COMING IN TO MOSCOW THIS AM.
It is almost time isn’t it? For years I’ve dreamed of taking the Trans-Siberian train. Years. Tomorrow night I climb aboard. Will I ever repeat that saying ‘be careful what you ask for…’ in regard to Siberia. Before I overdramatize this whole thing it’s important to remind myself it is only five day for heaven’s sake—and there’s a long break after four of those days. How traumatic could that be under any circumstance? In other words…Ms. Rosenstein, how will I feel about you not being here five days from now?
Meanwhile. Back in the Hotel Budapest in the center of Moscow where I’ve collapsed after another day of walking five hours…solid walking…this guide guy was ruthless. Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral (those magical fairytale domes we always see as the New Year’s Eve fireworks travel around the world), the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb, Alexander Garden, GUM and other stuff. It is almost ironic that the weather has been perfect for sight-seeing this entire trip. I’ve mentioned it before but it deserves another moment of praise—mid-70s, mellow sun, that perfect end of summer moment. Can’t say I would trade this for my longed-for rain. Maybe tomorrow the Museum of Modern Art and a little shopping at GUM. We walked through there today and it is a department store as they were meant to be. Combination of all the delightful things a real old-fashioned department store includes…interesting architecture, great stuff of every imaginable stripe, tantalizing food scents in the air and stopping for a taste of Beluga caviar. For only a few hundred dollars I could get enough of that delicious black sin to eat for the whole train ride. Or I can just continue on with crackers and Nescafe.
Talked Nikolay, my guide into eating at a French sidewalk café at the end of the day’s marathon and had the best – and also the lightest – lunch I’ve had in a long while. The appetizer said ravioli with veggies, goat cheese and basil and it turns out to be a member of the foam family of gourmet Nordic/French cuisine. So mostly salty foam with these delicate little pasta bites with bit of something crispy and meaty and buttery inside. Wow…what an amazing thing it was. Tomorrow Borscht though. Food is not expensive here. Well not exactly cheap but stateside prices…and the dollar being very strong at the moment doesn’t hurt.
I’ve had long talks with all my various guides about life then and now, ups and downs, in the Soviet Union, post-Soviet times and right now. Really interesting conversations. We Americans know so little really. Of the good or the bad. The whole safety net crumbled along with the breakup of the Union and it’s never been rebuilt so while the rich have definitely gotten richer nothing so very wonderful has happened for the ordinary people. Those I’ve talked to seem to have very mixed feelings about Putin, rather proud of him on one hand, but a little nervous about how it will all turn out. And of course Ukraine inspires opinions from points in history that we know nothing about because in the U.S. we do not believe in studying history!
Need to reorganize the bags with my faux-pajamas at the top, wash a couple of things, and sort photos for your viewing pleasure.
One more post tomorrow night and I disappear. But Google came back after saying it was blocked and I downloaded the 1000+ page book on Peter the Great so I’ll be well and truly entertained and educated while absent.
Random images from the day.