Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Moscow

We expected only to have one day in Moscow, depending on how early we could get there in the morning. But, we got to Vladimir a day ahead of our original plan and discovered that we could get a room above Moscow's “Belorussky” train station, so we took a late-afternoon train from Vladimir. We rode the continuation of our super-duper fast train from Nizhny Novgorod, but this time the ticket agent didn’t give us a choice of classes and we ended up riding “Luxe,” which isn’t as deluxe as you might guess. It was perfectly fine, but we spent the entire two-plus hours watching in amazement the huge queue of people waiting to use the restroom. I guess there must have been a lot of people in our train car, and apparently they’d all had tea at the station. Fortunately, we didn’t need to join that crowd.

View from our window over the train station. Click on it and then go right for more.
Relieved to discover that our hotel was clean and perfectly normal, we asked the charming desk clerk for a recommendation of a restaurant for dinner. We said that we were open to any cuisine, but that we wanted something interesting. She ventured, with great enthusiasm to suggest an American-style diner, a hamburger joint with plenty of chrome and waitresses in 50’s-style uniforms. While this wasn’t what we had in mind, she presented her idea with such enthusiasm that we really couldn’t refuse. She beamed with delight when we said we’d go there.

It was great. Anachronistic, of course, but delightful. I started with a chocolate-banana milkshake and went on to have a perfectly cooked hamburger with southwestern salsa. The burgers came with fries and ketchup. I wouldn’t ordinarily eat any of this stuff, but what the heck: we’re on vacation. Rock-n-roll music played from a fake jukebox. We had a ball.

We left the window open in our room over the train tracks so we could hear the trains coming and going. It seemed like the right thing to do on a railroad vacation, and the open window let out the smoke smell that kept drifting into our room from I-don’t-know-where. Anyway, I liked having the train announcements leak into my dreams.

I don’t really have much to say about Moscow. We only had a day there, so we spent it near Red Square, the Kremlin and the Arbat. The weather turned cold on us, but we walked over 30,000 steps and saw lots of great stuff. I put a few pictures onto my photo site. The only thing about the day that I might call noteworthy was the amount of effort it took us to get inside the Kremlin. We passed numerous places that looked like ticket offices or entrances before we found the right door. Then, after we paid and headed in, a guard sent me back because I had a rucksack. Never mind that it’s smaller than Carrie’s purse and that it was empty at the time. It was a rucksack and I had to check it. The whole procedure took much longer than we expected.

I’m sure that Carrie will have cogent things to say about the touristic aspects of Moscow and I’ll let you know when she does. (Here you go.) But for now, we’re off to see Minsk.

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