Saturday, July 30, 2011

Moscow, Not On The Hudson

Just a short post today. Still a bit bleary, and not from the Vodka. Left my place at 4:00 PM on Thursday for a 7:50 PM flight to London and then on to Moscow. Finally got to Moscow at about 4:00 PM (there time) on Friday. See, "there time" was a bit of a pun. Normally you would say "their time" but it was the time there, or actually here, now. I am very amusing when I am bleary. Caught our bus to the boat and that was another two hour ride, and that was after spending a couple of hours in the airport clearing immigration and customs. More on that in a minute.

Anyway, we had our dinner, listened to a short description of our trip and life aboard our boat. Then a gin and tonic and off to bed where I slept until 9:15 AM this morning. Would have slept longer except the maid woke us up. Good thing too, breakfast was over at 10:00 PM. Now the Mysterious Chinese Woman is listening to a talk on Russian souvenirs and then we have lunch and are off on an afternoon tour that runs into the evening. Busy day, but we get to go shopping at GUM, the famous huge Moscow department store. Oh, and we get to ride the subway. It is supposed to be spectacular.

I learned that "Kremlin" means "Castle" in Russian ao although when we in the United States hear the word we automatically think of the one in Moscow, in Russia there are many Kremlins and you need to specify which one you are talking about. See, this trip is already educational.

Okay, immigration and customs. In one respect, it was a piece of cake. No forms to fill out (already had my visa) and just walked through customs. The fiasco was the mob scene at the immigration booths. There were no line markings and one sign pointed to a dead end. As a result you had a mob pushing forward trying to get through. Finally the military or police (big guys dressed in riot gear) arrived on the scene to try to instill some order. They tried to get everyone to move back, but they did it from the front and you literally could not take a step back due to the crush from behind. In all my years I have never been in a mob quite like it. And there really was no need for it, that I could see, other than there was no one there initially to try to instill any order and there were no markings to indicate where lines should form. It did look like part of the immigration area, the one where the signs were pointing, was closed for renovations or something, so that probably added to, or actually caused, the whole mess.

Anyway, had the best beef stroganoff that I have ever had for dinner last night and a light breakfast of smoked salmon and Champagne for breakfast this morning, so I am now ready to face the day. I wish the coffee was a bit better, it tastes like Taster's Choice instant or something, but I have had much worse.

Buying my rubles in advance wasn't really necessary because they do have ATMs here that dispense them. But the one benefit was that I was able to buy a beer in the Moscow Airport to tide me over while waiting for our bus to depart.

Tomorrow I should have more free time as well as pictures so look for a longer post. I seem to have a pretty good internet connection on the boat, at least here in Moscow where we will be spending a few days before continuing on. Until then, well, whatever the Russian word for "adios" may be.