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Beau's Journey » 2008 » February » 20

Archive: February 20th, 2008

February 20, 2008: Some more photos from today…

  I am being lazy today with the photos.  Took a bunch though!  I just need to go through them.  We spent most of the day inside the Kremlin.


Inside the walls of the Kremlin.  There are a lot of these churches.  The guide said not to call them


The Golden Domes – inside the Kremlin walls


February 20, 2008: A Fan – A Car – 100 Rubles and Hitchhiking in Moscow

  Soooooo some background for this story.  About six months ago (or a bit longer…can’t remember) I was in Switzerland.  I brought my little fan with me.  I can’t sleep without a fan.  I don’t know why this is.  I am just weird like that.  I found out a few years ago that my younger sister, Dione,  is the same way.  Go figure.  Anyway,  I HAVE to have a fan in order to sleep.  So when we arrived in Zurich I plugged my little fan into the outlet using the converter device that I had purchased in Waterloo, Ontario.  I put my head on the pillow and turned out the lights.  Comfortable…cool…air blowing across my face.  Perfect! 

  It wasn’t long until I started to smell something.  I opened one eye and looked around.  Sniffed a few more times.  It smelled like something was on fire.  So I turned the light on and noticed smoke rising from the fan.  I thought…well that can’t be good!  So immediately I feared that the fire alarms would go off – the hotel would have to be evacuated – and I would be blamed.  So I grabbed for the plug in and unplugged it.  I realized then that there is a difference between plugging a computer in to the European Outlets and plugging a fan into the wall.  A computer doesn’t have a MOTOR – a small fan has a MOTOR and will burn up.  Ok, these are things we learn in life.  No big deal.  The reason it burns up is because the outlets in Europe are pumping more energy than what we get in the U.S.A.  That is the easiest way to explain it.  So anyhoo…lesson learned.  Right?  Wrong!

  So fast forward to this trip – new fan – new converters.  Last night I pulled out my handy dandy fan – and plugged it into the wall.  Now since the last time I did this I have purchased a new converter.  THIS converter is for electric motors.  So my fan would work properly.  All good.  Right?  🙂  Well it would have been…if I had remembered to plug in the correct converter.  So anyway…I forgot.  About five minutes into my sleep I realized that there was a loud noise coming from the fan – it was whirling faster and faster.  Next thing I know POOF – the fan goes off.  I am laying there wondering if this is it.  Did I burn up another fan?  Yes…I did.  🙂  My new fan is dead.  I will never get to sleep! 

  I turned the light on and didn’t see any smoke.  It smelled hot though.  So I unplugged it.  It took me forever to fall asleep.  It was so quiet.  There was no air moving.  I thought a few times that I was starting to gasp for air (all in my mind but hey that is life without a fan).  I tossed and turned.  Once I did fall asleep I actually started dreaming about searching for a fan! 

  So today I figured I would go buy a fan.  How hard could it possibly be to find a small fan in Moscow, Russia.  My first indication that this might be a problem was when the guide (Michael – who has been awesome by the way) said "what is a fan."  I described it to him.  He knew what it was and what I meant.   He thought about it for awhile.  We decided we would revisit the issue later in the day.  First we were going to the Kremlin.

  Fast forward to late afternoon.  David had a meeting to go to.  Joey and I decided to go with Michael and find a fan.  He knew just the place.  It was across town.  So we headed for the subway.  Our first experience with the Moscow Subway.  It was busy.  Very busy.  We were packed into the subway cars as tight as we could possibly be.  People were pushing and shoving.  But we hung on.  Off we zipped…through one stop – two stops – and then three stops.  On the fourth stop we got off. 

  We headed up the stairs and out onto the street.  The brisk, cold, snow flurried air hit us like brick wall.  Brrr it was cold.  We bundled up and headed across the street.  An electronic store!  I noticed some of the advertisements on the wall.  Toshiba.  Looked familiar.  Surely we would find a fan here.  We entered the business and I smiled.  Lots of electronic equipment.  Our guide talked to the man at the desk – he went over to his computer and typed in a few words.  He scanned the screen up and down and then shook his head.  No fans.   He pointed in the air – motioned some directions.  He made some suggestions.

