Moscow is not in Western Europe

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April 15th 2018
Published: June 5th 2018
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Our stopover was Heathrow, which is a fantastic shopping mall, it's also an airport but that is secondary to the shopping. Our Aeroflot flight from Heathrow to Moscow was an older plane (so much for what I read that Areoflot has one of the newest fleets. The breakfast was inedible, but at least we got little salt and pepper shakers with the hammer and sickle. We arrived in Moscow about 2:30. As the plane pulled in, it was apparent that 80-90% of the planes on the tarmac were Aeroflot and unlike airports in the US a lot of the operational equipment like empty luggage carriers were sort of piled up in plain site. had read that passport control could be a mad-house. Instead, there were at least 24 queue and 20 of them were empty. Needless to say, we were through quickly. We had to wait 15 minutes for our bags and then found that customs consisted of walking through a door labeled, "Customs".

Our hotel was near the airport and we were in our room in less than 1 hour from touch down. I had no desire to hang out at the airport hotel for the rest of the day, so I suggested we go into the city and visit the Museum of Multimedia and Photography. I knew that the likelihood of motivating Jack was increased dramatically with the word “photography” and that it was unlikely we’d have time to visit this museum when we came back for the tour. Our Uber into the city took nearly an hour because of traffic. On our way in we passed run-down apartment buildings that looked like remnants of the Soviet error. Closer to the center, we traveled down Traversky Avenue which reminded both of us of Rothchild Ave in Tel Aviv, a broad avenue with a wide center island that had small playgrounds for kids. The museum is probably the largest and best museum of photography that we have ever visited including the ICP in NYC when it was in the old space. The museum was free, and they had an enormous Lego collection in the lobby for kids. The first floor and basement had an exhibit of Ilya Vartanian whose color photos, especially the portraits, were gorgeous. The 7th floor housed and undated Alice in Wonderland exhibit by Tim Walker including a video in which the photographer, his staff and the people being photographed talked about its genesis, what it meant to the participants (including Whoopi Goldberg) and how it was shot. Before watching the video, we found the photographs too stylized, but after the watching the video it was terrific. It never ceases to amaze me what a little knowledge can do. The 6th & 5th floor had exhibitions of the work of 12 – 15 Japanese photographers, with work that was both life affirming and memorializing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagazaki. It included a set of “portraits” comprised of photographs of clothing that had been worn by children who were killed in the blast. The 3rd floor had a retrospective of a Russian photographer who had shot in Moscow for 50 years. Only a very small part of the exhibit had photographs that were typically stereotypes like the one I’ve posted. The 2nd and 4th floors had modern works, including a 6 by 4-foot Picasso.

It was 7:30 and we were tired and hungry, so we called an Uber to head back. This is when we made a critical mistake and got into the wrong Uber. We compared the last 3 digits of what we thought were the license plate number and got in. Later I realized that the last 3 digits were not part of the license, but something else and lots of cars shared the same number. 15 minutes into the ride when the driver had missed the entrance to the freeway and we’d been driving in a circle, I took a good look at where we were headed on Google Maps. There are 2 major airports, Shermetov, where we were staying, to the north and another to the south. We were heading south which was exactly what the driver had on his phone. He spoke no English and it took a few minutes to work out what had happened and get back on track. Thank you Google Translate! We didn’t get back to the hotel until 9 to get something to eat after a day of inedible airplane food and some sleep.

Net, net the time we spent at the museum justified the time spent in transit, so it was a good birthday.

Additional photos below
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