We left early from Suzdal to catch the train from Vladimir to Moscow.
It was a pleasant ride largely spent playing three-handed Hearts with Alaine.
The Queen of Spades was the hole card TWICE! Can you believe it?
We arrived and were met by a driver and by Nadia, the local tour
guide. It was quite a haul traveling across town to the hotel. We are at the
Beta Hotel by Partisanskaya Station. It is a modern place, one of several
high rise hotels in a complex originally built to house athletes for the 1980
Olympics. After the same passport drill at reception that we had before,
Alaine briefed us on the hotel security procedures. One must show one’s
room key to approach the elevator landing, and then to swipe the door lock
on the floor itself. Then one can use the key card to enter the room itself.
There is a floor attendant who monitors all comings and goings, just like we had seen at
the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou a few years ago. Alaine gave us an
initial brief on the Moscow Metro, and then a tour of the area around the
hotel. We all had a nice “business lunch” right near the hotel. We bought
some yogurt, fruit, and orange juice at the nearby supermarket.
The Kremlin seen from the Moscow River.
At 1830 Alaine took us out on our initial Moscow Metro run and we
went to Arbat Street, a major pedestrian mall with lots of souvenir shops, a
Starbucks, etc. After that, we went to Red Square so we could watch the
lights come on as twilight progressed. St. Basil’s, the history museum, the
Moscow skyline from our window at the Beta Hotel, and one of Moscow’s “Seven
Sisters” of Stalinist architecture. The “Eighth Sister” is the one in Warsaw.
Kremlin wall itself, and the GUM Department Store. Quite striking! We
came on back to the hotel. Poor Penny is really fighting a sore throat, and I
am starting to get a runny nose.
Today on the train, Alaine told us that Sundowners had asked her to
“remind” us that there were no two-passenger supplements between Beijing
and Hong Kong. This is, of course, most unsatisfactory! The pdf
documents that we first received from Sundowners made no mention of this
and said that our payment covered up through September 11, the date that
we arrive in Hong Kong. A later one was sent out to us after we arrived in
Europe, but the change was not highlighted in any way. Adventure Center
apparently did not catch it either. Penny sent an e-mail to Adventure Center
about the problem, and Alaine advised Sundowners about the issue. To top
it off, Sundowners now wants to switch guides in Beijing. I suppose we
can’t do much about that, but this is frustrating.