It’s hard to believe that it can take an entire day just to travel a few thousand kilometres, but that’s what happened yesterday.
We left our hotel in Berlin at 9.30 am to catch our 11.40 flight to Moscow. We were flying on Air Berlin which is a sound budget airline – a bit like the ‘Jetstar of Germany’. Their terminal is like a tin shed and has nothing that appeals at all – just a tiny kiosk in the middle of the floor space of a couple of hundred seats and six departure gates along the wall. The flight was, very thankfully, uneventful and we were glad that they sold meals on the plane which were quite edible.
That level of comfort can’t really be said for our arrival in Moscow. There must have been a number flights that all arrived at the one time and the immigration hall was overflowing with people who had their passports in their hand and their Russian visas at the ready. (I hope that it isn’t as hard to get out of this country as it is to get in!) Eventually a few of us were directed to another area of the airport where the immigration process is reserved for Russian citizens. We were expecting that we would not have been processed there and sent back to the main area, but our presence was accepted although it did take us the best part of an hour standing in line.. With a few official grunts and gruff instructions we had our visas stamped and we were through to collect our luggage. By this time our bags had been around the baggage carousel so many times they must have been giddy
We were met by a Scenic Tours representative who pointed us towards a car that would take us to our ship which is moored, along with about ten others, at a cruise ship area just north-west of to the city. To get there we had a long trip along the main road from from the airport and then around one of the large ‘ring roads’ that encircle Moscow. Just out of the airport, we noticed many people selling strawberries along the roadside – quite a rural oddity in a large city. For much of the way we were in heavy traffic and the going was quite slow. We understand that the traffic in Moscow is horrendous. We were interested to see many blocks of old Soviet style apartments. We are yet to find out whether these may have been some of the less wealthy suburbs, or whether they are standard Moscow housing. They were densely packed and looked very old and uninviting.
The speed limit was posted as 100 km / hour, but at times when we were not in bumper to bumper traffic, our driver decided that somewhere between 120 and 145 km / hr was OK. We eventually reached our ship – The Alexander Grim – at about 7.00 pm after a long travelling day and just in time for dinner.