Wednesday, April 2, 2014


After a side trip to St. Petersburg, Leah and Alli returned to Moscow for one last weekend in the capital with me. I welcomed them back to my flat with a massive pot of borsch and a few bottles of wine so I could hear about their adventures. One bottle of wine led to another (bottle of vodka), and pretty soon we’d found our way to a bar in the city center. Alli repeatedly asked the DJ to play Macklemore, and after being shot down each time, she decided to create her own dance party in my bedroom as I was trying to go to sleep.  We may have overshot our decision to “go medium” because we didn’t quite make it to the Kremlin at 9:30am the following morning as planned.

Alli’s Macklemore party

Alli and I at the Kremlin in the late afternoon

For Alli’s final night, we decided to recreate last year’s reunion in San Sebastián. They wanted kalimotxos, and that meant we needed to go to the Spanish tapas bar I discovered when I first came to Moscow. I hadn’t been there in months, but after running into the owner in Red Square last week, I felt like I should make an appearance (i.e., take advantage of his propensity to give me free drinks). The bar now sports a new Basque chef, who was thrilled to hear someone speaking his mother tongue with a signature Spanish lisp. I even threw in some off-color slang to really up my cool factor—Javi and Iago would have been proud.

Liz sandwiched between lisps

After we’d been treated to aged Cuban rum, Alli, Leah, and I decided our next international adventure should be to Havana. Before we got too caught up in planning, we admitted that it would probably be unwise to vacation in an embargoed nation.

Bar Owner: But Obama’s changed the laws.
Me: Yeah, but that only applies to people with family members in Cuba.
Bar Owner: You’ll have family there after we get married!

He proposed back in October, so it’s good to know that offer’s still on the table. However, Alli and Leah are still rooting for Vanya, who seems to have really garnered a fan base with my blog readers—so much so that I was pressured to invite him out with us. I’m pretty sure it was ill advised to text him after midnight on a Saturday, but he was out of town, so I was saved from a late night Vanya rendezvous.

By the time exhaustion got the better of us, the metro had long since closed and I was ready for a gypsy cab home. We piled in and Leah took the front seat, slamming the door a little too hard for our driver’s tastes. “Не хулиганьте!” he scolded her, much to my amusement. This, alas, is not a verb that exists in English, but if it did, it would be “to hooligan.” Leah refrained from the outburst of hooliganism he seemed to have feared, though she did admit that it would have been a great story if she’d been thrown in a Russian jail for the same catchall crime as Pussy Riot.

On Sunday, we all needed a little detoxification, so I took Leah and Alli to their first Russian banya, where I was greeted like the regular I’ve become. I have to give Alli and Leah credit for going along with the whole experience—they weren’t fazed by the nudity, the beatings, or even the borderline sexual noises the older women make. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll ever be able to associate the phrase “ochen horosho” with anything other than an overheated, naked Russian splayed out over a bench and getting hit like she’d just stepped off the pages of 50 Shades of Grey.

Alli and Leah acquire shapki

After Alli left for America, Leah, Liz, and I caught a bus to Suzdal, a sleepy Russian village five hours away. It’s a nice change of pace from the city, and seems to have a higher population of churches than people. While our friends back in Moscow were complaining about the unexpected April snow, we were enjoying local honey mead and strolling through the crumbling lanes of Suzdal. Leah returns to Philadelphia on Friday, and then I’m back to my regular routine. And by that, I mean the Oligarch is returning from Indonesia on Tuesday and I need to decide if I’m going to work for him. It’s probably unwise to make life decisions based on the desires of your blog audience, but I feel like I’m going to have a lot of disgruntled readers if I don’t give them more of the Oligarch.

Leah runs through a field in Suzdal

1 comment:

  1. You can also go to Cuba if you are going for educational reasons. ( I´m so glad you are keeping up with your Spanish! I can´t wait to see what happens next!!!