Roaming Around Russia

Apr 22, 2010

After nearly 5 days off lazing around Dubai, I couldn't have been happier to finally have a layover. I was headed to Moscow, Russia, one of the few European destinations that had resumed flights following the chaos caused by the volcanic ash from Iceland. I packed my warmest clothes and headed for the airport. After a busy, but relatively short flight, we landed in Moscow, had our passports stamped, and hopped on the bus. Traffic in the city was ridiculous, and it took an hour and a half before we finally reached our hotel. I was extremely happy when other crew members agreed to join me in venturing out to see the Red Square. Most of them had been there before and didn't quite share my enthusiasm, but regardless, it's always nice to have company. The hotel offered a shuttle bus service direct to the Red Square, but traffic meant that it would be delayed nearly 2 hours. We contemplated our options before deciding to attempt to navigate the Moscow metro system. Some were a bit wary, given the subway bombings just a few short weeks ago, but we all knew that the odds of it happening again were quite slim. Bad things can, and do happen anywhere. Tourists could read that Edmonton is the murder capital of Canada and choose not to visit, when all of us locals know that it's generally a very safe place. We ventured out into the cool spring air, taking in all of the sights to be seen. Along the street there were various stalls, some selling food, flowers, and random household goods. I was strangely amused by the tiny stall filled with wrenches and hammers... a miniature hardware shop right on the sidewalk. We reached the metro station and walked up to the desk to purchase tickets. A female employee who spoke no English handed us a ticket as we headed to the platforms, completely lost as to where to go. The only male crew member among us disproved the theory that men hate to ask for directions. He was stopping every passerby in hopes that they spoke English. Finally, we found a friendly man who ensured us that he'd lead us in the right direction. We decided to trust that he understood us and jumped onto the train. He got off at the same stop as us and in broken English instructed us to "Walk dat way, Kremlin. Soviet Union. Old square." We thanked him and then headed in the direction that he'd pointed. A beautiful street of colorful buildings led us right to the Red Square in all of its glory. Saint Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, and other beautiful buildings stood proudly, so colorful and historic that it was almost as if they were painted there. We took turns posing for photos, chattering about how beautiful it was, and shivering in the rain. Having successfully checked off our list of tourist essentials, we wandered back towards the metro station in search of something to eat along the way. We came across a restaurant that looked delicious, and the staff spoke clear English. As we looked at the menu it dawned upon us that among our group was one Muslim (who only can eat meat that is halal) and one Hindi (who does not eat beef)... and the restaurant of choice? "Goodbeef"... nothing on the menu that didn't contain beef. I would have loved a juicy burger, but for the sake of the entire group we decided to continue our search for restaurants. We caught the train back to the station near our hotel and agreed that we'd be better off finding food nearby, as it was now pouring rain, freezing cold, and getting dark. We came across a small grocery store and headed inside to stock up on Russian goods. Grocery shopping seems to be the most popular activity on layovers. The man working at the store was very excited to meet us, and sent us away with a gift of several bags of cheese puffs. There were about 3 per package, which we found hilarious, but it was still very kind of him. By this point we were starving, so we headed back out into the rain in search of dinner. After a short while of wandering and finding nothing that appealed to the entire group, we decided to head back to the hotel. I would have chose this option to begin with, as hotels generally have great restaurants and our cabin crew status entitles us to discounts. We ate dinner in the warmth of our hotel, chatting away about our jobs... because let's be honest, we just met that day, and it's the only thing that we all have in common. I was getting sleepy as I listened to the stories, but I didn't want to seem rude by leaving early. I stayed, half asleep, pretending to listen intently and they told stories of previous flights. Finally, everyone agreed to leave... only because the restaurant was closing and the staff were patiently waiting for us to retreat to our rooms. I said goodnight, quickly grabbed my laptop, and talked to Ryan online for a few minutes before calling it a night and heading to bed. Morning came too soon, as always. I skipped breakfast in favor of an early lunch. While I debated borscht and other Russian foods, I couldn't get my mind off of the club sandwich on the menu. I try to eat local cuisine for the experience of it, but sometimes I need my familiar westernized food. I called up room service and I'm delighted to report that it was the best club sandwich that I've tasted since leaving Canada. Real bacon, real turkey... delicious. Back to Dubai we went, on a hectic flight that emptied our entire supply of tomato juice and scotch whiskey. We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Some flights are extremely chaotic and overwhelming, but at the end of the day you land and go home to your bed. The passengers clearly had enjoyed their flight, and broke into an applause as soon as we touched down on the runway. Home sweet Dubai, after a very enjoyable Moscow adventure!


Traytable said...


I've wanted to visit Russia since I was very small, I'm glad it looks in real life as it does in pictures!

As demanding as Russian pax can be, I find that they are mostly quite jolly about it as you say :)

amber cavers said...

Next time your in Russia you should try to find a crepe stand (apparently they are all over and delish!). I watch a lot of travel/food shows, and they were highly recommended.

Ashley McLean said...

I' so jealous Krysta! You have the most fascinating stories! If only my life was half as adventurous as yours!

Post a Comment

Comments really make my day... so stop and say hi!!