I had to get up early on Sunday to make sure I caught the marshrutka to the airport in good time to avoid any problems. The night before had been a bit chaotic – drinks at Harats to see off Francesca, who unfortunately has to return to Italy due to family problems. Peter came back to our house for tea, so ultimately it was the early hours of the morning when I finally got round to packing and making sure I had everything ready for my flight the next day.
In the event, I was at the airport a good half hour before the check-in even opened and there were no problems at all with check-in or security, I just went right through (I only had carry-on luggage which helped). I ended up typing my previous blog post in the departure lounge!
I flew to Moscow’s smaller airport, Domodedovo, and again coming off the plane (once we finally got the seatbelt off sign) was a breeze, on the bus, to the terminal, straight through the baggage hall and out into the real world. I bought a (delicious) Cinnamon Bun as it had been a while since I had eaten, and my friend Janna met me and led me to the car park.
The drive into Moscow was fascinating, basically one long straight road with many parks and churches on either side. Once we were in Moscow we seemed to follow the river Yauza (yowser!) in the direction of our hotel.
Our plans for the first day were quite limited, we were due to meet my former colleagues Janelle and Alessandro at 7.30 pm. We took a metro into the city centre (our hotel was at Bulvar Rokossovkovo, the last station on the line) and walked along Lyubyanka and Tverskaya streets, I took pictures of statues and fountains.
One of the squares featured a statue of the great Russian poet Pushkin, though today because of Victory Day, there was a special exhibition there. There were groups of singers and music playing at various places throughout the city centre.
We went all the way up to the entrance to Red Square, unfortunately because of preparations for the Victory Day parade the following Tuesday, it was closed.
It was nice to catch up with my former colleagues, they both seem to be doing well and very happy in their new jobs though Janelle is already looking forward to better things in the coming year. We went to a place Alessandro suggested, or rather a place opposite the place he suggested, it was a grill bar but I really enjoyed the Long Island steak and fries with pepper sauce they served, with home made lemonade. It was the first time Janelle and Alessandro had seen each other since they moved to Moscow so there was a lot of catching up all round!
I finished the evening by asking them for suggestions of places to go in Moscow while we were here, and they had a few good suggestions for us…