Tyr's Domain


Our Russian Trip

July 29th, 2000 -- The Countdown has Begun

As I begin this travel journal, I need to answer some basic questions. I'll ask the first question. (If you want to see your question(s) answered, leave us a note on our message board.)

Who are we?

The main characters in this story are Dustin, Anna, and Alexandra , although we imagine that various other individuals will make it onto this pages as we enjoy their Russian hospitality. (To see a larger version of this picture, as well as many other pictures on this page, all you have to do is click on the picture!) You can learn more about us in the genealogy section of this web site. (All you have to do is click on the "hyper linked" names above.)  

When do we leave and where are we going?

On Wednesday, August 2, at 4:50pm we expect to board an Aeroflot plane for Russia. After a brief flirt with Moscow (a five hour layover), we will head to Yekaterinburg.

So why am I starting "Our Russian Trip" while we are still standing on American soil? 

Because my family already has a bad case of mentally drifting. So, we figured now was as good a time as any to begin the story of our trip.

Are the Russians really going to let Dustin into the country?

Dustin's connections within the Russian government should not be underestimated! He was a mere 15 years old when the picture on the left was taken. (Click on the photo to see it enlarged)

Now that I have answered your basic questions, we can move on to other, more important topics...

Another day...

August 1st, 2000 -- Are we there yet?

Believe it or not, Anna and I have spent the last few days preparing for our trip. What does that mean? Mainly it is just deciding which pieces of junk that we carry around with us on a regular basis is worthy of traveling to Russia. I have limited myself to the following seven books:

  • A Traveler's History of Russia and the USSR by Peter Neville;
  • Russia, Ukraine, & Belarus by the people at the Lonely Planet;
  • Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak;
  • Sing Me the Creation by Paul Matthews;
  • Russian -- A Rough Guide Phrasebook by the people at the Lonely Planet;
  • Russian -- A Complete Course for Beginners by Daphne M. West; and
  • A half-way filled in travel journal.

Perusing through our travel backpack, I can see that Anna is bringing:

  • How to Raise a Healthy Child... In Spite of your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.;
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett;
  • Vaccination: The Issue of Our Times edited by Peggy O'Mara; 
  • Three issues of Mothering -- The Natural Family Living Magazine
  • The August 2000 issue of National Geographic; and
  • hip Mama -- The Parenting Zine

Although, I was not sure what to expect when I began listing our reading list, I see now that our travel priorities are well represented. I am thinking "Russia, what is this place all about?" and Anna, she is thinking "Russia, it is all about family."

I think we are prepared, and ready to go. Our bags are packed (except for our travel pack, which I dismantled in order to provide the reading lists), and Kim -- who is set to marry my mother on August 20th -- is meeting us at 1pm tomorrow afternoon to drive us to the airport.

So, I have been asked multiple times by multiple people how my Russian speaking skills are coming along, and I wish I could say they were coming along at all. I have tried to read books on Russian... I have tried to listen to Anna's Russian conversations extra close, but I am constantly reminded that me and foreign languages were just not meant for each other. Anyway, with time (maybe just a little bit of time) I will begin incorporating some Russian into these journals, and maybe into this web site, in general.

August 3rd, 2000 - Moscow

I didn't sleep much last night…

As a matter of fact, there really wasn't much of a "last night." We flew into and out of the darkness in less time than it took to show the main attraction: Runaway Bride. So, why am I writing? Just to let everyone know that everything is alright!

We are safely in the Fatherland (Motherland?) now, where deviants fear to roam.

It is well worth mentioning that Alexandra was wonderful on the plane. She made friends with all of our neighbors... She made them laugh, and coo, and generally behave like a baby. As the star of Aeroflot Flight 642, she was more entertaining that Julia Roberts.

A friend of Anna's from way back, Ullia, met us at the Airport in Moscow. We decided, then and there, that we would go directly to downtown Moscow (specifically: Red Square) during our five hour lay-over. This meant taking a shuttle to the nearest metro station (about a 15 minutes drive), and then transferring to the Moscow metro system, where a train would take us to downtown. Because our flight to Yekaterinburg left out of a different airport than our flight to Moscow, we couldn't leave our bags at the airport, and instead had to carry them all over Moscow. Considering our trip to Russia is estimated to last six weeks, hauling our luggage was no simple feat, especially considering our main bag (24 kilograms or ??? pounds) was falling apart at the seams.

