I flew into Sheremetyevo airport with about thirteen fellow RSM students. We were waved through immigration by a typically stone-faced official woman, and then I was set loose onto Russian soil.
Immediately your brain starts looking for the differences. Everything is written in Cyrillic. Are the ads different from ads in Europe or the States? Are the people dressed differently? (Yes, they are. The lack of choice in consumer products, like clothes, is obvious.) Do they greet arriving relatives the same way as they do at Newark when they walk out the sliding glass doors (which seem to be a universal fixture of airport design)? After a while, you realize how stupid it is to generalize the entire Russian culture by your first five minutes in Moscow.
After dropping our stuff off at the Sheraton Palace Hotel, which is just as nice (if not nicer) as every other Sheraton I’ve ever been in, we immediately headed off to see the most famous landmark in Moscow, the Red Square. It was a little over two kilometers, but it was a beautiful day for a walk. Along the way I snapped away with my digital camera like the fool of a tourist that I was.
The Red Square is a straight shot down Tverskaya-Yamskaya street, a major artery with cars constantly whizzing by at ridiculous speeds. Our host from the IBS, who met us at the airport, told us that there are three rules for Russian driving. Bigger over smaller. Foreign over domestic. Black over other colors. (In case you plan on buying a car in Russia).
The Red Square is just like you see in the movies. The square itself was closed off because of a parade the day before. June 24, the parade commemorating the defeat of the Germans in World War II. Pretty big deal in Russia.
We ended up having dinner at a fantastic(ally expensive) traditional Russian restaurant, but that’s a story for another blog post.