Moscow, Russian Federation
Arrived on the time 0530 into an already bustling Moscow. Leningradsky Station was big and soviet. Having rehearsed the Cyrillic names of all the stations and changes I entered the underground metro system. First hurdle: buy ticket. I was anxious that trains would already be running super packed as the multiple queues just for tickets from cashiers were horrendous! But in reality it took 5 minutes to buy the ticket and my pronunciation of Russian numbers was starting to flow. With my 10-ride contactless (i.e. electronic swipe) metro card I entered the gates. Checking the map once more to remember line termination names so as to pick the right direction I headed down the enormously long downward escalator. As I entered the pedestrian tunnels below I noticed an incongruous ‘muzak’ began over the piped PA. It was a corny instrumental version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”! As I walked and listened I felt a mild euphoria of contentment – I suppose this was the intention. I walked smiling innately at my fellow Metro goers – all serious and off to work we go. I must say I’m quite proud of myself having navigated to Hotel Bulgarov in Arbat – a bohemian area of historic writers and painters. Check-in is at 1300 but I asked nicely and got a shower with a clean towel. Feeling good for a first day of exploration in Moscow. Drinking a tea at reception and listening to techno rave music that the night clerk at front desk has going quietly, while I wait for Andrei (17 y.o.) to come here to meet me. He’s Katya’s (WWF) step-son. Sunny and warm. Looking toward to blini (pancakes) for breakfast!