I am not going to bore you with my personal history and what is the reason that my family and I have decided to go to Russia this summer. Let's just say that some of us wanted to go more than others and it was time to do it. My husband and I both have many friends there and lots of memories. After many days of planning, buying tickets, talking on Skype, and finally packing (which I hate to do) we were ready to go. The plan was to visit 4 cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, and Saratov) in 12 days.
My husband and I had tickets on the flight that comes a few hours before the flight of our daughter who was born in the US and have never been to Russia. My cousin was meeting us all at the Domodedovo airport in Moscow.
In the US it is about 3 hour drive for us from home to the airport, so that day we allowed enough time to get there and get on the plane. But it was not in our cards to go as planned and we got stuck in the traffic long enough to hear: " Yes, the plane is still here, but your luggage cannot make it. We can't put you on this plane."
I do not need to describe our calm and collected state when we heard this, do I?
After almost an hour on a cell phone we got another flight to Munich but it was flying in late to connect with our next flight to Moscow. That meant two things: 1. We would have to look for another flight from there, and 2. Our daughter is going to come to Moscow and we are not there. She does not know that since our phones are not working in Europe. She also has no idea how my cousin looks and he does not know her. Although she is fluent in Russian, she has no experience with speaking it in a real situation, not just family and friends.
From Munich we were able to call my cousin's wife and tell her what happened. My cousin was informed and prepared a sign with her name. Meanwhile, we got our next tickets and were scheduled to fly into Moscow in a few hours after her. So, our daughter gets out towards hungry for tired, ready to pay whatever foreign passengers Russian "taxi" drivers and passes her first test with A+ by walking through without giving in. The only problem was she passed my cousin with his sign as well. She is also looking for us, not him. When she understood that something is wrong, she was able to connect with my cousin through his wife (another long but a funny story) and when we landed they were waiting for us together.
I was thinking that from this point on everything that many of our friends who travel to Russia often warned us about will happen and our trip will not be pleasant. But it turned out to be a great trip.
In Moscow we did all the touristy stuff: The Red Square, Kremlin, some famous streets, Bolshoi Theater. We even saw a play at the Vakhtangov theater. It was a Russian version of All About Eve with Vasili Lanovoi (you could say a Russian Cary Grant) playing the main part. At 77 he is still handsome and full of energy.
The food was wonderful everywhere we went to eat. We even followed my daughter's acquaintance's suggestion and saw the area called The Red October (I know, everything seems red in Moscow, but it is not so.) and had some very interesting sightseeing including Cathedral of Christ the Savior that was rebuilt in 1998.
It was completely demolished during the Soviet era.
Who can be in Moscow and not get a glance at the Saint Basil’s Cathedral
And the history museum right across the Red Square
And the famous Bol'shoi Theater
We did a lot in a very short time. I am showing only beautiful historical buildings here, but there are people, a huge amount of cars, buildings where people leave, metro (subway like a museum inside each station), theaters, very wide streets...
We all had a different impression of this city. My husband and I looked at it through our old time memories when Moscow was a showcase for a foreigner. It was always clean, taken care of, the city to shine. It is not anymore. It is dusty, the roads are all cracked and have holes, many buildings are in a very bad state. This was upsetting to me the very first day. The second day came and I already did not pay attention to such things as much, so I could enjoy Moscow more.
One more thing was interesting for us. All young women are wearing VERY high heels all day long.
Take a look. She is walking on cobble-stoned surface at 10 a.m.
These photographs are taken by Rebecca Goberstein.
If you want to see more you can ask me for a link to my album.
Next is Saratov.