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Published: October 14th 2005
Back in Moscow ! I was met at the station by Andre, the driver that the ambassador was indeed kind enough to send. Yet again, another trip down nostalgia avenue. I am not going to bore you with stories of what has changed and what has not, suffice it to say that all has changed yet nothing has.
My parents came to meet me here for the week-end and it was a most wonderful pleasure to see them again. We had a most wonderful 4 days: we did a monastery tour of Moscow until I reached an overdose point, went back to the red Square, the Arbat and all that I hold dear in Moscow. The city has improved for the best, the buildings have been nicely restored, the new ones could be worse, and there are fewer signs of wealth disparity than before.
The ambassador here is a very kind gentelman who use to work with my father at NATO. He has welcomed us into our old house with such warmth that we felt at home again. The ambassador Mertens and his wife have been kind enough to organise a great dinner, assembling all of my parents old
friends in Moscow. My father was in high heaven, finally speaking his good old russian in his old house in Moscow. I recognised most of those faces and stories from my later childhood. The house is also an incredibly beautiful old palace, where precious little has changed since my days. I went with my parents and Mr and Mrs Mertens to the Opera at the Bolchoi for one of the last representations that will be given there before it is closed for renovation.
A truly wonderful evening ! My parents used to take me to the Bolchoi at least twice a year to see Nutcracker and Swan Lake or, sometimes, Cinderella. Sunday evening, we went to the old Music Conservatory of Moscow to see a Piano Championship with some of the greatest pianists in the world. The evening started off with an hours' worth of speeches, through which my parents and I snored politely. The concert was spectactular in the skills being displayed and the most incredible and specatcular room; nothing in the UK approaches the splendour of the russian conservatory rooms.
I had a most wonderful few days in Moscow, in the company of my parents and
the belgian ambassador here.
Earlier, Youra, our old driver came from miles out of town to see us. He was such a kind chap, he took me to school every morning, did my homework for me, bought me plombier marojonoye (ice cream) and put up with me for too long a time. It was such a pleasure seeing him again, he had a few tears in his eyes and so did we.
My parents have now left for the airport and I need to be quick as the ambassador has kindly invited me to dinner tonight to celebrate the deparature of the German ambassador, before I take my tran-siberian to Irkoutsk. The real adventure will start there. My mother has kindly bought for me some kalbassa (russian salami) to make friends on the train. I shall also buy a bottle of vodka to extricate myself out of any problems I might encounter.
There will be no news from me for at least 7 days, as I will be on the train. I shall check my phone for messages every so often but will keep you posted once I reach Ulan Bataar.
Thank you, once again, to
the all the staff of the Belgian embassy in Moscow who made our stay not only possible but of such an enjoyable (and comfortable) sort. Thank you also for looking after me during the next few days while I am still in Russian teritory. Huge thanks to Mrs Mertens for hosting us at the residence and of course to Pixie, the dog.
Until further news,
I remain yours,
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