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Author Topic: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don  (Read 2181 times)

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Offline Dr_Doom

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WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« on: February 11, 2016, 12:43:15 PM »
Thursday February 4 2016

It is 0430, pitch dark, and my SUV has been running for 15 minutes to get warmed up. It isn't very cold -- indeed, this has been one of the mildest, most tame winters on record for this area -- but February habits are permafrost to my psyche after 29 years behind the wheel. I am departing precisely on schedule to breach Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport by 0630, 130 minutes prior to the liftoff of the first leg of this journey. A light skiff of snow has come down this evening, and continues to gently drift from the night like the ashes of Chernobyl.

The back roads I travel are a bit slick, especially under the poor boots of the Acura -- all-season radials, which have witnessed a season or two in excess of their capability. I decide to drive cautiously and slow down, something I rarely do. I do not want to jeopardize this trip for the sake of what would likely amount to a time-savings of 3 minutes. Rifling into the rhubarb at this time of night, on this concession, would surely cause me to miss my flight.

The main highway, 11, is center-bare and soon I am ramping off the 400 into Barrie for a Timmie's. Hot Tim Horton's double-double in hand, and the MDX is soon chewing wet asphalt toward T.O. The scant flurries have completely subsided by the time I hit Vaughan, and as I approach the 407 a perfect crescent moon reveals itself -- a silver sickle slung low on the black eastern horizon.

My personal eastern horizon involves a young woman name Katya. She will celebrate her 35th birthday in several weeks, making her temporarily 10 years my junior. Our story began on December 15 for me, December 16 for her, with but a pair of characters: "Hi". Katya had sent the simplest of missives as our first communication on the CuteOnly dating site. I was abed yet awake and immediately responded. When she had returned from her morning run we exchanged email addresses. 14 hours later we would be speaking via Skype. A 96-hour blitzkrieg of Whatsapp texting, Skype sessions, and a lot of getting to know each other led me to inform her of my intent to travel to Russian Federation, Rostov Oblast, Rostov-on-Don to see her face to face. She was incredulous, but excited. That was December 20.

Terminal 1 at YYZ is yet to swing into anything resembling a rush, so this working man is soon checking his suitcase -- a recent gift from friends which I feared may put this new world man into an unwanted limelight in world airports, due to the large red maple leaf and "CANADA" on it. Delicious eggs benedict at Lynn Crawford's Hearth and I'm ready to make the hop to New Jersey. Soon I am leaving vapor trails between Toronto and Newark.

I have just over 4 hours to make my way from Newark to JFK in New York City. I have a car waiting for me. The transit is surprisingly quick, only 40 minutes from open trunk to open trunk. My ethnic Indian driver is friendly, makes conversation about his travels in my country, and comments about YYZ seeming more like India than Canada due to the constitution of employment there. Funny.

Inside JFK I easily find the Aeroflot counter and roll right up, almost 3 hours in advance of wheels-up. I make a funny remark to one of the CSRs, and a cute Young Russian Mother overhears and gives me sweet smile. She is with a bundled infant and, assumedly, her mother. My patriotic luggage checked, I head through security and beeline to the bar adjacent my gate. Five tall glasses of beer later, I am glowing and lowing with the herd as we shuffle into cattle class.

This plane is of the 2-4-2 seating configuration, and I had chosen an aisle seat for this flight. I end up in an outer column, and meet a real-life Hugo Reyes, AKA Hurley. This poor dude barely fits into his window seat; were the armrest between us lowered, his girth would surely be spilling over it. Fortunate for him I am not a large man. Before I sit I take a quick scan for a bald guy in a wheelchair, a spinal surgeon, and a hot chick in handcuffs. Phew! Only Hurley is on this bird, I think we'll be OK. Several minutes later I look down upon the land of the free from the relative discomfort of this cylindrical gulag.

My expectation is to have a couple more beers, whatever feed this airline shovels in my direction. This would put me at 14+ hours of being awake, and combined with alcohol fatigue I should be able to get a decent sleep, to mitigate the jet lag when I arrive in Moscow. Aeroflot has other plans.

The Flight Attendant who faces my direction during beverage service is as warm as a husky's nose. When she attempts to twist her mouth into a poor semblance of a smile it looks like a section of rail from the Trans-Siberian. She's a bitch, and she doesn't care who knows it. We are offered some room-temperature piss-coloured fizz she's calling "champagne". Soviet nomenclature still flies the Aeroflot skies, it seems. I make short work of the carbonated urine and ask to buy a beer. There is no beer on this plane. What fresh Russian hell is this?

