My flight finally arrived at Moscow’s Seremetevo Airport at 10.30 a.m. Moscow time (eight hours ahead of New Orleans). By that time I had been traveling for 24 hours. I was only able to get one or two hours of sleep on the plane. I said my goodbyes to Natasha, who sat by me on the plane. Though she spoke to me primarily in English, it was good to spend so much time talking with a Russian before I arrived in Moscow. It helped me get in the right frame of mind. It helped me to care.

In the terminal, it took awhile to clear Passport Control. I got a little nervous at the baggage claim. I worried that my bag had been left in New York because our Atlanta flight cut it so close. I was not prepared to spend the next several days in the clothes I have been wearing for 24 hours. My bag was one of the last ones to come off the plane in Moscow. Whew!

The weather was cold, but beautiful. It was a bright sunny day – a rarity in Moscow according to those who live here. The Moscow Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have wish for a more perfect day. The snow was beautiful.

By 1 p.m. we had reached our hotel. The hotel is very nice … much nice than the one I stayed at in 2005. The building was built for the 1980 Olympics, but it has recently been remodeled. The rooms are small, but nice. Each room is equipped with terry cloth robes and slippers. The rooms have steam heat which is nice, but too hot. I had the window open for hours at a time to let out some of the heat. My room is on the 23 floor, however, the window has no bars or screen to prevent someone from fall out … it is a bit scary to stand near the window.

After checking into the hotel, we walked across the street to a mall food court for lunch. We ate at the Russian version of KFC. It was good. Then we caught the Metro (subway) for a trip across town to meet with American missionaries serving in Moscow. By 4 p.m. the sun was beginning to set. Over a cup of tea, the missionaries told of their work in the city and about the Russians who are their partners. We also learned more about our schedule. The Metro ride home took us about an hour (I actually fell asleep while standing during the Metro ride). Before entering our hotel we stopped at a grocery store for a cultural experience.

I went primarily to pick up a few items for breakfast – crackers, cheese and a salami-like meat. This is the type of breakfast I had during my first trip to Russia. Feeling nostalgic, I wanted the same this time. I also notice the Lay’s potato chips. The flavor varieties were endless – mushroom, garlic, shashlik (skewered beef), crab and many others. But, I obviously didn’t pay much attention when I grabbed the Lay’s – I pick up caviar flavored Lay’s instead of original Lay’s. I’m not expecting to like the caviar-flavored Lay’s.

At the check-out counter I committed the unpardonable sin – I didn’t respond in Russian to the question “Do you want to buy a plastic bag?” Yes, you do have to buy your bag. I knew what she was asking, but I nodded and said “yes” instead of “da.” She didn’t like that for some reason. I got my bag and made it out of the grocery in one piece. I went straight to bed. It had been almost two days since I’d had a full night’s sleep. I slept well for most of the night.

On Jan. 5, we traveled by:
– airplane
– 15-passenger van
– Metro (subway)
– streetcar
– bus
– and good old fashion feet

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