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September 25, 2002

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We went on an embassy merry-go-round, trying to obtain a Tajikistan visa without speaking Russian. We also tried to extend our Russian visa. Wasted effort on both counts. Russia doesn't allow tourists to extend visas once they're in the country. With time running out on our visa (it expires Sept 30), we decided to take tonight's overnight train to Kazan. We plan to follow the length of the Volga River to its outlet at the Caspian Sea. There we will leave Russia and enter Kazakhstan.
One of Stalin's 'Seven Sisters' looks into our hotel room. Stalin ordered these neo-Gothic skyscapers to be built around Moscow as beacons of Soviet strength.
Red Square view from the Rossiya hotel. Besides great views, the Rossiya reminds us of a cruise ship, over 2000 rooms, a corridor maze with a bar and restaurant on every corner of every floor of the hotel. It took us a half hour to find our room after we walked through a kilometer of hallways.