Dear Nonna had assisted our journey to this point with a hand-drawn map and hand-made gestures. This directed us to the local bus stop. I had counted out my money and she had checked it (How old am I? I fear I have regressed to infant level) I clutched my Robles in my sticky palm and waited anxiously for the number 19 bus. Ah, here it was. Dave and the rest of the group surged forward. I was a little slower and found myself turned into a door sandwich. Like a maggot in an angler's lunch box, I wriggled and wriggled. With a final heave I launched myself inside and clung on to the nearest pole (note this does not say Pole. I will do many things but clinging onto a stranger is not one of them.).
An olde English tradition still lives on the buses here - the clippie. She can't always get to the customers owing to the crowd. So, the customers help her. One by one they pass the money along with a 'please' and a 'thank you'. They could be saying 'Why don't they get a bigger bus?' but their facial expressions indicate otherwise. Then the conductress sends the ticket on its homeward journey in reverse order.
So, that was how we arrived here. After turning the map 360 degrees several times - he is a Queen's Scout - we headed off in the heat. I had my umbrella in my pocket. Nonna's daughter had predicted rain. It never happened. Oh for my sun hat. But I did have the flimsy scarf bought on the market in Moscow. I transformed myself into Princess Grace of Monaco with trailing scarf and sunglasses. (One is entitled to dream)
Hubby was right. As he is so fond of telling me, he always is. We visited all the Churches and museums as laid down in the guide book. We purchased and drank the bottled water as laid down by Nonna as we wandered from one sight to the next. The churches were elaborately decorated and people of all ages were coming to worship. Dave found this so different from his previous visit in the 80s.
Religion is definitely on the up here.
Having had our fill of olde worlde things I needed to satisfy my Internet withdrawal, but you have read that already.
We lost count of the number of weddings we saw. The brides wore a variety of dresses and the grooms a variety of expressions. Need I say more.
We headed for 'home'. Nonna was wearing a frilly, lacy contraption around her knee. It was holding a cool pack to ease her arthritis. I noticed Dave quickly avert his eyes. It was not until the next day that he thought her frilly underwear had slipped!! Oh I love him.
The ever-young looking daughter and nephew asked if we would like to visit the city tower known locally as the Beer Can. He drove us into the city and casually parked up. I looked around for a meter. No need. It is still free there. If the roads were better, I would bring the Motorhome. We soared up 53 storeys high. The view was spectacular and various buildings were pointed out, including the KGB secret centre. Not so secret now. One romantic had arranged for large letters to be placed on one roof. When he took his girlfriend up the tower, she answered 'Yes' to the words 'Will you marry me?' Big sigh everyone please.
Nonna cooked traditional Russian supper of buckwheat with sausages, followed by pancakes with fried fruit. Afterwards she burst into an impromptu concert of Russian songs, smiling and nodding as she sang. She waved her arms for us to join in. We hummed along then gave renditions of 'Loch Lomond' and other Scottish airs. We couldn't remember all the words so we added a few of our own. Hope she didn't notice.
Our final piece of entertainment came from the nephew. He showed us a small video called 'Scots Flat'. That had us rolling about with laughter. Look for it now on 'You Tube'. Voice activation will never seem the same again!!