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Russian Diaries June 7, 2015: Arrival in Moscow

By: Carolyn Woodruff, JD, CPA, CVA

We have an uneventful Delta flight from Kennedy Airport leaving around 4:30 PM in New York (KJFK) to Moscow (KSVO) arriving around 9 AM. Dwight Ensley (my husband), Alosha and I are greeted at the Moscow Airport by Arina Demina, soon to be a Russian lawyer and to be our guide for the week. She is holding pink hydrangeas and roses, which she gives to me. Arina welcomes Alosha and me as Dance Legends. There are 4600 miles between us and New York City and a seven-hour time difference. I hope this week to explore many legal issues related to family law, as surely there is a solution for the children of the world and state interference with families and children.

Looking around the airport, I see most signs were in both Russian and English. And, of course, Michael Kors sunglasses and bags have prominent billboards in English.

he road to Russia has been an amazing pinnacle of my process of recreating myself in divorce recovery, a recovery that began in 2000 and happily continues today. As a family lawyer, I know how important recovery is. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

Our driver loads our luggage into a Mercedes SUV. Off we go to the Metropol Hotel, built in 1905 and deep seeded in Russian history. Well to my surprise, on the way from the Moscow Airport to the Metropol, I saw a Sheraton Hotel, a Doubletree Hotel, a McDonald’s, and two KFC’s. Moscow has many typical US businesses.

We are of course psyched about the arrival, so even though we had traveled all night, we only take an hour in our hotel and we are off to see Moscow with Arina. Like most historic places, there is much focus on war memorials. I have to ask myself, why do countries have to make so much war? Could resources not be better spent than on war?

Red Square, paved with stone brick, is busy with many, many people, including families and children. Many look like other westerners in this incredible city. The World War II Memorial has an eternal flame accompanied by an hourly presentation of the “changing of the guard”. The Memorial has large granite block with city names of cities that lost so many soldiers in World War II, which included Alosha’s home city of Kiev, Ukraine.

Then we were off to the bridge near the Kremlin where Boris Nemtsov was killed February 28, 2015. The place where he was killed is marked, and apparently today is 100 days since he was shot. Fresh flower memorials still abound. I watch as people lay flowers around the memorial.   Boris was thought to be an instrumental leader in post-Soviet Union capitalism and of the opposite political view of Putin. Armed police are obvious.

Now off to my favorite sport, shopping. The Gum (pronounced “goom”) is a Russian version of Rodeo Drive with the accompanying prices for Gucci, Vuitton, and other prominent fashion houses. I only buy a Diet Coke in a small glass bottle, a safe drink choice in a city where you still have to beware of the non-bottled water and ice cubes.

Lunch is at Oxygen atop the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Oxygen overlooks Red Square and is a lovely outdoor restaurant and bar. The service, however, sucks, and tipping is quite different in Russia. Apparently, it is not as expected as in the United States.

We rest some, and then off to Buddha Bar. Dwight and I are familiar with the Buddha-Bar concept having been to a Buddha Bar in New York City, which I understand has now closed. Great club track music. The bar has an interesting activity, a Mafia Club—something akin to a murder mystery night, but the game didn’t happen while we were there.