A few hours later, well, 8:30 the next evening (Did I tell you the train ride was 28 hours? The train ride was 28 hours.), Max, our good friend, was there to meet the train and help with the tons of luggage. My photographer friend, Arthur, was waiting, also, to go photograph the Moscow nightlight sites, while everyone else was off to the hotel. (Ok, it’s not so much that I wanted to take pictures of Moscow, at night, in below freezing weather, but, I’m old, I have a bad back, I have a bad attitude, I just didn’t want to move all that stuff, again.)

Christmas morning, we started off to IKEA. Man, you oughta see the Moscow Ikea. It makes the Houston store look like, well, a little store. Anywho, I digress… We shopped for pillows, duvet stuffing, sheets, towels, pots, pans, dishes, tea kettles, knives, spatulas, and all the other things to make a home for the 10 bed dorm at the women’s shelter. We saved the best for last… McDonald’s! Obviously, only in Russia would a sane man (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know) put the words “best” and “McDonald’s” in the same sentence. Vladimir or bust!

Thank God for friends, really. Uri, Lena’s husband, met us at the Hotel Vladimir to unload the bus. Wait, could I have been wrong? Hmmm… I guess it is possible he was there to get his beautiful wife we had stolen from him 5 days earlier. Nah! He came to help. Whatta guy! Anyway, we could use the help moving the playroom, dorm supplies, kitchen, Barskoe, and the Children’s hospital stuff to the 4th floor.

Hey, this hotel actually has an elevator. And, AND!!! Unlike typical Russian elevators, in older hotels, this one is full size! Many have two-passenger elevators. One passenger, if you have a suitcase. Really. If two of you get in facing the back, you will be facing the back when the door opens on, or near, your floor. Really.

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