Friday, May 21, 2010

Things we have learned in Moscow

1. Baby jet lag is awful.  Jeremy and I have been making a heroic effort to stay up until 10 each night, only to be awakened a couple hours later by Natasha, sitting up in her crib and wanting to play.

2. Don't hire a porter in Sheremetov Airport.  We had 12 pieces of luggage including a stroller and carseat and there was no way we were going to be able to get them all out to the street at one time.  Once you pass through security with your baggage, there's no going back to the claim.  So when a porter asked whether we needed help, we said yes.  We had used them at Reagan and JFK, so weren't unfamiliar with the process.  I asked the lady who had come to pick us up what the standard was for tipping in Moscow, and she suggested $10.  So after he loaded our bags into the van, we gave him the equivalent in rubles and started to climb in ourselves, when I heard him exclaim, "Girl!"  I turned around and he presented me with a laminated card on which was written the standard rates for porter services.  $5 per BAG.  That's $50, total.  Ugh.  I don't believe there is any alternative to a hired porter as I didn't see any carts standing around for passenger use, so there was probably no way around it. But then again, I don't actually know whether the laminated card was official, so it's possible we got totally swindled.  I hate feeling stupid in a new country.

3. and Fox on Demand are blocked in Russia.  Probably other on-demand sites we haven't tried yet are also blocked.  This actually isn't being done by the Russians, but by the network television stations who don't want their shows viewed outside the United States.  Boo!  I'm guessing it has something to do with fear of pirating, but, hey, network TV guys, guess what?  The bad guys are going to find ways to do the bad stuff no matter what, so all you're doing is stopping slightly homesick expats from watching their favorite shows and getting a little piece of home in the process.  Thanks a lot.

4. Muscovites love babies.  Yesterday, Natasha and I ventured out to a grocery store about a mile from the Embassy.  I had fully expected brusque and impatient treatment from the locals, as per their reputation.  That didn't happen, either because I speak Russian, or because Natasha's smile is so darn cute.  I'm pretty sure it was the latter.  We even got waved across the street by the driver of a shiny black Mercedes with tinted windows who actually stopped for us.  Totally unexpected, but very, very nice.

5. Apparently the layette shipment we are authorized following the birth of #2 is subject to the same limits on box/item size as our air shipment was.  Which means we will not be able to ship a full-size crib to Moscow for the new baby.  Which means I have to start thinking about alternatives.

6. There is a shwarma stand around the corner from the compound.  Yum.

7. Compound life is really convenient so far.  Jeremy can come home for lunch.  Natasha and I can play on the playground up the stairs from our apartment.  The commissary, pool, gym, gift shop, etc., are right across the street.  There is a church literally a minute's walk from the front compound gate.  A little produce stand around the corner.  And two Metro stops within a five-minute walk.  And probably lots more stuff we haven't discovered yet.


  1. I am so happy to hear that you all made it safe and sound. Sounds like your location is super convinient! If you can, take some pictures of the produce stand, etc. - would love to see where you are. Love to you all! Amber

  2. Congrats on making it through! If those are the worst of your complaints, it sounds like it wasn't too rough of an affair...

    As for for #3, <a href=">here's</a> an article I recently read about it and found pretty interesting. You can get around such things by using a proxy server from inside the US.

  3. Hey Masha! I owe you an email/ I'll try to get on that tonight. In the mean time, as a follow on to Aaron's comment, you might find this interesting:

    Looks like things are going well in Moscow so far.


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