(day 13 was another train day, read previous posts and you get the idea)
We arrived at the very early start of 06:07. It’s still dark cold and wet. We haven’t booked a transfer for today and there is some confusion about who is doing what. I’m tired and cranky from lack of sleep and just want to get to the hotel and take my chances about getting an early check in so I can drop off my bag and grab a shower. So two of us leave the station and grab a cab as I just don’t feel up to trying to navigate the metro on only a few hours sleep.
As luck would have it the hotel gives us our room key and we hadn’t even asked if we could check in early. After a quick shower and finding some clean clothes I go downstairs to check my email to confirm my plans with the 2 contacts I’d made via Flickr. I’m to meet one for lunch and the other I will meet up on Friday late afternoon. I’ve also received another email from a lady who has also asked if I still need a guide. I drop her an email to give her my number and for her to contact me if she’s got some time early afternoon or evening today.
F and I head off to find the Metro which is about a 15 min walk. In seeing how our taxi driver struggled to find this hotel and in walking to the station we are both glad we went with the plans we did this morning as it would have been next to impossible to find our hotel on our own I fear.
We hop the underground with the intent to get to red square and hook up with the others. The stations are written in both Cyrillic and English but it is still a bit of a challenge. The station names are not all that obvious on the platform as they are only shown on the wall where the train comes in. They do announce the next station on the train however with the accent it is difficult to understand. I’ve got a copy of the station map so its a matter of counting how many stops.
We get it right the first time but then get a bit confused on which way to exit. Just following the crowd we do end up on the street and I can see the Kremlin but there is no pedestrian crosswalk or lights for that matter. This ‘trying to cross the street’ ends up being a reoccurring theme for the day. I like to think I’m pretty good navigating a map but that also usually involves being able to tell what street you’re on and street signs are few and far between. It takes us about 45 min to finally make our way across to the Kremlin/Red Square only to find out the entire area is closed off for the next 2 days.
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on but my guess is it has something to do with preparing for the big May Day parades (May 9th) as everything seems to be getting a good clean and fresh coat of paint. Figures 2 days in Moscow and we can’t see the main attractions.
We wander the streets and oo and ah at the various roof lines and Onion Domes that we can see. We make our way to GUM which was the old State Department store but is now this uber trendy shopping mall filled with expensive designer shops and a food hall as upscale as Harrod’s.
Its a good place to sit down for a bit and have a gin and tonic and a salad as we catch up with C who’s just returned from the British Embassy in attempt to sort out her stolen passport.
I am about to I head off to meet up with Ian, a contact I made through Flickr when my phone rings. It’ is the woman who had emailed me this morning. It is a very complicated conversation to have with the language barrier coupled together with I don’t really know where I am (direction wise) and although I know where I’m supposed to end up, no idea how to get there, let alone explain this to someone else. And then my phone ran out of credit and the line went dead (oh dear).
So off to lunch I go…
The man I’m meeting is a British Expat who has been living/working in Moscow for 10 years. He gives me directions on where to meet him from the metro . However, it becomes apparent that as I exit the station and look for the statue that is the designated meeting point he thought I was coming from the opposite direction. I exit the station and there is no statue, just a very busy intersection. I end up walking around the entire city block before coming across said statue only to once again realise there is no way to cross the street. I have to back track another block before finding the pedestrian subway and I finally meet up with him, 30 min late.
Unfortunately as he only had an hour for lunch its just a very quick lunch before he has to rush off and go back to work. It was only after he left that I realize I forgot to ask him where to purchase some B&W film in the city.
From here I am to head over to meet the others at the New Tretyakov Gallery.
Sometimes getting lost leads to good things. I checked the map and I have 2 options as far as metro stations go. I chose wrong it seems, and ended up walking a diagonal line in the wrong direction. What should have been a few blocks ended up taking me about 3 hrs.
However, in my journey I cam across a Radio Tower I had seen in a documentary on this history of Russian art and also found a nice small church.
I ended up finding Gorky park at the opposite end of where I meant to be but it was a lovely walk inside the forest. By the time I connected up with the others my feet, legs and head were all throbbing. Plus from the weight of my back pack my neck was also tweaked and I could feel a migraine kicking in. Not good.
When I’d spoken with both Ian and Elana on my mobile earlier in the day because I’m charged £1.40/minute to receive calls, my phone had no credit left in it so I couldn’t respond to any of the texts I’d received asking where I was. But Elana had understood my ramblings this morning and she arrived at the gallery within about 10 min as I came staggering through the parking lot. She graciously sent C a text to let them know I was here so it all worked out in the end.
From the gallery we all walked to a Georgian cuisine restaurant that was a recommendation from one of C’s students. Unfortunately because of my now growing migraine I only had a bowl of soup and a few bites of my salad before everyone started to notice my glazed over eyes and that I was fading quickly.
Elana and C accompanied me back to the hotel where I loaded up on my drugs and hit the sack early at 9:30. It had been a long frustrating day being lost and disoriented and I’m wishing I had more than the 48 hrs to explore.
Moscow seems interesting with many stories to tell but I have a feeling I’m going to need to come back to discover them.