Monday, April 18, 2011

Torturous Trip to Red Square

Yesterday was Sunday here and if I was going to make the walk to Red Square for the ‘must-have’ photos it had to happen that day. Today we will do to the US Embassy interview and receive Boston’s visa. We will then pack everything up tonight and head home tomorrow!!! I am beyond excited about being home. I am DREADING the 12+ hour flight to Atlanta and the 6 hour layover for a 2 hour flight to Moline however. Ok back to our Red square fiasco…

As I have mentioned before, it is virtually impossible to take a stroller anywhere. The only way I was going to make it all the way down Arabat Street, the couple of blocks to Red Square, around Red Square and back was to figure out a way to use the stroller. Here is a picture at the feeble attempt to be handicapped/stroller accessible. Perhaps their fancy carriages with the monster tires fit in those tracks, but not my stroller! I had to manage 5 of these underground passages. That makes 10 sets of stairs on the way to the Square and 10 on the way back. This was the first one that I cross every day to get to the market and Arabat Street.

On the way down Arabat is was pretty quite. It was just about noon and there wasn’t a whole lot going on. I even had a time to snap a couple of pictures on the way down.






After Arabat there were the remaining four underground passages to contend with. I tried carrying Boston in one arm and dragging the stroller up and down with the other. That didn’t work too well as the stroller was too heavy for me to lift very high and I was banging it on every stair. At that rate the stroller would not hold up for the remainder of the walk. So that technique was out. A couple of times a man graciously volunteered to lift the front for me without me even asking or anything. This act of kindness about brought me to tears (of course that is easy to do these days!). But seriously, my anxiety is already running high and to have someone help out was such a relief. I made a note to myself at that point that Justin and I would make certain to teach our children to always take a second and help a person out when needed. We already try to do this, but I am going to be very intentional about it. Something that took those couple of gentleman less than one minute to do made a HUGE difference for me at that moment. The other times when no one volunteered, I waited for some man to come along that didn’t look too scary and would say please in both English and Russian and point to the front of the stroller. They would then help me out. It is hard for me to not be independent! If you see the picture below, at one point I was right across the street from Red Square. Again across the street means ANOTHER underground passage. I was so mentally exhausted by the time I got to this point. I was beginning to think I was going to forget how to get back to the hotel if I went underground one more time. I was close enough to see the Square but STILLLL couldn’t get to it. Of course I knew I would be furious at myself all day if I made it that far and didn’t make the last bit of effort to cross the street so on we went.


I took a picture of the point where we came up from the underground passage so I wouldn’t forget how to get back. 4 crazy horses - surely I could find them again.



I took pictures of different structures but didn’t go into any buildings. Here is a neat church that Justin and I went in last time we were here. This time a picture from a distance is all we got!

So when we got close to St. Basil Cathedral I got brave enough to let Boston out of the stroller. I was able to snap just a couple of pictures when in true two year old style Boston was getting tempted to go running! I could not risk trying to chase him and leave the stroller with our belonging unattended. There are lots of warnings about theft – after all it is a tourist area. Back in the stroller he went.




The rest of our photos were taken with him in the stroller. The quality of the pictures were so poor I wonder if it was truly worth trip!



Boston began to get fussy and then fell asleep. I found a bench and sat down for about 15 minutes to let him rest. Actually, I think it was so I had time to give myself a pep talk about making it back to the hotel. I was so done with this trip!!! I stood up and with newly found determination I headed back to the hotel. This time I did not even wait for the right person to ask for help with the stroller. I ask whoever was next to me, and you know what??? Not a single person told me no. I had a lady in her fancy boots and silk dress help, a punkish 20something guy with many piercings, a teen-aged boy with headphones on, two teenage girls, a business man, etc… I was beyond the point of caring what they thought. Each person helped and most even gave me a smile when I said thank you in both English and Russian.

