Posted by: Tommy | October 11, 2010

A non-whiny post

After we figured out the money situation on Friday, we basically just made some dinner and went to bed.  We got a slow start Saturday because Anna wasn’t feeling well.  We were both jetlagged and she was pretty congested.  We woke up around noon but didn’t leave the hostel until after lunchtime.  We walked around the neighborhood near our hostel and then decided to have our first dinner out.

We read about an authentic Ukrainian restaurant nearby that was reasonably priced, so we headed there.  The host at the restaurant spoke English, but no one else did, so ordering was an adventure.  We initially were given a menu in English (the surest sign that it might not be THAT authentic of a Ukrainian restaurant) but it got taken away by the waitress, who couldn’t understand what I was pointing at.  She brought back the English menu along with a Russian menu, so Anna and I compared the menus and found they had the same layout.  We were able to get our food ordered.  What we got: one meat pie, one “herring with a fur coat”, one dumpling platter, one veal and an egg with pineapple sauce and two fruit-infused waters, a strawberry and a cherry.


The red thing is "Herring with a fur coat"



Veal with an egg, in pineapple sauce


Surprisingly, everything was pretty good.  The “Herring with a fur coat” sounds really gross.  Especially when you find out what it really is.  It’s a pickled herring with the consistency of pudding, covered with a coating of shredded carrots and beets and some sour cream.  And yet, it was delicious.  The other thing we weren’t sure about when we ordered it was the “veal with an egg, in pineapple sauce”.  This tasted just like my mom’s chicken fried steak, which is a very good thing.  But the best thing we ordered was definitely the infused-water drinks.  They were very tasty – almost like KoolAid, but fruitier.

After dinner, we walked to Red Square, which we’d heard is very different at night vs. during the day.  Everything was lit up and beautiful.  The GUM, Moscow’s designer shopping mall that forms on border of Red Square, was covered in white lights like Christmas.  St. Basil’s rose from the darkness at the far end of the square, while Lenin’s tomb, with no lights of any kind, was almost invisible until you got up close to it.


Anna and the GUM



Anna in Red Square at night, with Lenin's tomb and St. Basil's in the background


The next morning, we got up to explore the Red Square area.  Anna was feeling better and we were off!  Our first stop was the Bolshi Theatre – one of Anna’s main attractions for Russia.  Trying to get tickets to the Bolshoi is where we discovered that the Russians would make a lot more money if they just tried a little harder.  We wandered around the grounds of the theater for at least 20 minutes, trying to find a box office.   The Bolshoi has been under renovation for 7 years, so there is a lot of fencing, pipe and other construcion-type stuff blocking the way.  Eventually, we were seen by a construction worker, who waved me over.   I was initially a bit leary, but he was behind a chainlink fence, so I crossed the road to talk to him.  He spoke English and explained to me, through a thick African accent, that I should go “that way” and pointed to my left.  Anna and I headed “that way”, thankful for at least a clue about the box office whereabouts.  We stopped to take a few pictures and look at the fountain out front.  When we decided to keep walking 10 minutes later, we were surprised to find the construction worker wating patiently for us on the corner.  He motioned for us to follow him and set off around a corner.  Again, we were leary – but also lost, so we followed him.  I became encouraged when he started telling us about the ticket scalpers and how he could show us where they were, but we’d be better off buying at face value from the box office.  We’d read the same in our guide book and agreed that we would do that.  Along the way, this guy told us that he was from Benin but had married a Russian girl so he lived here.  He took us around 3 turns, asked 3 Bolshoi employees for directions and eventually found the box office tucked away in a corner of the building.  He then translated for us to speak to the ticket agent and got us opera tickets for $12 each for Tuesday night.  I was fully prepared to tip him, but he just said he was glad we were happy and that he had to get back to work.  We made him pose for a picture for the blog.


Our Savior


After purchasing tickets, we stopped for lunch at Red Square.  We had what we affectionately refer to as Crapdog’s.  Read that sign and tell me that wasn’t your first thought.





Mmmmm, Crapdogs!


We spent the rest of the day exploring the State History Museum and then St. Basil’s.  St. Basil’s is the famous church with the colorful onion domes.  My favorite fun fact – an actual quote from inside St. Basil’s, about St. Basil himself: “St. Basil was known for being Crazy-for-Jesus and for being a nude-walker”.  Next to this was a painting of St. Basil – walking in the nude.  Since I found St. Basil’s very photogenic, I’m going to close with some of my favorite pictures taken that day.


St. Basil's at a distance



St. Basil's



St. Basil's from a distance




  1. As I love to cook and explore other cuisines, I found the food descriptions and pictures delightful. The adventure of figuring out your food can happen even in English speaking countries like England and countries where you speak the language like France. Since you are the dive in types you will (and are) having fun with that. And since Anna is a self professed food geek, I know I will continue to get great insights across the globe.

    Love St. Basil’s — wish I was there.

  2. So beautiful! Anna, I hope you are feeling better!

  3. i want a crapdog but no furry pickled herrings.. great pics!! keep them coming!!! sister glad to hear you are feeling better!!

  4. What was a crapdog actually? Sounds like y’all are having fun!

    • It was a hotdog in a bun shaped like a tube. Before they insert the hotdog, they squirt ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and mystery sauce into the bun. It’s actually a very tidy way to eat a hotdog.

  5. Love hearing about your food adventures. Also, Tommy, you took some great pics! Keep the pics and the comments coming. Makes those of us here feel like we are there! Great descriptions. Keep having a wonderful time and stay safe! Enjoy this wonderful adventure and chance of a life time.

  6. Beautiful pictures and descriptions!! I am so jealous of you two. 🙂

  7. Did you pack any pepto tabs…you might need them are the crapdogs! I’m so glad you are posting pixs! I have caught up with my printing & hole punching of your blog. It will be UBE’s evenig entertainment! Stay safe. I love u,kita XOOXO

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