Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Episode 21: Moscow, Marilyn Monroe and mad organisation

An acoustic guitar (and Marilyn Monroe)
So there I was, falling asleep on top of my suitcase on the Aeroexpress train from Moscow Domodedevo Airport to Paveletsky Station. I'd been up since 2am. (British time) I needed either coffee or sleep. I had no idea what to do when the train journey ended. It was supposedly -19...

Outside the window was a rush of slush and snow and the snowy trees of  a scraggy forest. The carriage was populated with several suntanned Russians returning from some far-off island holiday and heavily drinking the rum they'd bought as a souvenir. A little boy pretending to be a soldier kept opening and closing the carriage doors. Each time he did this the compartment was filled with icy blasts of air. Come to think of it he is probably the only reason I didn't fall asleep completely.

45 minutes later I dragged myself and my case up the platform and into the metro below the station. I took it all the way to the stop closest to my hostel and retraced my novemeber steps along Kuznetskaya Ulitsa. Soon I found myself collapsing in the reception of the hostel that i'd visited with Jaya, Marilyn and Alex last year. (See this post:  http://fromrussiawithrob.blogspot.com/2011/11/episode-18-part-one-moscow-hostels.html )

This time, however, I wasn't inserted next to the builders in a bottom-floor room and instead found myself in a perfectly reasonable single on the upper floors of the hostel. Venturing to this previously unknown quarter of the building I found myself staring at endless pictures of Marilyn Monroe that adorned every wall and flat surface. At first I thought this was a symptom of my tiredness but it seems that, before the current overhaul, this part of the hostel was a separate hotel know as "Marilyn Hostel" It's almost borderline obsessive decor plasters images of the 50's superstar nearly everywhere. Their rigid adherence to their scheme stretches as far as the toilets which also don't escape her stare and cheeky smile - oi, what you looking at! Luckily the shower cubicles are her biggest blind spot so for a few minutes a day I can escape this bizarre big brother. After a night's sleep I got used to it and in fact find it a little disappointing that the staff aren't dressed like the cast of "Grease".

A cool bookshelf for guests to swap literature (and, of course, Marilyn pics)
The next afternoon (I slept til 2pm) I took a walk out in the freezing temperatures towards Red Square and the Kremlin. I bought a brunch in a coffee house and began to relax and acclimatize. It only feels truly cold here when you're walking into a breeze or taking your gloves off to use a phone or fumble for change. By far the biggest annoyance is slush. This muddy matter clings to boot tread and delights in coating the ends of your trousers or flicking up the legs as your walk. Muscovites, as far as I can tell, have some inert ability to wear whatever they like and pass through it unsoiled and composed. The day I stop walking round the city looking at my feet will probably be the day I finally blend in.

Home base for the next few days
So much still to do over the next few days! I need to get registered with the paper, view apartments and hopefully prolong my stay in the hotel until I am able to move in somewhere. It's been months of frantic organising to even get myself this far and with the end just about in sight i'm unsure whether it's frustration or excitement that I feel. Nonetheless, the boy is back in town.

More soon!

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