Saturday, July 10, 2010

Away We Go

It's probably a sign that I've been traveling too much in the past three years that the flight to Finland (a total of 8hrs 45 mins) felt like nothing at all. This could also be because I was awake the entire flight and grossly overstimulated. FinnAir was a dream to fly, but provided way too many forms of entertainment for me. You cannot take someone who has self professed Adult ADD and give them a personal television that has 25 movies to choose from and about 15 different television shows with 5 episodes of each show. On top of this I had my iphone for music and my Kindle and the woman sitting next to me had her PhD in Baltic Linguistics, so I was overstimulated beyond belief. I spent a good hour flicking between reading, talking to the poor woman, and rapidly changing the channels from Glee to How I Met Your Mother, and trying not to scream "ARGH!" every thirty seconds like my nephew did the time I gave him too much sugar.

Once I calmed down thanks to dinner and Finnish beer, I settled on watching Alice in Wonderland (not as good as I hoped it would be), every episode of Glee they had and then every episode of How I Met Your Mother. By that time we were just approaching the Helsinki airport.

Ahh, the Helsinki airport. I love the Scandinavians-they gave us such things as Pippi Longstocking, IKEA and delicious little meatballs, but I have some issues with the Helsinki airport & their methods of security. First, our plane got in late (not their fault, but it plays into my story) which meant that I had 25 minutes to get from my gate to the gate to Moscow, but to get from the gate that we landed at to the gate my flight was leaving out of (both in the same terminal) I had to go through a security checkpoint again. There were only 4 people in front of me so it should have been a breeze, and yet somehow it took 45 minutes. They scanned every person's belongings at least 3 times, sometimes 4 times. This meant that your things all went through together, but then my shoe would look dangerous so they'd have to rescan my shoe. And then my bag would look dangerous so that would get scanned for a third time, and then they'd notice that I was wearing a money belt, so I had to be rescanned. At one point there were 5 of us standing on the exit side of the metal detector-each with one shoe and about a third of our belongings. It was so funny looking, I would have taken a picture, but my camera was being scanned for the fourth time.

Overall I was twenty minutes late for my connecting flight, which I was certain I had missed, but so many people were held up with security that they held the flight for an additional twenty minutes even after I boarded. I did conk out on this flight because they were smart enough not to give me a personal television. I also forced myself to sleep after I discovered the plane was an Aeroflot plane, and the wing of the plane had a crack on it that looked as though it was held together by what appeared to be duct tape. I figured it was better to sleep and ignore said feeling rather than have an anxiety attack.

The plane landed with the duct tape still intact, and I was thrilled to find myself at the new terminal at the Moscow Airport. I can barely describe how awesome this new airport terminal is. There's free wifi, for starters. And the time it took me to get off the plane until I got my luggage was 11 minutes. 11 minutes. That's including passport control. The first time I flew into Saint Petersburg it took nearly two hours. At this terminal there are roped off places to queue up, and a smartly dressed woman directing you to the proper line. It was incredible.

After passing through passport control, I was greeted by Yuriy, my assigned driver. It was his job to take me from Moscow to Vladimir-a ride that should have been just about two hours, but ended up taking 4 and a half due to traffic. Yuriy was friendly enough to chat with me for a bit, and to not mind when I fell asleep about an hour into the journey. He didn't complain once about my snoring or drooling.

I was awake for the last hour of the journey which turned out to be a very scenic drive. There were birch trees everywhere, some so skinny they looked as though I could snap them in half with one hand. I also discovered that I probably should have forced myself to stay awake the entire ride, because the route we took was pretty much the exact route that the narrator of Moskva-Petushki took on his train ride. Moskva-Petushki is a book I mapped out on Google Earth for a Travel Literature course I took in the spring. Had I stayed awake, I would have lived out my project. At least I'll get to do that on the way to Moscow in a few weeks.

That's the long and short of my journey here. No pictures from the way here because adding another form of distraction on the plane would have probably made the lady change her seat.

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