Russia: LA to Moscow

Day 1-2 were basically getting to Russia. The day started at 3am with a drive to LAX and then a flight to D.C. and then on to Moscow. The flight to Moscow took 10 hours. Ten hour flights are hard. This was not my longest flight, but felt like it sometimes. We were booked on United and it is the first international flight I have been on that didn't serve free alcohol. I don't usually drink on my flights but it is one of the perks I like to think about and this bummed me out (just a little). The United plane seemed old and run down compared to other planes I have been on recently and two of the overhead bins opened when we were taking off! Additionally there were about 40 Russian high school students returning to Russia after a year of studying in the United States. Sleep was not on their mind and we were sitting in front of the group. Fun times. I know it doesn't sound like it, but I think I am getting used to the uncomfortable-ness of international travel. Despite all of the things going on on the plane I slept a little and watched a few movies.

Arriving in Moscow, AC, my Mom, and I made our way to the Grand Circle Group. Other members of our tour had been on the plane with us and we all congregated together and tried to exchange money at the ATM and cash machine. It was a bit of a process becuase there were so many of us and only one of the two machines was working. It all worked out okay and I ended up helping other members of the group exchange their money after a group asked me if they could watch how I did it. AC said some people in line thought I worked for Grand Circle because I was too young to be on the trip with them.....

Here is the group walking to the bus.

The trip from the Airport to the boat (which are both in Moscow) took three hours. Can you say Traffic? There is definately some gridlock in Moscow. I slept on the bus and woke up to pouring rain. Our weather was calling for rain but I wasn't sure if we had missed it or not. I guess not.

We arrived at the ship and were greeted by traditional music and some traditonal welcoming bread that you dipped in salt. I must have been sleeping when they went over this because I have no idea what it was for, but hey... when in Rome..... (AC is laughing in the background in this photo)

The ship, the M/S Tikhi Don, is a river boat. There will be about 200 Americans on this boat with us. The rooms are simple and clean. Having never been on a cruise before, I can't compare them to anything but I will say that they seem nice and have a big window that opens. There is a sun deck and a bar. Coffee and tea is always avaliable. Meals are at set times and we all eat together.

Dinner our first night was good and the wait staff were helping all of us to learn Russian. Each day Grand Cirlcle Travel has an itinerary in your room. On the back of this itinerary is the dinner menu. I posted the menu in our room so I could look over my dinner options. What can I say, I love to eat! Dinner includes an appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert. I ordered the half portion of the entree having learned that trick in Ireland!

Appetizer: Philadelphia Cheese and Vegetable Terrine arranged on crispy lettuce seasoned with beet root vinaigrette.

Entree: Beef Stew "Cossack Style" with potatoes, carrots and mushrooms served in a traditional clay pot.

Dessert: "Chocolate dream on Pinapple carpaccio". (Dark and white chocolate mousse on a thinly sliced and marinated pinapple escorted by blackberry sauce.)

Mo and her mother arrived during dinner and it was great to see them. After dinner we strolled around the ship and were surprised to find it was soon 10pm. The sun sets about 10:30 in Moscow and will never set when we reach St. Petersberg! We headed to bed for a very welcome deep sleep.

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