Some first impressions about Moscow, the apartment, the people.
Come with an open mind. Muscovites do things differently here. Our place is less than one mile south from the Kremlin and mostly residential. You would be hard pressed to describe Moscow as charming. Rather, you will find the streets strewn with a beer bottle here or there. Cars park all over the place. That includes the sidewalks. The main streets usually have bright lights and vendors hawking assorted items. Fruit and meat vendors are common. People mill about the city; walks are normal leisurely. Drivers, on the other hand, do nothing leisurely. They speed. They do not yield to pedestrians or care about crosswalks.
From the outside you would think the apartment is a dump. Frankly, almost all residential areas look like this from the outdoors. Step inside and you get a different perspective. Our apartment is very, very nice by Russian standards. By American standards it is still quite nice. The entrance is key card gated; the front apartment door is two inch thick steel with 4 (about 1/2 inch) bolts to lock. Tall, vaulted ceilings await you when you enter. The kitchen is on the left. Stove, microwave, washing machine, refrigerator, and freezer are included. The space is adequate. The living room includes a piano, couch, and chair. Oh, and a 42″ plasma high def TV, stereo and DVD player. Two bedrooms exist. My room is a partial bedroom and den. Thus, a desk and large bookshelf share the area with a loft. Bill’s room is a normal bedroom. Between the two rooms is a large walk-in closet. The bathroom reminds me of bathrooms in 5 star European hotels that I have stayed in. There is a heated towel rack, separate shower and tub, plenty of counter top and best of all, heated tile floor. Actually, all of the tile floors in the house are heated. (The city provides hot wire to all residences.)
Our Russian TV cable service is limited to about 10 channels. This seems normal to European homes. I’ve seen the same traveling throughout the EU. Thankfully, the Slingbox works great!
I am finding RGS employees welcoming, most speak English well, and are quite humorous. Each will tell you ‘as it is.’ There is no mincing words. One odd trait… they do not hold doors or say thank you if you do. Those who smoke and drink (heavily) is the norm. The metro stations are a huge gathering point for happy hours (or should I say happy days).