Return to Contents

From: Sandy Lubkin
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 03:17:19 +0000
Subject: Travel Log 9 June 1997


I tried to send this out several days ago, but from the responses I got to the "address update" I sent, I guess it didn't get out. (There must have been a few things wrong other than an incomplete reply address.)

Update on the weather: It's been warmer - shirt sleeve weather - the last few days, with an occassional thunder storm for variety. If you don't like the weather here, just wait 5 minutes.


Hi, everybody!

Bela and I have set up a mailing list for sending out updates on our grand tour. In the future we will also have a web page with pictures and text, but we thought this would be a good beginning. If you don't want to receive updates, please let us know, and we'll remove you from the list. Also, if you want to get updates, and were inadvertently left off the list, let us know.

The weather here is cold (what do you expect? I wish I'd packed another sweater), about 9C (hmmm, 47F?) today with a sporadic heavy rain. Guess who forgot to pack the umbrella (I had intended to)? The thermometer outside our kitchen window goes from 50C (122F) to -50C (-58F). I don't want to be around for either extreme.

(Picture) Interesting cloud-scape seen in downtown Moscow
(Picture) The view from our apartment - double rainbow and stars
(Picture) The view from our apartment - sunset

We've rented a nice one bedroom apartment in southwest Moscow. There's a large living room, a nice bedroom, a well-equipped kitchen and a split bathroom (toilet in one room, bath and sink in the other), as well as an entry hall. The apartment is fully furnished, with cupboards galore. The Russians certainly know how to make an apartment efficient. I'm still not sure how all of the cupboards (none of them built-in, except in the kitchen) were brought into the apartment. We live on the fifth floor, and the elevator can hold 4 people, if you're friendly. I guess they were carried up the stairs - not something I'd like to do.

Our landlord is really nice, but he speaks about as much English as we speak Russian at this point. We found the apartment through an ad in an English language newspaper. Fortunately, apartments are rented through agencies, rather than answering individual ads. Our agent spoke pretty good English and helped us find some apartments to look at. There's a city-wide database of apartments, which made it even simpler. This was the nicest one we looked at, and in a good location, too. It even comes with a library Mom would be proud of (mostly in Russian - including Jack London's "White Fang" and a bunch of other familiar titles). So we deal with the landlord through the agent or through our friend Irene, who speaks very good English.

The front doors are rather reminiscent of a fortress. We've got two heavy doors (one after the other) forming the entry to our apartment - not the building, our apartment. The first few days, we kept locking ourselves in. It took a while to figure out that this key turns clock- wise and that one turns counterclockwise (each turn several times, unlike the ones we're used to). The innermost door has only 2 locks, and the outer door has 4. The front doors to the building are the standard 2 sets of doors, designed to keep the worst of the weather outside.

The buildings here are mammoth - most buildings are an entire block. Our apartment building, for example: The building surrounds a huge courtyard containing playgrounds, park-like area, parking, and clotheslines. The entire courtyard is surrounded by one building, ten stories tall, enclosing the whole block. The buildings have multiple entrances, each allowing access to only a few (relatively) apartments. It's a bit like having a whole bunch of apartment buildings right next to each other, rather than like one building. Each address specifies the building number, the entrance number and the apartment number.

I still need to get someone to tell me what our full mailing address is. Mail from the US to Moscow (vice versa) takes about 2 weeks, I'm told, and is pretty reliable for letters and such.

Our telephone number is +7 095 135 71 08. Moscow is 11 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Savings Time, so when it's Midnight in PDST, it's 11am in Moscow. They don't seem to need daylight savings time here. It's light from about 4:30am until 11pm, and we're not to the longest day of the year yet :)

In spite of the language barrier, we are having a great time. Life is good, we're being careful, and shortages seem to be no problem these days. Many western brands are available, and prices are no worse than in California, for the most part. They just sound a lot worse, because they're all listed in thousands of roubles (5800 roubles = US$1).

Sandy (Cannady) Lubkin :)

All text and pictures copyright 1997 Sandy and Bela Lubkin, all rights reserved.