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Day 14 - Moscow, Russia
Man oh man was it ever cold in Moscow. Ziggy and I ran through the airport, caught a cab and made a dash to the hotel. We stayed at the Metropol Hotel. It was such a change from where we stayed at in Minsk. The legendary Moscow's opulence and hospitality can be found at the Metropol. Not surprisingly, over the years the Art Nouveau Hotel Metropol had welcomed political figures and international celebrities alike. Now, they have me and Ziggy.

I wanted to leave my backpack in the room, but because it was so cold, Ziggy wanted me to bring it along so I could carry her. She didn't like the cold or the snow. We asked the Concierge where a good place to get something hot to drink and he told us that if we wanted what millions of Russians enjoy everyday, that we had to get a Moscow Hot Chocolate.

So we headed out the door down to this place the Concierge. Sitting at the table awaiting our Moscow Hot Chocolate, we noticed several people staring at us. Then they all started whispering in Russian. As if we could understand Russian. Anyway, after a little while, they bursted out in laughter. So I went over to see if anyone spoke English. One lady did so I asked her what was so funny.

It seems that the fat lady that was on the bus was this ladies cousin and she had heard about her sitting on Ziggy and getting goosed by Ziggys' hat. We all had a good laugh.

They brought our dinks over and I have to tell you, they were really something else. After we finished, I noticed Ziggy was acting really funny. I thouhgt she was just showing off by standing on her head. I told her lets go visit the Kremlin and instead of hopping in by backpack, she ran out the door right smack dab into a snowplow.

After I got her, I went back inside to get the recipe for that Moscow Hot Chocolate. This is hot chocolate with vanilla-flavored vodka and amaretto. It explains why Ziggy was acting strange. It keeps you warm on a cold day. Try it topped with whipped cream! Here's the recipe!

Moscow Hot Chocolate

1 fluid ounce vanilla flavored vodka
3/4 fluid ounce amaretto liqueur
1 tablespoon instant hot chocolate mix
4 fluid ounces hot milk

Into a coffee mug, pour in the vanilla vodka, amaretto, and add the hot chocolate mix. Pour in the hot milk and stir to blend well. Enjoy!

Because it was so cold, we decided to eat at the restaurant in the hotel. It turned out to be a good idea becuase the temperature dropped below zero. One of the dishes we had was Stuffed Squash and it really hit the spot. Here's the recipe.

Stuffed Squash

3 large squashes (any type but about 2 inches or more in diameter).
2 large carrots.
2 medium size onions.
1 lb of any meat(I recommend 1/2 lb of pork and 1/2 lb of beef).
1 large egg.
Salt and pepper to taste.
2 table spoons of butter.
1/2 cup of sour cream.
2 table spoons of tomato paste

Cut the squash into 1 inch thick rings.

Remove the seed part making the holes inside the squash rings. Rings should have 1/2 inch thick walls. Ground the meat or get the meat already grounded. Boil one of the carrots, ground it with one fresh onion, and mix it with grounded meat.

Beat one egg into this mixture, add salt and pepper, and mix it til the mixture or stuffing is smooth. Fill the ring hole with obtained stuffing and put all the stuffed rings into a dip pot. Grate the second carrot and dice the second onion. Melt the butter in a dip pan.

Roast grated carrot and diced onion. When they are browned add sour cream and tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup of hot water. Stir over the medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then pour the sauce into the pot with stuffed squash.

Put the pot into a 350 degrees oven for about 30 minutes or till the meat is fully browned. The time will vary since different meats require different time to cook through.

Buon appetito!

All during dinner, Ziggy and I were discussing how super our trip down south to Athens, Greece was going to be tomorrow. The warm breezes. The beach. The sites to see and the food. We couldn't wait. So after dinner, we got some much needed sleep. I woke up at 6am and Ziggy was already to go. On the way to the airport, she asked if we could stop off and pick up some Moscow Hot Chocolate to go. Of course, I said, "uh uh no way".

There's plenty to see and do in Athens tomorrow and Ziggy gives me a special show at the Acropolis Theatre. She's really into the American Idol. She's more than just a cat to me.

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