An early start.. Neither Kevin nor I slept well both worrying about similar things...sleeping in, what needed doing etc. We needed to meet for brekky at 6.30. Out of the hotel by 7.30 to be at the airport by 7.30. I woke at 2.30 when I received an SMS from my friend Lynne asking me if I was due to start my holiday. So... No more sleep for me... Tossed and turned, up at 4.45 to start getting ready. Met D&K on time and up to brekky where I was kind of repulsed by a young woman who was taking extraordinarily huge things into her mouth like an animal. She had huge bits of food on her fork or in her mouth eg: a whole pancake thing and just kind of kept biting them into her mouth but not a bite at a time. Almost inhaling it. She was like a lizard or a python. I'm not explaining it well but she ended up with her mouth so full I have no idea how she managed. She ate with bits falling out of her mouth back onto the table. I watched her eat other bits of fruit where she bit a section off the fork and left the rest to fall. She was gross. Seemed normal in all other aspects. People are strange aren't they.
Brekkie over we headed off to checkout and cab to the airport. We booked one with the desk, but when the porters heard they said no no. Won't work. Need two cabs. So an additional one was called for me. As D&K headed off and I waited it became clear something was wrong. Eventually someone came up and said are you an unaccompanied woman madam?
Yes I said... Lots more scurrying. I thought maybe they were going to force me to use a pink ladies only cab, but soon a big cab turned up. It would have fitted the three of us in it easily.
Sigh. What a big hoohah about nothing!
Checkin was relatively routine but with a long wait to check our visas. No screening for liquids. No real screening at all. On to emirates business class lounge. Omg! It used a whole floor. The food was like a restaurant. I am never surprised by the depths of poor behaviour but sometimes it does still creep up on you. There was heaps of stuff in little Prevacid. There was a lady scooping it up in armfuls. Common!
I have to say though I scooped up a glass of Moët. At 8.38 am. If we had of known it was so extensive we could have sat down near our boarding gate and still been in the club lounge. Kevin said the smoking lounge had chesterfield lounges and pure opulence. Not surprising since a large proportion of them smoke.
Boarding was a breeze with a big delta because of smog/fog. At last we were off. The plane is packed solid. All nationalities... Those that made it that is... We saw many people turned away at checkin because they hadn't done their homework and gotten visas!!
On board they fed us like it was our last meal. First a snack but immediately followed by lunch. I had the most wonderful biryani rice with lamb. Cheese, bikkies, bread, prawn cocktail and sweets... Seriously. Almost obscene. A glass of wine and orange juice for morning tea and again at lunch, including a cup of tea and I was floating. I'm thinking that's probably enough alcohol for one day.
The rest of the trip was uneventful but strange. I watched a movie right up until we were on the runway and they didn't say yo turn the electronic equipment off at all.
So as soon as we came to an initial stop on the runway people got up and started grabbing their bags from the overhead lockers. An attendant came and told them off and then stood and watched to make sure people complied. He had the worst death stare ever. Once we had taxied a bit and they closed the curtain between us and first class we thought that he was going to lose his vantage point to watch people but no... He just stuck his face through. It was funny. We got off and made for the toilets. David and I went first. I was in a loo when someone tried to break in to the toilet by throwing their whole body at the door. Not normal. I said hang on a sec. But it kept going. When I left the loo there was just a sedate looking woman there so don't ask me. I don't know. We walked down to passport control where we weren't sure which queue to join. There was a Russian woman shouting orders to everyone in Russian which didn't help. We joined a queue, became uncertain and joined a different queue. That's where we met Lynne and Lynne. There was a crazy Russian woman screaming on a phone. Kevin said she was a Russian lady gaga. She was awful.. Common as muck. She left and then came back even more outraged. Screaming abuse at the passengers, the staff... She ended up bypassing the queues and just took herself to the front. She made such a fuss the staff just let her go through. The people behind the counters were scary and by the sounds of it we were all intimidated by them. We followed the crowds to get our luggage and were very grateful to find all bags were present and accounted for. The 5 of made our way to the exit where we were met by a Bunnik representative who could be Putin's brother. Soon we were joined by Libby a single traveller and Allan, also a single traveller. Eventually our little bus turned up and we were on our way.
They drive on the same side as Dubai, and the oncoming traffic is on the left not right.
Weirdly there were heaps if cars stopped on the other side of the road with no people in them. Bizarre. It was a freeway. Who knows what was going on.
We had the impression it was maybe 1.5 hrs to our hotel and then an afternoon at leisure. What really happened was that we immediately got stuff in a traffic jam. For hours.
Drivers just made extra lanes so where there should have been 2 there were three, then four, then five. Our whole afternoon was spent on that stretch of road. A man got out of his car and ran faster than the cars moved. We could see into the cars next to us and people all were driving and talking on their mobiles. We saw a very big stretch limo, about 3 times longer than anything I've seen before. Probably similar to ones in gangster music clips?
We were so tired we we a bit underwhelmed with our first taste of Russia/Moscow. We were in a little bus with tinted windows and the seats were jammed tighter than Jetstar.
To then be stuck on that freeway for hours going nowhere I guess was disappointing but novel watching what was happening out the windows.
So our blog fodder companions. David and Kevin are the only couple. I don't know if people have sussed that out yet or not.
There are two women travelling together who have both lost there husbands. Lynne and Lynne. From WA.
Then Libby. From Canberra... Maybe a bit needy? Jury is out.
Then Alan from Sydney, a widower, very fit, very Coker. Might be fun.
Lastly a new guy who was already here... Called Steve...Victorian... I might have heard him say Geelong but I can't be sure.
And us. A very small intimate group.
The guide is Rita. Seems lovely.
So only time to dump our bags do a 360 in the room to see it and back down to dinner. It's a five star motel. Everything seems 5 star except how they fed us. Like a caf. As you as you finished a course the plate was whisked away and the next thing was in front of you, including the worst tea and coffee ever.
So instead go it being a leisurely saunter through a getting to know you dinner it was more like a sprint with episodes of being assaulted by the waitresses. They wre nice enough just everyone is abrupt. Now if you know me I can be called abrupt so if I think they are - they really are!
Dinner was an entree salad of roasted veg and feta, that was sitting there before we got there. Who knows how long ... The mains... Omg. The most beautifully cooked salmon fillet.. Sweets was a massive bowl of finely diced fruit salad, with lots of different colored berries as well as the usual things we would expect a fruit salad to have. All of the meal sizes are huge. I really am struggling to not overeat this trip. This part of the world seems to be deliberately trying to fatten us up.
Off to get roubles and check out the supermarket..
We exchanged our money and ended up in a basement sort of attached to the motel. The food was awful.. The fruit and veg were spoiled and the fish were way past fresh, all dehydrated with sunken eyes. The beer however was looking good but as we made out selection this exceptionally drunk Russian youngish bloke said, don't buy it, Russians make bad beer. We said we couldn't come without seeing for ourselves.. He caught up to us again at the checkout. He smirked at our beer selection, said something like that is truly awful beer, but your water there is good. He was buying our Guinness in cans.
We headed back confident we all had fridges in our rooms for the beer, but alas, no fridges... There's a door that should be a fridge but it's locked. So my beer is quickly warming up in my overheated luxurious room.
Laundry done, blog up to date, a big day tomorrow, so that's it for today.