Moscow is packed, at least in the tourist areas. It is jam making festival, apparently the first time this has been held. The squares are filled with little wooden huts decorated with checked curtains and plastic fruit, selling, jams, honeys, crafts and pancakes. Even the trees are adorned with artificial fruit. Some areas have traditional jam making displays, although Puskin Square, where we were, had loud rock music, Western and Russian, and a huge sand sculpture. Having failed to buy a BBQ sausage -“nyet, nyet”‘ – we settled for a stale sandwich, then headed across the road to Cafe Pushkin, for expensive coffee and cake.
Pushkin is Russia’s most revered poet, the author of Boris Goudonov and Eugene Onegin. The cafe, which is apparently not as historic as it appears, is the epitome of elegance, with waiters aplenty flourishing menus, and standing around to provide one’s every need – including a wooden stool for one’s backpack. Although initially directed to the bar as we were not having a full meal, they took pity on our grey hair and stiff limbs and allowed us to sit at a table. The cappuccino, although elegant was very ordinary, but the cake, a millefeuille, was divine. We saw elegant pies, glasses of wine and champagne being taken to other tables, but restrained ourselves and stayed with plan A- coffee and cake. As an extra, I bought a postcard, which I wrote by candlelight, using feather pen and ink and posted at the elegant box at the doorway.
The conveniences were down a steep set of stairs, at the end of a gloomy cellar and cloakroom, and were very olde worlde, decorated with large ceramic jardinieres and brass fittings. Even the hand drier was encased in worn brass. An old style lift with decorative grill was in the corner. I asked a maid if it worked, and she opened it with a flourish and waved me inside. At level one, a handsome red-haired waiter, opened the doors with an even more elegant flourish and let us out to return to our table. A taxi was ordered for us, and we were whisked from the fantasy world of yesteryear back to the 21st century through the eccentricities of Moscow traffic.