Thursday, 6 June 2013
The Accidental Diplomat - Day 2 - Moscow Baby
For the second morning in a row my alarm forcible wakened up at an ungodly hour, the only difference today was that it was in fact 8am Moscow time (5am GMT). Falling over my stuff to get to my alarm clock I vowed that the next time I unpacked something I would use a slightly more organised approach.
The first activity on the itinerary was a meeting with the head of Rossotrudnichestvo Moscow who explained to us the aims of the organisation before taking questions from our group. It was interesting to hear about the work that they do in a variety of different countries around the world.
Then it was on to lunch at a nearby hotel. So far on this trip I had been offered some fairly normal dishes, however, it was at lunch that I was reminded of some of the more obscure aspects of Russian cooking. For example the format is almost always some form of heavily mayonnaised 'salad', soup, main dish, cake. Today I was given carrot, onion and mayo 'salad', cheese soup with mystery meat, cheesy fish with rice and a massive slice of honey cake. All of which was tasty but very different from the food I am used to in the UK.
With lunch over it was off to the International Language Library where we had the chance to explore the collection and hear from it's head. As a present from one of the groups that works alongside the library we were given some copies of books with parallel translation in them - Russian on one side, English on the other.
Upon returning to my hotel room before dinner I discovered that the maid had not liked my style of unpacking and had decided to reorganise all of my things. This made it slightly tricky for locating clean clothes and, amongst other things, my cuddly toy cat which meant that changing for dinner in fact became a very long and arduous process.
At dinner I was greeted with yet more interesting dishes to sample such as beetroot and mayo 'salad' however this was counterbalanced by a delicious cabbage soup and bread. Just as we were finishing dinner the organisers of the conference informed us that tomorrow morning we would need to appear at breakfast with our fully packed suitcases as we would not be returning to our hotel before our Aeroflot flight to Perm.
In all my time in Russia I had successfully managed to avoid Aeroflot, or Aeroflop as they are more popularly known, and domestic Russian flights which are known for their low levels of safety and high crash rates. As the train to Perm would take around 30 hours and the conference was due to begin the next morning there was no way out - I was going to be flying Aeroflot.
Luckily I managed to find three activities to distract myself from thinking about this - FaceTiming my family after discovering free wifi in the hotel lobby, watching Russian TV (Twilight was on STS :D ) and packing. Anyone who knows me will know how much I simply, erm, love this activity, which was made even more fun by spending several hours trying to locate all of my things after the maid had 'tidied up'. Luckily my approach to packing is similar to my approach to unpacking - grab all the items, fold them, cram them in, sit on suitcase, zip up. Sorted!