Saturday, December 08, 2007

In the Land of White Nights and Vodka

Guess where I am?!! Yup, I'm in Moscow, Russia!!! Now, how cool is that?

Ehm...actually it is very cool, like only 28 F/-2C and it is looking like it may snow. There is also only about 6 and a half hours of sunlight a day right now here owing to being so far north. The experience so far has been frankly awesome and a bit discombobulating. Moscow and Russia in general is a bit like entering a free for all in regards to a few things like oh, I don't know, getting a taxi (you flag down a car and negotiate a price to take you to where you want to go) and getting in and out of the airport (they inspect your bags coming and going and it took almost three hours to get through customs). Once we got to the hotel, I found that I was staying in the President Hotel, the former official hotel of the Communist Party for high diplomats and affairs of the state. The security is incredible, it is like entering an armed fortress but apparently that is necessary these days for protecting Western business people who are working on high profile jobs; which I can't tell you much about yet but let's just say that when the next major rock and roll band tours in Moscow early next year, I can ensure them their sound system tech rider will be met and it will get plenty stinkin' loud....oh like to 11.

After checking into the hotel, we had a few hours for some sight seeing and a colleague and I went right to Red Square and the Kremlin. All the pictures in the world don't do Red Square or the Kremlin justice. They are gargantuan and the colors are so vibrant, so Russian. It was spitting huge flakes of snow while we stood in line to view Lenin's body (my colleague wanted to see the mold that is allegedly growing on Lenin's nose and in return said he would go to the Eliseev Gastronome with me). Eliseev Gastronome is unreal and like stepping back into a time when the Russian Court was still installed. There were foods from all over the world, barrels of caviar, smoked fish and meat of every kind, and was all very overwhelming; not unlike the food halls at Harrods, Fortnum Mason, and Galeries Lafayette. We sampled some dry cured meats and cheeses and I had my first truly spectacular caviar, these huge golden fish eggs that tasted of the sea when they burst in my mouth. Nothing like the caviar I have had before and if all caviar tasted like this I'd be eating it every day! After picking up a few things at a souvenir shop next to the Gastronome we headed to a little cafe, Mon Cafe for dessert where I got a delicious creme caramel and some tea and my colleague got a fig tart and espresso.

When we finished with dessert and while we walked back to the metro it began to snow those huge massive snow flakes again and somewhere in the distance I'm pretty sure I heard the tinkling of sleigh bells and the theme music to Dr. Zhivago...