All in all, it took us about 40 minutes to get to coffee shop that was "close" to Red Square. We stopped at the coffee shop because Ullia offered to guard our bags while Anna and I made the forty minute jaunt to Red Square… in the rain.

With that said, the street that we walked along was great! A large European style boulevard, with lots of people walking up, down, across, and under the street. After our five minute tour of the Red Square, we headed back to Ullia and our stuff. Sadly, we have no pictures of this part of the trip (did it really happen?) because we left our camera in our bags with Ullia. However, we do plan to return to Moscow early in September, so pictures of Red Square and the wide Moscow boulevards will surely be made available then.

Not wanting to miss our red-eye flight to Yekaterinburg, we quickly returned to the airport... First using the Metro and than a bus. At the airport, we met up with Anna's uncle, Gennady. He had taken a train from Ukraine to Moscow to meet up with us and fly to Yekaterinburg. He delivered the sad news that Anna's grandmother, Polina, had passed away the night before we began our trip. Because Polina had been in a coma for a week, her death did not come as a shock, but as you can imagine, her death has affected us all. One of the things that Anna has asked me to do while I am in Russia is to interview her family in order to better document Alexandra's Genealogy from her Russian roots. As I do build the Genealogy page, I will keep an extra ear open for stories regarding Polina.

August 4rd, 2000 - Yekaterinburg

After meeting up with Gennady, we caught a red-eye flight to Yekaterinburg. We left at 1:10am Moscow time, and arrived two hours later at 5:10am Yekaterinburg time. Sadly enough, that means that Alexandra lost some more hours off of another night's sleep. As tough as that girl is, it is going to take her some time to recuperate. In Yekaterinburg, Victor, Anna's father, picked us up and brought us home. Anna's mother, Tanya, has been hit pretty hard by the loss of her mother, so Anna spent the morning consoling her while Alexandra and I slept. At 11:00am, the family left for a traditional Russian funeral. Because babies are not allowed at funeral services, Alexandra and I stayed behind. On our first full day in Russia, Alexandra and I stayed home and adjusted. Victor and Tanya have a beautiful apartment in the heart of Yekaterinburg, and Alexandra wasted no time attempting to trash it. Their place has two bedrooms and a large living room with a balcony that overlooks a plaza. Across from the plaza is a movie theater currently showing such classics and "Mission Impossible 2" and "Me, Myself, and Irene." Anna has told me that the Russians don't do subtitles on movies... ever... so if we go out to a movie, I think I will enjoy watching American actors dubbed in Russian. (Anna says the same actor always dubs Arnold Swartzinager, and he has a real sexy voice.)

This evening we -- Victor, Tatiana, Gennady, Anna, Alexandra and I -- took a walk along Lenin Street. (It just so happens that the main street in just about every city in Russia is called Lenin Street.) Being a transportation planner/engineer by profession, I have kept watch of all of the obscure transportation related aspects of Russian cities, and I plan to put them in their own page with time. Nearby "our" apartment, we stopped briefly to listen to a few teenage musicians play a concert to a much larger group of teenagers. This took place on one of the many large landings that overlooks the main river in Yekaterinburg. It is quite a gathering place with hundreds and hundreds of people out on their Sunday night stroll. On the bridge that crosses over the main river is a statue of Lenin (every Lenin St. needs a statue!). Along the river banks there are large steps (large enough to have a picnic on) that successively lead down to the river. Crossing the river below the bridge is another large landing where the local artists gather trying to make money off of the strollers (they paint/sketch portraits...) There are also women who ride around on horses offering rides for a fee. As far as the quality (i.e. smell, look) of the river water, I must say I was not impressed. Rather, it reinforced what is pretty widely accepted in this region which is that you should not drink the water from the tap.

For anyone who has ever traveled in Europe, this probably won't come as much of a surprise, but for the rest of you, let me warn you that cigarette smoke permeates everywhere one travels. However, let's get back to the positives... the wide boulevards. As I was walking, I realized why we don't have any similar streets in the United States. There is very little, if any, money being made in this environment. People just sit on steps, benches, the grass, and talk with friends. There is no real need to buy coffee or dinner to talk on the steps of a large Lenin statue... Or statue of the founders of Yekaterinburg... or the statue of Sverdlov (the man who signed the death warrant of the Tsar family in 1918). The main point being that except for the cigarette manufactures, I can't see many people making back off of a bunch of people enjoying themselves.

