Sometimes that's what Moscow feels like.
Prices on most items here include a value-added tax - either 10 or 18 percent, depending. As diplomats, we are supposed to get that tax back, but it doesn't always happen. With so many familiar establishments here (IKEA, Starbucks, McDonald's H&M, and the newly arrived GAP and Banana Republic, etc.), the price mark-up is pretty evident.
Today we checked out a new mall near the Embassy. It's so new that it was nearly empty, at least compared to the other malls around. It has many stores you know and love as well as a fancy movie theater complete with IMAX and the ritziest food court I've ever seen. It even has interactive touch-screen directories that give you directions to the store you want, including which elevator or escalator to take. It's just as nice, though a bit less spendy, than Tyson's II. This prompted me to remark to Jeremy that, lame as it may be, I thought dinner and a movie at the mall might actually be a fun midwinter's date night.
Today, however, we checked out the installation of giant matryoshka dolls on the mezzanine, and hit H&M, where I bought a couple of reasonably priced, if marked up 18 percent, blouses.
I was a bit disappointed at the matryoshkas, though. I was hoping to see them look like actual matryoshka dolls - with faces, and in graduated sizes. The girls enjoyed running and crawling around the mezzanine though. And as it was spitting rain outside all day, this was a good use of everyone's energy.