Today I went of of the door, walked down the street, clicked the car open, got in and turned on the key! I did it. I drove In Moscow. I went to Moscow University, through busy traffic, crazy counter-intuitative intersections and drivers that violate every rule in the book within minutes. I saw with my own eyes a guy that did not stop on red, and didn't stop at a stop sign 2 minutes later. He was driving a Cayenne, so I guess he was allowed. Not!:) Since I am driving a modest Ford minivan and have no suicidal tendencies that involve traffic, I was just mindlessly road rules observant. In fact, I have to admit, to my own surprise, driving in Moscow was not all that bad. Sure people drive like they never drove before, and drivers are inpatient and aggressive, and the roads are not in a great condition at all.
But there is an universal feeling of freedom that the car gives you, same here as anywhere. You are the boss of your own time. You don't depend on making appointment with a driver, or wether or not there is a taxi available, or walking 30 minutes to and back the metro. You can just count on yourself, avoid the worse traffic if possible and enjoy the ride.
I have to say, I became so enchanted of driving myself partially for lack of choice. We couldn't keep our good and experienced driver, which resulted dealing with some mediocre driving and even more poor social and service level skills. In fact this one guy was bluntly measuring my cup size while I was trying to explain in Russian, for his convenience, the plan of the day. Sometime is just too much. For instance when hubby starts driving on the highway in the weekend with two screaming babies on the back and realizes that the driver left the car with no gaz.
I can almost hear some critics saying "What do you complain? You do have a driver." Sounds great and glamorous, but it's not. It was a necessity when we moved in, now since we could not keep our good guy, because we couldn't afford him anymore, it was just inconvenience.
Sure we were driven around, but I did not even feel like going anywhere anymore, knowing that I have to make an appointment, explain myself for good 20 minutes and as we drive, again realize that I know the road better than the driver which in Moscow is a very bad sign. One wrong move and you can wait for another hour in the Wrong traffic jam.
Fact is I love to drive. Engine on, music on, traffic humming. I am positive that driving in Moscow can be just as much fun, as it was in the USA.
Talking about driving, I am seriously working a more traditional transportation means involving my own two feet. Yesterday, I sweated, grunted, pushed, and even put in a 2 minutes sprint, but manage to finish a 15K run in a bit over one and a half hour. It was a perfect running day, not too warm, not too sunny, very few people along the river at Gorki Park. I had no breakfast and I only slept 4 hours due to the grand rehearsal of the twin night choir, But I did it.