And so it begins

Trip Start Jul 11, 2010
Trip End Jul 11, 2011

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"Russia Today" Superstar... Bill Dod

Flag of Russia  , Central Russia,
Sunday, July 11, 2010

And so it begins with a Russian beer sitting in Red Square by Moscow's most recognisable landmark; St Basil's Cathedral. Not a bad setting as we toast to the next year and all it may bring. Our friend and host, Bill Dod, has lived here for a few years and guided us on where to go and what to see. It's a great city for bumbling around and people watching. Their fashion sense is particularly interesting.

The weather has been hot and sunny (we've recently seen that Moscow is experiencing an extreme heat wave) so sipping beer on a river cruise was a cooler way of seeing the sights. We've discovered a delicious Russian soup ('Borsch') yet more importantly we've enjoyed good coffee. There is a noticeable language barrier here and some of the prices would make you think London was reasonable. Yet it's been an enjoyable start to the trip and enough of a culture difference to prepare us for China.

p.s. please excuse the short and sweet video... I'm used to being behind the camera!

Russia is much as I had expected in terms of its progress and the relative maturity of its development compared to the west.  As with many new and unfamiliar countries it doesn't feel as if there is as much order to things.  This is reflected in the road system which feels unorganised, however, things seem to work just fine, if a little scary.  The real surprise for me is the lever of commercialisation and the speed at which capitalism is taking hold in Russia, this is demonstrated really well when you stay at the Raddisson hotel situated in one of the landmark Starlin buildings.

Moscow is defiantly a good destination for the boys as the women seem to make a real effort and the guys, well, just don't.  Honestly there are teenagers wearing clothes that if your granddad wore them you'd have a word.

However it's not the easiest city to negotiate as very little English is spoken and there is no English signage on the Metro system.  You also don't get the friendliness that we would expect in the west and this was demonstrated by a story when MacDonald's were training staff in customer service.  When told that serving staff should smile at customers, "why" said one of the staff, "we have the burgers, it's the customer that should be nice to us".
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