Here’s where I’d like to acknowledge that I know nothing about Russia, the Russian language, the Cyrillic alphabet or the city of Moscow. I knew I didn’t know anything, then I showed up and realized that it’s sort of embarrassing how little prep I did for this trip. Nonetheless, today I arrived in Moscow, went through immgration, took a high-speed train, and then navigated around the subways to get to my hostel. All with no mistakes or wasted time, and minimal gesturing, too. Hurray! It was an encouraging first experience for sure.
Initial impressions: All Russian women are stunningly beautiful. Russia always smells like smoke. The subway is a model of speed and efficiency (and in some cases, beauty).
The Cyrillic alphabet is unreal. I know a few letters. The woman at my hostel taught me to say “hello” and “thank-you,” both of which I had been operating without previously. I found a restaurant with an English menu, but was still brought something other than what I ordered, which was fine. Everything is extremely expensive here and I’m looking forward to leaving for that reason.
I had to run an errand–pick up my Trans-Siberian train tickets in a far-flung suburb. I did it! I didn’t even get lost on the metro. I got the tickets and came back feeling satisfied, especially since when I got the tickets they informed me that I was getting a $25 refund because one leg was cheaper than anticipated. I stopped off at Red Square (which inspired my new header) and ambled around St. Basil’s Cathedral for a bit. I was too late to see dead Lenin, who only receives visitors between 10a-1p. I’ll try again tomorrow.
The flight was fine. I had an entire center row to myself so I slept. Free wine wasn’t even drinkable, unfortunately.
Tomorrow begins the rail journey, which is unfortunate, because I woke up in Moscow today with a head cold and my period. But no matter. I leave at noon for Perm and will arrive 24 hours later. I’m not sure what the internet situation is like in the rest of Russia, but I’ll be hopping on and off the train for the next 10 days. I hope I can update here, but not certain.
In sad news, I had registered for the 10k in the Gobi Desert Marathon, to be held the day after I arrive to Mongolia. How exciting! Unfortunately, further investigation showed that transport from Ulan Bator (capital city) to the site in the desert would run me about $500. Too much. No Gobi 10k for me.
Stay tuned as I keep trying to figure this place (and alphabet) out.