It’s hard to believe that in just two months, we’ll be able to see places like this:
(Left: St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. Right: The Hermitage’s Winter Palace, St. Petersburg.) Yes, on April 25th we’ll be flying from Boston to New York to Moscow! While it’s still two months away, we’ve been preparing little by little…
Thanks to a CD-ROM lent by my friendly Ukrainian co-worker, Russell (a.k.a. DJ Ruslan|http://www.djruslan.com/), Becky and I have started learning some basic Russian vocabulary, and are actually not doing so badly at reading the Cyrillic alphabet (rule of thumb: A,K,M,O, and T are the only letters that are the same between the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets. Any other letter probably doesn’t sound like you think it does…). Hopefully by the time we get over there, we will at least be able to read street signs and Metro|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_metro signs, and make some basic sense out of what people are saying.
Luckily, we won’t be going it totally alone. My cousin Kim (or, as I have been instructed to call her, “The Kimster”), lives in Moscow, and we’ll be staying with her. Work schedule permitting, she should be able to give us some pointers on how to get around/deal with locals/whatever. She speaks Russian and has been doing business in Russia for several years now, so it will be really great to be able to visit her over there. She also has a friend in St. Petersburg who we will be able to stay with, so we’ll probably be taking a train up to explore for several days.
Another exciting recent development is that it appears we will be able to get a special tour of the Hermitage|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Museum while in St. Petersburg. My co-worker Sharon’s husband has a colleague who is a conservator at the Hermitage. When they heard that we were going to visit Russia, they offered to get in touch with this colleague… and it looks as though they will be available! We’re very excited to have a chance to visit this incredible museum, and even more so to get a personal tour from somebody who knows it so well.
As the trip gets closer, we will be finalizing details such as our visas… they cost $100 each, and we have to get an invitation from somebody in Russia before we can even submit our applications… so The Kimster is helping us out with the details on exactly how we should go about getting that invitation. Since she is an American citizen herself, it’s not as straightforward as it would be if she were a Russian citizen… she may not be able to personally get us an invitation. But I am confident that with her business savvy and connections, we will be able to work something out.