Archive for May 3rd, 2008

St Basil\'s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow

Jon and I arrived in Moscow this evening to start our nine-day holiday in Russia. The weather is mild and sunny, and we’ve settled smoothly into our rented apartment near Tverskaya metro station (aka Pushkinskaya or Chekhovskaya). As you’d expect, every sign and map here uses the cyrillic alphabet, so lucky for us that we’ve come with a friend who’s originally from Moscow. (I’m sure Helen felt equally lucky having to translate the entire restaurant menu for us at dinner this evening).

I was going to say our departure this morning from Heathrow Terminal 5 was very snazzy (the terminal is a gleaming beauty, with outrageously nice duty-free shops and sleek, spacious bathrooms), but Helen and her husband, Nick, arrived at Moscow Domodedovo missing one piece of luggage. So now we suspect their bag was sucked into the vortex of their Terminal 5 transfer from a US-UK flight to their UK-Russia one. Here’s hoping the luggage finds its way to our door tomorrow.

The apartment we’ve rented is small, but clean and close to a few pretty restaurants and cafes (as well as to the South African Embassy), so I think it will make a nice base for the next few days before we go to St. Petersburg.

This evening, we ate nearby at a local restaurant called the Fisheria, which looked like a NJ diner, complete with harsh lighting and linoleum floors. The food was very very eh (the whole fish stuffed with congealed cheese will haunt me forever – see photo below), but the meal cost 1200 Rubles ($50 at 24 Rubles to the Dollar) per couple, so at least it wasn’t expensive. It was, however, very poor value.

cheese stuffed fish at Fisheria restaurant, Moscow

We were much more excited about the grocery store next door to the restaurant, which offered an enormous variety of foods for sale – everything from rice noodles to four different types of risotto rice. Faced with this sort of choice and abundance, I laughed when I thought about how we used to call our neighborhood Safeway in DC the “Soviet Safeway” because its shelves were always empty and its queues were endless.

I’m excited to start exploring Moscow in earnest tomorrow, so here’s hoping the good weather sticks around.

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