Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Moscow on the Moskva - Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery

Novodevichy Convent

The parks were my favorite part of Moscow.

Novodevichy Cemetery - Gorbachev's wife

Boris Yeltsin

Dude with a dog.


Guy who really loved math.

Guy who built tanks.  Drove tanks.  Designed tanks.
Something with tanks.


Fall cemetery tree stump.

Clown.  With Monkey.
I think his title was actually something like:
"Progressed Soviet Nationalism"
On our first day in Moscow, Donna took us to Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery.  It's a spectacular site, only detracted by the ongoing construction and building improvements.  The cemetery is a fantastic place to walk-through.  Much like our visit to Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris this spring, Novodevichy is packed, particularly with the Soviet Union's favorite sons.  The grounds are vast and each headstone is unique from the last.  Many were confusing.  One in particular was a sculpture of a man holding a naked newborn at arms length.  The descriptor didn't mention anything about his being an obstetrician.

Moscow is a quirky place.

Getting to Moscow was fun too.  Due to a huge price difference in flying from Tel Aviv versus Amman (there are a massive number of Russians in Tel Aviv, and a massive number of Jews in Russia), we took the plunge to do all sorts of new things at once. Get visas to Russia (that took 3 weeks and 3 visits... gotta love being U.S. Diplomats flying on tourist passports into Russia... all sorts of alarms went off).  Cross the border with our own car.  Find our way to Tel Aviv to stay overnight.  Find our way to the airport and long term parking.  Fly out of Tel Aviv.  Enter Moscow.  And do the whole thing in reverse 5 days later.

It's a lot of steps. It's a lot of waiting. It's a lot of nervous twitching.  If the border guards were cranky (they weren't, in fact they were actually helpful)... if the visa was smudged (it was, didn't seem to matter)... if our son no longer looked like his passport photo (he doesn't and he was double-checked at every opportunity)... if... if... if....

And then it all worked pretty much like clockwork.

Except for the time warp.  We still can't figure that part out.

We overnighted in Tel Aviv because we had a 3 p.m. flight out, and being a nervous traveler we decided to cross the border the night before to take our time on Thursday.  Departed the hotel at Noon and arrived at the airport at 12:30.  Headed to the check-in counter only to be yelled at that we were late.  A glance at the airport clock said it was nearly 2 p.m.

Here's the thing, I never changed my clock.  It said 2 p.m. Israel is an hour earlier.

We were pushed to the front of the line, got into a check-in counter line that had our flight number on it, and waited.  Ten minutes later, the check-in counter closed and everyone in front of us shifted over to the next counter... for a 5 p.m. flight.  Continue the confusion.  Told the guy up front that no, we were on the 3 p.m. flight and he yelled at us that the counter was closed now, an hour before departure, and why didn't we say anything?

Glancing up, the counter still says our flight number as do about 3 other check-in desks.  How were we supposed to know that everyone in front of us was actually checking in to the later flight?

So he said we should be glad he was still there, he asked a quick question about whether we're carrying anything sharp in our baggage (that we were trying to check-in), scanned our passports, printed boarding passes, slapped "cabin baggage" on our suitcases, and told us to run.

We ran. To passport control. And stopped. The machine wouldn't recognize Nicholas's face (because hey, it doesn't match his passport photo!). Thankfully a human was there to bypass it and after 4 attempts, we were through and started running again.

And we stopped at security. The lines actually kept moving, they didn't question the bottles of olive oil that were supposed to be in checked baggage, and we kept running.

To our gate which was roughly a country mile away and discovered that no matter how awesome LL Bean medium duffles are, they are crazy heavy when carried at a jog because we didn't get the rolling medium duffles. They cost twice as much. I don't care. The medium is the right size for a 3-7 day trip, and I'm going to get some rolling ones.

Arrived at the gate as people were in line boarding.

Seated and stowed, we proceeded to sit on the airplane. For an hour. I'm sure we're paranoid and all, but we kind of think the delay was our fault. After someone from the Grounds Crew came on and asked to see David's boarding pass and all, it's hard not to wonder.

I never changed my watch, and Moscow is currently the same time as Amman. Israel is an hour behind. When we landed back in Tel Aviv yesterday, the clocks said an hour behind my watch.  I still don't know what happened last Thursday.

None of that matters anymore. We had a fabulous time in Moscow and it was all thanks to the massive efforts of Donna and her crew.

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