After breakfast we went out with little firm idea what to do. We went to a place where we could photograph at the back of the Intourist and so get in a sign [Коммунизм победит] which meant “Communism Will Win”. It was just outside the park adjacent to the Kremlin in which was the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We walked up the road to near the Bolshoi, where there was a metro station.
We decided not to get on and see where we came up, but to go to “children’s world” – largest children’s shop. Massive place selling things from New Year decorations and toys, to clothes. A good deal of the shop was in fact devoted to adults’ clothes. Very dear, very packed with shoppers. The racks of clothes etc are separated from the main flow of people by counters, etc and only a few people are let in to this area at a time. Thus long queues form outside the area.
Saw a DIY radio section. Although they had integrated circuits and transistors they also stocked valves. Their meters seem expensive compared with Russian meters in England. We walked back to Gorky Street and mum had a coffee in a coffee shop near the hotel. Sold only coffee and a few cakes. No seats, tables at chest level. Saw one Russian eating his packed lunch in there. I was very thirsty so I went to the Cafe Espresso on the ground floor of the Hotel for a lemon juice (30p). Then we had lunch.
After this we went up to rooms and picked up hand baggage (we had done packing in the morning, and our cases had been taken to the airport). Gave chambermaid one rouble and key lady a packet of Rolos! Then went downstairs and I posted my silly Lenin postcard to Paul. Stood around in foyer for a bit and then went out to coaches.
Fell asleep on way to airport. Once there, dad changed our unspent roubles (for dollars – it was all they had). Then we went through a desk to check our tickets and we looked through all the baggage to make sure ours was there. Then we went upstairs to passport control where our visas were taken off us.
Then we went into waiting area – much better than Luton! Had a bottle of lemonade and a cheese sandwich and then sat around talking to Beryl and Bob and the other couple. Had a look round the beriozka (same as all the others). Aeroflot had a stand full of free booklets on Lenin, Allende, communism etc. All in French or Russian.
Suddenly everyone started moving so we went to join a queue to pass through metal detector. By now it was after 4:15pm the scheduled take-off of our flight. Passing through detector (without camera – it wipes off film – and without change, pen etc but not without watch – and specs were OK too).
We then walked through a tunnel to a circular building built above the ground. Crowd of Intourist Japanese there. Another wait and then boarded a bus. Mum and I were trying to avoid silly woman with a loud voice (who was at opera). She had already been glowered at for guffawing down someone’s ear.
When we got on the plane (dusk) we were near the last and our seats were behind the wing three together and dad behind us. 5:15pm take-off. A few lights below. ETA about 5:58pm GMT (3 hours 40 minutes flight – put watches back three hours). Found we were sitting in same row as the woman, but on other side of aisle. Went to loo – new experience. Noticed ride very bumpy when standing.
Dad and I and Mandy bought mum a lighter for 65p each. Mum and dad bought Granny Walton a watch, mum gave Bob her watch to mend and post to us.
4:30pm and GMT started descent. (Had cold meal of quiche Lorraine and lettuce and shortbread finger, tea) because I had a cold I could not equalise the pressure in my ears – very painful. Went almost deaf.
At Luton, had to stand around for baggage. Then collected it, said farewell to Beryl and Bob and pushed our luggage into customs “something to declare” to ask about my £11.33 camera (personal limit £10). It was OK as it is taken as a whole family.
Went through into familiar foyer and dad went to get car. We stood outside with all cases. Dad came – on foot. Car non-started called RAC. Packed roof-rack. I went back to terminal and had a sandwich and tea. Finally he got it going and we set off (8pm) dad and I took turns driving – we made no stops at cafes.
1:30am arrived home. Mileage=602. 184 miles each way £7.56 left.