The day after the wedding, I spent getting packed, and doing some souvenir shopping. I found a nice watercolor painting of St. Basil’s that I bought. After the shopping and eating McDonald’s for ONE LAST TIME, we made it to the airport to begin my journey back to San Francisco. It’s amazing how different it feels to travel. Whether it’s because it’s such a part of my life now, or because I enjoy it so much, it feels less and less surreal each time I go. It IS part of my life, and will continue to be, as I pursue my experiences abroad.
The days qiuickly went by and Saturday was right upon us. The day of Evgeny’s wedding. So, Mom, Dad, Katya, and I all went together to meet Evgeny. Evgeny had his suit on, and I had my shirt and tie on. We then got his friends, decorated cars, and got prepared to get the bried. The bride was on the 7th floor in their flat getting prepared. To get into the flat however, you must answer quiz questions and pay money to go up to the top. Guarded by her friends, the entrance to the building was the first obsticle. He answered various questions and then was allowed to pass. We all followed him upstairs to where the door of the hallway was blocked by Masha’s aunt. There were more questions, and then the most difficult of the tests. There was a sheet of paper that that had all the girls’ kiss marks on them. He had to pick which one was Masha’s, before he could enter the flat. Good thing, he picked hers in only 2 tries! Then as we entered the flat, she was standing on a chair in the living room with her bright red and purple wedding gown. Before he could get her down, his friends had to lift him up to her face to kiss her. After the kiss she was able to get down and join Evgeny. It was so cool to witness all the festivities for the wedding. We all got in cars and drove to some city registrar that will update your passport with the name and info of your new spouse. Yes, Russians must carry a passport for intracountry movement, that contains information about their address, their children, marriages etc. So, after a quick 10 minute ceremony that resembled our weddings, the bride and groom said ‘da’, and moved to another room to sign the license.
After the wedding ceremony, we went to famous places in Moscow for pictures and enjoying being outside before the restaurant. The reception was held in a restaurant just in front of the Bolshoi Theater, named Alcapulco Mexican Restaurant. This was Russian-Mexican, so no tacos, but more like potatoes and salso :) There was dancing, music, food, more food, then even more food, and toasts! There were gifts given, mainly money, but I did see a blender and coffeemaker too! This was an opportunity to spend with his friends and enjoy the banter of a Russian wedding. I had a lot of fun, and I am so glad I was able to go.
The next few days, either Katya and I, or I myself went out to enjoy Moscow. We did the sightseeing things, but the est thing th tI hadn’t seen my first trip was the Faberge Egg collection that is on moving display. This was really lucky becuause usually this display is elsewhere, and for my luck, Faberge had it’s display in the Krem=lin this month. So, I went to this. Very interesting and ornage eggs were made by a frenchman who lived in Russia, and made these eggs as gifts for Easter for the Czars. What makes them so famous is that they would contain a unique toy inside that were so minute in detail. It was really intersting to see.
I did see Lenin’s body again actually, and it is so funny to see what my imagination had done with the interior of the Mausoleum. I mean, my memory resembled what was actually there, but in my mind, the wall decor was really quite different. Funny how your mind can make you believe different things. Anyhow, to disappointment, the grand St. Basil’s Cathedral was practically all covered by scaofolding, so Iit wasn’t as impressive to see Red Square this time around. Very disappointing. I wanted to mainly take some cool photographs with this in the background.
Today, we all went to Red Square and did a little bit of sightseeing. Since this was my 2nd trip to Moscow, I really didn’t HAVE to see much, as I had seen quite a bit my first trip here. So, we shopped some, ate, hung out, got to know each other better, and just enjoyed being in each other’s company. It was a lot of fun, a d a nice relaxing time.
So on Labor Day, Monday, 2003, I began my journey to Moscow. Since I got a great deal on British Airways, I decided to stop over in London, as I had not visited there yet. So, my plan was to take a 2 week vacation–1 week in London, and 1 in Moscow.
Upon departure, I found myself so excited to return to the family I had written to for more than half my life. I rememebered clearly how exciting it was to receive the packages and letters from Evgeny, telling me about his life.
When I arrived in Moscow from London, Evgeny and Katya and Alex were there to greet me. Katya had grown from the 9 year old shy girl who couldn’t speak any English, to a 16 year old fiesty, English-speaking girl! Evgeny looked very much the same, and, I felt completely at home with them. It’s so strange with how you can hardly ever see a person, but really feel like you know them.
After our drive into the city, we began looking for my hotel. I wasn’t tired, as I had been in London for the week previous, and had no jetlag. We were driving really slowly, and made a couple of U-turns, when a Police officer pulled us over. Wow. Moscow is really full of scandal. To get out of getting a ticket from making an illegal turn, the driver, Alex, Evgeny’s friend from school, had to pay him a mere $15 to be ‘released’. This is very common as Evgeny explained. So, we found my hotel, Hotel Sputnik, and it was a typical Russian hotel, all with it’s grand customer service. When we were checking in, Evgeny explained that I couldn’t speak Russian, and asked who there spoke English. She said, no one. How can no one here speak English, you’re a hotel. Nope. No one. (no smiles, typical Russian demeanor for anything remotely resembling customer service). So, I offered tritely, how about Spanish?, German?, Japanese?, Swedish?? I mean come on! So, after this worry, the man next to us goes, “I need to have a taxi, can you call one for me?” The clerk next to our clerk said, “to what destination,” or something like this. My ears perked up, and we just looked back at the clerk, and Evgeny said, what about your coworker there.. it sounds like she can speak English. Then without smiling, the hussy said, “it was a joke.” Har Har. Funny.
So I was given the key to my room and we went to check it out. Dark and dismal, it was still quite homey with the most comfortable bed. I even had MTV Russia! So, nights were fun catching up on the music scene. After checking out the room, Masha was to come meet me. Fragile and delicate, Masha was greeted by Evgeny with a kiss and introduced to me. I felt so happy to be part of this wedding. Masha was very shy, and didn’t want to speak English, but this all changed in the next couple of days.
We tried to find something to eat, but didn’t have any luck, so I went back to my hotel, and Evgeny, Masha, and Katya all went back to their flat.