Written by SDCarol on 17 Jul, 2003
Nizhny Novgorod is 11 hours ahead of San Diego. The trip [via Phoenix, New York and Moscow] is 15 hours of flight time, 15 hours of layovers [12 in Moscow] and an 8 hour train ride. So, leaving San Diego at 6.30am on a Friday…Read More
Nizhny Novgorod is 11 hours ahead of San Diego. The trip [via Phoenix, New York and Moscow] is 15 hours of flight time, 15 hours of layovers [12 in Moscow] and an 8 hour train ride. So, leaving San Diego at 6.30am on a Friday put me into Nizhny at 7.30am Sunday morning. The flight was sold out all the way to Moscow and I was in coach ["THANK you (company)," she said sarcastically.]
The Moscow layover was not so bad, as the company booked the Marriott for the day so I was able to shower and drop off luggage, then walk to the Kremlin [fortress, historical landmark and seat of the Russian President]/Red Square [earned its name not from the red walls of the Kremlin, nor from the traditional symbol of Communism, but from the Russian word for "red", which many centuries ago also meant "beautiful"] and see the GUM store [the former state department store, referenced in spy novels, now filled with western shops.] Beautiful day, mid-50's, and sunny.
I was seriously sleep-deprived and don't remember much more except getting to the train station about midnight. I slept like the proverbial log on the train, thanks to a drug cocktail from one of my business associates: 1 Tylenol PM, 1 melatonin, and 10mg of Ambien -- HIGHLY recommended! I don't remember ever stopping, nor hearing the clickity-clack of the train.
I was picked up at the train station by a representative of the company I was meeting with.
Nizhny Novgorod [during the communist regime, it was called Gorky] is located where the Volga and Oka rivers meet. It is the third biggest city in Russia with a population of over 1.5 million people and was founded in 1221.
We arrived at the hotel "Oktyabrskaya" to clean up and agreed to meet back in the lobby later for a walk. My room was simple; narrow, but with a wall of windows overlooking the Volga river and a wooded walking path. It was built for Communist Party leaders during the 60's.
Our translator gave us a tour of the city. We started out for the Kremlin-the fortress that surrounded the original town [burned seven times by tribes and armies of invaders but each time the people restored it.] We stopped for [beer for the guys, and] a vodka for me in a bar in the cellar of one of the towers before we headed for Pokrovka, the walking street in the center of the city. It has numerous shops, restaurants, kiosks, street-musicians, produce stands, etc. and is always crowded with people. Lunch was at the "Vitalich" decorated in a traditional Russian country style with wood floors, walls and ceilings [I felt like I was in a log cabin]. I had vodka, borscht and a salad [salads in Russia are nearly always pickled something or other;in this case, cabbage.] We stopped at a shop in the middle of town that sold traditional Russian crafts~ khokhloma, gorodetskaya (2 types of folk-painting on wooden utensils or pictures); matryoshka (nesting) dolls, clothing, furniture, locally-made jewelry [amber, bone and silver], towels, pottery, and children's toys. The translator said the prices here would be better than in Moscow so I bought a pair of silver earrings, 6 crystal vodka glasses, and 6 linen napkins. I was on a quest for a mortar and pestle -- I collect them from everywhere I travel -- but none were to be had in Nizhny. I also priced caviar in a market but didn't purchase any as it would've been necessary to refrigerate it all the while. But, I bought a liter of the local vodka to take back with me.
Sleep came easily that evening as our meetings were to start early the next morning and we were all exhausted. The hotel offered a breakfast buffet each morning included in the rate [$50] consisting of juice, buttermilk, Nescafe [instant] coffee, oatmeal [or some other hot grain cereal], white or dark bread, hard boiled eggs, pickled cabbage, sliced salami and cheese, and apples. Lunch, at the company, was ALWAYS a salad course [3 days of pickled and 2 days of aspic], soup course, fish and/or meat course, and dessert. Needless to say, we were never hungry at night so the team would end up having [a beer for the guys and for me] a [vodka] cocktail, and discuss the day's meetings.
Mid-week, after work, I asked the translator to take me to the shop next to the hotel that had a selection of furs -- I wanted her "expert" opinion [didn't want to take a chance buying rabbit, or something!] and bought my daughter and I fur hats made of polar fox -- gorgeous! Then, we walked to Gorky Square to a bank with a webcam because I had told family I would be standing by at 7pm, my time, waving at them.
Friday night was a company-hosted cocktail/dinner party with lots of vodka and toasts. We each received an oblong slice of birch wood painted with a scene of birch trees next to a river. I had everyone at the table sign the back of mine. GREAT memory.
We left late that evening to return to Moscow.