Today, I got up around 8:30am to be ready to be picked up for my ride to the airport. The previous night, I had spent a lot of time cleaning up and getting everything packed for my trip. I always leave it to the last day, but feel a little anxious when I think I havenâ€™t thought of everything that Iâ€™d need. Fortunately, thereâ€™s not a lot that I think I need while traveling.
I was able to get my entire 3 weeks worth of â€˜needsâ€™ into my backpackÂ :)Â This also included the gift backpack and ipad that I am bringing over for Grisha and Katya. Iâ€™ve got a long layover in Houston so Iâ€™ll be able to do some work and not be rushed to get to the gates by any means.
It was interesting to be able to score a nonstop from Houston to Moscow via Singapore Airlines. What a treat. This airline is fantastic. It was a big 777, roomy, and not so packed where I actually had a seat free next to me. The reclining mechanism was nice, and the 10â€ entertainment screen that supplied over 500 on demand videos songs etc was really great. I watched â€˜Limitlessâ€™, as well as some Japanese TV programs.
Soon after, they served us our first meal. Absolutely the best food Iâ€™ve ever had on a plane. I had pork strips on a bed of rice with steamed vegetables. It was incredible. Nothing was oddly cooked or microwaved hard. After dinner was an ice cream treat. I was really satisfied by the meal.
After about 5 hours into the flight, they turned down the lights to allow us to start resting. I finished up the movie and tried to get in a position that would let me sleep. I felt good in one position, but felt like I was conscious the whole time that I was lying back. It was so strange, because when I looked up awakened, it was because they were coming by to serve breakfast. There was just 1:50 left in the flight.
Breakfast was incredible. Scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, mushrooms, and potatoes, yogurt, fresh fruit, and orange juice. Everything tasted great. Definitely the best flying experience Iâ€™ve had for a quite a while.
As we were flying over Moscow coming into DME, which was my first time coming south of the city, was all the housing with colored roofs. Purple, green, red, black, orange, yellow. It looked almost like a Vegas type setting. We also saw a lot of traffic that was bumper to bumper flying in.
After an extremely smooth landing, we taxied into the terminals. We saw lots of airlines that were unfamiliar, and a lot of planes just parked on the tarmac. After getting off the plane, we headed for passport control which was a huge mess. There are no stanchions or anything helping guide people into lines, and everyone literally crowds the passport aisles. After waiting for a long while, I changed to another area that seemed to get the word line. Quickly I was stamped in, and headed for baggage claim to get my backpack. When I found the carousel,Â I looked at the baggage that was already taken off, as well as watched for a bit while the other stuff came over too. Finally the carousel stopped, and my backpack was no where in sight.
I didnâ€™t panic yet because I wasnâ€™t completely sure the carousel was completed, as not many people from the flight was over there. I talked to a woman while another customer was saying her baggage wasnâ€™t there. Thatâ€™s when I started to get nervous. She took us over to another area, and as we turned the corner, I saw my backpack just sitting there on the floor. I thought, now why would someone have moved it over here?? She said because it was considered fragile.
In any case, it was a huge relief to get my backpack and head out through customs. When I exited, I found a place to be found and turned on my phone. I got a message from Katya that she was stuck at traffic at the door coming in and to stay put. So I changed into shorts and just a little while later, Katya came and found me.
We then headed for the Aeroexpress that takes us to the center to meet up with Evgeny. As we traveled about 45 minutes to the city, we transferred and instantly Iâ€™m refreshed with memories flooding back from my times before in Russia. The subway system. The one thing of Moscow that doesnâ€™t change. The long escalators that sink you down to the depths of subway mazes of amazing soviet architecture, mosaics of hammers and sickles, Lenin. As we headed down, we were chatting and all of a sudden, we saw Evgeny nonchalantly going up on the other side. He was trying to get up there to surprise us first, but we were too fast!
We then headed for home. I was surprised at how awake and non-tired I was. Simply because it was an extremely long day, but I felt fine. We headed to his place and left Katya as she was going to a birthday party for the evening. Evgenyâ€™s new apartment looked greatâ€”they had gutted out the entire thing and redone it very modern and ikea like. I took a shower and got ready to go out to meet Masha for dinner.
We walked to a Sushi restaurant that has now popped up in their neighborhood. Crazy! Masha was there waiting for us, and it was so nice for all of us to be together. Itâ€™s like no time has passed, and to be with them is so incredible. We were laughing and chatting throughout the entire dinner, which continued into the night. The sun wasnâ€™t even close to setting at 9pm, and we headed back home to laugh and chat more. By 10:30 I was starting to get tired, despite it still being light out, so I played some PS3 with them, and crashed.
Mom and DadJuly 3, 2011
Evgheny and Masha look terrific (and so do you)! So glad you are having a great visit.
AllanJuly 4, 2011
Hey Ben – glad you had an uneventful and safe trip – looks like your visit is off to a great start!