Saturday, Feb 23
11am our plane landed in Moscow. We are 9hours ahead of the home in US. We passed through customs, seeking the open doors and our translators on the other side. We met with George with all of our luggage there and immediately got into a large van we had chartered to take us out of the city. I wish I could have seen more of the city, but as of now, what I observed through the window will have to do. There was quite a mix of models of car. Many small, no trucks, lots of VW, and even Ford and Chevy! Possibly more than is seen in the US.
Snow is stacked up along the sides of the road and sidewalk at varying heights (from knee high to above the small cars), and blackened on the edges from the passing traffic’s dirt.
We made a brief stop at an open air market, outside the arena where they had held the Olympic games back in…what year? The year the U.S. had boycotted the games. We passed the large hotels that had been built to accommodate everyone.
The Market was overlooked by beautiful, colorful buildings with onion shaped tops. Dr. Szabo’s lecture came back into mind about byzantine influence. My own harpings came to mind on my lack of understanding of the history and cultures that had passed through here.
The market was a bit overwhelming. Especially because the sleep on the flight seemed inadequate to function on at what my body claimed to be around 4am home time.
I helped mom select gifts to thank people back home who have helped her and assisted her along the way. It was hard to narrow down the list. My own is so long that I knew there was no way I could pick for everyone. How do you find someone small and packable that nods to both beauty and culture? And is perhaps functional and affordable as well.
We passed the furry Russian hats, cheap knockoffs, and expensive fox colored a hue of blue.
There were the eggs that looked like that which the Czar would have…the half eggs that open partway and are embellished with sparkles and designs. Handmade wooden boxes were often seen, carved with delicate designs on the lids, all around the sides, and even on the inside bottom. Linens were frequent (specific to this region?) handmade and decorated. Amber..which is also common for this area, in large pieces for necklaces, or in small pretty silver settings. Polish painted places and bowls. Also colorful scarves! Crisp ones, wool ones, crocheted ones. If you wanted to select anything, sometimes they would describe the item in Russian, then I would smile or say something and sometimes the person would know pieces or phrases of English. Or else they would show the price in USD on the calculator. Bartering was not needed, though good deals were sometime given…which brought the price closer to it’s value.
Time did not permit us to linger over everything.
We hurried back to the meeting shishkabob place close to the front. Hurrying over the walkway that was made of un-even ice. There was just enough dirt and grit on top to provide some traction. But needless to say, the majority of this market that I saw consisted of me staring down where my footing would be and focusing on not falling.
We walked above the area where all the grills were fired up and the men were behind them cooking the chicken, pork, or salmon that we had selected. Upstairs we entered the area we were to sit, smoky from the cooking and the cigarettes combined. It was much warmer, though outside was 14 degrees F. warm for them. And this winter has prepared me to be more accepting of that sort of temp. accepting but not enjoying.
Central heating involves pipes that run around a room, emitting the heat from the hot water steaming through it. (I think?) anways, I has rather happy that my backside was squished against one of these said warm pipes.
The food, was absolutely delicious! Crispy fresh salmon. (and only a few bones to pick out) and a salad made of mostly onions, but still tasted good. Tea afterwards. The good kind of tea. Hot,with sugar and a slice of lemon.
Back onto the van for the next jaunt. We dropped off George and his daughter in Vladimir, about 3 hours east of Moscow.
Dinner was at Globle, a supersized type walmart that has a cafeteria on the side. With the one translator we picked out food. I found a bottle of juice of carrots and mixed berries. It was thick and sweet and nutritious tasting. I got a greek salad that consisted of cucumbers, onions, a little cabbage, tomatoes, and soft possibly feta or goat cheese. A plate of mashed potatoes, and chicken something gravy. And dessert of frozen strawberries with heavy, but real, whipped cream ontop and a sprig of mint. Mom tried a piece of cake, a dry, somewhat soft graham crackers alternated with a custard and covered in a light layer of dark chocolate.
We exchanged our money here also..or what half of it they would take. Creases were frowned upon. And ANY ink mark, smudge, or hint of color on any corner was rejected. And these are the bills we had gone to the bank and selected. Ah well, so it goes.
Back on the van for the last couple hours.
We arrived at our Hotel in Ivanavo a little after 10. Crammed into the tiny elevator to our rooms. after a scalding hot, relaxing bath in a short but useful, tub. I stretched out on that wonderful, narrow, sagging bed and conked out.