We arrived in Moscow on a mid-March morning, some 4 days prior to the Crimean Parliament's announcements (on referendums, accessions and allegiance).
Our cabbie from the airport was rather despondent (on Ukraine, the Olympics, the seething city traffic). The Kremlin was deserted. With no ripples of the political coup dancing on the world's stage, the skies were brilliantly blue.
Muscovites drank champagne in the Red Square and carved figure of eights on the ice rink installed in the shadow of St Basil's. Armed guards created nonsensical barricades with old iron gates. Fur hats posed scantily against the sky-scape.
I fell rather in love with Russia; it's eccentricities, sheer scale and vivid historical presence.