that's the caption on a souvenir tshirt sold in moscow and st. petersburg, and not strictly speaking true. during my 2 week trip to russia i did in fact see a bear cub, playing at the end of a leash in a st. petersburg park.
anyway, the chronicles have been sparse to say the least lately but i have a burning itch to record my thoughts and observations about ksenia and my trip to russia. i will begin, naturally enough, with the trip to russia...
the trip started with a flight to philadelphia, whose airport is very non-descript apart from the ben franklin fascination. it is hard to find any shop in the airport that doesn't have some sort of ben franklin tchotchke, and that's in addition to the ben franklin shop with nothing but. in any event, philly, whatever, never been there before but nothing particularly interesting so far.
the next leg of the journey took us to munich. that's a pretty long flight for a guy that's never been anywhere that wasn't part of north america before. the munich flight was an overnighter, so we took off late in the evening, had dinner, watched a movie, had about an hour nap and then they woke us up for breakfast. not a good flight for dieters. unfortunately it was cloudy when we arrived so i wasn't able to catch much of a glimpse of what munich is like from the air but i can tell you that the airport looks like the inside of an autoclave.
finally, the flight in to st. petersburg was relatively short, ending with a bone-jarring landing and a taxi to the terminal that was almost as long as the flight because they are repairing the main runway there. once inside the airport we had to pass the extraordinarily stern russian customs officer, who literally did not speak a word to me but seemed to xray me with his eyes. i used to think that american customs guys were dicks but they're tenderly accomodating in comparison.
and then, after collecting our bags from the impossibly small carousels, we jumped in a taxi for the rally race to ksenia's mother's flat. funny thing, most roads in russia don't seem to have any actually defined lanes. wherever you can fit a car, you will find a car. our cabbie wove between the buses and around the accidents like a champ and whatever race he was in i'm sure we won.
so after 30 hours, 3 flights and 6 meals we arrived at ksenia's mother's - just in time for dinner. it's a wonder i didn't come back 20 lbs heavier.