Hello from Novosibirsk!
This time around we are staying at the Novosibirsk hotel. For those following after us, I would recommend it over the Sibir. It is equal in quality (and both offer a nice breakfast) but much closer to the grocery and restaurants which is a major plus in the winter. It is across the street from the beautiful Trans Siberian Railway Station (pictured above). The internet also is much more reliable and faster. For either hotel though make sure you get at least a business class. The Sibir was nice for the summer as walking along the cafes was fun. In the winter, you just want to get where you need to be. The weather is not too bad though. It is a nice 20 degrees and not humid. Reminds me of winter weather at home. The wind chill does make it a bit colder but nothing most Americans who live with snow aren't used to. I actually like Novosibirsk in the winter more then summer. It is prettier with snow covering everything, the pollution is not nearly as bad with the snow falling and the heat of the summer was pretty unbearable with no one having AC. Everyone definitely has heat in the winter though! That is one thing to know, dress in layers! It is cold outside but way too warm inside since everyone seems to crank up the heat.
We spent the entire day today having medical exams. We went to one specialist after another. Warning to future adoptive families, I had to be naked from the waste up in several exams. No privacy gowns! Being naked in front of strangers in a Russian hospital is not my idea of fun. Fortunately, all the doctors were women so it wasn't so bad. All the exams were very quick, kind of a joke and super easy. That is until we got to the psychiatrist who I really thought may fail us because she thought our family size was insane. For future adopters, we brought our blood work and x-rays and neither were accepted. Don't waste your time. Anna did say it would be good to bring the x-rays printed out (instead of on a disk like we did) with the results translated as often the x-ray machine is broken. But in our case, they were not interested in what we had.
All the clinics and the hospital were run down, out-dated, post-communist cement structures. Their medical equipment was much the same. They do not reuse needles so that is good. It is sad to see how obsolete their equipment is. This area in Russia is known for its excellent medical care. I would hate to see what the rest of the country is like.
Everything in Novosibirsk is HARD. The traffic is terrible so it is difficult to get from one place to another. There is no parking anywhere. The snow plows try their best but there is no place to put the snow once they plow it. They do not shovel walks at all. I did see some parents pull their children on old fashioned sleighs down the sidewalk and it was adorable! I cannot imagine being in a wheelchair here as nothing is accessible and to get to anything you need to walk on majorly cracked sidewalks and up many stairs. I have thought a lot about Clarissa and how difficult it would be to even take her outside here. I am so thankful that we have rules about accessibility in the US!
I have seen some of the most beautiful furs while here. The coats, hats and boots are simply gorgeous! Nearly everyone wears the traditional Russian fur hats. For men, the bigger the hat, the better. It is funny to see little old men wearing enormous fur hats. Not even Texas can compete with the hat size around here. As in the summer, everyone is dressed much more formal then we do in the US. I am starting to realize why Eurpeans refer to Americans as slobs.
Well I am exhausted and going to take a nap before dinner. Tomorrow we go to Oyash to visit Alisa!
Kids, I love you and miss you!!! Be good to each other while we are gone! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Grandma's house. Thank you Elyse and Mom for taking care of the kids!