Sunday we finally arrived back home in Yuzhno. It was one of those marathon journeys from hell………… well, the marathon part is right, for sure. From take off in Calgary to landing in Yuzhno too 49 hours. Three flights – all full, and the closest we got to sitting together was across the aisle between Amsterdam and Moscow. The two long flights saw me in rear, middle seats as well, and while I’m not claustrophobic, I really don’t like being squashed up between strangers. On a long night flight, I’m definitely NOT Miss Congeniality, and would rather sleep than discover what interesting people my seat mates are. And I hate having to wake disturb someone so that I can get up.
In both Amsterdam and Moscow, we had long layovers during the daytime. We took advantage of these to do a bit of sight seeing. In Amsterdam, we headed off on the train for downtown, and took a canal boat tour to the Rijksmuseum. Even though we were quite exhausted, we really enjoyed looking around this newly-reopened art museum. The not -so-great part of the stop-over was when we realized that we couldn’t get our boarding passes and go back into the airport until 9 pm. And we were walking zombies by that point. We did meet a lovely Russian dancer living and freelancing in Amsterdam while we were in line – good things happen in even the darkest moments.
Our excess, overweight luggage had been tagged through from Calgary all the way to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, however one always has to claim it and go through customs in Moscow. But in the Moscow airport, we could find neither hide nor hair of our suitcases. Not what you want to deal with at 4:30 am. It took two hours to ascertain that the luggage was indeed not there, and to fill out all the forms required for missing luggage. Imagine trying to remember just what you packed in each one of three suitcases. The people at customs were extremely patient with us, however, and that made it possible. Finally, close to 7 am, we were free to go into the airport and look for something to eat – and coffee!
Again, we were off on the train to see a bit of Moscow. I had the opportunity to do this in June, while awaiting my visa, but David had only been in the office. So I was the tour guide as we walked around Red Square, had coffee in G.U.M. department store, wandered around Pokrovsky Cathedral, (it always reminds me of fancy decorated ice cream cones) and by the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in the Alexandrovsky Gardens in front of the Kremlin. Time did not allow us to really tour anything, and at that point, we were far to exhausted to really concentrate anyway.
Back to Sheremetievo Airport – still no word about our luggage – we got our boarding passes and headed to our gate. And Sunday morning, we arrived back in Yuzhno. Although we had both slept most of the flight, we were exhausted to the point that we could practically sleep standing up. The friends who had house and pet sat while we were away met us (and our luggage – wonder of wonders) at the airport. It was good to be back home again.
Katrina had made us a breakfast of Russian pancakes with caviar – or caramel – and after a good visit, they left, and we headed for bed. A long nap and a good night’s sleep, and we were ready to face the world Monday morning.
So good to be home.