Be a ‘Rockstar’ in Moscow

Welcome to the new VIP Lounge in Moscow Sheremsomething Airport, invitingly called “The Rockstar.” Great! Will it be posh leather chairs and sofas, with soft throw pillows to rest our weary heads? A buffet of Russian caviar and smoked fish? Smiling, helpful people to wait on our every need? Think again.

When you first enter The Rockstar you are face to face with a woman who was a former guard at Lubyanka Prison, during the heyday of the KGB. Maybe they mean Rockstar as in “working on the rock”? One possible reason to call this place Rockstar might be the “Jetsons” shaped leather chairs (all four of them) in the eating area.

George's pilot chair?

George’s pilot chair?

It certainly cannot be the entirely uncomfortable hard sofas around the room. They are okay for short sleeps but terrible for sitting. 

If it looks hard and uncomfortable, that's only because it is.

If it looks hard and uncomfortable, that’s only because it is.

The two giant fish tanks with bottom feeders and ugly long fish (2 per tank) aren’t rockstar material, or are they? Not being a rockstar, maybe I’m wrong.

The fish actually look friendlier than the people!

The fish actually look friendlier than the people!

I’ll study the people. No, there is a dearth of smiling people here. What’s up with that? Oh, wait, we’re in Moscow!

While Terry was in the shower, this woman sat down on the couch she had been using. After glaring at me for having the gall to use the electrical outlet, I didn't have the nerve to say anything to her.

While Terry was in the shower, this woman sat down on the couch she had been using. After glaring at me for having the gall to use the electrical outlet, I didn’t have the nerve to say anything to her.

We have been in lay-over for 3 hours and I’ve planned to have a shower to make the second and longer part of the flight more enjoyable. I go up and ask for the key. “Are there towels in there?” Towels? “Yes, like in fat fluffy soft white ones like rockstars use—you know.” No, no towels. Miss Unsmiling makes a show of opening up a couple of drawers of her filing cabinet to show me she has no towels there, then goes to the back room and returns with a brand new package of paper towels! To be fair, they are a fairly soft variety for paper towels, the kind that stack in dispensers. The good news is that they are kind of tacked together so that when you choose one, about 20 roll out which is just about enough for one leg and one arm. Quite disappointing since the shower itself was beautiful, the biggest we’ve seen since leaving China with a brand new rainforest shower-head! (Ed. note: One could turn around in it without worrying about bumping the tap and either turning it off or to scalding.) What the heck, I think, this will be great! I’ll have a long, hot shower and get the blood moving again. Again, disappointingly not a rockstar experience. Warm is okay though and I did feel better afterwards although time was lost in drying.

Just because it looks a little splashy, doesn't mean a thing. Food was awful, furniture uncomfortable etc. etc.

Just because it looks a little splashy, doesn’t mean a thing. Food was awful, furniture uncomfortable etc. etc.

You could, however, take a monster bottle of water with you to the plane.

You could, however, take a monster bottle of water with you to the plane.

Geoff has just gone to ask for the key to the shower. I wonder how many towels he needed.

Hmm… I guess Terry had a different experience. It was obvious the blond at the front desk wanted to come in and dry me off – she kept making little comments to her co-worker who kept looking up at me and smiling at what the blond said. Terry also used most of the warm water. And have you ever tried to dry your back with paper towels?

Now, our pal Ken raves about all the fabulous lounges in airports he visits around the world. Well, he hasn’t visited the Jazz Lounge in Terminal D in Moscow as we did on our way out. I always thought that you could make up for the cost of business class tickets with a little, gourmet snack and a glass of wine before taking off. Well the liquor is no problem at Jazz – lots of variety of possible libations. The snack, well yes it would be light, since it is just barely edible. Lots of small pastry type things with suspect ingredients. And who wants any drink you want at 7am anyway? Then again, the furniture is so uncomfortable that you don’t want to linger anyway.

He also hasn’t visited the Alitalia Lounge in Terminal 3 at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome either. After going up and down several flights of stairs, we finally descended into what felt like the bowels of the terminal. Now I figured that it being the home of Alitalia, they would pull out all the stops. Hah! Italy – cheese heaven. Rome Airport – where cheese goes to die. Terry firmly believes that the cubes of ham were Spam. The mini sandwiches were dry – on the outside. The drinks were free though – all you had to do was put up with the surly staff who resented having to serve you.

Finally, he clearly he hasn’t visited the Rockstar at Terminal F in Moscow with all its failings, as Terry has so well documented. (Ed. note: Perhaps we should have had a hint when we went to the “Classic Lounge” and the two handles on the door were taped shut with packing tape.) To be fair, however, we did arrive at about 5 am so food wasn’t an important consideration for the Russians. As they arrived over the next few hours they consistently went straight to the bar. Two couples were travelling together – not unlike the MacPhails and the Watts. Unlike the latter foursome, however, between 7am when they arrived and 7:30am when they left, they each consumed 4 glasses of white wine. When the bartender started this morning at 8 am, I saw him uncork a case – yes 12 – bottles of red. You don’t want to keep these Russians waiting! (Ed. note: Before he got there everything was just out on the counter for self serve. I wonder how many times the guard/receptionist had to put bottles out through the night?) I have never seen so many people drinking so heavily at 8:00 in the morning – or any other time before, say, 7pm.

One of the other benefits of flying business class is that they let you know in the lounge when you can go down to the gate and board “at your leisure”. Again, Hah. All of the announcements in Rockstar were in Russian – no English or Italian or French for them. When we figured it was about time to go, Terry asked at the desk. Oh yes, they are already boarding we are told. Off we go.

By the time we get there they are still not loading - they have a man in a wheelchair to load first. Then it is every person for themself. Notice anything here? Look at the space between the silver wall on the left and the glass wall on the right. That is the gate! People are crammed in coming from both directions.

By the time we get there they are still not loading – they have a man in a wheelchair to load first. Then it is every person for themself. Notice anything here? Look at the space between the silver wall on the left and the glass wall on the right. That is the gate- between the silver column just ahead of Terry and the next column. People are crammed in coming from both directions. Planning was apparently not the architect’s strength.

If you come from this side, you have to go BEHIND the agent  to get to the door.

If you come from this side, you have to go BETWEEN THE AGENTS AND THE GLASS WALL to get to the door.

Once we got on the plane, however, it was a different story. Our best flight ever! Go Aeroflot!

(Ed. note: Go Aeroflot! despite this on the menu:

I hope that is not a typographical error!

I hope that is not a typographical error!)

The Shoe Blog

These belonged to a young Russian woman lined up at the gate. She was about 25, dressed and “working it” as Terry described. In fact Terry even even went so far as to spell out “a s – l $ – t” to describe her. Strangely she was with a normal, good looking young man of about 30. Not one would have thought of as a match, but then…

In line at the gate.

In line at the gate.

We will get back to Rome later, but for now we are off to bed at the Ramada Pudong Airport -we have been up since 4pm Friday China time  and it is now 12:49am Sunday morning.

One thought on “Be a ‘Rockstar’ in Moscow

  1. kenrhaycock

    It is true. I was in different lounges in Rome and never flew out of Moscow (only St. Petersburg) but I do think that you have that grey cloud following you overhead, in spite of your great holiday! Maybe it is just an airport lounge grey cloud (like the $27 light brunch in Hong Kong!)…

    Reply

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