-speed Internet access in Russia gets cheaper and the quality of service higher? Well, go for the best options on the market so far. Here you basically have two choices: ADSL or Local Area Network. A popular plan of MTU, a major Russian Internet provider, offers you 1 Gigabit of traffic monthly for $30 per month and a rather fast connection of 1 megabit per second (www.stream.ru). One Gigabit should satisfy most of your needs. ADSL equipment is relatively easy to set up, but you can also call the Stream technician to do it for you for a relatively small fee. However, you would also need an initial investment in ADSL equipment (about $100-150). You also need a good-quality telephone line in your apartment to get started. Above all, at the moment MTU seems to be overloaded with orders, so you might wait for ages until they get to you.
MTU’s competitors are the so-called home, or local, networks. They connect a large number of computers in a certain area and hook them up to one fast Internet connection. However, since there are many users sharing the same connection, the quality of service (the speed, for instance) depends on the number of users and their activity. The upside of local networks is that they’re cheap for low traffic (mail-only or casual use) subscribers and facilitate free access to local resources (MP3s, videos, etc.).