In the previous entry you may have noticed that I specified that we "sort of" arrived at our apartment.
Truth is we were only at the building - As with any urban apartment there are numerous levels of security. The doors and locks involved in getting from the front of our building to within the comfort of the actual residence surely rival that of any tightly sealed Greenwhich Village walk-up. Anyone familiar with the opening sequence of the 60s era sitcom "Get Smart" can visualize the trials involved in entering our Moscow abode.
To enter the building one must first via keypad enter a code involving a bunch of numbers and one of those special characters. This garners one entry to a small foyer whereupon you reach a 2nd door. There is room next to the foyer where a guard sits. The 2nd door requires a second and different access code - this one involves both letters and numbers.
Anyone who has traveled internationally is likely to have an elevator tale - Russia is no different. The first thing Billie Jo tells me is to "Always use the second Elevator". I don't even bother asking why - I take the advice as earned knowledge and proceed to nudge Billie Jo, myself, a stuffed Suitcase and my carry-on into the cabin which is slightly larger then a phone booth.
As with any other elevator that likely dates back to Stalin, this one creaks, wheezed, tugs and pulls. Even weary with travel (and knowing this is about to happen) my heart skips a bit as the lift rises in sporadic fits before depositing us at the sixth floor.
Billie Jo notes that we are lucky - I give her a squeamish look and she calms me and mentions - no it's not that bad - apparently the elevator occasionally ignores your floor request and takes you do the top floor (10th) and then you have to run through the process of pressing 6 again to return to where you wanted to go - so yes we are fortunate to not have to travel the lift for meore than the requisite six floors.
We have survived our first elevator experience in Moscow but we are still not yet in the apartment. Maxwell Smart still has two more doors to navigate. Our door is at the end of the hall - I note that there is an upright piano sitting outside our door for some reason - I don't ask why. I have traveled to foreign lands before and I know that asking such in this situation typically returns nothing more then a sincere shrug.
Billie Jo takes a key and places it into the lock rotating it several times - she tells me that you must turn it two three or possibly four times depending on who locked it previously.....ok - I reply with a question mark in my head. on the inside she turns around and manipulates the reverse of the lock which is similar to a small gas cap. She tells me to give it one full turn - this way when the next person comes, they will only have to turn the key two rotations (OK? I nod again). Apparently if everybody did this - entry would be consistent and flawless.
And then I am confronted with the flaw in this logic. There are now two doors before us. Apparently the door we just passed through is shared by our apartment and another. So if anyone from the other apartment messes up the sequence we need to deal with the whole 2 or 3 or 4 rotations problem. Couple this with the fact that Billie Jo is sharing her apartment with another person and now we are throwing me into the mix - there could be any number of permutations to the way that door gets locked.
Billie Jo then pulls out a key - a big key - the kind that you see used by an cranky old Wizard in one of those Fantasy Films based on some epic tale written in olde English during the 17th century. Billie Jo takes the Wizard Key, she places it into the lock twists it about a half dozen rotations and proceeds to tell me that this one also goes either 2 or 4 times depending on who locked this door most recently - then Voila! the door opens!
Do you Believe in Miracles?!?!
We have Arrived!!!