Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Days One & Two
At JFK I met the Yale alumni representative, Nori, and we traveled together to Frankfurt, where I had not been since I was 18 -- had not been in Europe at all since then -- and where I ate Frankfurters at 5 a.m. local time. After our breakfast, we boarded the plane for Moscow. We arrived a few hours later to a sweltering heat. There was no air conditioning in the airport. Our local guide met our plane, rounded a few of us up, and directed us to a v an that took us to our hotel. The hotel -- Le Royal Meridien -- is situated across the street from the gate to Red Square. The views are spectacular, as are the rooms and the service. We met as a group last night -- many of us were jet lagged, but we did our best to keep up the conversation over dinner -- Chicken Kiev at an area restaurant. The women sauntering the street and in the undergrounds are fashion model-look alikes. They wear high heels and walk over cobblestones. It's no wonder Paris designers take inspiration from them. At dinner I met a woman poet from Colombia, a woman scientist from Turkey, and another woman whose brother-in-law is a well-known Russian actor. There are New Yorkers and Southerners, but almost everyone is a Yale graduate. For breakfast I ate herring, sturgeon, salmon, and trout. I felt I had not tasted these fish until then. The flavor is incredible. This morning we tour Red Square, the Kremlin, and State Armory Museum. Tomorrow we leave for another day trip before boarding our boat, the M.S. Volga Dream, to begin our week-long voyage on that river.