Home stay Notes
The morning routine started as it had for the past week, awakened by the early dawn at 0430hrs - quite normal for me in summer time. I dozed off again, but was soon aware of activity in the central garden area of my hosts apartment block.
So, another day another adventure, as I hauled myself up and stretched muscles back into working order. I was staying in a classic Russian apartment, in what is considered a good area (expensive real estate), this being close to the city centre by the underground and the trolley bus system (one bus to the Kremlin). I had a room to myself which was the lounge room, this being quite spacious (23 sqm) when compared with the other rooms in the apartment. In most cases Russian sofas all convert to a double bed and single chairs to single beds. Lounge rooms are the guest room for when the relatives come to stay. Some homestays used in the past offered a spare bedroom to me, but most use the lounge area. In addition, my furnishings consisted of a T.V (with VCR), a desk to work on, my own dining table, various lounge chairs and bookshelves packed with my hosts memorabilia nestled amongst her extensive book collection. My connection with outside was the window which observed communal life in the garden area below me.
Time for breakfast and a cup of coffee all prepared in the "compact" kitchen along with a congenial chat with my Russian host. Today I was treated to fried cottage cheese "patties", a popular Russian breakfast snack and one that brought relief from the ubiquitous cold meats and black bread - so hard for someone reared on "wheeties" and porridge! I played "Oliver" this morning and went back to the kitchen with bowl in hand! Homestay hosts can adapt food to particular tastes, you only need to ask.
I had to move quickly this morning as I wanted to see the new national monument and museum to the "Great Patriotic War" (WW2), before some Russian friends and I attempted to visit the Russian Air Force Museum outside Moscow. The WW2 museum was within walking distance of my apartment and I was soon on my way wandering amongst the locals as they went about their Saturday morning rituals. The sun was shinning and the large apartment blocks took on a more golden colour than usual. This whole area is a prime example of the classic "Stalinist" design period and bought satisfaction to my minds pre-defined expectations of what I should be seeing somewhere in Moscow. All that reading and watching documentaries has certainly left a large mental file that waits for recall. The small "kiosks" outside were already doing a brisk trade as were the local shops that occupy ground floor space. One change I had noted from previous visits is how much more obvious these shops were. The need to advertise, to survive has generated "signs" with colour and some character. In the past it was hard to see where any shop was. This camouflage effect can be still the case in other areas of Russia, but not in Moscow and St. Petersburg.