Wow! Can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. Oh trust me, I’ve had many blog worthy moments and trips… just not a lot of time to actually sit down and write for two reasons… first I’ve been going like gangbusters since January 2nd (didn’t get a full week at home until the end of June) and ADHD. What can I say? I’ve started a few but never finished them… oh look! A squirrel! So after starting this two weeks ago whilst I was still in Moscow, I’ve managed to finish one. Now if only I could go back and finish the three I’ve started and share my awesome trip to the former Soviet Union that would be something!
There’s not a lot nothing that will come between me and my Starbucks. Some would call it an addiction. I prefer “unwavering loyalty to my personal economic stimulus package” (ensuring that baristas can keep meaningful employment) but whatever. As part of my research for any trip, I always scout out the Starbucks locations to prepare myself – is it going to be easy access, a long walk/train ride or God forbid, just how many VIA packets will I have to bring on said trip to ensure my sanity caffeine level stays where it needs to be.
Once I determined there were Starbucks in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, I relaxed and assumed (especially in Moscow) that I would have decent access to my dealer Starbucks to ensure I received my [at least once a day] fix coffee.
After 24 hours of exhausting travel (albeit in first class and can I just say “wow”?! It was well worth the miles spent!), we finally arrived in Moscow. And no, we did not see Snowden nor our driver who was supposed to meet us in the arrivals hall with a sign. After finding and calling the tour company, we were informed he was “stuck in traffic” so take a taxi and you will be reimbursed. So an hour plus and $200 lighter in the wallet, we arrived at the Marriott. I was enthused and decidedly more alert after passing the Kremlin. It hit me – I’m actually in Moscow. Suddenly I was awake and anxious to get out of the car and stretch my legs. My sister was a little less enthusiastic than me but I lured her out with the promise of Starbucks. As I suspected, there was one within close proximity of Red Square which was a mere 10 minutes away by foot.
Of course we needed to shower off the plane funk before heading out. Once we reached the outskirts of the Red Square, I consulted Google Maps to ensure we were headed in the right direction. And might I add, how did we live without GPS before? Nothing is more reassuring (in another country where the language barrier is challenging to say the least) than to know you are on course. We turned left and my sister pointed out some TV trucks. I really wasn’t interested – my mind was set on its goal – so we continued ahead until we hit a literal wall of people. What the..?! Well, I wasn’t to be deterred despite the gathering crowd. I grabbed my sister and said, let’s cross the street and approach from the other side. As I turn around, I realize the crowd had swallowed us up and there was no easy way out. Still, with Starbucks on the brain (after all, it had been more than 24 hours since I last had my dose any), I was not going to give up so easily. Despite my sister’s wariness (she is a worry wart), I was going to get my coffee come hell or high water. We maneuvered through the swelling crowd and headed back in the same direction we came. I scanned up and down the street looking for a crosswalk with no luck. It dawned on me that there were pedestrian tunnels that ran underneath but those were blocked off and guarded by the police. Because the traffic was at a standstill, I persuaded my sister to cross the street – not an easy feat (Flashback to Paris 1993 when we crossed the Champs-Élysées trying to get to the Arc de Triomphe by dashing between the cars only to discover you were supposed to use the underground tunnels for access. She still hasn’t forgiven me for putting her in mortal danger but hey, YOLO!) – only to find that the entire Red Square was also barricaded and guarded by armed guards. I headed towards the Starbucks walking alongside the frustrated drivers and watchful policemen. Despite all her grumbling, my sister stuck by my side as I navigated my way to Starbucks. Imagine how pissed I was my frustration when I hit another wall of people.
My sister said it was hopeless but nevertheless I wasn’t about to give up. Like a dog with a bone, I could practically taste my drink. As I stood in the street surrounded by chanting Russians and horns blaring it dawned on me that I was in a foreign country surrounded by a swelling crowd, and the vibe was definitely getting more hostile. As tasteless as it was (get it, “tasteless” as in I wasn’t going to be tasting Starbucks anytime in the next few hours), I knew it was time to admit defeat and turnaround and head back towards the hotel. Instead, I had to settle for a coke at McDonald’s because their coffee is no substitute for the real stuff. But don’t you worry, I made up for it the next day (and the next)!