It's our last night in Moscow, and, also, our last night at Friday's. Today started with a bit of drama. After breakfast, Chuck and I thought we'd do some laundry. Chuck got a load done, and I had two going when I found an angry Russian woman at my door. I went and fetched Alexey to translate. Apparently, we weren't supposed to use those washers and dryers, as they're only for washing the hotel linens. Oops. It was an honest mistake, I'd seen other guests in there using the iron and the washers too, so I thought it was okay. They left the door to that room ajar the whole time, so it wasn't like I snuck back somewhere to do it. Oh well, another lesson learned. Chuck already had gotten his laundry out, but I had two loads there. As Alexey moderated, I apologized profusely, and she offered to do my laundry for a fee, to which I agreed, though really, they only needed to be dried at that point. Alexey said it was going to cost me 50 rubles each (about $1.75) which I thought was a bargain, all things considered.
Later, that fee turned out to be 900 rubles, or about $30. Ouch. At least she neatly folded and ironed my clothes, so all I had to do is drop them in my luggage, but $30 seemed a bit steep. I'll have fun explaining this on my expense report.
At noon we met Katya and Galina, who were going to take us sight-seeing today. Irina was there too, and she gave Chuck and I some Russian nesting dolls, a honey-based food product that I don't understand yet, and a Russian pincushion doll. We thanked her, and then left with Katya and Galina for the Metro station. We decided to skip the cemetery tour, because it was raining today, so our first stop was the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. They had a lot of neat ancient Egyption, Assyrian, Greek and Roman artifacts, as well as many paintings from the 16th Century on. Artists such as Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Rembrandt were featured throughout the museum, and we walked all of it, though Alexey remarked that the museum was small, which makes me fear the amount of walking in store for us once we get to the Hermitage in his hometown.
After the Pushkin, we went to the Church of Christ The Savior, and toured the inside, which is very beautiful. It was interesting to compare the interior of this church, which is only a few years old, with the ancient cathedrals elsewhere in Russia. Same ideas, just much more modern and opulent, it's probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.
We left the church behind, and began a long walk to find a restaurant. We wound up eating at something called "Drama" or perhaps "Drava", (I didn't get a clear translation) near Red Square. Actually, almost on Red Square, which was open today, and filled with people. This was a fairly upscale restaurant, and they had menus in English. We all opted for the buffet, which thankfully was also labeled in English, and was pretty good. I started with a Korean carrot salad, which is long shreds of carrot, almost like spaghetti, but covered in a spicy sauce or oil. I also had a pepper salad, made of green and red bell peppers, that was good too. Next I tried an Uzbeki dish, which was purported to be a cheese pastry, though mine turned out to be of the meat variety, it has been placed in the wrong dish on the buffet, but it was quite good. Think of sort of a hot-pocket, filled with sausage, but this was much thiner, like a quesadilla, without the cheese. It looked good to Chuck too, he went back and got a cheese one, which he also said was good. I had a potato, and tried some of the buckwheat and bacon, which helped me realize that the grain we were served the other morning was buckwheat. There wasn't much bacon in it though, so I was glad I didn't take much. For dessert, I tried some poppy seed pastry, which was good, not very sweet, sort of like a coffee cake. I also had some "Honey Cake" which was excellent, also not very sweet, but quite tasty.
After lunch, we took the Metro back to MISA and began packing for our train. We're being driven to the station at 10:30 tonight, and the train leaves around midnight for St. Petersburg. Apparently, Chuck and I have either a compartment each, or we're sharing one, we're not sure which. Alexey wasn't fortunate enough to get a compartment, but we're hoping we can smuggle him back there if we've got separate rooms.
In any case, my next post should be from St. Petersburg, though I don't know how long it will be until I get internet access.