Sunday, May 20, 2012
Long story short:
I flew commercial, and gave up my aisle seat to a mother who wanted to sit with her (spoiled, bratty) kids. I ended up in a 9 hour flight wedged between two large, rude, smelly, Russian women. My suits didn't make the flight...but the folks at the US Embassy translated and expedited, and my bag arrived a few days later.
The above photo was taken the first night, it was amazing being in Red Square. I'll post more about it later, but I was amazed that all the beautiful buildings in Moscow, including Saint Basil's (constructed in the 1500's) behind me, are churches. Red Square, and the Kremlin, are full of churches. Confiscated, hidden and denied during communism's reign.
Russia is a country struggling with itself. There is capitalism everywhere - we have definitely won the Cold War. But it will take years to recover from almost a century of evil - and I'm not sure they will.
Vladimir Putin just won re-election with 63.6% of the vote (that looks legit, doesnt' it?) yet he travels with relatively little security. The President of Kazakhstan ("elected" with 95.5% of the vote) had more security. Putin and his entourage passed right by me, in the lobby of my hotel, and I didn't get a second look. Oh, and I was armed. And since I don't wear the Euro-tight-suit, it should have been obvious to the trained eye. Putin fears nothing.
...Oh, and the man-purse is huge in Europe - along with tight-suits and pointy shoes...and a small black coffee from Starbucks is about $7.00.