Russia impressions

Well, it’s my first time in Moscow, indeed my first time in Russia, so a brief note on my impressions is in order.

First, the journey was pretty hellish. I was carrying a massive suitcase belonging to who is moving back here on Sunday (see his latest entry for scandalous comments on Belgian landlords and on unwanted visitors at work, including electronic ones). We’ll miss him and his sense of humour in Brussels. At least I will be somewhat less heavily laden on the way back.

The flight took off at 2340 Brussels time (early) and landed at 0500 Moscow time. There is a two hour time difference so in fact it was only three hours in the air. Time to read the Lindskold biography of Zelazny (see previous entry) but not really to sleep.

I was picked up and brought to the office which has a guest bedroom. Three hours sleep before first meeting. First meeting was very good and lasted two hours instead of one; and was sufficiently interesting to be worth the price of the ticket (I hope tomorrow’s meetings will compensate adequately for cost of visa and of lost sleep).

Back to office for some more rest, then a few hours work at computer, then time for a little sight-seeing. The important bits of Moscow are very close together. Our office is round the corner from the Duma (parliament), which itself is opposite one wall of the Kremlin, and the Lubianka (KGB) and President’s office are not that much further away.

Red Square is closed because of a public holiday at the weekend. A local contact commented (actually not to me but to a policeman guarding Red Square, who sniggered in response): “I’d be a lot more impressed by these Independence Day celebrations if they told me who we were celebrating independence from.”

Moscow looks surprisingly prosperous. I had a good look round the GUM department store and the surrounding shopping arcades – full of people, full of consumer items, things being bought and sold. No real sense of grinding poverty; I didn’t feel I stood out in my raincoat (bought from Tesco’s in Prague last month). Our pub lunch cost about what it would have done in Brussels.

We had dinner in a vaguely Lebanese restaurant (reviewed here). I’ve had more exciting Lebanese food, but there was a wonderful georgian wine to go with it. (Also loads of people were smoking resin from hookahs which gave the whole thing a more exotic air.)

Then a brief car tour of the university quarter (glorious building, built by forced labour of German prisoners post-1945) and the White House, famously shelled by Yeltsin in 1993 (the weekend we got married), and other bits of Moscow by night. Anyway, time for bed now.

One thought on “Russia impressions

  1. Yes, all the Spanish sources and even some French ones seem to be covering the events.

Comments are closed.