The plane touched down at ten to six pm local time yesterday after the window showed me an unexpected view filed mostly with trees and green fields. The sun stayed where we left it,above the clouds, but the first impression of Russia was much like a first impression of the US:you get a sense that it’s vast, and not much more.
We waited for a guide car next to what can only be described as a airplane graveyard, the most dilapidated model (a Boeing 747) having been stripped of some parts and some of the metal sheets that cover it, with the company name and logo (cough clearly Aeroflot) hastily painted over. Memories of our Russian teacher’s tales of frightening aviation stories returned in full force. I hope the grass around the tires of those planes means they really don’t fly anymore…
After a good half an hour (or longer?) In the queue for passport control both myself and my fellow student traveler Katie were admitted into the country with relatively little stress. The experience was simply bewildering however, as the signs told us to go one way, and the gesticulating lady speaking sternly in Russian was clearly convinced we should be going the other. In the end we just followed the herd and the bored security man didn’t seem to care.
The journey with the taxi was similarly confusing. First, getting a taxi proved a communication challenge,and the first one drove off without us, and the second found the roads our dorm difficult to navigate. We had to make three attempts to find the correct road.
At that point it was fairly late in the evening and we just about managed to check in and get a room to stay in (again, with a lot of Russian thrown at us of which we understood perhaps 30%?) And go to the local corner shop and try and get some dinner, finally getting a more substantial meal at ten thirty pm.
Today is time to actually see something!