Despite the lack of scenery, mostly just trees, miles and miles of trees, sprinkled with a few small towns looking like a slightly shabby version of New England and then Moscow suburbs and city, the train was the best choice to travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow. There’s my American bias showing when I say a shabby version of America. I’ve not taken a train through New England, who is to say that the buildings lining those tracks are not the most pristine.
The houses in those small towns we passed by looked as f they were centuries old, some barely standing, or newly acquired. Earlier in the week, when we were stuck in one of the many traffic jams in St. Petersburg, we passed a large building which appeared to be a supermarket on the scale of a Kmart or Costco. In a wide open parking lot next to it about a dozen tiny houses, like prefab doll houses for adults, were on display. The new houses I spotted from the train looked very much like those I’d seen in that parking lot.
So I didn’t get breathtaking scenery, I’d still say it was worth it to take the train. Not having to get up early to fight traffic, not having to take out the computer, no shoes off and in plastic trays, no being x-rayed in the typical cop drama stance – “hands over your heads, legs apart!” How many times hundreds of times have we heard that in cop shows from “CHiPs” in the 1980’s to “NYPD Blue” or whatever is the latest show now? I think “Hill Street Blues” was the best and stopped watching the ones made after it.
I used the ride to continue to read “Gone Girl” – wow I love it yet it makes me so uncomfortable all at the same time. I feel for Amy, she reminds me of me. I have all of her weaknesses; I only wish I had some of her strengths.
As soon as I arrived in Moscow I made my way to my hotel. It was lucky that I had a Moscow business acquaintance who offered to drive me there because even she wasn’t certain which of the many doors which bore the address on my confirmation paper was the actual hotel.
The room is Spartan and VERY clean. Perfect for a few days. I lost no time getting out to explore. It was much hotter in Moscow – those last minute heavy sweaters I tossed in my bag? Worthless. I wish I had tossed in least one short sleeve shirt! Can’t believe I didn’t. I did have room in my suitcase. Now I’m probably going to end up buying something. I walked and walked – all around Red Square. Most tourists are smart enough to walk across the top, narrowest portion, to get to the other side. I didn’t want to miss anything so I circumnavigated it. Believe me, it’s huge and you don’t see very much. I was relieved to arrive at the bustling tourist area. Here, I thought, I’ll find the Hop on, Hop off bus. I wandered and photographed but saw no sign of the bus. I saw a sign saying “Tourist Information Center” and headed in that direction. The signs stop just when you need them most. In a crowded square with five buildings, there is no indication of which is the tourist center. One of the buskers selling t-shirts pointed me where to go. What a waste! The tourist center had no brochures or maps, just two women behind an imposing plastic wall who spoke little English. I left there and eventually spotted the bus on a distant corner. I raced toward it and was able to get to it before it took off. Glad I did because there’s just one bus! In other cities there are multiple busses so if you get off to explore you can pick up another bus is 5 minutes. Depending on where the bus is in the loop, you could have to wait an hour for this one.
It was lovely to just sit. After hours of walking yesterday in St. Petersburg my legs were already feeling tired. I wish I’d brought my walking sandals. I was trying to save space! Bad decision. I started to feel cold on the bus and very sleepy. I’d done the loop two times (once seating on the right side, once on the left) and was just waiting for the stop which wasn’t too far from the road to my hotel. When the driver, who had slowed the bus to barely 1 mph – to get back into sync with the recorded voice(?) to (?) – paused at a corner near my hotel I dashed down the spiral staircase and, using sign language, asked him if I could get out at. He opened the door and I hopped off. Yay! Less walking to get back to the hotel!
It was 6pm when I got to my room. I set my alarm for 7pm and stretched out on the small bed. The next thing I registered was my alarm. I turned it off and laid back down on the bed for “just another hour” of shut eye. When I woke up it was 2:15am. I changed into my jammies, brushed my teeth, downed an Ambien. I’d done all I could and clearly I needed rest. Tomorrow, last day in Moscow, I’ll, ugh, walk around some new areas. It goes by so fast!
Internet in the hotel isn’t very good so I’ll add photos when I’m back in the US.
Photos (as promised): Views from the Sapsan Train, first view of Moscow upon leaving the station, my hotel exterior (door to the right under the red awning), hotel room, view from hotel room, park across the street from the hotel, Red Square