We bundled up in our warm tights we bought the other day (they have ultra thick tights here that are amazing) and jeans, two pairs of socks, boots, coats etc. etc. and headed out. We asked the lady at the front desk of the hotel just to be sure we were correct in our assumptions, and after saying the name of the place we wanted to go incorrectly a gazillion times, she finally figured out what the heck we were trying to say and confirmed we had the correct itinerary. Just in case, she wrote down the name of the market in both English and Russian so that if we got lost, we could show our little post-it note to some sympathetic person that might put us back on the right path. Thank goodness for this little note because it would come in handy.
|Our metro tickets and the note that saved our behinds.|
So we made our way through the swarms of people to the ticket booth. The first problem we ran into was that the signs all had the red and green lines on them, but not the blue! We knew we were in the right station, but there were no signs that indicated the line we wanted to take. All there was was an escalator going down, down, down, forever it seemed, into the belly of Moscow. We showed the woman at the ticket counter our little post-it note and she nodded her head that we were in the right spot. So we bought two metro tickets and headed toward the escalator. You have to hold your ticket up to this sensor and the red light turns green so you are able to walk through the little turn style. We watched for a minute until we were sure we knew what to do, then headed to hold our tickets up. There were a whole group of police standing around that point, which made us a little nervous, not that we were doing anything wrong, but you know, having them watching our every move wasn't fun. I held my ticket up to the sensor and the light turned green and I went for it. Made it through! I looked back for Jeana and saw her hold her ticket up to the sensor. It made a funny noise, but she tried walking through anyway. Well, the machine didn't like that, and suddenly there were these bars down by her legs that closed around her, keeping her from coming through!! So she jumped back and tried the next turn style over, and it beeped red too but the little bars didn't try to grab her so she jumped through! I thought for sure the police were going to swarm us and ask us what the heck we were doing! We just stared straight ahead and made our way to the escalator.
|This was going back up to the street from the Metro we took today. The escalator goes on forever!|
So here we were, at the very bottom of the Metro, it seemed the very middle of the earth to us! And we had to choose a train, both of which we knew were the wrong ones! We couldn't go back the way we came. We were stuck!
I remembered reading something about how the young people here are usually more sympathetic to Americans, so I looked for a young person and noticed a young woman waiting for the train and typing on her cell phone. I walked up to her and smiled and showed her our little post-it note and said "help?" She smiled at me and asked "where from?" and I said "United States-America" and she raised her eyebrows and nodded her head back and forth sympathetically as if to say, "wow, you guys are really lost!" She got back on her phone and brought up some awesome Metro app and pointed to where we needed to go, where we currently were, and said a whole lot of things in Russian. The problem was, we already knew we were in the wrong place, but we didn't know how to get back to where we started! She pointed back up the stairs, so even though there was a sign which clearly showed we were not supposed to go that way, we headed back up the tunnel until we got to the bottom of the second set of escalators we had descended earlier. We spied a woman in a small booth, assumed she must be an information worker, so we did what we did best: shoved our post-it note into her booth and said, "help?!" She spoke even more Russian at us and waved her arms around and pointed back down the tunnel we just came up! At this point, we knew we didn't have another choice but to go back down, because the escalators didn't go up. We decided we would just take one of the trains, get off on its first stop, and hope we could reorient ourselves once we got back up to the surface.
Back down on the platform, we went under the archway to where you stand next to the tracks waiting for the train, and realized to our utter embarrassment that we could walk along the platform next to the tracks to go somewhere else in the station! We walked until we finally saw a sign that had our blue line on it!! Then we looked on the wall across the tracks and it had the correct station name on it! We had finally found our train!
The train came barreling down the tracks. When the doors opened, we looked at each other like "here goes!" and got on. We were relieved to see, once we got on, that there was en electronic sign in the train that showed the different stops the train makes, and we recognized the stop we wanted to get off at, five stops down the track. With a sigh of relief, we had a great laugh at ourselves and the predicament we had gotten ourselves in to! We took pictures of ourselves to document the journey:
|Here I am, looking like I ride the Metro every day. No problem!|
|Here is Jeana, looking how we actually feel . She made me shrink this photo because she doesn't like it :-) Deer in the headlights!|
Finally, we were at the market! We paid our 10 rubles to get in and we made our way around the many, many vendors selling their things. The prices were much better than in the city, and we bought several items. I bought the cutest traditional little Russian dresses for my girls and a couple things for friends and family back home.
By this time it was late afternoon and the temperatures were quickly dropping. Poor Jeana only had flimsy boots here and her feet were wet and cold. Her gloves too weren't doing much good, and she was getting extremely cold. We had been told there were places inside we could eat. We found some men cooking meat and bread on a long grill outside. We ordered some of both and they motioned for us to go up some stairs to a small and smokey room with chairs and tables in it. We sat across from this group of older Russian men who seemed to be having a good time together. Jeana took off her boots and put all of our hand warmers into her socks and gloves to try and warm up. The men across from us kept motioning for us to come and sit by them! We just kept nodding our heads "no" in a friendly way and smiled. They were very persistent, and finally this old woman who worked there also told us to go sit by these men! These exasperated men motioned to this metal pipe on the back of the bench they were sitting on and we finally figured out it was heated, and they were trying all this time to tell us to come get warm! These men were so friendly to us. They didn't speak much English, but they did say, "Russia, cold!" Then they motioned for Jeana to put her freezing feet right on the heater and told the old woman to bring us a blanket to put on our laps. After a while, one of them went downstairs and came back up with some Vodka and they poured us each a glass, put it in front of us and said, "Vodka, warm!" It was so funny and kind. We tried to explain to them that we don't drink, but they kept insisting. We just kept eating our food and finally one man pointed to our drinks and said, "no drink?" and we said nyet, so he took our drinks and dumped the Vodka into his glass and drank it! They left and said good-bye to us.
|Our yummy and warm food.|
|Thanks, guys, for taking pity on the freezing Americans!|
|Getting our hands and feet warm on the heated pipe!|
We found some waterproof boots for Jeana at this mall that didn't cost an arm and a leg, and then headed back to our hotel. What a day! We checked our email and I FaceTimed my kids and then we crashed into our beds, exhausted but glad that we had ventured out that day. What a story this is all turning in to! I can't even explain how grateful I am to have Jeana by my side, especially since Brian has now returned home. I know God wanted us to be together through this ordeal.