So finally the day had come! The trip we’d been planning for years was going to be realized. Men and my brother took a flight to Stockholm to meet up our dad. We checked in the day before, so the only task we needed to do was drop off our suitcases at Aeroflot’s check in counter. Checking in and clearing security went by in a breeze!
We took a seat at a ridiculously overpriced café to have something to drink. It was almost noon and we were also hungry. Glenn bought a bagel, and I pulled out my prepared lunch – a very filling portion of salmon quiche that I’d saved for the occasion. I find it to be a perfect food to bring on a trip, since it’s very easy to make, transport, pack, and eat. It’s also stuffed to the brim with protein, virtually carb-free, doesn’t take up a lot of space, extremely delicious yet healthy, and doesn’t require utensils to consume. We proceeded to our gate and hung out there for a while until boarding time.
Landing in Moscow went well despite heavy winds. All the passengers formed a cue at an escalator to avoid the misery of walking up to the main arrival hall. I was probably the only passenger who used the broken escalator on the side, as a staircase to walk up. I’ve never understood the sheer laziness of people in general. You’ve been on a flight for a few hours, and still you want to stand in a cue to avoid walking up a few steps? The body is meant to be USED, but most people treat everyday exercise as a plague and happily let their body slowly deteriorate by a combination of inaction and bad diet. Stupidity. To me, standing on still an escalator is completely unacceptable, I always walk them up. People seem to jump at any chance, however small it may be, to avoid spending energy. In my opinion, it’s doing yourself a huge disservice. Keep your body young, fresh and in shape instead by using it!
The immigration took ages. The officer in charge of our lane was extremely slow. She carefully examined all passports on every single detail and did extensive typing into the system. I’ve always been very curious about what kind of information shows up about passengers when immigration officers look them up. Maybe there’s some you-tube video about the topic.. Our officer seemed to be having a bad day. I gave her my biggest smile, but she didn’t so much as flinch a smile back – total stone face. The sun was also shining straight into the hall through a glass ceiling, and there was no AC to be found. It turned the environment into a virtual sahara desert, and I could see a lot of arriving passengers with sweat rolling down their faces. All passengers on our flight got cleared before us, simply by randomly standing in another line at immigration, and when I finally reached the baggage claim, the only three suitcases left there were ours.
Our driver was waiting for us, and took us to our hostel, which was conveniently located in central Moscow with walking distance to the big attractions. He didn’t speak English, and the only thing he said to us, what so ever, was a short “Jo.” when Glenn successfully pronounced the Cyrillic letters on a street sign. The trip from the airport took about 45 minutes due to bad traffic jams, and our driver did his best to cut the time by speeding through blocked off construction areas and changing lanes more often than Trump tweets a lie.
We arrived at the hostel, which was named The Red Kremlin, and checked in. The lady who received us did speak a few words of English, but still needed google translate to help my understand what some guy told me when he came to the counter. Apparently, he said “Welcome my friends, I’m a bit drunk”. I understood the word priat, which is friend. The receptionist showed us to our room, which was a steaming hot dormitory of 3 wrangly bunk beds. It turns out that she herself was living in the room, and shared a bed with a skinny emo guy there – they even had a guinea pig. How they managed to live like that in a small bed which was barely large enough for one, exceeded my comprehension. The remaining guests at the hostel seemed to be only Russians who were in Moscow temporarily for travel or work. There was a crew of construction guys, and many guests left early morning wearing their work uniforms.
The hostel itself was located in a back yard and shared the area with a barbershop, tap room, jazz & blues café, and hookah lounge. The crowd that hanged out there can best be described as progressive young punk commie rebels. If you’ve ever seen the movie Police Academy 2, the gang that Mahoney goes undercover into, would be a fitting visual stereotype to represent the Moscovites around the hostel.
We took a walk to get some dinner at a Siberian restaurant that Glenn had localized in the vicinity. Walking there, our first impression on Moscow continued to grow. Impressive governmental buildings, a lot of gorgeous old alrchitecture, and people driving SUV’s like crazy cowboys. The city was clean, and seemed to have a good traffic infrastructure with big lights and countdowns with waiting times at intersections. The restaurant definitely exceeded our expectations! It had a nice interior, the waiter gave us great service and the food was very delicious. On the way back, we walked through a park which seemed to boast some type of historical military exhibition. We saw old cannons, people dressed up as soldiers, and a lot of communist propaganda posters.
We decided to hit the sack after a long day of travel and new impressions. The room was very warm, but none of us had trouble sleeping.