June 5:  Novgorod to Moscow

Sam got the Boob Shirt for being a frickin' pedophile.  I escaped unscathed.

On the long drive to Moscow our first stop was a petrol station with an ill-kept menagerie.  It had warthogs, a bear and other sad-looking animals in cages.  They wouldn't pose for my camera because they were sad.

Our second stop was in Klin to see Tchaikovsky's house, but it was covered in scaffolding and thus unphotographable.  I still saw it, though.

On arrival in Moscow we met our guide, the much-hyped Galina, and learned of the biggest snag on the tour:  Red Square was closed for Russia Day festivities.  Barricades and police were positioned at the entrances.  I think it was Matt who suggested it might be possible to get past both at night for a price, but I don't know if anyone attempted that.

Red Square from behind the barricade.

St. Basil's Cathedral.

Enormous Peter the Great statue, soon to be moved to another city.  Peter is the one who moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1703 so the statue is somewhat out of place.

Novodevichy Convent and Swan Lake.

Novodevichy Convent and Swan Lake.

Novodevichy Convent and Swan Lake.  Galina had us check before we left to make sure no girls in the group had joined the convent.  I would have liked some time to try to negotiate trades.

Moscow skyline and 1980 Olympic stadium.

Moscow State University.  Moscow has 7 of these identical Stalinist buildings known as the Seven Sisters.

Galina is a Force of Nature.  She talked about how things were under Communism.  Pretty fucked up.  She warned us about the present-day possibility of being "arrested" for not having a passport--Russian hotels keep your passport and give you an ID card that the police are supposed to recognize, but for want of a bribe they will often take you for a ride anyway, even though ultimately there's nothing they can do.  We did see them hassling an Asian tourist at St. Basil's so the threat was credible.

To avoid arrest, we all decided to stay at the hotel bar after dinner.  But we were getting loud and thought we might get kicked out, so we dared go outside and went to a bar down the street called Albatross, namesake of the game we played in Copenhagen.  The walk to the bar was a bit chilly.  (me:  "If I knew it was this cold, I would have worn underwear.")  As competition had been heating up, we went back to the finger game:

Figure 1.  (apologies to Ruby and the Gipper)

I was not to lose another finger game for the duration of the tour--unlike K2, who did lose again.

Mark and Bushy speed-skating back from Albatross.

Sources told me that only Nancy and Kristian had been drunk every night to this point.  Actually Nancy was the source.  So with my dry day in Helsinki I was stuck in third place, and already had no hope of matching the 21 consecutive days achieved on my first tour.

After most of us had gone to bed, Kristie and Shelley went around knocking on doors, because they (alone) weren't ready to stop partying.  I joined them, and then Shelley went to bed, and the only person we could wake up wake Broges, and then I went to bed.  The exercise didn't feel as pointless as it was.