Last Saturday I had the brilliant idea of going to one of the 3 malls that are just out Moscow's MKAD, i.e. the 3rd ring road. One can take the metro to almost the last stop and then take a mall bus. I had done all my reasearch - and optimization ;-) - beforehand on two of the malls, regarding exact location and instructions of how to get there. I had been to one of them already and decided to try the other. It looked more convenient, as the bus ride after the metro stop was shorter. The web site - in English and with a lot of information - was saying that one would not have to wait for the bus for more than 15 minutes.
I suggested the idea to a new friend of mine, Evelyn, an Irish girl who is spending the year working in Moscow. She found it good and joined me. We met at 10 am and went happily to the mall. Indeed, we did not have to wait at all on the way there. The bus was full of people, but we did not experience any trouble. We walked, shopped, we had coffee and a long chat, had lunch, crossed IKEA at a leasurely pace - I decided on what I need to buy for my new apartment - we had lunch at IKEA - where I met someone I knew (what are the chances of that in a city of 12 million people!!!!) and then got to Achan. There we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the store! I have neven seen so many people in a store, not even in America, in the big supermarkets and not even in Houston's Auchan which was bigger than this.
Anyway, after we finished shopping, we went back to the bus stop to get the bus back to the metro station. It was already 5:30 or so in the evening. Well, that's were the adventure started. Firstly, all the roads as far as the eye could see were totally blocked by traffic. We could see the bus coming, but it took more than 20 minutes to reach us, due to the traffic. Then, there were SO many people at the bus stop! We could get on the first bus but just as we were ready to, someone blocked the door and his friend from behind us started passing to him the contents of two big supermarket carts in plastic bags! The available space in the bus was filled with the supermarket bags and we stayed out of the bus. The lady who was in front of us insisted on staying on the bus. She was half inside and half outside the door, while the driver was trying to close the door! After many attempts the door closed behind her - and left her in one piece thankfully!
To make a long story short, Evelyn and I waited for another hour or so for the next bus, and then the next.... Did I mention that it was drizzling and it was cold? Anyway, we could not get on any bus, because once a bus would stop and open its doors (not all stopped, although they were empty), a huge force - the crowd - was pushing us and we could not fight back. There was no way of even getting close to the bus door!
Evelyn had suggested early on to walk to the metro station. I was not enthusiastic about it, since I knew that we could reach the metro station only after walking on the highway. But after loosing all hope that we could get on the bus with all our bones intact, we decided to start walking. In fact, many people were walking out of the mall and on the highway. We followed them and even managed to clarify where the metro station was...
So, the two of us carrying the shopping bags started walking (THANKFULLY, I kept myself and did not buy all the things I wanted to get, so we did not have to carry that much).... through the mall parking lot, onto the MKAD, at night, under the light drizzle, crossing the entrance and exit ramps, moving in between the cars, which were moving slowly due to the traffic conditions... we were on the shoulder of the highway when we realized that a bus was also moving on the shoulder of the highway, and passed just next to us! Fortunately, there was just enough room for us and for the bus! Closer to the metro station there were proper sidewalks. It was great to walk on the sidewalk, even if it was full of ditches with mud. But, we soon realized that a mini bus was behind us, moving on the side walk!
Our adventure lasted for about 15-20 minutes. We arrived at the metro station safe but very tired! We cancelled all of plans for the rest of the evening and each of us headed for our residences. I collapsed in the bathtub and then slept immediately!
Every time I'll look at my beautiful green handbag and my red snow boots, I'll remember this day!
The sheer number of people here is overwhelming! It is impossible to imagine that simple situations are so difficult here, just because of the crowds.
As my nephew said to me yesterday, as a comment to the letter I wrote to him: "Aunt, when you I read in your letter that Moscow has as many people as the whole of Greece, I fainted!"