Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Russia, with love

It would be difficult to pass up the opportunity to visit Moscow under just about any circumstance, but the offer Kevin and I received was absolutely ideal. Dina and Micheal, our fellow live aboard friends from Connecticut invited us to visit them for two weeks in Moscow this fall. They'd moved there in July so that Dina could be closer to her family and Micheal could take up work for IBM in Russia. We'd have a free place to stay - our own bedroom in an apartment right in the middle of Moscow and a native Russian speaker (Dina) to show us the deal is virtually unbeatable. But wait, there's more...the topper here is that Dina and Micheal may very well be the most generous couple on the entire planet. Officially, we are the luckiest folks on the planet, yet again.

We met Micheal and Dina in the summer of 2007 in Stamford, right before we left on Cielo's first voyage up north to Block Island, RI. They invited us over for drinks and appetizers and gave us maps of the area and a hand written guide to all of the places we'd want to visit in Block Island and along the way. When we returned 10 days later, they'd organized a going-away party to celebrate our final departure south. Then they presented us with gifts including an excellent cookbook especially for cruisers, Charlie the palm tree, and a very nice bottle of "Cielo" brand tequilla- perhaps the perfect gift. Then, they came to visit us in the BVI's where we had to fight (and usually lost) to ever get the bill. This is just the type of people they are.

Dina and Michael's hospitality since we've arrived in Moscow is just as we remembered. From the moment we landed and were picked up at the airport, we've been hosted in high-style. We've been taken to the famous attractions (Red Square, the Kremlin) as well as places only locals seem to get to--tiny churches, winding backstreets and unmarked bars filled with memorabilia from the Soviet era. Kevin and I follow along as they debate what our next activity should be. It's great!

Currently, Dina is out buying groceries for lunch and Micheal is at work, though planning to leave early so they can take us to visit some historic estates on the city's outskirts. Later in the week, they're hosting a party so we can meet many of their friends and the deliberations over the best weekend plans have already begun. Oh, and did I mention the sun has been shining for the past two days when rain was predicted all week? I'm not sure that's something Micheal and Dina have authority over - but I wouldn't be surprised if it's something they'd arranged.