Another interesting paradox is how people look compared to their surroundings. The people here dress immaculate. Both the women and the men wear tight clothing. The women looking like Madonna, while the guys resembling Elvis. These people are so into fashion that I even felt compelled to tuck in my shirt and shave (tomorrow). Compare this image of the people to the buildings around them. Many of the buildings look like they are half way on their way tot the ground. I was asking Anna how her parent's apartment could look so beautiful inside, and from the outside appear to be crumbling. My interpretation of her response is interesting...

As part of the privatization in the early 1990s, the Russian government systematically gave the apartments back to the people. So, it became the responsibility of the individuals to fix up their apartments as they saw fit. However, the government kept responsibility over the common areas (stairwells, pluming, outside walls, etc.) so not much is ever done by the cash-strapped government to improve the buildings, although much is promised. A fresh coat of paint would do wonders for many of the buildings, but where to begin?

August 5th and August 6th - The Family Ducha

In the Soviet Times (seems like everything here goes back to the Soviet Times!), the family ducha appears to have served many functions. As it is a sizable plot of land, a family could grow most of their vegetables for the year during the summer. As it is away from the city, a family can get away from the foul air and dirty water of the city. Additionally, it provided an indicator of family status as a family with one small unit on their property clearly hadn’t reached the social level as that of a family with two units, a kitchen and a banya.

For those people familiar with my grandparents, Donald and Janon, the easiest way to understand the ducha is to think of their boat. Like Donald and Janon’s boat, the family ducha is somewhere the family spends most weekends – rain or shine – and gets a lot of work done. As far as I can tell most of the time spent at the ducha (at least by Tatiana and Victor) is spent working on the property. Tanya is constantly cleaning, cooking, gardening, cleaning, organizing, cleaning, cleaning… Victor spends his time moving furniture around, building fires, collecting wood, getting fresh water, mending fences, building odds and ends, etc. Generally, neither of them relaxes (which is the stated purpose of visiting the ducha!) except for the hour or so they spend inside the banya beating themselves with tree branches...

When we arrive at the ducha, there is lots of work to be done. First the living quarters must be cleaned. This includes sweeping, and then moping the whole place. This is done by Tatiana and Anna while I entertain Alexandra and Victor clears out the garage. The garage is filled with stuff (mostly furniture) that must be moved into the house, and victor cannot park his car in the garage until the whole place is cleared. The furniture in the house must be moved into the garage because there are hoodlums that scour the country-side looking for houses to tear up, and they normally leave empty houses alone.

After the house is cleaned, and the furniture moved in, we are ready for Tatiana to cook us dinner. As usual, diner this weekend was soup with chicken on the side. After dinner, there is tea and desert. Then Tanya finds some more things to clean, while Victor goes outside and finds something to tinker with. Anna and Alexandra go to sleep while I write in my travel journal.

Ah, I don’t think I have described the banya yet…

From what I can tell, Banyas are very popular in Russia and an integral part of the current Russian culture. To take a banya with someone is to share an experience -- a way of acknowledging a close relationship. At Victor and Tanya’s ducha the banya is set off in its own building about twenty feet from the three room house. The banya consists of its own three small rooms. The first is an entry room. The entry room has a coat rack, two long benches (that can be used for lying down) and a small table (for food and beer). The second room is a washing room. The washing room serves the purpose of storing (and using) the extensive amount of water necessary for a proper banya experience. In this case, fresh water is brought in from a nearby pond on the property. The third room is the sauna. This room has two offset benches (one high, one low) for sitting and/or lying down.

As one would expect, the room gets pretty hot during the banya (As best as I can tell “Banya” is the name of the building, the name of the room, and the name of the experience). The first time I took a banya it was with Victor and Gennady. The men and the women always take separate banyas, and considering that the experience is in the nude, such traditions are probably best for everyone involved.

Being that we are in Victor’s Banya, he kind of runs the show. He is the one who heats the room, tells us it is ready, throws water onto the rocks (to make the room steamy and hotter), and beats us with the “banya” branches. (As I am not sure of the name of the tree branches used, hence the name “banya branches.”) As this is probably the most interesting for people unaccustomed to a banya, I will go into some detail here. After building up a sweat for about fifteen minutes, Victor had me lie down on my stomach. He then put on some gloves, picked up a bunch (literally) of wet branches, and held them close to the super hot rocks. After a few moments he then began whipping me (at first gently) with the branches. It felt kind of like a super hot massage. After a thorough beating (probably five minutes of this), he decides I am done and I rush out to the local pond where I happily jump into the freezing cold water. I then return to the entry room where I eat some watermelon, drink some beer, and then return to the banya where the whole process starts over again.

