Russia: Tale of Two Journeys
April 28, 2011
The Hard Way
Ben, Sam, Idaho and the wonderful driver of the morning HM picked me up at my place in Seattle at 4:45 Weds morning. We were to the airport in plenty of time, through security in time for breakfast and on a flight to JFK with no problems by 7:15. Landing in New York in heavy clouds and no views of the city, we heard that Obama was in town and we might have problems with Air Force One. We ignored that as the only real problem was finding a tv with the Barca-Madrid game on it. New York failed us there.
The flight to Finland was delayed an hour because of Obama which made us miss our connection to Moscow on the other side, sending us to the rebooking agent, two 8 euro vouchers to each of us for lunch, and a 45 minute puddle-hopper flight to Estonia before the last leg into Moscow. We landed at 3:30 nd that is where the troubles began.
The bags rolled out in Moscow and all four of ours were missing. We trooped over to the missing baggage desk and started talking with the four Russian ladies behind it. They took our information, typed in computers for a while and finally gave us each three half page forms, all in Russian, to fill out and take to the customs agents for a stamp. First one over with the forms was returned with a shake of the head. Fill them out again (in triplicate), take them over, be returned. At some point the women took our forms over, talked for awhile and returned shaking their heads and confused. At five thirty, Sam finally broke through the barrier and got his stamps. Ten minutes later I followed and finally, almost two and a half hours after we started filling the forms, Ben and Idaho were allowed to pass. There, on the other side, we were greeted by a very patient Kate with a hug and an express train into the city, bagless but with a number to call and the promise that they might show up from Finland on friday.
The Soft Way
Aaron Talbot started his trip in Portland with a delayed cross country flight to New York. Once in the airport, he sprinted from one gate to the other and was the last man onto his direct flight to Moscow. In the most veteran move of the weekend, Aaron parlayed this lateness into an upgrade and settled into luxury class for the plushest flight imaginable to Russia. Three course meals, unending wine, crab cakes and a seat with forty preset lounge options…. Life was good.