By Bonnie Pandya
One of the drivers took us into Moscow. In the van were Igor Rudyaev, a Russian man who takes care of the Japanese astronauts and Takeo Miki the JAXA Doctor for Aki. We are staying in Moscow for a couple of days at the Volga Hotel. Some of the rooms there are reserved for astronauts either coming or going from the US and Europe. The rooms are very spacious but sparse. Living room, bathroom, kitchen, and a bedroom. The kitchen has a stove, refrigerator, freezer, pots, pans etc. It is very nice and cleaned and has computer and hookups. Some astronauts and office staff who work in Moscow live in the Volga. We will meet up with Steve Hart, Suni’s flight surgeon who has just arrived from Houston.
After Suni went for a jog we met Steve Hart in the lobby. We walked to a 50’s diner where we met up with some friends to have breakfast. Chris Guilette, Alex Gerst, the German Astronaut, Reid Weisman, a Navy astronaut, Mike Hopkins, an Airforce Astronaut, Steve Swanson, “Swanie” along with Irena, the head of all translators and transportation, and Tara, a flight surgeon from Texas. We all had breakfast and sat around talking and taking pictures.
Two hours later Suni, Steve and I took a walk to the metro. We met up with Mike Serber’s wife Trish and her two kids. Mike is taking over Joel’s place who is head of everything in Russia and Kazakhstan. Joel & his Russian wife and going back to Houston for another assignment.
Thank goodness for cell phones. They come in handy when you want to meet up with someone like Trish and her kids. They decided they wanted to go on the boat tour so we were able to meet them at the metro. We arrived at the boat dock on the Moscow River and got tickets and went on the boat. It was a beautiful sunny day. We went on the top deck and had a beer. The tour boats are continually going up and down the river to various stops like Gorky Park.
During the tour we saw one of the seven sisters, a huge and tall residential building that houses everything you need. No reason to go out of the building for anything. There are seven of these residential buildings around Moscow.
We also saw the monastery, Olympic stadium, the ski jump, the old chocolate factory, statues of Peter the Great and many more. We saw people sunbathing on the banks of the river near the Tsarina park and as we got closer to the city we saw the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basils.
I forgot to mention that the reason why there are so many flight surgeons arriving is because the Soyuz is landing on July 1st. Quite a few of them will be going to the landing in Kazakhstan to take care of the astronauts returning to earth.
When we got off the boat we were on the east side of Moscow after boating for about three hours. We again walked to the metro and got out about 3 miles from the Volga and began to walk back. We stopped for tea half way home. We continued on to the hotel. I was so exhausted after all the walking that I read my book and fell asleep for a couple of hours. We got ready around 7 p.m. and met Steve in the lobby. We again walked to a Georgian restaurant about a mile away. We had a nice dinner of eggplant rolls and rice with chicken. Suni had cheese and bread and spinach tortolina. Steve had soup and a lamb and rice dish. I had tea and they had a beer. Afterwards we walked back to the Volga. At 10 p.m. it was still light out. Steve brought me some anti-inflammatory medicine for my ankle and wrist which were swelling up. I needed some throat lozenges also. Otherwise I feel great! Suni wanted to get a cab but I wanted to walk since I felt better after the meds. When we got back to the Volga Suni showed me some stretches to do.
Tomorrow Suni has a press conference here in Moscow. We will go back to Star City Wednesday night and meet some new arrivals. We plan to come back to Moscow on Thursday to take a tour of the Bolshoi.