Well, we had a full day of travel to get to Russia. We left Janesville and drove to Appleton. From there we flew to Minneapolis and got on a flight to Amsterdam.
The flights were pretty uneventful. We were able to sleep most of the way to Amsterdam so we arrived pretty well rested despite the excitement.
Our fligh to Russia was okay. We did not get to sit together. I was a little scared when the plane was taking off. There was this Russian man who got up out of his seat and was going to the back of the plane. The flight crew was announcing for him to return to his seat but he kept on. All of this while we were going up. I of course thought the worst - here he goes to the bathroom with a bomb or something! He pushed on into the bathroom and boy was I relieved when he came out and returned to his seat. Now, I think in the US they might have interviewed him or even turned the plane around.
Our first impression of the Moscow airport was how little English we saw. Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore!
Michael, (our driver) was there when we came out of customs. It was so nice to see someone looking for us. We also picked up a couple from Florida and Dan and Barbara, who lost all their luggage coming in from Sweden! We made it with ours.
It was a long ride from the airport and my first impression was that it was pretty dingy and gray everywhere you looked.
We arrived at the Hotel Ukraina and found our Stalin-era hotel to be charming and a little showing signs of age, but overall clean and sufficient. It had a nice view of the river. We decided to take a cab to Red Square and you can see some of our photos here. Wow, our cab was so dirty on the outside that you really should clean off the headlights! I wonder if we could open a carwash and make a ton of rubles or maybe no one even bothers to try and clean their cars.
Red Square was an awsome sight. Remember the Cold War? Who would have thought we'd be here. We saw the outside of St. Basil Cathedral, Lenin's tomb, and the GUM department store. Wholy Capitalism. Lenin must be spinning in his grave! oh wait, he isn't in one! ha ha. The Christmas lights were beautiful. Cmas is Jan. 7 here so they are still up.
Off Red Square we saw the most crowded McDonalds ever and ended up eating at a great Japanese place. We'll go back there. They had photo menus.
We took an hour at an internet cafe and a cab back and sleep like logs.