It was a relief when I saw the entrance to Arabat Street because then I knew I hadn’t lost my way and I only had ONE underground passage left to manage. When we entered Arabat, I was overwhelmed. There were thousands of teenagers holding signs that said ‘Free Hugs’. Many were in various costumes and running around hugging everyone. They were blowing bubbles, singing, and dancing. After I was able to get my bearings, I tried to capture a few photos and video but neither do justice to the chaos that was going on. At least people were smiling!



I was excited when I got back to the hotel! There was no way I was leaving for the rest of the evening. I knew the restaurant in the hotel was closed but there was supposed to be 24 hour rooms service. Boston and I would have dinner delivered to our door! No more stairs or stares! So I call 2222 to place my order. The person on the other end answered saying something in Russian and I understood the word restaurant. I stated I wanted to place an order for my room and I hear a sound like the phone was set down. I could hear clanging in the background, so I figured when the person heard English they were going to find someone else to speak with me. I waited and waited and then heard a click like the phone was hung up. I called back. No answer. I called again. No answer. I remained calm. Let 5 minutes pass and called yet again. No answer. I could feel the tears of frustration coming again. The thought of leaving our room and trying to get a meal seemed like such a production. I REALLY did not want to have to do it. I was trying to come to the reality that I was going to have to leave when my ‘Momma Bear’ instinct set in. I knew the restaurant was on the 3rd floor. I decided to just take the room service menu down, point to what I wanted, write the room number on a piece of paper, and give them the money – maybe even with a little tip if needed! This is really out of character for me. I don’t like to cause any waves, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! So down we went. There was a kind young man that was happy to help us out. Boston and I had a hot meal in the comfort of our hotel room!

One random picture I wanted to include on the blog is the one of my favorite monument in Moscow. There are amazing churches, cathedrals, buildings, statues, etc… But my favorite is the “Make Way for Ducklings” monument that was given to the children of the Soviet Union by Barbara Bush. We have Blake’s pictures with these bronze ducks also.




I am excited that we are at the end of our time here in Moscow. I am guessing I will do one last update before heading out!

9 comments:

Kathy Reardon said...

Hang in there Heather! Just a couple more days until you are home in the comfort of your own bed, surrounded by the love of family and friends. While seemingly impossible, try to enjoy the remaining few hours in Moscow and enjoy even every painful moment as part of this indescribable journey to your son. Sending love and prayers your way!

Kate S. said...

Thinking of you!!!! Glad room service worked out after your exhausting day. I love reading about your adventure! Hang in there.....not much longer.....prayers for your 12+ hour flight to go smoothly (and hopes that Boston would like to sleep a lot on the flight :)

Joel and Clarion said...

So glad to hear that your were shown such kindness from many during your adventures. I remember Clarion and I being exhausted when both of us dragged the boys around Moscow to do a bit of sightseeing. God bless you as you head home! Keep in touch!

Masha said...

Aw so sorry. I can sense your exhaustion but luckily you are in the home stretch so just hang in there!!! Single parenting isn't a fun task, especially in a foreign country. Hoping you two have a safe and stress-free flight home.

Melissa B. said...

Bless your heart! If you'll email me a couple of your pictures, I'll try to work some magic on them, so that you won't feel like the trip was a bust! I could see some good potential in them!!

Doug and Shelly said...

Heather, I could feel your frustration and exhaustion just reading your post. One more day Girl and you're heading home for good!

Jen said...

This entry brought back so many feelings for me! We have been home 3 weeks since getting our daughter from St. Petersburg. I had such a bad attitude in Moscow! I was exhausted, homesick, and just generally done! I'm sure there are great things about Moscow, but being at the end of the trip gives it a bad name! We loved our time in St. Petersburg, but I feel like I didn't even give Moscow a chance! So happy you are going to be reunited with your family soon, and so inspired by your ability to do these last days on your own. You should be so proud!

Vicki said...

Your brave! Keep hanging in there you'll be home soon.

Trisha and Jim said...

At least the weather was nice...