|It was time to behold Mighty Russia!|
|The Golden Tickets - Russian Visas.|
There were a couple of things that were confusing upon entering Moscow. One was the need to fill out an immigration card at the airport before going through passport control. If I hadn't seen a page about it in the very back of the in-flight magazine, we wouldn't have known. We were already a little jumpy about this process since we hadn't pre-registered where we would be staying and for how long (another requirement we'd read about). We found a table with the forms and scribbled what we could and approached the booth. One person at a time - no happy couples approaching the window together, thank you very much.
|This was definitely not the stamp we received in our passports|
|Our first rubles. There would be many more rubles needed along the way!|
|Michael's first Russian friends - made buying SIM cards at the airport of course.|
|In case you didn't know, this says SCRABBLE. Welcome the the Cyrillic alphabet!|
|The Moscow metro system map - they say the brown circle line was based on a coffee stain made by Stalin on the original plans and no one was willing challenge him on it.|
|The ornate entrance to our nearby station - affectionately known as Napkin.|
|Not your average Metro passageway! There were so many like this.|
|beginning a six minute escalator ride!|
|Home sweet home. We've learned it's whats on the inside that counts.|
|The kitchen and the living spaces were very modern and comfortable.|
|I am sure the President has unlimited hot water in his house - wherever that might be.|
|Obama and I had similar feelings about our experience in Moscow.|
We had an excellent guide for our free walking tour on the second day that helped us put the city in perspective and explain Russian culture - especially why people here rarely smile. Apparently a smile is as special as a kiss and should not be given lightly. I'd say it's because they live in Russia.
|The Iconic St. Basil's Cathedral. It was as beautiful as expected.|
|One of Stalin's Seven Sisters skyscrapers. This one, the Department of Foreign Affairs was in our neighborhood.|
We also toured the Kremlin - did you know that the location of Putin's residence is top secret? And we stood in an very, very long line with tight security to visit Lenin's Tomb. The many guards on duty kept us moving at a quick pace and had a special talent for whispering "Shhhhhhhh!" The man has been embalmed and left to look like he's napping for almost 90 years, so I doubt he's going to wake up because of a little whispering! It was a bit creepy. Speaking of creepy... later in the day we were working on the blog and a few other things and I Googled "Grumpy Putin" for an image. I went from 'full bars' to the dreaded rainbow spin and finally got a message that basically said the Internet was unavailable and to try again later. Michael got a similar message when searching for the break-away republic of Transnistria. Coincidence?
|You can count on finding an Airbnb and Starbucks in just about every city.|
|Michael at the Memorial site for Boris Nemstov.|
|I became rather attached to a particular brand of Russian ice-cream bar. Anytime became the right time for ice-cream!|
|Dinner with our hosts Stas and Svetlana.|
|The artwork and the opulence of the Hermitage did not disappoint!|
|At the front entrance to our apartment complex. "Let me out!"|
|A look into the courtyard from our landing window.|
|Inside the flat. At one point after the war three families lived in this space.|
|The church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood was a highlight.|
|Michael having a good day out at a Zenit match in St. Petersburg.|
|Tigers, bears and elephants have been replaced with pigs, cats, monkeys and spectacular horses.|
|An evening at the ballet was a beautiful way to celebrate Michael's 70th birthday.|
Michael said he was happy to be leaving Russia - a feeling similar to the one he'd had back in 1974. There was just one small hitch between him and an airplane seat - the dreaded lack of registration paperwork. I could go on my merry way since I had my passport, my registration, my boarding pass, and of course the coveted stamped half of my entrance form. I approached the Passport Control window and found the uniformed matron to be up-to-speed on the no-smiling policy. She collected my papers, stamped my passport with authority and buzzed me through the gate. All I could do was watch from the other side as Michael squared his shoulders and approached the window. It could have been worse - she did ask for the paperwork and Michael confessed to his sins. There was a moment of silence followed by a short reprimand and finally the thump, thump and THUMP of her rubber stamp. Free at last.
|Yes or no? YES! Michael could leave the country!|
Thank you for following along!
Debbie and Michael
The Senior Nomads