It occurs to me now that I should have taken a lap top or an iPad with me on this trip, as I am currently standing in the lobby of the hotel typing on a keyboard with most of the letters missing, and there is no chair! I guess when there are 500 guests and and only 1 terminal you do not want people to spend too long. Best of all, the webpages and instructions are all in Russian!
Anyway, let us not dwell on the negative, I’m off on my exciting adventure!
I got up on Friday morning at 5am to finish a couple of things for work that I hadn’t managed to get done earlier. It took longer than expected so I did not start packing until 9am.
This was not a good plan given my flight was at 12pm.
Luckily Lizzy and Dan thought I had packed already so they weren’t stressed. I also had not quite got around to weighing everything, so I was 5 kgs over the limit – not that it made a difference as nothing in there could have been left behind – so I was stung for an extra $250 for excess luggage at the airport. Ouch.
I had a couple of tears prickling in my eyes when waving goodbye to Lizzy and Dan – three months is a long time.
I had a 3 hour wait in Auckland, and then a 1 hour stop over in Brisbane (after a 3 hour flight next to two small, grumpy and crying children) and then a 13 hour flight to Dubai (thankfully minus the crying children). It was a long flight.
It was 32 degrees when I arrived in Dubai, luckily it was air conditioned in the terminal. It was 4am and as busy as Lambton Quay on a sunny lunch time. I had to find my way to a gate down a route that had 240 gates, and then had another long wait (5 hours this time). There was a constant stream of people, of every ethnicity. There was a large group of Arabic people – the men in black robes, the women in white – all sleeping on the ground. “What a great idea” I thought, and sprawled out myself.
The flight to St Petersburg was 5 and half hours, sitting next to a small happy, singing and chatty child, watching a cartoon on a laptop, which was loud even through headphones.
Needless to say, I was very pleased to arrive, and even happier when I saw my bike and bag had arrived as well. I had a slight delay getting in as I had not realised that I had to fill the departure half of the entry documentation as well as the entrance. Oops.
The terminal was a bit of a shock after Dubai, which was shiny, new and opulent. St Petersburg was . . . well, think Wellington Airport before we got the new one.
I was very happy to see the shuttle driver with my name written on a board, off we headed to the hotel. When we got there, Igor (the Russian guide who is going to show me around for a few days) was waiting to meet me. We talked about things to do, and then he showed me a map, and drew instructions on where to meet him the next day. Simple instructions so that I would not get lost. Haha more on this later, but as will be no surprise to family and friends of course I did.
I was pleased to get to my room to unpack and get to bed for some much needed sleep.