We thought we would be going back in June. Every class I set up at work and every meeting invite I accepted, I cautioned “I’m waiting for the call to go get my little girl from Russia, I might not be here.” But June came and went. Same thing in July, but July came and went! The first week in August, we heard there was a possibility we might go the first week in September (what?!). Ok, at least that’s a plan. But on August 9th, we got the actual call. Our court date is on August 25th and we leave on August 20th. ELEVEN DAYS!! That’s all the notice we get?!?! After waiting all summer?! Ok. We’ll make it work.
And we almost didn’t. Joe left the country for work just a few hours after we got “the call”. We didn’t have any issues getting our visas, but we paid through the nose for them, almost $2000 for the three of us, Joe, Clarisse and me. The airline tickets, they’re another story. We had a reservation at Delta and Aeroflot. We were going to fly to JFK, Moscow then on to our final destination, Vladivostok. When we went to pay for the flights, we were told Delta cancelled the reservation!!!! And the same tickets were now $2000 more PER PERSON! We did not have another $6000!! We were expecting more notice for this trip and hoping for cheaper tickets than we had already gotten. Joe spent all of Monday going back and forth with the travel agent and checking in with me in between working to find us better-priced tickets. And we did find tickets, only $300 more per person in the end. The problem with these tickets you ask…with the transfers and layovers, it was a looonnnngg flight. Our first flight left Detroit at 1000 on Saturday morning. We arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington at about 1130. Painless so far. We had a 5 and ½ hour layover. We left Dulles at 5pm, still excited and ready to go! We arrived at Moscow Domodedovo Airport 9 hours and 40 minutes later. I was not as impressed with United Airlines as I had been with Asiana last trip. The seats were small and cramped, the staff had attitude, although a few were nice. I wished for the perfectly cloned attendants of Asiana, always at the ready, offering me perfectly brewed tea.
So, we’re at Domodedovo Airport after about 16 hours of travel, very little sleep and we are at the front end of a 12 hour layover. Joe had fibbed to us a little bit about how long this layover was. I guess he knew we wouldn’t take it well. We had to collect our luggage from United and check it in at the Transaero Airline desk (this is our in Country airline). We had 5 large bags in addition to our carry-on backpacks. We get that done and start heading to our gate when we realize, we forgot to collect our stroller that we had checked!! What great parents we are! It’s been a few years since we had a baby and baby stuff to worry about! Joe tried to talk to the lady at the information desk, the one who is supposed to speak English. But he couldn’t make her understand that we forgot our baby stroller at baggage claim. Probably because nobody does that!! So, we resorted to accosting our fellow passengers. Joe noted one lady he recognized from our flight; he had heard her speak English and Russian very well. She went over to the information desk and spoke to the lady and got us the answers we needed. Never fear, we retrieved the missing stroller and it never left our hands again…which really wasn’t plan “A” as now we had to lug it around for the next 12 hours. We found some chairs and set camp. We tried to nap while sitting up and not getting robbed. We ate 2 very expensive meals. We wondered through the shops with people speaking in Russian to us while we nodded and smiled. We finally boarded our next flight. Only 8 hours until we were in Vladivostok. For those of you keeping score, the entire ordeal took 37 hours +/-. Ouch.
Needless to say, we were tired and crabby getting on this flight, looking forward to another cramped neck after sleeping sitting up. Joe herded us to row 11 seats A, B and C….and what? This must be some mistake…these are really our seats!!? These were the comments made by Clarisse and I as we saw and came to realize we would be sitting in the good seats! Premium economy. Not the highest class, but they were wider seats (instead of 3 in a row, there were 2) that leaned back further and had foot rests. We would actually get some rest!! This flight went much faster and before we know it, we were in Vladivostok. As we deplaned, we noted, among the many people waiting to pick up their family members, one man held a sign that simply stated “Sanchez”. Our ride was uneventful and once again we checked into the Vlad Motor Inn.
Even though we got here at 4:30pm, we laid down, intending to sleep for a few hours and then get up for dinner. At 9:30 we woke up, mumbled about food and then all three of us rolled over and went back to sleep until 5am the next morning.