Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, a First Team All-WNBA selection in all three of her seasons in the league, is playing overseas in Russia this winter with Dynamo Moscow in the EuroLeague. She departed on January 1 to join her team and will be there with them until the completion of the season sometime in April. She will be checking in and sharing her experiences with WNBA.com twice a month until she returns.


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From Russia With Love: Volume One
January 24, 2005, Moscow, Russia: What's up everyone!!!!

Well, I've made it to Week Three and I still have yet to feel homesick! I have to give credit to my DVD's, MTV and a whole lot of basketball. Don't worry though, I'm having fun as well, so I can't complain.

I feel totally settled now and am learning more and more about the culture here in Moscow. Of course I am here to play basketball but I never pass up the opportunity to check out new things. Elena Baranova and her boyfriend, Boris, took me out to dinner for some Russian cuisine and it was yummy. I also hit up the mall with Kamila the other day, which I found to be EXACTLY like the malls in the U.S., except that the prices are MUCH higher. Of all the things I've seen and done, though, there are two days that stick out the most so far.

Memorable Day #1:

Red Square, home of the Kremlin, Lenin's tomb and monkeys.

If you've heard of Moscow, you've probably heard of the Red Square. Its right in the middle of the city adjacent to the Kremlin and is popular because of the beautiful buildings, museums and St. Basil's Cathedral. It is also well known because of the Lobnoye Mesto, or "Place of Skulls," where public executions once took place. Now I'm no history buff or anything like that, but to actually be there and see all this with my own eyes was unforgettable. I could not put my camera down! I have to admit, though, my favorite part about being there doesn't have much to do with the history. It was seeing Lenin's tomb, then looking directly across the walking mall to see an actual mall with a Louis Vuitton store in front. This made me laugh for some reason :)!

Other things of note were the men standing outside the entrance holding monkeys. Kamila whispered "hold on to your purse and don't touch," so that was cool. After checking out all the sites and taking some pictures of ourselves and people in furry hats, we shopped around a little bit and ended up at a sushi restaurant. Since arriving in Moscow, I've had sushi three times at three different restaurants... Not bad...

Which brings us to Memorable Day #2, or should I say Memorable Night:

When you are in another country, there are always sites to be seen and new cultures to experience. Part of that is going out and enjoying the nightlife. A few of the guys from the Dynamo men's team and a few of the women from our team did just that a week or so ago. We both had the next day off so we went to dinner at (you guessed it) a sushi restaurant in downtown Moscow before hitting the town.

Now I would normally consider myself more of a hip hop fan when it comes to the type of music I want to listen to when I go out, but in Moscow, those are hard to come by. Instead, I had to follow the group and check out a techno club. It was interesting, to say the least. It was a much older crowd than I expected, and a lot of the guys wore shirts with their chest hair a-flowin'. SWEET! The music was pretty good, too. And I quickly realized that "techno club" wasn't just a clever name. This place played techno from Russia, Turkey, Greece and other parts of Europe.

Me and Kamila, no doubt dining at a sushi restaurant.

I bet you are wondering if the U.S. was represented that night? Well, it was! I've never been more thrilled to hear Ricky Martin in my life. When "Livin La Vida Loca" came on, I found myself singing along in excitement. When "Its Raining Men" played I almost made it to the dance floor (to pay tribute to a friend who made that song famous), but it was "YMCA" that finally got me going... a Village People classic that everyone, errr, make that, everyone in America, knows. Kamila and I were LITERALLY, the only people in the jam-packed club that did the hand motions of Y-M-C-A. I was dumbfounded! I could not believe this dance didn't make it across the Atlantic Ocean. Of course this made me get into it even more, and by the end, I think my teammates at least knew the dance. My clubbin' experience also featured some wine and a fruit platter with sugar splattered on top! Team that up with YMCA and you've got a tough combination to beat!

***

Like I said earlier, I am here to play some bball, so let me update you on that as well. Our team is doing very well, both in the Russian league and the EuroLeague. Our Euro record is a little misleading because we have yet to be at full strength. Elena has yet to play because of a finger injury but will suit up this weekend against Samara, which happens to be Sheryl Swoopes's team and a big Russian League rival. Good timing, Elena!

I think we are still getting to know each other as players, but with each game it gets better and better so I'm confident there are only good things to come :)! It's also great getting to know my teammates off the court. This past road trip I attempted to learn some Russian card games from two of my teammates, Natalie and Natasha, but I think they were getting frustrated with me. The name of the game is "stupid man" and I would explain it to you if I had the slightest idea how to play. The language barrier comes into play in many aspects of life! Besides that, the Ace, King, Queen and Jack look different so I was a little confused. I did understand Natalie when she told me her son learned this game when he was 3... she made that part very clear, haha :)!

Alright, that's all for now. Tune in next time to hear about my train experience, our big game against Samara as well as a visit from my pops!

Hope all is well, and Go PATS! I mean EAGLES! Ok, whatever floats your boat :)!

See ya!
Sue

Sue's List of Shout Outs:
1. My right glove - I lost you somewhere between Moscow and Kursk and I miss you dearly. Losing a glove in Russia is not a joking matter, people!
2. Yahoo! Games - especially spades. You've helped me get through many boring times.
3. WNBA refs - Yes, you read this correctly. I have a new found appreciation, and I'll leave it at that.

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