SKI Magazine ~ Down and Out in Krasnaya Polyana The story of a complete ski-wimp on a trip to Krasnaya Polyana. I nearly bust a gut laughing at this guy. Unfortunately, I think he represents many Americans. If you find that you are like this guy - please, do us all a favor. Stay home. Don't go to Russia and make us all look bad. He also talks about the U.S. Embassy advising against "travel in an area roughly between the Caspian and Black Seas". He then mistakenly (to my mind) cites Krasnaya Polyana as being in that region. As far as I know, Krasnaya Polyana is near Sochi and the shores of the Black Sea. Technically, I suppose that puts it between the Caspian and Black Sea - the way NYC is technically between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Some of the funnier lines:
"Ask him to pray for us," I instruct Yulia.Athiest country? I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that. Is there any taxi driver in Russia that doesn't have an icon hanging from the mirror or sitting on the dash? He continues:
"I'm not saying that," she says. "This is an atheist country, you know."
I smile indulgently at Yulia when the taxi driver she has hired to pick us up in Moscow pulls over in rush hour traffic three times because his Soviet-era piece-of-crap car overheats as he tells us, "the airport is only one kilometer, it would really be faster to walk."I will say that the connection (or lack there of) of Terminals 1 and 2 at Sheremetyevo is a personal pet peeve of mine. Still, imagining this guy dragging his bags along the side of the road for 1,000 meters is pretty funny. He describes his flight on Aeroflot from Moscow as
"a trip redolent of urine and cigarette smoke, a journey I endure in a kind of modified sitting fetal position while a fat lady in front of me keeps shoving her seat into my knees, a voyage where about a third of the passengers (who ... seem ...glassy-eyed and drunk)"Sorry, I haven't found Aeroflot to be like that at all - no smoking and certainly no urine. I begin to think this guy imagines all sorts of crazy things.
He at least freely acknowledges that he is spineless.
When his chairlift stops, with him and Yulia still stuck on it:
"Why are we stopped?" I politely inquire. "Who knows?" Yulia says. Did I mention I'm paying Yulia good money? Green, American dollars. Shouldn't she at least try to find out?He doesn't have much good to say about the skiing and seems concerned about wild pigs (who knows why - perhaps because he is from NYC). He disses the "apres-ski" food ... apparently he has never seen anything home-made and jarred and canned. At dinner
"How 'bout asking that guy?" I suggest.
He sits in the chair facing us, coming down the mountain. We have been sitting for about 10 minutes or so. He is smoking a cigarette, staring into space. He looks unperturbed, implacable, as if his ancestors had witnessed centuries upon centuries of serfdom and suffering, famine, etc.
Yulia talks Russian to him. He talks Russian to her. "He says he thinks one of the main electrical cables snapped this morning." She says this in the same tone of voice I might use to order oatmeal.
"What?" I say. Perhaps I shriek. I can't remember.
"You have to understand, this is Russia," Yulia tells me. "Power goes out. Things don't work. That's the way it is. People who complain, who can't stand inconvenience, really shouldn't come here."
Yulia, I'm sorry to say, seems to be developing what we in New York City call "an attitude."
"Ask him how long we're going to be stuck here." She sighs, but complies, then delivers his answer. "Maybe three minutes," he says, "maybe three hours."
Alexander, our waiter, tells us that Putin ate here. He tells us that Muscovites are buying up the land around the resort, because the tunnel from Sochi will be finished soon, and property values will soar. He opens my menu for me.Somehow I imagine the scene in Trainspotting - where Renton enters the "Worst Bathroom in Scotland". I'm betting someplace in the Russian countryside has that beat. Heck, there is probably a two-holer in the White Mountain National Forest that has it beat.
"Salad Crab in Love," I read. "Interesting," I think.
"Young Deer in Rum," I read. "Brutal, but who am I to judge?" I think.
"Boiled Calf Tongue with Mushrooms," I read. "Cold Boiled Bear. Cold Boiled Deer."
I ask Yulia to ask Alexander where the bathroom is.
Three flights (down) later, trying to clutch my stomach and stand on one leg, I behold a hole in the floor.
"Nyet," I whimper. "Nyet, nyet, nyet."
The guy ends up with a bad case of the runs (his delicate system can't handle Russian food?) and he goes home and writes this hatchet-piece. Anyone up for an amusing read can go through the rest of the article.