Mom’s visit to Russia Day 6

By Bonnie Pandya

So today we woke up at 6:00 a.m.  Got ready, Suni went for a jog and the van driver, Vadim, was here at 7.  He took us and Steve Hart (who is a neurologist and had a practice in TX before joining NASA).  Also in the van was Igor Rudyaev, who is in charge of the Japanese astronauts and Takeo Miki, the Japanese flight surgeon.  We all went to the Volga in Moscow.  I found out that the Volga is only 30 miles away but it took us 2 1/2 hrs. to get there due to the bad Russian traffic.  Even though there is the metro, plenty of busses and street cars and vans, the traffic is still horrific.  The problem with Moscow is that you have to walk all over the place or walk to the metro to go anyplace.  I also found out that the women dress so beautifully because there are three women for every man so they want to look their best in case they are picked! ! !

We dropped off everyone at the Volga because they had meetings for the landing of the Soyuz on July 2nd.  It will be early in the morning so about Midnight on Sunday night.  Check out the NASA channel to be sure.  Suni and I were driven to the area where the Bolhi is located.  We were to go on a tour at 11:00 and we were early so we went to a small cafe and had coffee, an omelet and Suni ordered a basket of various breads.  We had bread and coffee while we waited for the omelet.  Excellent bread, some with nuts, wheat, and different kinds.  Her idea was to take the bread home for our dinner tonight.  We stayed there until 10:30 and then walked over to the Bolshoi and sat by the central square with water falls in the center and fountains.  We watch pigeons sitting in the fountains and washing themselves.  We took out some bread and fed them for a while.  We noticed people in front of the Bolshoi so we walked over to join them.

Pigeons near the Bolshoi.

We found out there were three women from Cambridge MA, old ladies on a tour and just got in to Moscow yesterday.  Also, there was a women from TX whose husband is in oil business and had meetings here so she was on the Bolshoi tour also.  I can’t believe we were here in 2005 at the Bolshoi watching the ballet, eating caviar and chocolates and drinking champagne.  Suni wanted to get tickets but they cost $1200. each.  When we went last time it was 500 rubles.  However, it has been renovated for the last 6 yrs.  We saw one of the last performances before it was closed.

It is just beautiful.  The different floors of the theatre were done in white with shiny gold and gold mat designs.  Every floor is a different design.  The seats on the main floor are wood with red designed seats.  The floor is wood like parquet.  In the back are completely red seats and the very best seats are red arm chairs.  In the center back is where the Royalty sits.  However, also in the boxes next to the stage on both sides are for the Romanofs, Putin, and various important people.  I think we sat in one of the boxes last time but not any near the stage.  The chandelier is magnificent, I took pictures so you will be able to see it.

Magnificent chandelier.

The orchestra pit is fantastic and the stage moves to accommodate the play or dancing.  I would love to see another Swan Lake there and drink champagne and eat caviar.  We had a wonderful guide and a translator who was very entertaining.

Now they have 17 glass elevators and all the red curtains no longer have the hammer and sickle but eagles and are also made of gold and red.  So we went up on the elevator to the top floor and looked down at the stage.  There are also chandeliers all around and the seats are extremely comfortable.

Suni and I at the Bolshoi.

After explaining everything to us, we went up to the top where they had a fantastic lounge.  Beautiful leather bar, white marble floor, beige, white, cream, bar tables, L shaped leather seating areas, champagne, wine refrigerator, various levels so you could move into another room with more bars and beautifully appointed.  On we went to a room where they had statues of people dressed in various costumes of different operas and plays,  One was the snow princess which Uri called Suni when she wore her blue life is good snow pajamas.  Suni doesn’t miss a trick.  She is aware of everything and can also understand the Russian so things we miss she picks up right away.  On to another room decorated with Royal coat of arms for various royalty etc.  A few more beautiful rooms and then we went down to minus 3 level where the floor was a fantastic design of brown, beige, white that was able to move up or down as you needed for different levels of stage, rolling curtains to close it off, piano, fantastic lighting so you didn’t even know you were 3 levels down with curtains that were made of plaster but looked like real drapery with lighting behind it so it seemed like windows.  Everything there was magnificent.  I hope my pictures can help describe it better.

So after we left there we met up with our driver and headed back to Star City.  We stopped a grocery store to pick up some chicken which the boys are grilling tonight.  We were tired so Suni and I fell asleep on the 2 1/2 hr. ride back.  Got home and took a rest.  Now I am cooking chickpeas with carrots, peppers, eggplant and zucchini, a big curry dish to go with the chicken.  Everything you cook here the guys love and finish it all up.  Suni is out jogging and exercising in the weight room.  I’ll take some pictures of that too.  Well got to check on my chickpeas.  Will write about things tomorrow.

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