Arrival in Moscow

Posted: June 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I have arrived safely and without hassle in Moscow. The traveling itself went well. I made it to JFK in record time. I was driving quite conservatively but managed to go from our place in Connecticut to having parked outside the terminal in one hour and 3 minutes.

The fancy car computer doesn't lie.

The fancy car computer doesn’t lie.

Aside from a brief slowdown on the Whitestone and the usual mess that’s Jamaica, the ride was a breeze. My new rule for life is to only drive to the airport on Sundays. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had finally fixed the baggage drop off at Terminal 1. When the conveyors were broken, you used to have to put your bag on the scale at the check-in counter. They would apply the luggage tag and then you would take your bag to a central screening and drop off point in the middle of the terminal. The security line was also practically non-existent. Also, either Aeroflot or Air France have changed their flight schedules. I have always left New York on the same flight, SU101, to be surrounded by hundreds of French people headed to DeGaul. This time around there were no flights to France on the board around the time that I checked in and the security line was almost non-existent. Duty free was fun as always as I found my entire flight crew stocking up on cigarettes and alcohol along with a few Lufthansa pilots. As usual, we were late to board and late to depart from JFK.

Our majestic A330 named after the engineer Kulibin.

Our majestic A330 named after the engineer Kulibin.

I love Aeroflot, but they’re becoming increasingly unfriendly to passengers who don’t speak Russian. Thankfully they finally found one Russian speaker to make announcements at the gate concerning boarding, but this meant that all of the important information about boarding was conducted in Russian. Similar information also happened with the in flight safety video, which had English subtitles, and certain announcements.

Very interesting review of the UAZ Patriot in the Aeroflot magazine. Good to see that a bit of Ulyanovsk already made it into my trip. My only gripe is that the license plate should say 73.

Very interesting review of the UAZ Patriot in the Aeroflot magazine. Good to see that a bit of Ulyanovsk already made it into my trip. My only gripe is that the license plate should say 73.

Can we please discuss the photo of the CEO of Aeroflot in the inflight magazine?

Can we please discuss the photo of the CEO of Aeroflot in the inflight magazine?

After the usual fun that is passport control and waiting for luggage, I crossed into the terminal where someone from the university was waiting for me. I expected that we would take Aeroexpress, the train that goes from Sheremetyevo to the center of Moscow, but I was pleasantly surprised by a car and driver. Riding around Moscow is always fun. As we were leaving the airport, the driver had a brief freak out when he saw a police checkpoint in the distance doing seatbelt checks. He quickly buckled up before we passed the cops, but as soon as we hit the road he took off his seatbelt. I’m hoping that the speedometer in his car was faulty because it showed that we were doing around 90 mph while weaving around cars until we hit the notorious Moscow traffic jams. We eventually wound our way through the city and I was deposited at the dormitory. I was given a university pass, keys to my room, and vague directions for where to find the visa department and international office to take care of additional bureaucracy.

I have a nice single room on the 8th floor of a building on campus. Life in this dormitory is pretty exciting because we have a fridge in the kitchen and curfew is 1AM, which is conveniently the time that the metro stops running.

View from the dorm. I doubt I'll see babushki herding goats from this window.

View from the dorm. I doubt I’ll see babushki herding goats from this window.

It’s been a fun-filled past few days. On Tuesday I met up with some old friends from RUDN and we had dinner together. Yesterday I had fun with my awesome neighbor from Holland. She’s here doing archival research in a different archive. We decided to head out at see the statue park across from Gorky Park. The last time I went to the park was on my Lafayette College interim trip in January. Everything was covered in snow and it was brutally cold. This time around we had a pleasant walk through the park.

I wonder how many Lenin statues I can take my photo with this time around?

I wonder how many Lenin statues I can take my photo with this time around?

After the park we got hungry and headed off to Yeolki Palki, a Russian theme restaurant of sorts. My best analogy is that it is to Russian food and culture as Applebee’s is to American. Most of the staple traditional dishes are there and there’s a Russian peasant theme. We enjoyed our dinners and as we were about to leave the two men sitting at the table next to us invited us to have a drink with them. What was supposed to be one quick toast turned into a few hours of conversation and drinking. All in all we had a good time.

This morning my neighbor and I met up with two first year university students that she knows through one of her university contacts. We had a fund morning wandering around the Moscow Zoo. They had a pretty impressive collection of animals, but my favorites were the two polar bears.

Mr. Polar Bear's Russian relatives.

Mr. Polar Bear’s Russian relatives.

Around 2:45 I left my neighbor and her two Russian friends to meet my friend Inna from Ulyanovsk. She’s in Moscow for the weekend because of the holiday. It was fabulous to see Inna after almost two years. We went to a restaurant, relaxed, and talked. We have plans to hang out again tomorrow.

 

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