Saturday, September 06, 2014

Moscow (Part XXI - Money and a Plan!)


Shabbat ended, and it was time to get money! I was so scared something would go wrong – the PIN wouldn't work, or something else –  that I delayed finding out by first going back to the supermarket to finally get the banana that I hadn't been able to purchase the first time. If I was going to be in deep trouble, alone in Russia with no money, at least I should have a banana for strength!

One specific thing that terrified me was the suspicion that once I took money out of an ATM using my new card, when my Israeli credit card company saw that someone was using the card in Russia, they might cancel the card.

So after the supermarket, I nervously approached the ATM machine in the lobby of my hotel, with the goal of taking out, all at once, more than enough to cover the rest of my trip which, in addition to two days of visiting the offices of The Jewish Agency, would include: paying back Rusina; a little touring; a meal or two at kosher restaurants; a few Matrushka dolls; money for a cab back to the airport; and money to spare, just in case.

The ATM had a limit of 5,000 rubles (500 shekels, or around $140) per transaction. In a panic about having the card canceled, I made 4 withdrawals, one immediately after the other, for a total of 20,000 rubles. I couldn't REALLY afford to spend the equivalent of 2,000 shekels on my vacation, but the idea of spending ANY more time in Russia without access to money was spooking me.

Each time those 5,000 rubles came out of that machine, I can't tell you how relieved I was. I gave 10 rubles to the receptionist to pay for the internet they'd given me for free on my first day, then went back up to my room and divided the cash into separate bundles, one for Rusina, one for dolls from the Matrushka museum, one for the cab ride to the airport, etc, to make sure I stayed on budget and would be able to make it home!

I was feeling physically better, and I had 20,000 rubles in my wallet to enjoy – this vacation was getting back on track!

I was leaving Tuesday morning, so I had two days left to tour – but also had meetings scheduled at The Jewish Agency. So I needed to plan carefully how to see the Kremlin AND the Matrushka Doll Museum AND get to The Jewish Agency for my meetings. Unfortunately there was just no time to see any other sites, including the beautiful subway stations that I'd so much wanted to see. At least I'd gotten to see the incredible Bolshoi (as awful as it was, for me), and the amazing Jewish Museum.

Here was my new plan:
  • Since the Matrushka Doll museum was out of the way, and I needed to be at The Jewish Agency office by noon, I decided to leave the museum for Monday so I wouldn't be late to work.
  • Sunday: Take the subway to the Kremlin, walk through the Kremlin and Red Square to The Jewish Agency, which is on the other side. That way, I could sort of tour the Kremlin and Red Square while on the way.
  • Jewish Agency meetings from noon until 8 pm.
  • Meet Golda Leah for dinner.
  • Monday: Matrushka Doll Museum, then more meetings at The Jewish Agency in the afternoon.
  • Leaving Moscow Tuesday morning.

That was the plan, anyway.

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