Saturday October 12, 8:45 p.m.
Moscow, Russia, Viking ship Rurik stateroom
Today was a free day for the tour group. All the tours offered were optional, but John wanted to go back to Red Square to see Lenin's tomb. Lucky for me, we made friends with a very nice couple from Michigan. While the wife wanted to see Lenin's tomb as well the husband didn't, so I hung out with him and she went with John.
I finally got in to see the views from Red Square. Everything is just so beautiful and picturesque! I wish I could paint.
My new friend and I strolled up and down the street, and I managed to get some of the souvenirs my family demanded of me. Then, I went back to GUM because he wanted to get some vodka, and I remembered seeing some the day before. I purchased some golden tea, which I've never had but can't wait to try.
We met back up with our spouses, and then we all went to the four-story underground mall near Red Square. We had lunch at a Georgian restaurant where John and I tried borscht for the first time (it was delicious in case you were wondering). After, John and I split off in search of a sweatshirt my mom wanted. I'm amazed to say that in the entire mall, I didn't see one sweatshirt with Cyrillic letters on it. Everything said "London" or "New York," so the search continues. Can you believe it?
After the mall, we took the metro back to the station nearest our boat. On the way, we stopped in a grocery store and got some Russian snacks! I think this is my favorite part of traveling to other countries, discovering their snacks!
I'm a little disappointed at how very similar Moscow is to many cities in the US. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC. I will say the way they go about advertising seems a bit different than at home. It's bigger, but less often. So you might have a giant TV billboard worthy of Blade Runner, but there aren't ads on every wall, bus, and park bench.
Nearing our boat, I was stopped by a Russian man who was asking for directions. I think? Unfortunately, I know maybe ten words in Russian, and I had to apologize for not being able to help him. He must have thought we were British when I told him we only spoke English because all he said was "Manchester?"
After we reboarded the ship, I wrote some postcards. And then, I had about an hour to continue reading The Brothers Karamazov before dinner. I was excited to try blini for dessert as it is something already included in my first few chapters of Sasha's story. The food was excellent as always.
Because of my little bit of pre-planning, I will be able to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. Maybe I will be fully rested for our tour of the Kremlin tomorrow!