October 24

In Moscow

We stepped out of the train into cool air that seemed much warmer than it had been in Novgorod. It was only when I saw the thermometer/clock display reading -6C that I realized just how cold the preceding day must have been. Mitya had said he'd meet us at the station if he got over the cold he'd had when we left (I suspect I caught mine from him) but as he was nowhere to be seen, we took the metro and trolleybus homw. We unpacked and ate a little breakfast, then rested until Mitya returned from an errand. The sky had been clear when we arrived, but in the next few hours clouds had not only appeared, but begun dumping snow on the city. There was already a thin layer on the sidewalks when Mitya arrived.

We drove out to the flea market Mitya and I had visited the previous weekend. The wisps of snow being blown around the pavement by passing cars were very pretty. I regretted not bringing my camera. The market was more crowded than it had been in the rain, no surprise. I bought a few trinkets to give to various people back home, but was unable to locate the one item I was looking for specifically: a matrushka doll with the cast of the old Star Trek printed on it. There were plenty of weird dolls, certainly (I bought a simple one, a girl in a dress holding a flower, which Olga said was the traditional style) but not that one. I guess the books were right when they recommended buying things right away because they'd be gone later. Live and learn. That may be why Olga carries so many bags with her!

The snow was a couple centimeters thick when we left. Mitya drove home slowly and carefully. He's obviously experienced at driving in slippery conditions, though he says that a sizable number of longtime Moscow residents seem to have little idea how to do it. Summer drivers, I think he called them. We returned home by way of the road across the river from the Kremlin. Again I regretted not having my camera. It was an impressive sight, just the silhouettes of the cupolas and towers visible through the haze of the falling snow. When we got back, I went outside and walked around the streets near the apartment building, taking pictures such as the one at the top of the page.

There's not much to say about the rest of the day. We looked through the items I'd bought, talked, and ate dinner. During dinner, Olga and Sasha and Mitya talked about some of their neighbors, who were refusing to help pay for the repair of the building's broken elevator. The building is a cooperative, and it causes big headaches when not everyone cooperates!

Later, we listened to some music, both mine and theirs, and talked about what was good and bad about the itinerary they'd worked out. For the most part, I had no complaints. Too many museums, perhaps, though I asked for most of them. The biggest problem has simply been the cold weather and my lack of preparation for it, which no change of itinerary would have helped.

I went to bed early because of my poor sleep on the train. Before bed I started with the antibiotics I brought, in case what I had was worse than a simple cold or flu. Better safe than sorry, but I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring cold medicine.

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