I ran into a couple in the Frankfurt airport traveling with two small sisters. The girls were dressed in matching outfits. I laughed, and told them that I used to do the same and am now accused of “completely mortifying” my youngest. She is probably right – AND – so was I. She could disappear in a nanosecond with no warning. May she have children every bit as wonderful herself one day!
Tonight, I landed back in the hotel with feet so tired and sore I could not imagine how to get up again and find a restaurant. Everything is so beautiful here that it is hard to stop – and they don’t seem to believe in benches with a view…they want us to keep moving. It works.
Around 8pm I decided that something had to be done. Lunch was one of those perfect European ice cream cones that is 50g big and 3 days of flavor…raspberry strawberry…exquisite…but it was really time for a MEAL.
Then I asked for help at the desk. The lovely girls who work here seem pleased that I think their English is just fine, so they are very kind. Just as we were speaking a young couple came in and they all had a conference on where to send me for a “good, solid Russian meal.”
The solution involved taking the bus or the street car. I was startled to understand the number 22 in Russian from my days of trying to learn Czech…but there it was!…dva cet byet! The street car conductor and driver were adept in stupid-tourist-hand-signals — which I now read fluently. It cost me a whole dollar to save my feet another hour of walking – and I finally finally found the street signs and numbers! Not one wrong turn!
The restaurant objected that I had no reservation – I begged charmingly and said I would sit anywhere and be happy to wait if necessary – and again – Aladdin’s cave magically opened….
…why, oh why, did restaurants with chess sets and playgrounds and blankets outside not exist 15 years ago? I could not stop smiling. The lovely people also rent bicycles. Then I went to the bathroom (we ALWAYS had to check out the bathroom!) and look what I found!!!
Not just one little stool, but two – and stickers on the soap dispenser!
I confess…I also bought toys today. This was one of my favorite parts of traveling alone when the girls were little. I’ve decided that all of the grown ups I love also love toys, and some of them even have children, so I am back to the toy section. It is GREAT!
I bet you thought I was going to talk about the Hermitage or the great food I had for dinner or the Art Nouveau architecture…well…those things were great – but the thing that keeps blowing my mind lately is that we are actually getting better at treating families like great human beings…and that makes me really, really happy.
By the way, on your way out, there is a photobooth for happy memories, and a couple of huge blackboards for some happy graffiti…the Restaurant’s name is Tesla – their sign says it in English – and the food was terrific – fried pumpkin with sage and fishcakes for dinner, masala chai, smoked salmon on potato pancakes, beetroot and apple salad with a very mild creamy goats cheese, and Russian beer.
I wrote a bunch of postcards while waiting for my food so I had very good company to chat with – and there will be bundles of happiness arriving by mail in due course. Now I know tomorrow’s quest…postage stamps! …and back to being a grown up for a few days at the conference which brought me here.
It will be my great pleasure and privilege to do so.
(but you have got to love those stickers….)