Simón and Zaira arrive one hour after I did, but by plane (those cheaters). They are supposed to be picked up by the hostel’s free taxi pick up service (yes, this one was not cancelled, aparently they just wanted to do one of our team) from the airport, but as soon as I log into the wifi, I get a message from Simón, saying the taxi hasn’t showed up yet. When I mention my friends’ names to Lisa, the hostel girl, she gets excited – actually, they were trying to contact them, but their phones don’t seem to work in Russia, if I could maybe keep in touch with them? What follows, is a one-hour-odyssee with me writing with Simón and Zaira on facebook, and Lisa talking to the taxi driver on the phone. He does not want to enter the airport zone without having a phone number to call them, he doesn’t wanna give them his number, and maybe they could take a train to somewhere and he picks them up from there? Finally, they purchase a Russian SIM-card, and the driver can call them and bring them to the hostel (alive), with only 5 almost-accidents, and an extra half an hour around he skyscrapers, looking for the entrance. And here comes the explanation to all the misplanning: The hostel’s usual driver is on vacation, and this guy is new and apparently uncooperative. Well, at least that also explains my weird cancellation. Lisa is very sorry, we are just very happy about the showers, and the view from the 43rd floor over Moscow.
The hostel doesn’t seem to have any other non-Russian tourists besides us, except for a creepy Egyptian guy who may or may not speak Russian, has the tendency to stare at you for minutes, scuffles through the hostel randomly, and eats the hostel’s entire stack of breakfast porridge throughout the whole day, until he finally gets told off on our second evening. Of course, this guy lives in our dorm, and snores like hell. Actually, snoring is not quite describing it, there should be a new word for the noise he is producing at night. Never in my life have I heard anything like this, it should be forbidden to sleep in a dorm for him. The term “valuables” shifts from my passport and money to describing my earplugs, which I of course lose after 5 mintues.
Freshly showered, we start to explore Moscow. We learn more about the metro-system, pinch a map from a nearby hotel by pretending we are lost, and learn that it makes absolutely no sense to try to speak English to anyone. Nevertheless, we manage to get a 3-day-metro-ticket, with hand, feet and an offline dictionary, and find our way to Gorky Park, where we take a nap, listen to people having a public Zumba class, and take a lot of pictures. On the way back to the hostel, we find the failed Columbus-Peter-The-Great monument: Zaira read that it was supposed to be sent to the Expo 1992 in Barcelona, but it was found to be too ugly, so instead, they took off Columbus’ head, put Peter’s head, and placed it in the Moskva river. We don’t find it ugly. Maybe it was Columbus’ head that made it ugly, we speculate?
Zaira friends a Russian couple in front of the Cathedral of Christ’s Savior. They speak English, ask her for taking a pic of them, and tips for their trip to Spain. Again, we are surprised how few not Russian-speaking people we see, even at the most touristic places.
On Sunday, Santiago and Tanja arrive and our group is finally complete. It is extremely hot, and when we wait for them to meet us on the Red Square, it feels like being grilled alive. We see a Russian woman with a broken ankle or something, still wearing high heels, cumbersome pushing a stroller in front of her. Beauty is all that counts, right? In that context, we also realize that Russian girls don’t simply take pictures – they live them! We try out some of their poses and indeed, we do look way better. Our lunch at a restaurant is adventurous. Simón gets his food when everybody else is done only. But coming from Finland, we are not exactly spoiled by customer service, either… 😉
We visit the Kremlin and the Armoury Chamber, and do all sorts of other touristic stuff before going back to the hostel. Eat again, for instance. Well, Santi and Tanja decide to go to a party of a friend to get hammered. And Simón, Zaira and I actually get lost for the first time, in the metro. And we were so proud to have understood the system! But when we at one stop just jumped into the wagon standing there, we didn’t check the final destination. It turns out, there is a reason for the fancy digital system having stops both in the top and in the bottom. We are in the wrong one, we figure that after the third stop we almost got off, but then didn’t because it was wrong. A friendly young Russian guy asks us in broken English, after he has watched the show, where we want to go. He enlightens us, and we find our way back, finally. Russians seem to be nicer than they want to look like!
Zaira and I do some shopping before the long trip (noodles!!!). Back in the hostel, before we expose ourselves again to Mr Supersnore, someone is watching “The Aviator”, Russian version: The original sound is turned down, playing in the background, while someone in Russian speaks over the voices, one male and one female voice. Yes, one for for all males and one for all females in the movie. A Russian hostel guest tells us this is luxury already, sometimes it is just one voice dubbing everybody in the movie.
Poor Simón gets up when we go to sleep, to finish a paper he is writing. Zaira is my savior and provides me with ear plugs, so that I can rest a bit before our adventure begins. Only a couple of hours left!