We have arrived.
The flights to Ufa were long. We left from Guatemala where I had picked up my Russian visa and flew to Miami for an overnight stay. We were up and out at 3:30 am the next morning for our flight to JFK. A three hour layover there and it was off to Moscow. Nine hours after that and we were in a Moscow taxi, battling early morning traffic. While Viktoriya summoned up the energy to attend an HR conference (for reasons still unknown to me) I slept. Later I had my first bowl of pelmeni (Russian dumplings) while we prepared for our final flight. One final taxi ride and five hours later I was sharing tea with Viktoriya's mother and father in our new home.
It's strange to think this apartment off Mingazheva street in Ufa is now home. This morning I woke up at three am and rolled over to Viktoriya and asked her if we weren't a little crazy for moving here. She said yes. And I agree, we're a little crazy. But we haven't led a normal life thus far.
A little on our apartment and Ufa. We live on the fourth floor of a monolithic concrete building. One side overlooks a snowy parking lot and the other a busy avenue. A trolley passes by from time to time throwing sparks around and illuminating our bedroom at night while young men play music too loudly from their cars. We attend a gym that costs us 50 cents an hour to use and there is a downtown area with all types of shopping. As winter loosens its grip water runs everywhere to big puddles and slipping is a constant possibility. It's gray most of the time.
Ufa is big. Like 1 million people big. The river Belaya splits the city and a lovely park is located near its banks. During summer beautiful flowers bloom there and the entire place becomes very lively. The streets are wide, but the lanes poorly marked which makes driving a nerve wracking experience. I plan on avoiding it as much as possible, and utilizing public transport instead, which is easily accessible.
Our apartment is large by Russian standards with three bedrooms. It stays warm despite the cold outside and the old wood floor lends it charm. The green and pink walls, however, need a coat of not green or pink paint, which we will tend to during our renovations of the place. A wood balcony runs the length of the apartment where clothes are dried and an old chest freezer sits empty. The kitchen is small and cozy and a teapot is always on the stove.
And that is where I will leave you. I expect that much will happen for me to write about in the next couple of weeks, but right now jet-lag and excitement make it hard to write. Stay tuned for thoughts on life here and how we're getting on. Until next time.
Here are some photos, mostly from trips past, to give you an idea of where we are.