"Doh-brey-ah oo-trah," we greeted each other, practicing our Russian. Good morning.
It was a bitingly cold November day, a Russian public holiday. Soldiers carrying red flags marched up the street outside our seven-story hotel in Ivanovo. Unlike the contemporary Cosmos Hotel in Moscow, where we'd stayed the night before, the Sovietskya hotel was built in the 1950s and hadn't been updated since. The cavernous lobby, where we waited for the translators, was paneled in honey-colored wood, and empty except for the check-in desk, a pay phone, and a green sofa so mid-century modern it was trendy again. An art nouveau chandelier overhead had burned out. Even the air smelled vintage.