Having sung our impromptu grandstand performance in the heart of the Kremlin's Cathedral Square, we had to fend off a crowd of admirers who cheered us on for encores. Several ladies made requests, and Peter had to politely explain that we hadn't actually planned to sing and did not prepare concert repertoire (note to Peter: next time! They love that kind of stuff over there!!)
Anyone reading this blog who wants a tour guide's description of the Kremlin and all its
As banal as it is, my greatest impression still had to do with the weather. It really seemed that God was pleased; we could not have enjoyed a more beautiful day. As we assembled near the gates, I treated the two Irenes (Gan and Mozyleva) and Peter to ice cream. Eating ice cream is a favourite Muscovy pastime, though, unfortunately, all I could find was the on-a-stick variety. No matter -- it was refreshing. There we are, having just finished our treats. Don't we look fresh?!
At this point, we headed back to the Universitetskaya Hotel to rest up and prepare for our evening. Quite a few people used that time to wander around Moscow, but I really needed to get off my feet for a while -- and I did. Soon enough, though, it was time to get ready for the evening.
I had a wonderful time with wonderful friends -- Egor Schatiloff and the Olhovskys (Deacon Nicholas and his wife Liza), the Papkov girls (that's Ksenia with me and Otets Vadim), the Ivan Larins, Zehnya Hrihoriak and I made many toasts to the events of the week, and to each other. But time and futher itineraries broke the party up all too soon: the Chicago contingent was heading that night by train to Kazan, and Egor and Kolya were accompanying Metropolitan Laurus to Kursk and Ukraine. It was time to start saying goodbye!
The banquet was not over,
but I was not enjoying the speeches and performances by the hosts, unfortunately. Luckily, one bus was heading back early. Most of my crowd took advantage of that; we headed back so that we could do what we really wanted to do: socialize! Time for a quick change of attire, so we could head back to "Durdin" -- the restaurant next door, where one last plate of pel'meni seemed to be called for.
I think just about everybody who had not yet left Moscow came out to Durdin that night. But, again, time went quickly, and some of us weren't ready to part ways when the restaurant started winding things down. My roommate and I had a solution, though: the wine we'd bought in duty free was calling, so we offered a nightcap to anyone who wanted to join us in room 1226.
That was a wonderful little gathering, with folks from both coasts and in-between: my friends Serge Chidlowsky and the Roudenkos (formerly of Boston) represented California; New Jersey offered us the sweethearts of Lakewood, Andrei Burbelo and Vasia Jaroschtuk; Fr.Andre Papkov was all the representation that Chicago/Midwest needed; Irina Andreevna Papkova, lately of D.C., joined in as well; and New York, of course, was well represented, with Nadia Mokhoffa and the Prince Starosta and alto-blaster Anya Pastuchova all joining in the fun.
But all good things come to an end -- and so did this memorable trip. I left the floor attendant a generous tip of kopecks and rubles and kleenex and cottonelle toilet paper and Wet Ones wipes, and Irina left her unused cosmetics and toiletries, certain that they would be appreciated. We boarded the bus on time and prepared for the journey back. Back to reality: we had a funeral to go to (Father Roman Lukianov had reposed on May 14th) and responsibilities to face, loved ones to greet...
My babies and their grandma and auntie greeted me at JFK, and I felt blessed. What a joy it had been to be part of history!