This post is copied from the journal I kept while traveling in Russia with the intention of being able to look back at it years later and be able to remember small, long-since forgotten memories of my first international trip and dream come true.
It is raw and unedited with the exception of changing my husband’s name. Some posts in this series may be very short, some may be too detailed and some may be flat out unentertaining. I may interchange past and present tenses, have run-on sentences, have strange wording and just generally not meet my usual writing standards.
The experiences and thoughts I share are those of a sheltered, small-town southern girl, and what I mean to relay by this statement is that my observations while traveling to, in and from Russia may not be specific to the cities, countries, cultures and/or people I mention.
The FIFA World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world and therefore brings together people of different races, nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. I may reference these races, nationalities and cultures when talking about people and situations I witnessed and do not intend to stereotype or offend anyone.
We woke up early this morning and got ready so that we could take advantage of the free breakfast the hotel offers. We came down the stairs, and as we rounded the corner into the lobby, we saw that the two guys who were told they didn’t have a reservation were asleep, curled up on two small couches. I felt so bad for them but was glad that the hotel is at least letting them sleep in the lobby.
We turned and walked through a set of glass doors, down a long corridor and through another set of glass doors. The room was huge, and The Weeknd was blasting through large speakers. It was a bit much for 9:00 in the morning.
There was a buffet set up on the right side of the room and booths and tables full of people of all colors and cultures on the left. We joined the line, excited for an easy meal. We were pretty disappointed, however, when we saw what the buffet consisted of. Cold wienies and rubbery macaroni, pelmeni, cauliflower, green beans, cookies, cereal, room-temperature milk and warm milk. I fixed a sad little plate and poked around at it for a minute before going back to the line to get cocoa puffs with room-temperature milk. At least they had cold water to drink.
We finished and walked back out into the corridor, talking about how bummed we are with this hotel after such good experiences, but we supposed that we should just take the bad with the good and be just be glad that we were in Moscow.
We decided to go to the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, so Ron figured out which train lines we needed to take, and we headed back to Технопарк, foregoing the shuttle. We walked through the woods and took pictures of a large stone sign imprinted with the hammer and sickle.
We hopped on the metro and settled in, but we got confused when we saw that the diagram in the car showed two different color lines. We got off at the next stop so that we could figure things out. I spotted a young guy and asked if he knows English. He replied, “A little,” and I asked him how to get to the station we needed. He pointed at the upcoming train and told us to get on, and after the three of us stepped in, he pulled up the map on his phone and showed us what we needed to do. We thanked him and took our seats, noticing that this car was much more modern and cleaner than the previous cars we had been in.
We finally reached Парк Победы and walked out, not too sure where to go next. Ron pulled up his GPS, and we started one way, then another, then turned back the original way. We walked down the stairs to cross the street underground, and when we came back up, we found ourselves in Victory Park.
It was beautiful, with monuments, fountains, cannons set up in a large, open area with paved walkways. Two guards were on either side of the eternal flame, a memorial for all the war’s victims.
We ended up spending almost six hours at the museum, looking at every interior exhibit and most of the exhibits outside until it started raining. The detail of that museum was amazing. We could have easily spent a couple more hours there. We took a break to watch the England/Panama match that was being shown in one of the theater rooms. I watched maybe five minutes before falling asleep. I slept through the entire first half before we left to view more exhibits.
It was interesting watching other tourists while we were there. Two Peruvian men took turns having their pictures taken with a very somber memorial that was set up in a large dim room, smiling as they stood with it. We saw a man bend to get under the rope that was set up in front of the motorcycles outside and sit right on one to get his picture taken. Of course, there were local women walking through all of it in stilettos, even down in the trench exhibit outside.
We left, walking through the rain, and got back on the metro, and we were excited to see a small TV mounted, playing the Japan/Senegal game. We got off in the same area we were in last night, Новокузнецкая. As we walked out of the station, we heard a lot of commotion and looked to our left to see two homeless men fighting. The younger one was kicking at the older one while the older man retreated.
We were starving, and when we saw a sign that said “The best tacos in the world,” we turned and walked straight in. We were sat in a room that consisted of two small tables with the kitchen to the left and a large TV on the right. It was perfect. We checked with our waiter, whose name we later found out to be Elion, to make sure they would be playing the Poland/Colombia game, and he assured us they would be.
We each ordered a taco as an appetizer, then I ordered sushi and Ron ordered ribs. I was surprised when our waiter brought out my sushi and it wasn’t cut. I just kind of dipped it awkwardly and bit into it.
Elion talked to us off and on, very interested in hearing about where we were from and asking how we liked Russia. We told him we’re impressed at how clean it is here, and he looked perplexed. We told him it’s at least much cleaner than where we live.
We left after the game ended and walked quickly back to the station. I chose not to wear my jacket around my waist for the first time since we’ve been here, and I regretted it. The rain really cooled things off, which I’m glad for now that we’re back at the hotel, but I was freezing on the walk back after getting off in Технопарк.