Consigned to my ensuing return to the ranks of the sober (I simply do not want to deal with this frosty FA), I content myself with some banter with Young Mr. Reyes while enjoying the plethora of beautiful women moving about to use the lavatories, including the aforementioned YRM who manages to smile at me each time she passes. I have never seen this many good-looking women on a plane. This flight is not even full, perhaps 80% capacity I guess. I make a couple visits to the washroom, both for utility and to vape, before sleep finally claims me. I get perhaps 90 minutes of shut-eye.

Friday February 5

As we approach Sheremetyevo Airport, just about 0800 Moscow Time, Hugo and I contemplate two things: we have not been handed immigration cards to fill out; the announcement regarding our imminent arrival mentioned we would land in Terminal F. Neither I nor Hugo relish the idea of commuting to a different terminal, we have no idea what we're doing. I assure Mr. Reyes she must have simply misspoken, our tickets state Terminal D, and I had researched Sheremetyevo arrival and departure schedules and NYC flights appear to always use Terminal D.

Soon another announcement comes, and again, the FA says we will come in to Terminal F. Oh wonderful. I have a 2-hour layover here in Moscow, and I have read some disconcerting things about commutes between terminals, I hope this won't be a problem.

I am surprised as Aeroflot 101 comes to a halt out on the tarmac. I had thought a large plane landing at a large airport would roll right up to the terminal building proper, but everyone loads into buses. Of course I found hearing a group of college girls giddy and giggling in English on the bus noteworthy. Entering Terminal D (!) Hugo asks "Well, what do we do now?" "Follow the herd."

Moving through Sheremetyevo was surprisingly simple, although somewhat strange. All signage had English translation, but the navigation was cramped. Immediately upon entering the terminal there were signs for Domestic Transfer and International Transfer. I head to Domestic Transfer and find there are several kiosks for "Russian Citizens", a single kiosk with a Cyrillic-only sign that I manage to translate as Belorussian citizens, and a single kiosk marked "Diplomats". Well, what is this supposed to mean?

I see YRM ahead of me in this line, so I say to her "Do you think I'm supposed to be in the "Diplomats" line? I'm just from Canada, I'm not a diplomat!" She points to the college girls gathered there. "They don't look like diplomats, either..."

I pass through Passport Control for "Diplomats" without ado, still wondering about immigration cards. Soon I am given a choice of hallways into which to enter. One had a big green arrow painted on the floor stating in English "nothing to declare", and so I walk down. It is a long doorless corridor with a couple of snake bends in it for no apparent purpose. Emerging from it I am now in the main foyer of the terminal, able to exit. Well, this is nice! In Pearson I'm handing papers to 3 or 4 different people before making it to the exit. I head outside to vape for 10 minutes or so.

I have brought a change of clothes in my carry-on, along with toiletries. I had decided it makes more sense to freshen up in Moscow, where I would have layover time anyway, and likely larger bathroom facilities than in Rostov. I change socks, shirt, and pants, brush my teeth, wash my face. Security is a breeze compared to almost every other airport I've used, just a free-for-all affair with people grabbing bins for the x-ray conveyor and trying to get in front.

My leisurely pace in this airport means I don't wait long at the gate before we begin loading the flight to Rostov. I have a window seat to myself on this plane, a flight of 115 minutes. We are running 25 minutes late, so I hope Katya knows this, as she is picking me up at the airport. She managed to take the morning off work, planning to fetch me from the plane, go with me to the hotel in downtown Rostov, and then head to work once I was settled.

My anticipation grows as I stare out the window during this uneventful flight. Katya and I developed an immediate connection, and have learned a lot about each other these 7 weeks. It has not been stated aloud by either of us, but, to me, the only thing left for us to move to a real relationship is to find if there is a physical connection.

Another airport, more tarmac, and another bus into the terminal. Rostov-on-Don airport is quite small, and it is barely 10 minutes before I have my big grey CANADA case and am rolling into the tiny, crowded waiting room. I scan the faces of perhaps ten people looking for my girl before she steps forward and says my name. She is wearing a thigh-length dark fur coat, black leggings, and her headscarf. I recognize her of course, as I knew I would. I give her a big hug, which I don't think she returned exactly in kind (I can't recall for sure, but that's the feeling I got).

The taxi Katya had pre-arranged is waiting in the modest parking lot. We get in, and are on the road to the old section of Rostov, together at last.

