“Landing in Russia is like walking into the laboratory of a failed experiment” – Hendrik Vivier


The infrastructure in Moscow is inadequate to support the number of people living there.  You can spend hours in a car trying to get anywhere unless you travel early in the morning or late in the evening.  I left on July 8 and arrived in Moscow on July 9.  I went through customs without any problem, picked up my bags, changed some dollars to rubles and saw my name on a card with prearranged transport to the hotel.  Hardly anyone speaks English unless you have paid for an English speaking tour.  The cab driver overcharged me the quoted rate.  I arrived at the hotel and they put me in the room without paying since Marek was coming in later and spoke Russian.  The rate was very cheap for Moscow and closer to the airport than the city.  I rested and washed, then went for a walk, found a restaurant and got a good meal.  Soon after Marek arrived with his Russian friend Vlad, who would help us get around the city.  We were there for 2 nights and the first night we all went out for some food and beers.  


The next morning, July 10, Vlad picked us up and took us to Red Square.  I wore my Washington Capitals Ovechkin jersey thinking it would be a big hit….no one noticed.  Red Square is domed, so it looks much larger than it really is.   Saint Basil’s Cathedral is also much smaller than I had imagined, but quite stunning.  We took the tour of Lenin’s Mausoleum while Vlad held our cameras outside since they are prohibited inside.  We saw the memorial to Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov who led the Red Army to liberate the Soviet Union from occupation in World War II and advance through much of Eastern Europe and to conquer Berlin.  We went along the wall to the tomb of the unknown soldier which here they call The Eternal Fire and along to the Kremlin which was closed on Thursdays, so we did not get to see the palaces and cathedrals within.  We travelled down a famous market street Starey Arbat where I was tempted to buy a “bear” hat and then ate lunch at a sort of middle eastern type of restaurant.  We then took a subway back to Red Square.  We attempted to visit an outdoor Russian Market Izmailovo, but it also seemed closed today so we went to Lenin Heights to take a view of the entire city from across the river. Famous Moscow Lomonosov University here has one of the Lenin Towers, we saw another one of these in the city.  I had changed shirts and it was here that one of the vendors had the old CCCP hockey jerseys (he wanted $150 for cheap printed practice jersey), but he was one of the few people that spoke English and immediately asked me about Ovechkin (damn, didn’t have the jersey on anymore).  He also had nested Matroyshka dolls of the Washington Capitals players.  I bought nothing since I don’t usually go for typical tourist nick-nacks .


Vlad had obligations, so he dropped us off at the hotel where Marek and I took a stroll to the restaurant I found the night before for dinner and beers (and apparently very bad Russian karaoke by the bartender this night).  In the morning of July 11 we get an early start to avoid traffic on our way to Sheremetyevo 1 for our domestic flight to Mineralnye Vody for our Elbrus climb.  However, on the way back from our climb going from Sheremetyevo 1 to Sheremetyevo 2 for our International flight to Poland had traffic headed into Sheremetyevo 1 backed up for a good 2 hours.

Moscow, Russia

July 9, 2008

The value of our life is not solely measured by its length, but also by the depth of our hearts.

And breadth of our experiences.  And indeed the heights that we achieve.