The six of us went for a 2-hour lunch, and then one went with me to the airport. Actually, they hired a taxi cab, which waited at each point along the way. (Taxis are cheap in this town, because there are too many of them.) While waiting, the driver hauled out a portable DVD player to continue watching his movie.
Along the way, we stopped at the railway museum, one of only two in all of Russia. This one has a huge collection of steam, diesel, and electric locomotives, including Russia's fastest at 271km/hr. (See photo; click to enlarge.) I got charged triple, being a foreigner. So at the next museum, I said nothing and got the Russian rate (20 cents).
We stopped in the center of Novosibirsk, where the streets were closed for a festival of some sort. We walked around the outside of the opera house (largest in Russia, and featured on The Amazing Race) but found it was closed. Stopped in the basement a small, tiny museum of old technology, where I also experienced using a toilet with no seat. Back outside, we were entertained by a female mime, who pranced along with us down the street. And stopped by the small Orthodox church that marks the middle of Russia (in the east-west direction).
Unfortunately, we experienced all these things in the rain. Arriving at the Novosibirsk airport, the sun came out. Naturally.
Arriving at Moscow airport, I was met by my greeter. These people work in pairs: the one who speaks English meets me, and then calls for the car and driver, who is parked some ways away (to avoid having to pay for airport parking). This greeter had very clear English, because he has family who lives in Toronto, Canada. He explained, "Everything in Russia is designed to frustrate the tourist!"
The burley driver wielded his car (a Toyoto Camry) like a stiletto, deftly slicing his way through the traffic, impatiently flashing high beams behind any car going slower than his 130km/hr [80mph]. Once in the city, he slowed to 100km/hr.
My new hotel is like the one in St Petersburg, an older one marked by a discrete door. Ring the bell, get permission from the security guard, up the tiny elevator, down a half-flight of steps, ring again, and enter to the third floor holding a tiny office and a dozen hotel rooms. This one features the fastest wireless Internet I've experienced on my trip; best of all, it's free!
Since I arrived at the hotel after 7pm, the one-person staff had ordered breakfast #1 for me, something that involves sour cream. Sigh.
Sunday, the tour guide picks me up at 9:30am so that we can get into the Kremlin when it opens at 10. Monday, I return to Canada.
Is the Kremlin open on Programmers' Day?
Posted by: Owen Wengerd | Sep 13, 2009 at 08:59 PM