Offline AKA Luke

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2016, 01:15:51 PM »
I hope this doesn't turn into a tale of Doom and gloom  :thumbsup:

Looking forward to reading the next installment.
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Offline MBS01

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2016, 04:15:15 PM »
Interesting start. 
Funny no winter direct flights from Toronto to Moscow?  They used to do it 2 or 3 times a week, but its been years since I travelled that route.  I like to travel towards my destination not farther from it so tend not to fly south to the USA, but instead head to Europe then on to the FSU.  Lately KLM to Amsterdam, or LOT to Warsaw (first European airline to fly the Airbus 780).

Good to hear you arrived back safe and sound.  As to off loading onto a bus this is normal in many airports in Europe and the FSU.  You just get used to it over time.  Not a big deal really as you already have your seat allocation in hand anyway.


Offline WestCoast

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2016, 08:25:58 PM »
Great TR Dr_Doom. Please post some more when times permits.  :reading:
Ipsa scientia potestas est. Knowledge itself is power.   Sir Francis Bacon

Offline Gipsy

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2016, 01:57:43 AM »

 She is wearing a thigh-length dark fur coat, black leggings, and her headscarf. I recognize her of course, as I knew I would. I give her a big hug, which I don't think she returned exactly in kind (I can't recall for sure, but that's the feeling I got).


A good start then??
Bridge is a lot like sex, either you need a good partner, or a decent hand... Woody Allen

Offline sparky114

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2016, 04:54:14 AM »
Dont tell people that Rostov is a nice little airport, been trying to keep people away from the place for years with my doom stories of corruption and money extortion  :chuckle:
Today is only one day in a life of happiness

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Offline Omega1982

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2016, 03:34:36 AM »
Paging Dr. Doom.....    :smokin:


Looking forward to the next installment...   :king:

Offline Dr_Doom

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2016, 12:00:25 PM »
Friday February 5 continued -- 1230

The car is a new-ish Renault, perfectly clean, and comfortable..

The ride to the hotel, Park City Rose, while not exactly uncomfortable is somewhat staid. We chat sparingly, and I am keeping my hands to myself. I want to reach over and put my hand on her thigh, but it feels as though the time is not quite right, yet.

As Katya and our driver make some small talk, I am able to pick out a Russian word here and there -- Canada, work, beautiful -- but not nearly enough to discern their conversation. Katya tells me the driver thinks Canada is a beautiful country, and his son wants to move there to live and work. It's a grey day, weather-wise, and it makes me feel almost solemn as I try to read the various Cyrillic signage adorning the equally non-chromatic buildings we rush past. I am actually in Russia, now, deep inside the belly of this mysterious bear. So strange.

The old downtown of Rostov-on-Don is comprised of a standard grid pattern of main thoroughfares. Traffic moves well and orderly. Extremely large pedestrian areas constructed of brick are planted with trees every so often, and black iron fencing is a deterrent to jay-walking. The architecture of the mostly 4- or 5-story buildings is unremarkable to me, comparable to other European cities I have visited.

The smaller, one-way side streets reveal a less seemly, borderline seedy face of Rostov. Cars haphazardly parked on either side of the narrow streets, honking horns and close quarters remind me of the driving in Dominican Republic from 2 weeks ago. Use At Own Risk. Next stop Chaos. Actually, that's a bit dramatic; people seem to have no trouble navigating this way, although I am admittedly unused to seeing so many cars with large dents in them. Sidewalks barely wide enough for two (assuming the nose of a car isn't poking into them) abut low buildings sometimes adorned with graffiti.

From my time spent on Google Earth, I recognize our approach to the hotel. I pull out some money, ask Katya how much the ride is costing us. She says it should be between 200 and 300 rubles. I give her 300 as we pull up in front of Park City Rose, a nice pale yellow building of 4 stories. She hands me back 100, saying 200 should be enough. As I stand next to the car, Katya is now engaged in some kind of negotiation with the driver on the other side of the car. This goes on for 90 seconds, and now the 2 cars waiting to continue with their day begin laying on their horns. Some spirited yelling at these cars from our driver, and soon the negotiation is done.

Inside the small hotel (19 rooms over 4 floors, no elevator), Katya does all the talking with the cute girl and her equally young and cute assistant at the front desk. I am handed a pen, shown where to sign, and soon we are climbing the quartet of hard-tiled flights to the honeymoon suite. By the time we reach the top floor, I need to get my coat off immediately, before a lather starts to gather; I'm finding it very warm inside. We remark on the rooms each having a name on the door, mine is "Sweetness", in English. It is a nice room, with a hard floor. Almost all areas of the decor where a rose might be able to be found, one is. Wallpaper, paintings, floor- and wall tile accents -- roses incorporated someway.

