It is all good, our bags are packed with room to spare. Olga and Vlad are on time and we have a trouble free run to the domestic airport. What could pothibly go wrong? Olga explained that as the airport is being upgraded, it is confusing now and as there is no parking, when anyone stops to let someone out, it causes a traffic jam. So we became part of the problem for a while. Before you can get into the airport all your luggage is x-rayed and you have to go through the scanner.
The check-in area was packed but Olga got us to the front of the business check-in queue and we were just about set. Well nearly. First you should know the domestic airline is called Siberian Airlines or S7, now there is a name to foster confidence.
First the luggage conveyor broke down before our bags were checked in, then we had an excess luggage charge (domestic flights have a very low limit) and we needed to go to the excess luggage office to pay up. Not as easy as it sounds, even Olga couldn't find it. After leaving Kat to guard our spot in the line and our bags, Olga and I went on a quest for the excess baggage office. It turned out to be upstairs at around the corner etc; I paid $20 for 9 kg excess and headed back. We found Kat standing alone in an empty check-in area, our bags still there and no-one around. Seems an announcement was made about the broken conveyor and they opened up a new area. Olga to the rescue, bags sent on their way, boarding passes collected from the new area and off to the boarding gate.
We had to say farewell to Olga here as she couldn't go into the secure area. Well there was chaos in the security check area. Everything had to be scanned, shoes off, belts off and a physical groping, I mean pat down. It was so crowded and a bit frantic as everyone was Russian to get through. They provide plastic slip-ons to protect your socks, but they slipped off. In the rush I nearly lost our precious pressy bag, (i left it on the wrong side of the scanner) but a nice security lady rescued it for us.
Now we were set, time for a coffee, curse the language barrier, I asked for two coffees, said no to the tiny cup the coffee lady pointed to, and so ended up with two buckets of coffee. I also tried to buy a diet coke for the trip and she opened the bottle, poured it into a glass and threw the bottle away, chalk it up.
It was nearly boarding time so scull the coffee, leave the coke and head to the gate. To get to our gate go down the broken escalator, along the 200m long wind tunnel travelator and up the inoperative escalator to the gate lounge.
Now that bucket of coffee is beginning to prey on our minds. Oh no, The nearest loo is back in the main terminal!
The plane is delayed. Yea, we have time to go to the loo. Back down the inoperative escalator, back up the tunnel; ahhh, the return travelator is not working, back up the broken escalator, trip over for fun, and off to the loo.
Back to the gate lounge, you know the routine, only to find the plane has been delayed further, oh joy I can see a cold night stuck in a terminal coming up.
Well now, there is some action going on out on the runway. Half a dozen fire trucks have appeared with their lights flashing and raced off to station themselves along the side of the runway. Other emergency looking trucks are parking in front of the gate lounge. People in hiviz coats are running around looking important, so something big is about to happen for sure. After about half an hour, a passenger jet makes a perfect landing and all the emergency vehicles turned their lights off and slinked away.
After a few false starts and gate changes, we finally got to board the Russian version of Tiger only three hours late.
The flight to Moscow was fast and trouble free, but. Three hours late put us right in the middle of the Moscow traffic jam called peak hour. Just as well we followed Napoleon's advice for invading Russia, "Never miss le opportunity for le pee!" before collecting our luggage. The traffic lights are just a guide here, not to be observed if it doesn't suit and it doesn't suit anyone to take the slightest notice of the lights. The policy for getting across intersections is to inch forward (and all four sides are doing this) and dare anyone to try and drive across in front of you, this usually works, well to create gridlock anyway and no-one goes anywhere for about 20 mins.
To top it off our driver, Serge (Sergay) gets a medal for being the world's most cautious and courteous driver, he didn't once push in and he let everyone push in front of him. Consequentially it took over four hours to go less than forty km. Ever patient Kat was ready to kill!
We did eventually make the hotel and just dumped our bags and went for a walk looking for something to eat. We ended up in a German themed beer restaurant that was ok, well the beer was at any rate.
One thing we need to keep an eye on is falling ice, there are large chunks on the pavement that have fallen from the building roofs, either the locals are on the ball or they have an efficient victim removal service because we didn't see anyone actually hit.
That is about it for today, remember S7 airlines, and if you do go to Moscow, take the train from the airport.