Russia blog - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Welcome to Russia!

Updated:

WTHR sent anchor Scott Swan and photographer Steve Rhodes to Russia ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Here's a little insight into their trip from Scott:

6pm in Moscow.

No luggage yet. It's our 3rd day in the same clothes. We each bought a light jacket at a mall and still need to get toiletries tonight.

9pm in Moscow.

We're back at the hotel after grabbing a bite to eat and spraying a little video before the rain moved in.

Finnair still cannot determine where our three suitcases (with all our clothes, toiletries and tripods) are located. We have our Russia-based tour guide looking into it. The website says "tracing underway - please check back." We will. So, we are limited to the clothes on our backs for now. I will look at the travel insurance card to see how/if they pay for clothing and toiletries.

"On The Go Tours" called Steve and said they have located a cheap tripod to rent that requires a $600 cash deposit. That may work for our Kremlin shoot tomorrow morning.

We're getting a variety of predictions from "experts" in what/how we will be able to shoot Saturday. One prediction is we will have the run of the place with our accreditation from Ministry of Foreign Ministry.  Our "fixer" says there is no way we'd be allowed to bring a tripod - suggesting we pretend to be tourists. We will know at 10am Saturday.

Tonight, we had a pork wrap for dinner and listened to live outdoor music before wandering thru Red  Square in light drizzle.

Steve's phone is receiving phone calls. Mine only receives emails - when I'm on wifi. Apparently, I didn't hit *228 before departing Indy. Suggestions of powering on/off have not worked. I have "no service" showing on my upper left screen. Steve has MTSRUS showing up on his screen.

Its been a long day (actually 2 days). I'm falling asleep at the keyboard.  Hopefully those suitcases show up tomorrow!

Later

Tonight went really well. Steve and I ventured back into Red Square and captured beautiful footage of the St. Basil church (over my left shoulder) and the Kremlin which are lit up tonight. No rain tonight. No hassles about bringing a tripod. Now we are in a pizza place and enjoying a well-deserved dinner.  We walk home after dinner and are up and at 'em Sunday morning.

This photo is a highlight of a challenging trip. We're inside the Kremlin with a tripod - something many here doubted could happen. It rained during a good portion of our visit which limited our ability to capture extended b-roll - REALLY challenging shooting in rain.

Weather has been lousy. After watching temps hover near 80 and sunshine for the last month, we arrive to gloomy, cold and wet conditions - less than ideal when the only clothes you have is one golf shirt and shorts.

We had some success shooting around Red Square and feel our best story so far is the romance of brides/grooms taking photos near these historic landmarks including Moscow's wedding bridge where couples put padlocks on trees and toss the key into the river for good luck. Pretty good interviews and good pictures.

Since we are still without tripods, Steve rented a tripod at Russia's version of "Robert's Cameras" - only discovered by our tour organizer in a highly industrial area of Moscow. It's $15 a day but required us to leave one of our small cameras as collateral.

We will have to be creative once we head to our next town on Tuesday.

Sunday, we have our ballet and symphony shoots. Those seem firm. Will be interesting to see what these cultural icons think if unshaven reporters wearing golf shirts and shorts. Certainly wasn't the impression I wanted to make (haha!). Plus, we plan to get more shots of the wedding bridge and an outdoor market - weather permitting - unfortunately its a 60% chance of showers - figures.

Food is interesting. We get a good, free breakfast in the hotel (eggs, yogurt, tea, etc) and had crepes for lunch at a food court because everything else looked disgusting.

Tour guide and driver REALLY help. We have a couple of upcoming days without them because of budget restraints. We will use taxis and be fine.

Back to the luggage issue.  The Finnair website still says "tracking continues - check back."  No clue if the bags have been returned to Indy, found at one of the 4 airports we went thru or if they are en route. It's amazing they can't put update - ANY update. We leave Tuesday Aug 27 for Nitzgy Novgorod where we will be until we arrive in St Petersburg Thursday Aug 29.

As for clothes, we will buy a couple of things to hold us. We are going through money on the debit card faster because of our luggage problem that created additional charges (ie; delaying airport transfer, clothing purchases, etc)

Bags arrive! 

Bags arrived tonight! Amazing - this morning we were told the bags didn't make it out of Chicago. By afternoon, we got another call that they were at Moscow airport. Drove an hour, found the bags in a room of misfit bags and drove 2 hours through traffic to the hotel. Moscow traffic is worse than LA.

Earlier today, shot a nice story on Russian ballet and finished our really cool story on the wedding bridge where couples put padlocks of love on trees before flinging the keys into the canal for good luck. We think that's a home run. So, our story count is growing, we are no longer handcuffed technically and we have fresh clothes. Life is MUCH better.

Thanks for everybody's support and prayer. Heading to dinner. Tomorrow, it's a Russian violin maker - our last day in Moscow.

Violinist

It's like something out of central casting. A 78-year-old Russian violin master creating violins.

"My aunt handed me a violin as a boy and said I would become a musician." 

After becoming too old to play, he's now one of the only violin makers in Russia. He worries its a dying art in his homeland. He calls each of his violins his "children" and is happy "each of his 70 children are in the hands of someone."  

Pure gold. The reason I love these pretrips. This is the heartbeat of Russia. Authentic people who love what they do. Really excited about this story. And, our first story with all of the cameras and tripods so we are at "full strength." 

Lots of sunshine in Moscow today - first time we've seen blue sky and no rain. We're rolling! 

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