Arriving In Russia
The flight to Russia was uneventful. It was a fairly full plane, but I was comfortable in an aisle seat for the nine-hour trip. The airport was similarly painless: no problems getting through customs and in the baggage claim.
I took the adventurous way to my hotel, via public transportation, specifically a bus and the Metro subway system. Though I was a bit unsure of where I would end up--NOTHING is written in English!--I managed to make it my hotel, the Novotel Moscow Centre, which is a business-oriented hotel with an English-speaking staff. My 12th floor room is spacious.
The 30-40 minutes on the bus gave me a good eyeful of the outskirts of Moscow. My first reaction was that my surroundings looked like a cross between Beijing and Madrid. Beijing for the foreign non-Roman alphabet writing everywhere as well as the functional-but-ugly Stalinist architecture on display. Madrid for the landscape and the endless advertisements for Western multinational companies everywhere: Toyota and Ford dealerships, Coca-Cola drink stands, McDonald's restaurants (of course all of these were in Beijing as well). I guess capitalism has arrived in full force here!
I am going to nap a bit before heading out to explore the city this evening.