Thursday, June 23, 2005

Moscow is Colored Headache Grey

Our train arrived into Moscow at 06:00 on a grey, cold, and rainy morning. We were both grumpy, dirty, and tired from the journey and it was showing. After calling every other hotel, city-center hostel, and travel agent in Moscow, we resigned ourselves to sleeping in a hostel out in the boonies. A long-ish tube ride and a very cold and damp walk later, we were in front of the reception door of the Sherstone Hostel - greeted by only a "we open at 9" sign. It was 8. Several grumpy cups of tea and some akward conversation later, we finally met Anastasia, the hostel administrator.

Bless her heart, she set us up as quick as possible, but the room we were allocated was full of hammering workmen. At this point, I thought Jason was going to die from a combination of fatigue, odor, and an intense need to urinate. About 30 minutes later, we were in our little room (shared with two others - a Swedish student called Anna and a Russian accountant recently returned from Boston called Sergei).

Put simply - our arrival in Moscow was not a happy one. After a nap, I walked Anna to the Metro than got very lost trying to walk back to the hostel via the scenic route. I did find a big flea market and scored some very sweet strawberries for the low low price of 140 roubles. After retracing a lot of steps, I got back to the room feeling damp and even unhappier. A warm meal at a local cafe and 2 beers later, I was feeling somewhat restored. Some vodkas and a bit of video editing before bed lightened spirits further.

The next morning, we didn't have enough roubles between us for breakfast, so we headed directly into the city. Bank. Lunch. Internet cafe. Things were looking up. We scored JP Rail pass exchange orders at a very helpful travel agent and then spent an hour drawing pictures and exchaning broken English and Russian to get train tickets to Omsk. That done, we walked up to Red Square and saw all the things you think of when you think of Moscow - St. Basil's, The Kremlin, and Lenin's tomb. Next stop - an American-themed bar/restaurant. Reports of free wifi at said bar turned out to be false, but the food was good, and Anna came out to join us. A quick stop by the Arbat for a beer at a student pub before running back to the hostel to make it in before some imaginary "they lock the doors" deadline of midnight.

We leave for Omsk tonight, having not met an locals, not really had a good time, but also not really having given Moscow much of a chance. Last TODOs are: stock up on books, food, water, and toilet paper. If time permits, we are also going for a dip in the local public bath and hopefully get a massage from some burly Russian. My shoulders are not used to carrying things 6 hours a day. Time for a bit of luxury.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word up from JavaOne. I'm gonna learn me some Developing for J2EE. That's ENTERPRISE EDITION, yo.

6/26/2005 3:53 PM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

next time you go to Moscow, stay the best, cheapest place to stay in the center is Sweet Moscow :

1/26/2006 10:41 AM gmt


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