Well the title just about says it all but I’ll write a little more anyway.
We finally landed and get to customs – and we get to deal with two of the rudest, unfriendliest, miserable customs agent we have ever come across. However, to be fair, it actually started on the plane. You know how when you are landing in a foreign country they always give you the little forms to fill out? Well, apparently it isn’t always. No one in Aeroflot Business Class (you know, those who pay more and get off first?) got one, so when we arrived first at the customs wicket we were rudely told to go across the room and fill one out. Now, when entering China we get a two part form – entrance and exit so you only have to fill out one part at a time, if you wish, which is what we did. Oh no, Kemosabe says the second equally miserable agent – fill out both. By now, of course, any benefit of getting off first is long gone and we now have a whole whack of Chinese in front of us as the plebes have caught up. Sigh.
Then we wait for almost 20 minutes before our priority checked baggage comes tumbling down onto the carousel. (Ed. note: If we hadn’t had to fill out that form we would have had to wait almost 40 minutes for our priority checked baggage to come tumbling out.).
From there it was out to the taxi guy and his “Just wait five minutes” which turned into another 20 minutes before we encountered our first “Crazy Russian” (Ed. note: Who remembers Boney M – “Oh those crazy Russians” – great dancing song if you can dance and can dance for oh, an hour or so). In the guide book it recommends you take the subway from the airport to the centre of town since, depending on the traffic, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 5 HOURS! I was skeptical so we took a cab – until I saw the traffic going the other way. It took us, driving at speeds up to 135 km/hr in traffic about 40 minutes to get downtown. For about 35 minutes of that time the traffic was 4 lanes solid gridlock going out of town. Just to reiterate, we were on a designated highway for only about 5 minutes of that time the rest was weaving through traffic. This guy was out to die I think – and for some reason seemed to be pissed off about having to take us.
Anyway by the time we checked in to the luxurious Golden Apple Boutique Hotel
and headed off to the Kremlin/Red Square it was almost 7:45. They close the gates to the square at 8:00 so the pictures leave a lot to be desired.
The Russians are all on a mission – I don’t know what it was but they all walk quickly as if they are going to a very important meeting – at 8:30 on a Friday night. I am going to suggest that most of them are also either a) highly stressed or b) they have just had sex since the number of smokers was mind boggling – they blow the Chinese out of the water.
Back to the drivers. We saw a guy in a black Hummer on the MAIN street of Moscow and he had to be going 100MPH – yes mph not km/hr. Since we couldn’t get into Red Square we wandered back to the luxurious Golden Apple Boutique Hotel where we ordered a club sandwich (Ed. note: at 9:10), a beer and a glass of wine – the drinks came well within the first 5 minutes. Terry went up to bed at 9:30. I ordered a second beer and waited for the sandwich – which finally arrived at 9:50. It was excellent, however. I guess it takes a long time to make the special.
We ordered a taxi to pick us up at 6am and were at the airport at – sit down now – 6:17 – remember the guy coming in – up to 135km/hr? That was this guy’s starting speed. Terry asked why I didn’t put on my seatbelt – “Because at this speed it won’t matter!”
After we check in, we go through customs again. There are about 10 windows to go through and 8 of them say that they are for Russian Citizens in both Russian AND English. The other two just say something in Russian and they turn out to be for non Russians but they don’t tell you that in English. If the two coming in to the country were borderline psychotic, these two were well over the line. Man we were glad to get out of there!
As we flew in to London the flight attendants – two of the best ones we have come across gave us an entry card and a Fast Track pass to avoid the long lineups. We get to the customs agent, chat about Canada, Canal Boating and how if he was tell us the nationality of the people he would like to throw out of Britain (Ed. note: “Not Canadians, mate”), he’d likely get sacked.
From there it was off to Terminal 5 to meet up with Karen and Mal. They landed right on time – about 3 hours after us. Unfortunately, the jetway at the gate they were supposed disembark from was broken – so they had to sit on the tarmac for a little over an hour waiting to get off. Anyway we are all here, safe and sound and looking forward to a great time on the canal boat.
Travelling is so relaxing, isn’t it.
The Shoe Blog
Friday night in downtown Moscow – why wouldn’t you want to traipse around the cobblestone streets in these.