Today we left Moscow to drive to our last city in Russia, Veliki Luki. But before leaving Moscow I must tell you about how expensive it is to live in Moscow. A studio apartment in a Krushchev style building sells for approximately $130,000 US. This would be a 300 square foot apartment which includes a tiny kitchen area and a bathroom. (This is smaller than a Coach House room at Abigail’s Hotel). Real Estate in the center of Moscow in a nice building costs $20,000 to $25,000 US for one square meter. That converts into $2,500 to $4,000 US per square foot. Which means that a 300 square foot studio apartment would sell for 1 million dollars! The average family has one child and lives in a 400 square foot apartment with one bedroom, one bathroom and kitchen/living area.
We managed to collect ourselves and leave the hotel in Moscow by 11:30 a.m.. We were not in a hurry because John, our guide had explained the previous night that our hotel in Veliki Luki would not have any hot water because the heating system was shut down. These are the huge steam pipes that bring the heat to the buildings. They were not turned on yet so there would not be any hot water in our rooms. Our plan was to arrive late in Veliki Luki and leave early. As we drove out of the city we had a good laugh at the parking by the citizens of Moscow. Cars park behind other cars, so if the driver of the first car wanted to leave they would have to wait until the car behind them leaves before they could move. Obviously there are more cars than the city can handle because they park anywhere, on sidewalks, sideways and behind one another!
We drove for an hour and we were still in the city of Moscow. I believe there are 13 million people in Moscow and it goes on forever. For lunch we stopped at another truck stop. We could tell we were getting closer to the border of Russia as everything was starting to look rundown, including this truck stop. We all figured french fries was a good bet because they are deep fried! Farm fields were now weeds and villages looked very poor. By the time we arrived at Veliki Luki with a population of 104,000 people, it was 7:30 p.m.. The city looked pretty rough, lots of Krushchev apartments, older cars, some unpaved roads and very few houses. The houses looked rundown and unkept. Our hotel was also the Communist style with a small rickety elevator that Russ and I managed to squeeze into and rode to the 4th floor. Only one side of our hallway had baseboards. I was not looking forward to seeing our room! But to our surprise this was the biggest room we have ever had in Russia. It was completely renovated. There was an eight chair dining room table, a living room with a huge TV, leather couch and two leather chairs plus two bedrooms! All for just me and Russ. Everything was new, carpets, furniture and paint on the walls plus we had hot water!! You just never know what to expect when touring in Russia.
Dinner was lots of fun. We sat outside on a balcony (the weather was still warm and beautiful), overlooking a river. Gail was into her paralyzers (she taught the bartender how to make them and he is going to add it to his bar menu). We played crib and toasted Russia good-bye as tomorrow we go to the border!