Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Trip to Mosc-ow!
The -ow! is for pain caused by said expedition - my legs and feet were killing me after walking round Russia's capital and its gigantic souvenir market all day on Sunday.
Angry, cook-related rant, please feel free to skip this:
Things started out rather shit. I mean literally, we woke up to find cat shit on the carpet in the hall. At the crack of dawn Galya promptly launched into a 5-minute tirade blaming us for not letting the cat out. I informed her that we had let the cat out, twice (he sneaked back in after someone the first time). She said she told the visitors to let it out, but she should well know by now that any unsupervised cat should not be trusted, and if one sees Smelly Cat (aka Basik/Basil/Ash/The Phantom Pooper) he should be lobbed out the door without mercy or relent. Either way, I have had it up to here *Lois indicates as far as she can reach above her head* with her blaming us for cat accidents, and leaving us to clear up after them when we haven't been the ones leaving them in the house. We always make sure they're put out in a timely manner, because they have no litter tray, food or cat flap here. Which seems odd because she leaves Nyusha in her room at night. Where does Nyusha go to the loo? What does she eat and drink? Galya seems to think cats eat potatoes and drink milk... we tried to update her on the 'cats are lactose intolerant carnivores' thing, but she laughed in disbelief. Poor kitten.
Having not satisfied herself with blaming us for the cat mess, Galya then proceeded to shriek at us for making her late. Nobody bothered to tell us we had to catch a specific bus to Moscow in advance, we thought we were getting a lift. So it was very rich of her, after delaying our getting ready by making a huge fuss and waking everyone up over the cat shit, to then start telling us off for being a couple minutes slower. In the end we caught the bus just fine. She sat in front of us on the bus so I attempted to blow up her head with my mind, Sheldon Cooper style.
It was a long journey to Moscow: a lift to the bus stop, then a bus to somewhere or other, then a minibus (marshrutka) to Tyopli Stan. We stopped at Typoli Stan at a shopping centre for coffee and pastries in Кофе Хаус (translit. Coffee House) then took the Metro to Red Square. Red Square was even more impressive than I'd imagined. Vicky and I went round St Basil's Cathedral while Sergey waited outside (he was our tour guide/chaperone for the day). I found it most interesting and educational; I learned all about fools for Christ, and who St Basil was. He seemed to go around butt naked working wonders. Fair dos.
We went to ГУМ, which is like a very pretty, classy shopping centre with the very fanciest brands. We popped inside the Russian equivalent of Fortnum & Mason's and nicked loads of free cheese samplers. Mmm lump of Grana Padano :-)
After that we contemplated going inside the Kremlin, but decided it was too expensive and that time was short. On our walks we passed the State Duma and the National Library. We walked from Red Square to Arbat and then all the way down it; it felt strangely quiet, but then it was a Sunday lunchtime. We stopped for lunch at Teremok - we had been after Italian food, but were so starving that we were quite happy with blinis. Sergey suggested we grab a coffee afterwards, but we spotted the doughnut selection and decided on pudding. Suddenly I realised it was a Dunkin' Donuts we were looking at, so absolutely had to get something (we don't have them in the UK, and I'd heard many good reviews from the US). I had a doughnut éclair filled with chocolate cream and topped with chocolate icing and crunchy chocolate balls. Delicious is an understatement.
We hopped on the Metro to the Ismailovskiy market: imagine the entirety of Camden Town was a vintage, military surplus and souvenir market, and you've nearly got it. We spent hours in there looking at the fake Kremlin and being indecisive over souvenirs. I think I've got most of my shopping done bar a couple of guys (Matroyshas don't strike me as very masculine gifts). Once we were done deliberating it was time to get back on the Metro and get on our way home. Queue visiting revolting portaloos, a bakery called paul's, but not that Paul's (oh fine French patisserie, where art thou?) and hopping on a marshrutka back to who-knows-where, where Lyosha was waiting for us in the car.
Overall it was great, but it's strange to think I might live in Moscow for three months. It's like someone being taken to the Houses of Parliament and Oxford street and then being asked if they want to live in London. It's just the tourist sights, not places where one would live and see every day.
Yesterday we helped the children write Christmas cards to their Godparents (I think that means people who sponsor them). They decorated cards with feathers and sequins and such, with our help as translators. It was charming, if a little unseasonal! Knowing the post around here, the cards might just arrive on time! We have Liza from Ecologia Youth Trust here for the week, she's a friendly, witty lady and I enjoy chatting to her at mealtimes.
Today we're back to the ususal: teaching classes, moving logs and ironing. Bizarrely someone did the breakfast dishes during our class, so we were relieved of duty. Strangely masochistic as he is, I'm very grateful to the guy.