I have arrived in Moscow! I nearly didn’t make it. DXB was chaotic on Friday. I arrived super early, but it still took me an hour or so to get through staff travel. Every flight attendant on their day off was wanting to travel back to Eastern Europe. Luckily, everyone managed to get on the flight, and I had the one spare seat on the plane next to me in business! I think it was actually broken – the little screen to move the seat wasn’t working – but it didn’t matter, so I moved to it so I could be on the aisle. The flight was uneventful (although it looked rather uncomfortable for the poor Russian man on the other side of the aisle who was clearly terrified of flying).
After a minor hiccup where my phone didn’t work at all at Domodedovo airport, I managed to find Sapphire and Alexandra. Because I was up the pointy end of the plane, I got through immigration and baggage control in about 10 minutes – apparently a world record. I found a place to buy a sim card with data and got hold of Sapphire – and we ventured back to Moscow on the train.
Moscow is massive. It took us about an hour and a half to get back to the city, with a giant suitcase and baby in tow. We caught the express airport train – which was actually a pretty good service – and then took two metro lines. I learnt quickly that the Moscow metro hasn’t been modernized! There are a few escalators but no lifts. Sapphire is a tough nut, and carried the pram up numerous flights of stairs. Every time I struggled with my bag, some burly Russian bloke came and carried it up for me. My favorite was the guy who carried it up one flight, walked around the corner, saw another flight, waited for me and laughed when he saw me coming – but he still carried it up! They might not be super “friendly” here in Moscow, but they try their best to be helpful.
The language barrier is interesting. It reminds me how incredibly easy we have it in Dubai. Most people here do not speak English. On Saturday we walked to the farmers market to buy fruit and vegetables. We managed to get everything we needed, Sapphire diligently asking and pointing, but it was an interesting experience. We went supermarket shopping and I could barely recognize most of the foods. A lady sounded like she was grumbling at us at the markets, but she was actually saying ‘have a nice day’. They just have a gruff demeanor!
The apartment is in a nice area of Moscow. On the way to Red Square, there is a beautiful big old cathedral called the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Well, I thought it was old. It was rebuilt in 2000. The rebuilt cathedral was the site of the canonization of the last Romanovs as passion bearers, which was very controversial – the issue being that they shouldn’t be considered martyrs, as they hadn’t necessarily been killed for their faith. The original cathedral was torn down to create what was going to be the Palace of the Soviets, proposed to be the largest building in the world at the time. It was instead turned into the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool.
I’ve got a few interesting days planned out, but its nice just to go outside and wander around. It’s a crisp 14 degrees today, so I’ll probably pull my coat out. I’m going to go to the Kremlin and Red Square later in the week, to the Bolshoi theatre for a tour, to the old building of the department store GUM, to the Cosmonaut Museum and we might take Alex to Moscow Zoo. Alex is as cool as a cucumber – she sleeps through the rickety old metro rides and whilst being bumped up and down curbs – Moscow is a bit like Dubai, but instead of being built, its being rebuilt. She is coming along on all our adventures and seems to be having fun.