Now it is time to present Katya with the first of the several gifts I have brought for her, a plush tiger. She had weeks ago taken to calling me her tiger, and she also has a collection of cat figurines, so this is a nice symbolic gift. She of course loves it, thanking me with a warm embrace. She had earlier in the week suggested bringing her evening dress with her, to leave in my room. This would expedite her return from work this afternoon, keeping her from needing to go home for a change of clothes before we went for a nice first dinner together. As she is unpacking her bag and putting away her dress, I quickly and secretly unload the rest of my gifts into the night table drawer. These will be dispensed at different times over our few days together.

We chat briefly, and she tells me the 20 minute taxi ride was 300 rubles. I offer to give her the 100 she should have taken in the first place but she refuses it. Katya is in no hurry to get to work, so we decide to take a walk to find some beer for my room. 

I begin the first several minutes of our jaunt carrying my coat. It is only -2 or -3, and the fresh air feels good, but Katya remarks on how cold it is and that I'm crazy. A couple of passers-by seem to agree with her, noting me. The sidewalks have little drainage trenches in them, every 20 feet or so. On the seedier side streets these look like they were simply cut away with a chop-saw, 4 inches across and maybe 12 deep. On the main streets with the nice sidewalks these are more refined; not trenches, but simply a slight recess made with specialty bricks. Rolling luggage would have no problem with these shallow gutters.

The convenience store, as I would call it, is a nice little market. They have a small selection of fruit, a deli counter, assorted dry- and canned goods, sundry items, basically a little of everything. The liquor section is impressive for a shop of this size. I scan for something with a North American name, and find a few brands I can stomach, deciding on tallboys of MGD. Katya hems and haws over the red wines, and I take a photo of the vodka section, which is of equal magnitude of the section dedicated to all the other liquor, save beer. So. Much. Vodka. We also grab a 1.5L bottle of water, Katya carefully reads the label to determine it is without gas. I was surprised she couldn't tell straight away, but maybe the style of bottle made it difficult to read the printing.

Katya again does the talking, to be sure we get a grocery bag and my method of payment will be okay. I am glad this modest market accepts my Visa credit card, and we return to Park City Rose.

It is yet not quite 1330, so Katya asks for a glass of wine while I make short work of a Russian brew from the minibar. It is pretty good. We are becoming more relaxed with each other now, and the conversation reflects this. She calls for a taxi during my second beer, and by the time I reach for a 3rd it's time for her to go. I offer her cab fare, but she refuses to take my money. Okay, have it your way then, I'm not going to argue with you all day. Another very warm hug (this woman has the most luscious lips, but she likes her some lipstick, so...), and I insist she take the single key for the room, so if I'm asleep when she returns she won't have to try to wake me. There is an ulterior motive to my suggestion, hoping she might let herself first into the room, then straight into the bed. She is to return in something like 4 hours or so.

I have a quick hot shower, then find a package with two pair of slippers in the armoire. As I have another couple of beer and huff on my vape, listening to music from my phone, I realize the cell isn't charging. In order to have electricity in this room, the room keycard has to be placed in a little slot in the wall, next to the door. Katya has the key. Luckily I have a full charge and am going to sleep soon. I relax perhaps 60 minutes, slide on some lounge pants, and sink into the bed, anticipating what will happen when Katya returns.   

Offline Manny

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2016, 12:26:47 PM »
Enjoying your style of writing, Dr Doom. Looking forward to the next installment.  :nod:
I apologise.
And so he should.........

Online andrewfi

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2016, 12:38:28 PM »
If it is any help for Dr. Doom or any other travelers: in all rooms where the key card operates the electricity in the room you can simply pop in any credit card sized piece of plastic - gym club membership or car hire privilege card will do the job fine and won't cause a problem if forgotten about.

Have fun!
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Offline Dr_Doom

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2016, 07:56:38 AM »
Friday February 5 continued -- 1815

I am awoken by the soft click of the door being opened. I feign continued sleep, to see what Katya will do. She quietly asks me to wake up, so I roll over with a big stretch, kicking the blankets off but remaining in the bed. This room is of rectangular orientation, the foot of the bed facing the TV, corner tub, and little table-and-chairs, so I have swung myself round to lay on my stomach facing the room. Katya has had an uneventful day at work. She washes her face then comes to sit beside me on the end of the bed. It is not long before Katya is laying face down on her stomach, facing the proper direction on the bed,  and I am giving her a massage. It is not long before this massage goes exactly where it should. It is quite long before this "where" has been fully explored, and we lay entwined, spent.