After a few rounds of a Russian banya, I am well prepared for an excellent night sleep.


August 7th through August 11th - Russian Bureaucracy

This first week in Russia was essentially spent dealing with the Russian Government. First, I had to register in the city of Yekaterinburg, and then Anna began the laborious process of registering her passport. Because my journal entries from this period tend to be so sarcastic as to be unpublishable I will instead link you to a little essay I wrote on Russian Bureaucracy
Now for the next weekend...

August 12th and August 13th - The Family Ducha -- Revisited

This weekend we went back to the family ducha... If I was as diligent as I should be, I would have plenty of time to tell you how this weenend differed from the previous weekend...

August 15th - The Politechnical University of the Urals

On this day we visited Anna's University that she graduated from in 1995 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. As I am trying to get the best of our photos down without taking too much time writing (for now), I am going to put these up and let the photos speak for themselves.


Dustin and Alexandra

With Founding Professors

August 16th - And the Rain Rained Hard

"And the Rain Rained Hard" (Said real slowly...)
These lines from a song by Ramblin Jack Elliot return often to my mind here in Yekaterinberg. However, the rain is forgiving in that it only lasts a short while before the sun comes out... which only lasts a short while before the rain returns...

On this Wednesday, Tanya and her boyfriend, Dima, offered to take us (Anna, Alexandra, and Dustin) to the new Amusement Park in Yekaterinberg. Of course we gladly accepted. However, the rain was so bad today, that the sewers were literally overflowing, and it didn't feel wise to leave the relative safety of the automobile (in this case Dima's Toyota Safari). So instead we headed for the highest mountains around so that Dima could show off his vehicle. This Toyota we drove around was pretty cool... it had "pitch" and "roll" meters to show you what angle the car is at... being that he imported it from Japan, the steering wheel was on the right side (from the passenger's perspective, this was not exactly the most comforting aspect to the vehicle as Russian cars tend to zip out of no where, and "expect" you are going to see them.) The mountain that we headed to also doubled as the local ski slopes. Interestingly, the mountains just aren't that high, even though they represent the symbolic barier between Asia and europe. Someone here said the the highest local peak is just over 2000 feet in elevation. Anyway, one of the ways the locals by pass not having any big mountains around is that they have built this massive constructions (shown in the next picture) where skiers can ski down into a big pit. The whole operation looks viciously scary to me, but then again, I'm not Russian.

Ski Slope

Anyway, at three o'clock, Dima has to head back to work, so Tanya, Anna, Alexandra and I head home. At home we make up a comprehensive grocery list for the party that is to follow this evening. A group of Anna's University friends (as oppose to her School friends) are coming over to Tanya's for a party in celebration of their five year graduation aniversary. So after a little grocery shopping, we arrive at Tanya's house ready to cook up a Russian feast (Of course there is always time to look at picture!). And when the cooking begins, the whole kitchen goes crazy! and very soon, the guests start arriving with food and able hands, and then the tiny kitchen gets not only crazy, but also packed. I was introduced to one of Anna's friends, Kolia, as he delivered a stuffed doll to Alexandra!

Ski Slope


Kolia With Alexandra

As the Group arrives, the drinking begins (really even before the food, although I tried to hold off as long as possible, knowning the Russians were going to test my American stamina). The next couple of as we become well on our way... and I think the photos show it. Anna told me I had to put the last two up, but if it was just up to me, I probably would have deprived you (the web viewing audience) of such horrible taste!

The Group

Alec and Anna

Getting Lively


By some old Russian tradition (I honestly don't remember what or when) Kolia and I became brothers, so from now on he will be referred to as (if I remember) Brother Kolia.

August 19th - Yekaterinburg Day!

I have been hearing from multiple sources that I needed more pictures of Alexandra (the voices in my head are back!). So I am going to skip to August 19th, where the city of Yekaterinburg celebrated its birthday. With news that all of the Russian soldiers have probably died on the submarine meant that many people in the city felt the celebration should be canceled. However, the Russian government was still vague at this point on the fate of the soldiers, so the party went on…

This day we met with a group of Anna’s University friends.


