That’s just Moscow…

The Aerostar Hotel was a large, square concrete structure, with a large, square, concrete overhang covering the drive up, supported by large, square, concrete columns. And it was grey. Inside was much the same. Things were clean, but it didn’t feel like a eastern hotel, it was bright, but cold. Things were built on a slightly larger scale, not quite large enough to be impressive, but large enough to make you uncomfortable.

Our Rooms were largely nondescript. Bed, bathroom, TV, view of downtown Moscow. Fuck. We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into. We dropped our crap into the rooms and immediately met back in the bar. Coors was the fancy “import,” and Russia didn’t make beer, so we picked Stella Atois, but it could have been anything because this whole place was driving us crazy. After a few beers we remembered that we had a phone number for the local office for our new work, and thought that we should call in.

We headed back up to my room and tried to use the phone. As expected, we had to dial 9 to get out. Pressing 9 made a few clicks, then a buzzing sound. I hung up and tried again. This time we got a sort of beeping tone, not the same as an American tone, and not the tone that you heard from that song on Pink Floyd’s The Wall either. I assumed it was a dial tone. I tried dialing, but two digits in it began a faster, more angry buzzing, and I hung up. After three more unsuccessful tries, I called the front desk.

“Hello, This is Mr. Hancheroff in room, uh, I don’t know my room number.” I was a bit embarrassed, calling myself Mr. Hancheroff for the first time felt really odd.

“Go ahead sir,” said the concierge, no Russian accent

“Yes,” I said, “there seems to be something wrong with my phone, it keeps disconnecting when I try to call my office.”

“No sir,” Said the concierge with just a hint of laughter in his voice, “the phone is fine, that’s just Moscow.”

I had no idea what to say. The phone was fine, but the whole city wasn’t working.

“Can I do anything else for you?” The phone spoke in my ear. I had forgotten about the concierge.

“Um, no. Thanks.”

“Just keep trying, it will eventually work. Thank you for staying at the Aerostar Hotel.”

After ten or more tries, we got the call to work, and had a rotten connection that I could barely hear through, but it was the office. They told us to take the day off, and the driver would be here in the morning to take us to the office. Then the connection broke on it’s own.

That was exhausting. We had no idea what time of day, or what day it was. Pleasant hotel people were surrounding us and smothering us with politeness. Everything was square and grey. We had to get out.

The concierge at the hotel gave us little Moscow Metro Maps. I had a guidebook with a city map in it, and a bunch of dollars. Bob and Paul grabbed some cash, and we headed out the door. Across the street was the bright red neon “M” of the Metro. Both my book and the little map agreed that this was the “Dinamo” station on the green line. The book and map differed on other station names, but the lines all matched, and our line pointed us towards Red Square, which we figured was a good destination.

At least it would be Red, instead of Grey.