Moscow ~~ Leaving St Pete behind

Once we made it back to the hotel from the orphanage our hope was that we would get Katherine's passport the next day and take the midnight train to Moscow. As with everything else Russian, it didn't go as planned.

It used to be that our coordinator could just take all the papers into the passport office and go back and pick up the completed passport herself. They had changed the rules within the last few weeks so after she went in waited and waited to give the paperwork to the lady who normally helps her, she discovered that lady was out of the office for 2 days and the only other person there was not willing to make any allowances because of the new rules.

So she had to come back and get Jeff and take him to the office and they both got to wait some more. And wait. And wait. And wait. All the way to 5 o'clock when the office closed only to be told it was not ready and please come back tomorrow.

One more night in the hotel. (I don't even want to say how much this was adding up to).

The next day Jeff went again at 11 AM and waited some more.

We were hoping everything would be done early enough so we could take the 4PM express train into Moscow that day.

Finally at 1:30 Jeff called me and said he gotten the passport and was on his way to get the train tickets but as soon as he got back I would have to go with Natalya's husband to get Katherine's visa photo. Natalya was in court that day for a couple who were adopting 2 kids and she couldn't take us herself.

As soon as Jeff got back I took Katherine and went to find the photographers with Mr. Natalya (unfortunately I do not remember his name).

It turned out to be the same as everything else on this trip... utterly frustrating. Apparently he knew what street it was on but did not know which photo place it was. And there were many. After he parked (half on the street, half on the sidewalk) we went to 5 different places before we found the correct one. It didn't take very long but by the time we were on the way back to the hotel, it was almost 3 and our train was leaving at 4.

Back at the hotel there was a frenzy of activity trying to check out, get our luggage into the van and get us to the train station on time through the hideous traffic.

We got to the station at 3:50. Jeff looked at our tickets said at least we're in train car #1.

I was smiling at our stroke of good luck.
Right up until we got onto the platform and saw that the first car was #40. Our car was somewhere in the far distance.. And they don't allow you onto the train unless it is the car you have a ticket for. 

We started walking, then jogging, then running to keep up with Natalya's husband who had 2 of our bags and was sprinting into the distance. It's amazing how fast you can move when you have no choice.

Jeffrey however wanted no part of all this hustling. He became dead weight, trying to sit down or turn around and go back. There was one brief moment I thought OK kid, you wanna stay in Russia, go for it.

But instead I scooped him up and tucked him under one arm, rolling luggage in both hands and a back pack thrown over my shoulder and traded him back and forth with Emily as we raced towards the end of the train. There was no one left on the platform by the time we reached the last car and our lungs were burning from lack of oxygen.

We hoisted all of our belongings into the car just as they were sliding the doors shut. We entered the main seating area and to our horror discovered every one of our 5 seats was separated from each another. The lady who sold Jeff the tickets assured him they were together. "Together" being a relative term possibly meaning on same the train.

With my chest heaving and Jeffrey complaining (same tune, different day), we stood there looking lost. My ticket placed me next to a older lady who, when she saw me coming, pushed all her belongings into what was supposed to be my seat and turned to look out the window.

A very nice man, noticing our predicament stood up and gave me his seat which was next to one of the kids seats and I sat there and while the 2 little ones shared one seat next to me. The man in turn shoved the rude lady's bags aside and sat where I was supposed to sit. Jeff sat up front and Emily sat in the back next to young man who spoke some English and they spent the entire ride talking.

For the next 5 hours, Jeffrey let me know that he had had enough of Russia and cooperating and sitting still and being locked in a hotel room. He slide in and out of his seat, ran back and forth between his seat and his fathers, twirled his rubber blinking star ball around dangerously close to the lady across the aisle and basically made himself as disagreeable as possible. I spent a large portion of time trying to disappear into the seat cushions.

Unfortunately I did not fit.

We finally arrived in Moscow at 9 PM and were met by our next coordinator Oksana and 2 drivers who carted us and all of our 1/2 ton of luggage to the Rossiya Hotel.

The front desk was run by typical Russian employees. They answered you when they felt like it and ignored you the rest of the time.

