A Sign-Off from the Motherland

We’ve been in Moscow three days and this is the first chance we’ve had to check in to an internet cafe and attend to our internet communication duties and such. But it hasn’t been our first attempt. Yesterday we got word that there were free internet stations at the world’s largest McDonald’s at Pushkin Square, which we discovered was true, but all the computers were locked to the sites of their partner companies — Nestle, MTV, mail.ru — and no amount of ingenuity or link-following could help us find our ways to any sites of any value.

But the scale of this McDonald’s truly has to be seen to be appreciated. Imagine, if you will, a large airport food court, vendors of various nationalities and cuisines fringing a large mess hall free-for-all seating, only here the vendors are all McDonald’s wickets and there wasn’t a spare seat to be found in the entire joint. I’d have taken photos but I was too much in awe.

My time at this cafe is ticking away and I’ll have to cut this short, but here are a few images that have stuck in my mind from our last three days:

1) Wandering the wide boulevards of an altogether-too-eerie Stalinist amusement park outside the вднх metro station. Monuments of Soviet leaders and shrines to their military might interwoven with gaudy-coloured rides and boarded-up junk food vendors. All this following our attempt to find the *entrance* to the National Cosmonaut Museum and, after circling the building and asking various passer-bys and some psychotic-looking armed guards, failing miserably.

2) Attempting to navigate a series of doors, gatekeepers, locks and wrong turns in the labyrithine apartment block where our Trans-Siberian tickets were waiting in an impossible-to-find travel bureau. Will wrote more on this on his blog (willthedutch.blogspot.com).

3) Conked out from a day of exploring, Will and I reading side-by-side the same first chapter of the same book (Marcel Proust’s Within a Budding Grove), me my copy from home, him the original French-language edition nabbed from the bookcase of our hosts.

4) NO TIME LEFT! More to come after we arrive in Mongolia on the 30th. See you on the other side! 


Austin Andrews is a Vancouver-based photojournalist and occasional filmmaker with a penchant for finding the fantastic in the everyday. Contact him at austin [at] disposablewords [dot] net


  • Mongolia, eh? Did U know the railway tracks there are a wider gage than they R in China? Couldn’t let U go without that vital piece of information. Don’t forget to test the beer in every country you visit. I expect a full report when you get back. And if U remember, could U grab me a foreign ashtray? (New hobby) -LL

  • Hey Lauren and Lori!

    Even though I hate the stuff I have indeed tried a beer in every country, and so far the most palatable have been in Poland and here in Mongolia with the worst being in England and Lithuania. But really, with all the cultural differences between even the smallest countries it’s been the beer that’s the one constant wherever we go.

    And we’ll experience the difference in railroad gauge first hand tomorrow when the train stops for six hours at the border to change axles! Apparently it was originally for military strategic reasons that the track widths are different — it’s much more difficult to attack a country when you can’t barrel a locomotive through the border crossing!

    No blog entry ’til China, I’m afraid. Sleep is a more savoury prospect right now, but take care of yourselves and keep writing! I live off your feedback…


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