  So we went outside and decided that we were tired.  Worn out from all the days walking.  Michael suggested we try another store.  Joey looked at me and gave me the "I am tired look" and I felt the same.  I thought we might as well try ONE more store though.  We came this far!  So we made the decision to grab a "cab" and go to one more store.  The guide promised us a larger store.   i was optimistic.

  So we looked for a cab.  Now I am looking for a nice yellow car with a light on top.  I mean, that is what my idea of a cab is.  I noticed that Michael was standing near the street with his finger/hand out.  I figured that was the "Moscow" sign for "hey I need a cab".  So we waited a minute or two.  Joey then said – "I don’t see any cabs".  I looked around and shrugged.  Michael then said something to Joey.  I said "what did he say?"  Joey said "he said they don’t have state cabs here."  I thought….hmmmm.  So there are no "real" cabs here?  Michael said someone would pick us up and we would pay them to drive us somewhere.  Just anybody – someone who needed gas money perhaps. 

  After a few minutes…a car stopped.  Tinted windows – dark car.  Guy lowered his window a few inches and Michael said a few words.  Next thing I know we are getting into some strange car and were zipping down the road.  I was thinking all sorts of thoughts.  Smiling though and wondering where this sketch would lead (I was thinking back to Ramallah in Israel – another sketch).  We are in some strangers car – someone none of us know – driving us to some electronic store to find us a little fan so I can sleep tonight.  Yeah that all made sense.


  So the guy dropped us off at this large electronic store.  We paid him 100 rubbles.  He sped off.  Not bad. 

  We went into this store and repeated the same song and dance from the last store.  Michael talked to the clerks – they smiled then laughed a bit.  I heard them say something and look at me.  I smiled politely back at them.  Nodding my head.  Then they went to the computer screen and typed a few words in.  They looked up and down and said something.  They pointed to the screen and on the screen was a photograph of a fan.  It was 30cm wide.  I thought hmmm…is that big or small?  So I did the hand "this is how big the fish was" sign.  Nodded and shrugged.  I said "ummm sure – yeah that will work."  So he printed us out a slip of paper and handed it to us.  He went to the back of the store to find the fan.  It wasn’t on display.  It was in the back warehouse.  Apparently nobody in Moscow would want a fan in the winter – so they keep them in the back. 

  So 10 minutes pass…15 minutes pass…20 minutes pass.  We walk around – back and forth.  Waiting for the guy to come back.  We head for the front counter to see if the guy had brought the fan up front.  So as we were walking I noticed some heaters on the back wall.  I walked over to them, while Joey and Michael went to look for the guy.  I found some small heater fans.  One of them had a fan and heater fan.  It was about seven inches tall and five inches wide.  PERFECT size for me.  By this time the guy was back with a big box.  The fan he had found in the warehouse for me.  Meanwhile I am waving at Joey and Michael and signaling  to them that I had found the perfect fan.   They looked at each other and walked over to me.  Michael asked if this is what I wanted and I said – yes!  PERFECT!!!!


Inside our ummmm "CAB"


Our "cab" as it pulls away


In search of a fan!!!






February 20, 2008: Cheetah out and about

  A long day in Russia!  We spent about five hours at the Kremlin.  We were able to see a lot of the old churches and some museums.  I had a fun time talking to a coin dealer through our guide who translated.  Bought some really cool coins from the post Soviet era.  Lots of fun.

  Cheetah FINALLY made it out.  She has been staying in by the fire ever since we arrived in Canada over a month (or two) ago.  She did decide to come out today though.






February 20, 2008: Light snow falling this morning…chilly

  It is morning here in Russia!  Everyone is just going to bed back home.  Temperatures here are COLD!  19 degrees to be exact with a wind chill of 5 degrees.  That gets one big BRRRRRRRR from me.  Looks like light snow on and off for the coming days.

  The winter storm back home is on track.  Some questions remain as to just how much frozen precipitation falls.  I will have to look at the new computer models later this afternoon.  Looks like some sleet/snow/freezing rain and then perhaps a little rain on Friday.  The heaviest precipitation may go to the north of Paducah.  Will just have to keep an eye on it!

  OK, we are heading out to see the Kremlin!