After 20 minutes of this naked clutch, Katya has a shower, and I am analyzing the concerns which have arisen in my mind. When I realize what I am doing, these doubts are cast aside. I will deal with them after I am done visiting this girl.

We have a couple drinks, some more talking and listening to the classical radio channel on Spotify, both of us in our bathrobes and slippers, completely at ease with each other now. As Katya goes into the bathroom to begin doing her makeup, I retrieve another gift for her. She is surprised, and elated, as I present her with a medium-sized bottle of spray perfume, J'adore. She had mentioned in passing during one of our many conversations that it is her favourite fragrance.

We are preparing in earnest now, and Katya has put on her dress. I recognize it. She wore it New Year's Eve, seen in the many photos of that evening which she'd sent me. I am not surprised she is wearing this -- after seeing hundreds of photos of her, I know this girl has a limited wardrobe. Still, it is a nice little red number, and she looks beautiful. I have brought dress pants, shoes, nice long-sleeved dress shirt, and Danier black jacket. I look pretty darn good myself.

I had decided Shu-Shu would be the host of our first date, dinner at a nice restaurant. Google Earth is such a valuable tool; I had looked at various restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, checked prices, decor, menus, so easy. Katya had sent me some suggestions also, but they looked like franchises, similar to Montana's or Boston Pizza, except the menus were sushi, or Italian. I wanted something that seemed more romantic. Shu-Shu has a wide selection of the various rolls, and some tasty-sounding dishes. Although the locals may consider the prices high, to me they are on par with what I might expect to pay for a franchise entree in Canada.

It is a good 15-minute walk to the restaurant, through mostly barren side streets. I ask her about this: Friday night just before 9, downtown in a city of one million, where are the people? Maybe because it's cold, she replies. This is not cold, I tell her (not for the first time). We pass through a portion of Rostov's large urban market, the Central Rinok, long since closed for the day, but I can tell just by looking at this sleeping giant that it must be a hive of activity during weekends. Budennovskiy Prospekt is sloping toward the Don River here, and Shu-Shu lies kitty-corner to this market.

We enter the street-level glass foyer of Shu-Shu, and descend a short flight of stairs to the restaurant proper below. An aged Asian lady takes our coats and hangs them in the cloak room, we confirm our reservation, made by Katya this afternoon, and take our choice of table. Shu-Shu is decidedly inactive, at least the part of the place I can see. Only a scant few tables are occupied. I ask her How much should I tip the cloak room lady when we leave? "Nothing, we don't do that here." Mmmkay?

A cute young waitress arrives promptly, and during her quick conversation with Katya I am able to discern the statement that I speak only English. Menus in hand, we discuss what we shall eat. We decide on an order of cold rolls and one warm. When our waitress returns, Katya does all the talking. And talk she does. Katya seems to require a detailed description of everything she points to in the menu, even the beer. It takes an awful lot of verbiage for my girl to order 4 items, but the two ladies somehow come to an agreement of what will be served at this table. I notice it is quite warm in this place.

My beer is OK, not horrid, but then I do not profess to be a connoisseur in this regard, more a swiller than a savourer. The sushi is good. I am very surprised at two things, however: the poor quality wasabi; the amount of ginger. The wasabi is dry, near-impotent, and not in close to what I would consider decent proportion to the amount of sushi. The ginger, on the other hand, is roughly 5 times the size of serving I might expect. It is a veritable fleshy mound, piled high. Katya laps it up, saying this is normal and she loves the ginger.

She is not, however, impressed with the Sushi de Shu-Shu. I think she had really wanted to simply go to one of the franchises, which would be less expensive. She didn't make a fuss or anything of the sort. When we had finished, Katya confirms for me with our waitress that my Visa would again be a payment option in this restaurant. It is. Katya makes a point of assuring me that I am not to leave a tip for the waitress. "It is not necessary, we do not do this." We collect our coats and ascend back up, into the Rostov-on-Don evening.

We take our time strolling back to Park City Rose, walking a different route. There are some nice winter decorations in some areas, some of the coloured light displays suspended above the streets for one- or two block stretches. It's a nice city.

We return to the hotel around 2240 to find the main guest entrance is locked. A couple of buzzes with the button and a slight fellow with bad teeth, friendly enough, lets us in. He informs us that we may use the other entrance which lets in to the tiny cafe of the hotel, if need be again. I immediately take off my jacket as I expect the heat to hit me around floor two.

