Well it has been a long day. We had to leave the airport early this morning to go to the St Petersburg airport. 105 of us on one flight to Moscow. I can now say I have flown on Siberian airlines. The airport checkin, like all airport checkins these days was a mess. Since we were traveling as a group, we had to do things as a group. Including going through security several times. But we finally made it onto the flight (except one person from Portugal whose reservation name was messed up and she came on the next flight).
In fact let me take a minute and discuss the international nature of this conference. The conference Board is comprised of 16 people from 12 different countries. Those countries are Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Taiwan, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia (2) and United States (3). Most of these individuals are long-time homeschooling veterans or homeschool graduates. In addition to these individuals, there are people here from China, Kenya, Uganda, Austria, Finland, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Belgium, Slovenia, Hungary, Argentina, Ghana, UAE, Germany, Lithuania, and the Netherlands. Most of the international attendees are from the USA. Many of them representing Classical Conversation, Apologia, Excellence in Writing, and the Homeschool Support Center. These are some of the sponsoring organizations and they sent some members of their staff to help provide support and encouragement to conference attendees. Add to that there are six leaders of state homeschool organizations from the USA representing Louisiana, Minnesota, and South Carolina. And then there is a large contingent from Canada as most of the board of HSLDA Canada is here.
So back to today’s events. Once we arrived in Moscow, collected our bags, and wandered aimlessly for a while, we finally boarded two buses. These were to take us on a tour of Moscow before finally arriving at the hotel. Well let me say that Atlanta has nothing on traffic snarls compared to Moscow. After about an hour on the bus and going what appeared to be 4 or 5 miles, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. The tour guides had lined this up and I am convinced there was some deal going on between the tour guides and the restaurant. We had a tiny coleslaw, some potato soup, and a plate of buckwheat with mystery meat (too bad if you were gluten free). For that each person had to pay cash for their meal. The price wasn’t bad, but I bet they were glad to suddenly have 100 people show up.
We then went on a driving tour of Moscow. It is a modern city with typical modern city features and buildings. Although the tour guide repeatedly told us how everything we were seeing was the biggest, best or most significant example of whatever it was in all of Europe or the world. Finally, we got to something that did impress me. We arrived at Red Square and the Kremlin. It was too late in the day to go into the Kremlin, but we were able to walk around it. Also we could amble around the Red Square, view monuments, cathedrals, or Lenin’s tomb. (Interestingly, there were no lines to see that attraction – nor did I bother looking in either.) As an Air Force officer during the cold war, it was very surreal for me to now be walking around the red square and leaning against the walls of the Kremlin.
Eventually we arrived at the hotel where all hundred of us were methodically checked in. A short reception for the speakers and presenters, then off to bed.