Добро пожаловать в Россию (Welcome to Russia)

Today was just a lucky, a very very very lucky travel day, and I would like to attribute this luck to our special Kiwi friends who blessed us before our journey. We left the hotel at 8am and hit an enormous amount of traffic. When we arrived at the airport at 10am for our 11:40 flight and the check in line was the longer than the ride for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Magic Kingdom during Christmas Week. There was no way we were making our flight. All SkyTeam airlines were routed to two check in lines and all of the group gave up faith except for Kseniya. Kseniya ran around the check in area and finally convinced an employee to open up a new group check in lane for us. While checking in we learned that our luggage did not need to be 44lb but could be 50 so immediately there were 24 luggage’s wide open and items being shoved from carry on’s into checked pieces. Check in took us until 11:15 and then we ran to passport control and again the line was so long I could not even count the amount of loops the line was making. We worked some more magic and got to go to our own line and skipped all of the fuss. To speed up the security process we all took off our shoes and took out our electronics. This is not how they do it in Russia so we were forced to put our shoes back on and re-stuff our bags. For some reason each of us set off the metal detector so the individual searches did not make the process go any faster. Running to the gate we were relieved to see that this line was also backed up and we would be making our flight after all, in fact, we were delayed 40 minutes. Making us even more nervous because we only have an hour between connecting flights.

Nine hours in the air, we finally touched down in Moscow and it was COLD. We ran off the airplane and managed to lose a couple of students along the way, they eventually found us. When we cleared customs and picked up our luggage we were fortunate enough to have a personal guide to take us across the airport.  The check in desk for our next flight was at the complete opposite side of the airport that we arrived in so it was a very speedy walk. Checked bags, security, running to the gate. Gate change, no wait this isn’t the right gate. Back upstairs, run run we are boarding! Phew. We made it during final boarding and were all looking around with looks of exhaustion and satisfaction that we were able to beat all of the odds that did not want us to get to St. Petersburg today. We arrived in St. Petersburg around 9:30pm and were greeted by Coyle with a smile stretching from ear to ear and the biggest hugs. It was SO COLD. In the hour plane ride the temperature dropped 20 degrees and I was worried. We collected our bags and got to meet Sergey for the first time.
Sergey will be our official tour guide for the next month and he spent the entire bus ride talking. I was trying very hard to sleep but since I was only two seats away from him I was not successful. When we arrived at the hotel we did the full check in process and then Professor Coyle volunteered to take us around and show us the area. We met in the lobby at 11pm and did a little walking tour. He took us to the Pedestrian street, to a couple of 24 hour supermarkets, showed us where McDonald’s is and explained the way the streets work on this island. When I got back I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the bed.

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