Friends in the Night

The Slew of Us

August 20th - Svetta and Syevo

Today we met up with Svetta and her son Syevo.

Alexandra and Svetta

The Crew

At Mac Peak

August 21th - School Friends

On Monday, Anna invited over some of her School friends for an evening of tea and good conversation.

An Evening of Tea

August 23rd - Amusement Park

On Wednesday, we went with Anna's school friends for a day outing at the local amusement park. Our meeting spot was the Titanic -- A local video and music store (The largest in Yekaterinburg I might add). The first two photos were taken ourside of the Titanic while Alexandra and I climbed a tree.

The Titanic


Our first stop at the amusement park was the train ride. This train is pretty cool in that it is mostly run by kids, and everything inside is just like a traditional Russian train, except smaller. (Notice the kid on the far right of the photo... he is a conductor and obviously so, as he is decked out in the appropriate conductor suit!)

The Train Ride

Anna and Sasha

Enjoying the View

Then we went to the top of a Ferris wheel!

Ferris Wheel


Where the views of Yekateriburg were quite impressive!

Anna and Sasha



We ended the amusement park experience by climing on statues and playing frisbee...



August 26th - Tanya's Ducha

Saturday morning (actually afternoon, but hey, were're on vacation) two of anna's cousins came to visit us -- Alexi and Anna. They hung around for a couple of hours as we drank tea and coffee, looked at photos, played with Alexandra, drank some more tea and coffee, listened to music, and discussed Anna big trip to England. She will be studing for a year in England (outside of London) starting this Fall.

At one point while they were here, I was showing them the webcam on Victor's computer, and we took a took at this web site. Alexi took one look at the photo above with me and Anna riding on a bicicle and said, "Wait a minute!" Anna started laughing because she knew I was in trouble. He said, "That's my bike." And a few moments later he asked, "who is on that bike with you, Anna?" To which Anna says "Dustin," and lets him think about it for a minute, before she explains that I put my face over his using a fancy dancy picture program. As you can imagine, I was in trouble...

With Alexi

With Anna

Making Friends

As I (Dustin) was not feeling all that well on this fine Saturday, Anna, Alexandra and I just hung out around the home until the evening when we left with a group of Anna's University Friends for a trip to Tanya's mother's Ducha. (This Tanya is Anna's Friend, not her mother!).

Alexandra and Dad
looking Very Russian



One of the great Russian characters of this trip has been Alec. Although he speaks next to no English (and I still speak next to no Russian), we managed to bond quite well! From what I have seen, he is pretty good at pouring Vodka, making everyone (who understands Russian) laugh, and playing old russian folk songs. Additionally, is capable of remembering an "Old Russian Tradition" at just about any time.


Alec and Andre
Breaking Out Vodka

Playing the guitar

This Saturday evening, I retired early to bed, while Anna, Alexandra, and her college friends went outside by the river play folk music, make sashliki (shishkabobs), and drink... (Although at one point I did make an appearence as can be seen in the first photo. Regarding the third photo (in the next series)... It was kind of mixed blessing that just about every woman in Russia seems to be named either Tanya or Anya (or some derivative of those names). If you stutter the "T" a little and yell out "T..Anya" you can get a whole room full of women looking at you.

Svetta, Tanya, Anna
Dustin and Alexandra

Tanya, Tanya's mother,
Alexandra and Svetta

Anna and Tanya

All in all, it was quite a fun weekend spent at a Russian ducha. Granted, a Russian illness was making a larger presence in my throat glands making me miss most of the action. However, as of this weekend, I was still slowly moving into the world of a "Russian Illness." I will say now, in case I publish this without updating further... I did get much worse as far as sicknesses go, although I have recovered, and am doing very well at the moment.

September 1 -- Transportation

I as was too sick to leave the apartment for a week, I wend out of my way, and created a little something describing the transportation scene in Russia.

September 6 -- Moscow

So, my sickness meant that we couldn't leave for Moscow on the day we had planned but had to postpone it for a few days (this also gave Anna some more time to sort things out with the Russian Passport Agency). However, we did make it to Moscow eventually for a day whirlwind trip through the biggest of the best.

This will sound obscure to most Americans travelers who make it to Moscow, but... Moscow was a breath of fresh air. Sure the water is still undrinkable, and the air is only slightly better than Yekaterinburg's, but the attitude of the people on the streets, lights the city up. Hope is in the air.

