Sunday, August 2, 2009
July 4th - July 6th. Traveling to Vlad
At 10:15am we were on a plane headed to Atlanta out of Tennessee (July 4th - our Independence Day). Our first flight was full, and uneventful. We had a 5 hr layover in Atlanta so we had lunch at TGI Fridays. We left Atlanta at 4:30pm to head to Moscow. This was another full flight, but an overall positive experience. The flight was 10 1/2 hours and we were able to rest a bit. When we landed in Moscow, we went through Passport Control and Immigration. It was as we had heard - long lines and pushy people. All our luggage arrived safely, and we were met by our driver, German, just outside the double glass doors.
We had decided to go directly to the other terminal and just wait out the 8 hr layover in the terminal, but German talked us into staying at the 3 star SVO for around $100 US. After we arrived at the hotel, German advised us he had a prior engagement and could not be available to take us to the airport. He drew a map and told us to get on the 6pm shuttle. We went to our room, laid down, and slept for 4 hrs straight. I really thought that our anxiety would be too high to sleep, but we were both out like a light. We woke up, showered and changed into nicer clothing in hopes we would get to see the DOE when we arrived into Vladivostok, as we still did not have a formal appointment time.
Funny side note! As we left our room, the Maid asked if we were 'Finnish'. Bill said, "no, we speak English". It was really funny because she wanted to know if we were finished with our room, not if we were from Finland! We both got a laugh out of that!
We made our way down to where the shuttle was, and the driver appeared after about 30 minutes. We told him we needed to be taken to the domestic terminal, and he looked at us like we had 2 heads. After we think we got our point across, we loaded up and were on our way. He dropped off another couple at an airport, and made them walk in because it was too busy to drive in (or at least that is what we understood), but he didn't tell us to get off the shuttle. We had no idea which airport this was, so we just stayed on. After a certain point, we wondered if we were on a tour bus to Red Square because we were thinking it was just 5 minutes away - but eventually, we were dropped off and went into the airport.
When we were finally in the airport, we looked at the flight information screens and it told us where to check in (1st in Russian, then in English). We went through the Security check point prior to checking in. They had blue footies and people were putting them on, so we just followed the crowd and it worked (when in Rome...)! We made it to the Aeroflot counter and the Attendant didn't seem to speak English, so we blindly handed her our passports in hopes she didn't send us to Korea. When she was placing the luggage stickers on our bags, she stopped abruptly and suddenly announced "no, over the weight limit". We both looked at each other in disbelief! How could this be? We weighed the bags at home and we were okay. I started to explain our situation (what Bill calls "argue"), and she smiled. It was a joke. I considered telling her that her joke wasn't funny, but I knew Bill would not have approved. We went up to the gate and waited.
During the wait, we decided we were hungry. We walked around to find some food and finally decided on something that was recognizable - a baked potato. Bill grabbed 2 waters out of the cooler and I ordered the potatoes. This was interesting, because she had no clue what I was saying, and I had no clue what she was saying. Finally, I just said 'da' to whatever she was offering. Luckily, she brought out a baked potato and kept wanting us to put fish topping on it. Bill finally acquiesced to a sausage, mustard, ham, and something creamy topping, and I agreed to something green and creamy. We sat down to eat and both liked the potato surprise. We were starved and thirsty. When I opened my water, I took a huge drink and started to choke. Water tried to come out of my nose! It was carbonated!! That was a surprise, and of course anything carbonated is a surprise when it starts to come out of your nose. Bill grabbed carbonated water instead of still water. This was funny moment #2 - well, at least Bill got a laugh out of it.
When Aeroflot loaded we were hoping we were on the right flight because they only announced it in Russian. We were thinking if they kicked us off, we were headed the wrong direction. After lots of pushing (LOTS of pushing), mass chaos, shuttle rides, more pushing and about 30 minutes, we were on our flight and seated. This was another full flight that was overall non eventful. My seat was broken and Bills TV monitor was frozen, but overall it was good. Some of the staff spoke a bit of English, and the Pilot 1st made announcements in Russian, then in English.
Just over 8 hours and we touch down in Vladivostok!