I am in Moscow, that part of the mission is accomplished. But it is not easy!
On the plane from London I was lucky enough to sit next to a very nice Russian girl who happened t olive in Moscow, and who was very helpful in answering the questions I had : Is it dangerous alone? No. Is the metro difficult? No. We talked about film, both British ones and Russian ones, she recommended me 2 cinema’s in Moscow and it was nice. When the pilot gave us flight information and told us that it was -5 in Moscow, we looked at each other and said “Wow, it’s warm!”
We split at the luggage collection point.
I found my suitcase, and first there I realised that I was standing on a place where there was no English word whatsoever to be found, and I had no idea where to go. A lady pointed me through customs, and I was thinking how buggered I would be if my driver wouldn’t be there. The relief when I saw someone holding a piece of paper with my name was huge. He gave me my train tickets and brought me to my hotel.
I was there late in the afternoon, and even though I could sleep, I decided to just give it all and try the metro to the city centre. I managed to buy a metro ticket. But the challenge is that all station names are in Russian and the only way to keep track of them is to count the number of stations I have to go. It went fine, I stepped out where I wanted to step out. The next thing was finding the Red Square, which seemed impossible. All street names are in cyrillic Russian too but my map had the tourist names on it. I asked people. Red Square? They had no idea. Kremlin? They looked weird at me. And I felt really really lost. Nobody seems to speak English over her. I decided to give up, I was freezing my but off, and I was hungry. When it even seemed impossible to order a cheeseburger in the MacDonalds because they don’t speak one single word of English either I was ready to give up.
And then I thought:
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
And Davy came and gave all the Laistrygonians, Cyclops, and wild Poseidons a kick in the but. We ate our burger, took the metro home and fell asleep rather quickly.
Today the sun is shining. It is white. Did I tell you there is snow in Moscow? Wohoo there is snow in Moscow! It is cold but it is bearable with a few layers of clothes. It makes your nose run, but the fresh cold air is beautiful while walking in the sun.
I asked a friendly policeman where the Red Square was. He had no idea. I showed him with my arms : a biiiiiig square. “Oh, Leninski?” he said. “Leninski!” I said to him. We both laughed. He told me in Russian with his arms where to go. I said “Spassiba” which is my first Russian word, it means “Thank you!” and I use it a lot. I puts smiles on peoples faces when I say it. We both smiled and I waved at him and found the Red Square. Pfew, that was a good feeling.
There seem to be very few tourists here at the moment, and people look weird at me in the metro and on the street. I try to look as cool (which isn’t hard with those temperatures) and confident as I can, pretending that I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going.
I feel better now, I desperately need a map with Russian street names, as the one in my Lonely Planet book is useless. So now I will go out and explore the city a bit more, and see if I can find that map somewhere.
From your Russia correspondent:
From Russia – with Love.