Probably due to the large tourist population, Muscovites have learned about the concept of service (imagine that!). When I walk into a store in Moscow, I often get a smile from the cashier! (as oppose to the Yekaterinburg stare that says, "Yeah, I got something you want... Get down on your knees and beg and maybe I will consider selling it to you.") Of course, Aeroflot (the airline I am flying as I write this) is still much more like the Russian government than a private company based in Moscow, but that is another story. Because our flight from Yekaterinburg to Moscow was delayed by seven hours, our time in Moscow was cut from two days to a day and a half... However, we did make the most of our short time available.

The driver who picked us up from the airport was nice enough to give us the scenic tour to our destination -- the apartment of Anna's friends, Ullia and Michael. On our drive, we went through downtown Moscow, past Pushkin Square, and the driver delighted in telling us the history of Moscow as he remembers it. (For example, he became very animated when he discussed waiting in line for hours and hours in order to get a hamburger on the day that the first McDonalds opened.

Our first stop was Michael's home (Ullia was out of town visiting family in Yekaterinburg of all places!). At their apartment we met Lidia, a woman also from Yekaterinburg who was also staying at their apartment while she was trying to a visa for her and her son so that she could work in Germany. She had already worked the previous year in Germany as a computer programmer, and only returned to Moscow to renew her visa AND pick up her son who had been living with her parents for the past year.

After a short break (so that Anna could make the necessary telephone calls) we left for Pushkin Square, where we met up with Michael. As he is the local expert on Moscow history and culture he lead us all (Lidia, Anna, Alexandra, and I) on a tour of Red Square and the surrounding area. After walking around and watching the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we searched out a good place to eat dinner. We settled on a Ukrainian food where I enjoyed a pot of meat and potatoes.

After dinner, Lidia left for home while Anna, Alexandra, Michael, and I took the Metro to the University of Moscow. On the ride over, we randomly rain into a good friend of Anna's -- Alexander. He quickly changed his plans, and joined us on our adventure. At the University we walked past the massive Stalinist Building to a look our point. From there we were supposedly at the highest point in Russia and most of the historic landmarks were within view.

As it approached midnight, we decided to head home where we could get the appropriate rest necessary for a full day of touristing the next day.

September 7 -- Moscow

The next morning we met up with Alexander, his wife and their one and a half month old daughter at an outdoor museum. the museum consisted of a few Russian Orthodox churches amidst lots ancient (500 year old) oak trees. While the main church was pretty dilapidated, the views of the surrounding area were amazing. After a few hours of strolling, we separated from Alexander and his family, and we headed to Red Square where we visited a historical museum. Like all museums in Moscow, they had a Russian price (20 Rubles or about 65 cents) and a Foreigner price (150 Rubles or about 5 dollars). Just another example where of the Russians trying to squeeze everything they can out of people as oppose to making life pleasant.

The museum had three exhibits. The first looked at the Russian history from pre-history through the Czars. The second exhibit looked into the military history around the time period of Peter I. He is the Czar who is given credit for culturing the peasant Russian population. He traveled extensively through Europe, and took some of the best Europe had to offer in designing the city St. Petersburg. The third exhibit honored one day, June 24, 1945, in Russian history. As this was a day of a mass rally celebrating the World War II victory that is ever at the heart of all older Russians.

After taking in what the museum had to offer, we headed outside (into the rain) for a walk around Moscow. We ended up at the home of the Romonov family before they rose to they rose to become the Czars of Russia over 400 years ago. At their past home, we were able to see how the upper class of Russian society would have lived in the 1600s... and it was very bleak. The men had their very dark rooms where they would entertain their male friends. The women lived on the top floor only leaving their quarters once or twice per year.

After an hour of the Romonovs, we made our way to Arbat Street where we met another friend of Anna's, Colia. We walked down Arbat Street once, bought some souvenirs, and headed, once again, to Pushkin Square to meet with Michael and Lidia.

The group of us walked around downtown Moscow in the rain for a few hours admiring and discussing the architecture among other things. Michael happily pointed out the historical monuments and buildings as we passed them. Then we headed home where (in Russian tradition) the women cooked an excellent dinner and we all drank to help us discus the state of the world.

The next morning, two drivers showed up... One to take Anna and Alexandra to the Domestic Airport so she could head back to Yekaterinburg for a final week, and me, to the International Airport so that I could board a plane for the United States of America.

That successfully ended my story of our Summer of 2000 Family Trip to Russia.

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