Sunday, October 25, 2015

From Russia With Love, Part 8

Our day at the dacha began early as we had our last breakfast aboard ship, said our goodbyes and Stan's friends picked us up at 8:00.  It took a bit under two hours to get to the dacha in the country north of Moscow and they wanted to beat the Saturday traffic.  Our guides had told us that about 80% of the people living in Moscow have a dacha in the country as well.  It traditionally started out as a place to grow vegetables with a tool shed added, then a cabin, and now some are very lovely weekend homes.  Our friends have three buildings, one for sleeping, one for cooking, and one for storage and the "WC".  You can see they have electricity and a satellite dish, but the only water was from a hose hooked up at the side of the property - no plumbing.

Stan met Sasha when he worked at Boeing.  Stan was in charge of coordinating the work of a team of engineers in Moscow led by Sasha, and they have authored several published research papers together and have several patents.  (Not to brag, but here's a link if you're interested.)  Stan visited in Russia several times on business and enjoyed spending time with Sasha and his family.  His wife, Lena, is a retired university mathematics professor, and his daughter, Masha, is an oncology surgeon.  Masha was kind enough to give up her day off to drive and spend the day with us.

We started the day with a lunch of crab salad, sturgeon, pickles, bread, and of course, three toasts.  I only drank one shot of vodka, then we ladies switched to coffee  : )

Lena made a cake that she remembered Stan liking from his previous visit - delicious!

We were offered either the opportunity to take a rest or a walk and we chose the walk.  Lena set a good pace and took us on a long walk along the Moscow River and through the woods near their dacha.  It was very peaceful and we didn't see anyone else the whole way.

This is a small market in the area.

As you can see, the sky was getting dark and threatening by the time we got back.  Lena was planning to barbecue and the weather kept switching from sunshine to snow flurries.  We did have a great barbecue of pork that had been marinated in mayonnaise and spices.  Delicious!

Masha speaks English very well and provided much translating.  For words she didn't know (mayonnaise) she had her iPhone translator quickly providing the answer.  Why didn't I think of that in the stores??  (Don't laugh at my outfit - it was cold and my throat was really sore.  Masha lent me the warm jacket and I had bought the fur hat on the first cold day.  The souvenir shops had beautiful soft hats of real fur, but I was planning to give this to my granddaughter Mira and I knew she'd prefer a fake fur.)

We finished our meal with pastry Lena had made, and I'm sure more vodka for Sasha and Stan.  Masha had no alcohol the whole day as she told us there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol when driving.

What a surprise when we reached our hotel, the Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow!  The photo at this link is exactly how it looked when we drove up that evening!  It is the most upscale hotel I have ever stayed in.

 Relaxing in the hotel lounge.

A buffet breakfast came with our room, and Stan says it's the first all-you-can-eat buffet that he's seen with caviar and champagne.  We had these lovely lattes.

Sasha, Lena and Masha came for dinner on the "roof terrace" our last evening. 

 Here's the view from our room, and also the lovely view at night.

The next morning we met our driver at 6:00 for our last trip through Moscow to the airport.  Even though we extended our stay after the cruise, Viking still provided transport from the hotel to the airport.  They had a desk at the hotel and one at the airport, which lessened our stress considerably about making our early flight on time.  We felt they took good care of us and gave us a wonderful experience!

No comments:

Post a Comment