Saturday, September 29, 2012

In the Land of Silk and Bunnies

I apologize for the lateness of this post. John and I returned from Moscow last night and time got away from me. We had a wonderful time on our quick trip together, which was mostly business, but fortunately a little bit of pleasure too.

For one thing, we got to stay in the most ridiculously opulent hotel ever, the Radisson Royal. I know, I know, Radisson in the US doesn't exactly conjure images of grandeur, but this was no ordinary Radisson. As we finally made our way into the city after a very long drive from the airport, I pointed to an enormous building with gothic spires.

Me to John: "Ooooh, what's that?"

John: "Um, I think that's our hotel."

Me: "No way. That's not a hotel. That's a church or something."

John, pointing to the now very evident neon sign. "Nope, that's our hotel."

Me: "Booyah!"

The Radisson Royal is actually one of Moscow's Seven Sisters. It sits on the Moskva River and was the perfect introduction to Moscow, if you ask me. We weren't inside the hotel for three minutes when I encountered this crystal-encrusted soccer ball.

Tacky: adj. Marked by an obvious lack of style or good taste.
I'd heard rumors that Moscow was ridiculously expensive and fairly gaudy. It's true to some extent, although when you're staying in a big showy five-star hotel, you don't exactly get an accurate picture of an entire city. But on our long walk from the embassy to Red Square, I got a pretty good feel for the place. For one thing, it's enormous and extremely crowded. The variety of people was spectacular, from your babushkas to your six-foot blonde models, plus everything in between. And you've just got to laugh at a place that sells fur coats in the metro station.

But for all that, Moscow as a city was far more beautiful than I anticipated. Our visit to Red Square was disappointingly brief, and the image was somewhat marred by the light display currently set up in the middle of the square, but nevertheless, it was worth the 45-minute walk in heels.

St Basil's Cathedral, plus a lot of ugly cranes.
We met up with friends for dinner at an Uzbek restaurant, which was surprisingly veggie-friendly, then headed out for tea and dessert. (Lunch was Vietnamese, which was surprisingly not veggie-friendly.) But the meal which refused to be outdone was at 10 pm our first night in the hotel. We were hungry and tired and decided to shell out for the appetizer, soup, and dessert buffet. Unfortunately, my soup and app options were slim (there is an abundance of pickled fish in this country), but I made up for it by consuming my weight in dessert.

A caption here would be entirely superfluous.
All in all, it was interesting to catch a glimpse of Foreign Service life in Moscow vs Yekaterinburg. The embassy is enormous and full of people, a far cry from our little consulate here in Yekat. In Moscow, you can drive for miles and miles and never leave the confines of the city, whereas here it just takes a few minutes to find the wilderness of the Urals. We might not be as bright and shiny out here in Siberia, but as everyone keeps reminding me, this is the "real Russia."

And the good news is that whenever I'm ready for an escape from "reality," Moscow is just a short flight away.


3 comments:

  1. The St Basil's Cathedral is just gorgeous! I would love to visit Moscow. One day, one day :)

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  2. That mushroom dessert is too cute for words! I'm filing it in the "if I ever have a wedding..." vault.

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  3. In rereading this please confirm that you did in fact say Booyah.

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