We had to get 2 rooms, one for us and the little kids and one for Emily. Our rooms were directly across from St Basil's Cathedral. I was so exhausted and wanting to go home that I only managed to take a couple of pictures of it.

The windows in the room were huge and practically went all the way down to the floor AND there was no screen. Fortunately it was very hard to work the mechanism and they opened in, not out. I made sure I wouldn't show the kids that they opened at all so they didn't want fiddle with them.

The beds were simply 2 twins pushed together which was bad news for Jeffrey who likes to sleep between us. He ended up sleeping with Katherine on the other end of the cot that they had brought in. He woke up once in the middle of the night, crawled in bed with us and when we woke up we found him stuffed upside down into the crack. As Jeff picked him up to move him back, he said he wanted to go home to his own bed. You and me both kid.

In the morning I called Emily's room and she did not answer. I went down the hall and banged on her door. She did not answer. I decided she must have been asleep with her headphones on so the 4 of us headed out in search of the breakfast buffet. I was told it was on the 21st floor. I discovered that the elevator only went up to the 12th floor. Jeff insisted I didn't know what I was talking about and that there was no 21st floor.

I went to the front desk and finally got someone to pay attention to me and she told me that only the far elevators in the back of the hotel go to the 21st floor and when I get there turn left twice. (HA! see I told you I knew what I was talking about!)

When we got to the 21st floor there was a wall directly to the left.

As I stood staring at the wall waiting for it to open up and let me through, a very nice English gentleman directed me to take 2 RIGHTS and said we could find restaurant that way. Without his help I might still be standing there today.

The breakfast buffet was extremely Russian without a lot for Jeffrey to choose from so he ended up with bread and butter. Katherine ate some mystery meat patties with rice.

As I was standing in the juice line, a man waiting ahead of me started to shake and stagger around. He was holding a glass of juice which he threw into the air as he stiffened up and pitched backward hitting his head squarely on one of tables. It was very surreal and I watched as several people looked down at him, look at each other then step over him and continued to get the rest of their breakfast.

Two waiters hurried over to the man who was completely passed out on the floor. I went back to the table and told Jeff what happened just as an Asian man came over to us and asked if Jeff was a doctor. We said no and he continued on trying to find someone to help.

When we got up to leave and I poked my head around the corner to where it had happened and the man was still laying there except he was snoring heavily.

Jeff said sometimes when a person has a seizure they fall asleep afterwards.

It was quite an experience and left me feeling a little weird thinking that I couldn't get a hold of Emily. I tried to call her again when we got back to the room and still no answer. We both went down and banged on her door, loudly. I was beginning to feel a slow panic thinking maybe she had fallen out her window and was laying unconscious in the bushes below. (She had opened the window the night before to let in the crisp cool air and was sitting perched on the window seat enjoying the view and freezing air when I left her).

Or maybe she had fallen and hit her head and was knocked unconscious on the floor. (As you can see the stress of the trip and the lack of sleep was taking a toll on my rational thought).

We had the necessary doctors appointment at 9 AM so we had to leave whether we could get a hold of her or not. We packed ourselves and the 2 kids together and went down to the lobby to wait for our ride. I still felt a sense of dread not being able to contact her. I was at the point that if I finally got a hold of her and she wasn't actually horribly wounded, she certainly would be by the time I was done with her.

I decided to try one more time to call her and went to the front desk where I used a house phone. The phone rang and rang and rang. I figured I had nothing better to do while we waited for our ride so I let it ring at least 20 times imagining that she was laying on the floor reaching in desperation for the phone unable to get up and just as I was about to hang up and I got a very tired, groggy voice saying "Hullo?"

"OH MY GOD you're alive!" I shouted. The lady at the desk looked up and frowned.

"Yeah, what's up?"

"What's up? You're kidding right?? Where have you been?"

"Sleeping...where else would I be?"

"I've called you a hundred times and banged on your door and I was worried sick"

"I didn't hear anything"

"No kidding. So you're OK right?"


Believe me if she was standing in front me, she might not be as well as she thinks.

But at least I was able to go to the doctors appointment without that worry on my mind.