It is nice to be back to the room, warm enough to be quite comfortable shirtless. I get some music going on my phone, R+B channel this time. Katya has a glass of wine, MGD for me, and we chat for an hour or so. I make sure to not let her glass run empty, and she keeps me on my toes. Katya washes her face and brushes her teeth, I give my pearlies a quick once-over, and we are horizontal for the evening, practicing our mambo. Me leading, of course.

Our second dance complete, Katya showers again. I follow suit, although normally I would just give myself a swipe and be done with it. When in Rome, or the bed thereof...

Offline MBS01

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2016, 05:55:05 PM »
Nice to see you are home again and able to continue.  As to your jacket soon it may be exclusive as Danier has until February 25, 2016 to find a buyer or to wind up business.  They were great a few years ago, but tried to use inferior non leather products and lost a lot of clients.  We have enjoyed buying from them in the past but like I noted the current items do not come up to what the previous ones did.  However, we have got some good items there for ourselves as well as for FIL and BIL too.  Maybe have to start visiting "SAKS" as their new store opened here in Toronto today.  It is their first in Canada as well as the first new one in 40 years so a lot of interest here on TV and other media as well.

It must be a very small hotel etc.  In the past you had to make your way past ranks of security to get to your room as well as the working girls connected with the establishment in the major ones in the likes of Moscow and St. Petersburg.  Then of course the evening calls up and down the halls from the front desk to see if you would like company for the night. 

Looking forward to hearing how things go from here.

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2016, 07:29:14 PM »
Another airport, more tarmac, and another bus into the terminal. Rostov-on-Don airport is quite small, and it is barely 10 minutes before I have my big grey CANADA case and am rolling into the tiny, crowded waiting room.

It's a grey day, weather-wise, and it makes me feel almost solemn as I try to read the various Cyrillic signage adorning the equally non-chromatic buildings we rush past. I am actually in Russia, now, deep inside the belly of this mysterious bear. So strange.

The old downtown of Rostov-on-Don is comprised of a standard grid pattern of main thoroughfares. Traffic moves well and orderly. Extremely large pedestrian areas constructed of brick are planted with trees every so often, and black iron fencing is a deterrent to jay-walking. The architecture of the mostly 4- or 5-story buildings is unremarkable to me, comparable to other European cities I have visited.

The smaller, one-way side streets reveal a less seemly, borderline seedy face of Rostov. Cars haphazardly parked on either side of the narrow streets, honking horns and close quarters remind me of the driving in Dominican Republic from 2 weeks ago. Use At Own Risk. Next stop Chaos. Actually, that's a bit dramatic; people seem to have no trouble navigating this way, although I am admittedly unused to seeing so many cars with large dents in them. Sidewalks barely wide enough for two (assuming the nose of a car isn't poking into them) abut low buildings sometimes adorned with graffiti.

The sidewalks have little drainage trenches in them, every 20 feet or so. On the seedier side streets these look like they were simply cut away with a chop-saw, 4 inches across and maybe 12 deep. On the main streets with the nice sidewalks these are more refined; not trenches, but simply a slight recess made with specialty bricks. Rolling luggage would have no problem with these shallow gutters.

The convenience store, as I would call it, is a nice little market. They have a small selection of fruit, a deli counter, assorted dry- and canned goods, sundry items, basically a little of everything. The liquor section is impressive for a shop of this size. I scan for something with a North American name, and find a few brands I can stomach, deciding on tallboys of MGD.

It is a good 15-minute walk to the restaurant, through mostly barren side streets. I ask her about this: Friday night just before 9, downtown in a city of one million, where are the people? Maybe because it's cold, she replies. This is not cold, I tell her (not for the first time). We pass through a portion of Rostov's large urban market, the Central Rinok, long since closed for the day, but I can tell just by looking at this sleeping giant that it must be a hive of activity during weekends. Budennovskiy Prospekt is sloping toward the Don River here, and Shu-Shu lies kitty-corner to this market...

We take our time strolling back to Park City Rose, walking a different route. There are some nice winter decorations in some areas, some of the coloured light displays suspended above the streets for one- or two block stretches. It's a nice city.


LOVE IT.

Offline Orchid

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2016, 08:05:42 PM »
All drama is between lines.
Great writing, Mr. Hemingway.

Offline Omega1982

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Re: WOVO - Rostov-on-Don
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2016, 04:54:39 AM »
Where's the good Doctor?   

Missing you already. 

Looking forward to the next installment.