Today was our first full day in Moscow. I woke up at 4:30 AM, looked at the clock, and thought 'NoooOOoo!' But I as soon as I got home from our outings I napped, unintentionally, for an hour and a half. I decided not to go out tonight and just catch up on sleep.
We started our day by briefly visiting the Red Square. We did the tourist thing, taking pictures with the St. Basil's Cathedral in the background.
Then we took the metro to the Izmailovsky market. The metro was a lot different than D.C.'s -- in a good way. It ran underground and the enterance still used swipe cards but the tunnels and stairs were made of marble. Everything was amazingly clean! It got pretty hectic because there were a lot of bustling people and I didnt have a clue where we were. Our large group got a lot of stares.
But we made it to the open air market! We had an hour to shop and eat. There were hundreds of stands selling every typical Russian trinket imaginable. We were immediately targeted as foreigners and when we walked by the stalls we had to ignore calls like, 'Sex bomb!' and 'I love you! I love you!' It was actually pretty funny. So I got to use my non-existent bargaining skills. I started out well in Russian but had to end up switching to English. All the merchants spoke English. Some were pretty surprised that I spoke Russian back to them and were happy to help me practice and work out the numbers. (But I also only approached people who looked friendly.) I'm pretty sure I still over-paid but I am proud of myself that I tried to haggle and somewhat succeeded! I am very happy with my purchases!
Then we took the metro back to the apartments and changed into dress clothes for the meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. In an hour he showed us (his) the Spaso House and answered any questions we had. The house was very formal, being used for diplomatic entertaining. It was just as you'd imagine any other governmental building. We were served drinks, sat on couches casually and discussed any topic of our choosing. I asked him about Russia's environmental future and the Kyoto Protocol. His answers were really interesting yet professional, as expected. He was very personable and it was very awesome of him to take time out of his busy schedule to meet with us!
After that we headed back to the apartment! And thats where I am now!
Hope everything is going well back in the States! Miss you and love you!
Oh! And today was International Women's Day! It is a very BIG holiday here. It is kind of like Mother's Day and everywhere women were walking around with flowers. It was really sweet.