Here are my Notes from the journey back from Yelabuga;
Monday 23rd back at terminal E, sheretemyvo airport.
Had no wifi in days still none, havent had time to keep notes let alone blog. I’ll have to back track , so much to say. Perhaps also the last few days I became so immersed in the here that the voice to report home was lost, perhaps. But certainly things were a little stretched, there was anxiety building in some folks about the departure, communication in our little group got messy, the poor interpreters were led here and there by impulsive plan changes and demands, like a school trip where the children get their every wish granted.
Most of the Russian speakers drifted off various departure times over the last couple of days. This morning at 2.45am we left the hotel in the usual minibus with our gang of 4, plus two Russian speakers, Alex, Anna, Gulada the organiser of exhibition hall, and a couple of musicians from the bell ringing ceremony and Spassky Fair ( see previous blogs ). We dropped lovely Loreta and brilliant artist Dulustan off at the train station, tearful goodbyes. Onwards to the small Naberezhnye Chelny / Begishevo airport, folks wrapped up, cold, a rainy night but still 13C- warmer than daytime at home when we left. We said our heart felt goodbyes, dear new friends. I thought I would get upset upon leaving, many times throughout the 10 days I cried with the rush of so many emotions, so happy, things so beautiful, so poignant, so much what I was always looking for in life…but after the last days with people in our little group bickering -I guess pragmaticsm kicked in at 3am, to start crying would set everyone off. Also determined that this is only the beginning of something not the end. I must try and bring home the spirit of Russia or Tatarstan, find ways to get back, find ways to bring our new friends to Scotland? To set up links and build opportunities for cultural exchange, the UK can offer decent money for them, they can offer us wonderful culture, history, art, handicrafts, food, philosophies…oh and apart from money we have softer toilet roll, well done UK if this is all you have to offer the world….and rules, restrictions, regulations don’t forget those, we’re good at that too.
Meanwhile the scenery on the way to the airport looked so different from the drive in, unfamiliar alien landscape made warm and familiar. Airport- here hand luggage was weighed as well, we are all laden with gifts, souvenirs ,vodka, paints, so well over limits and had to pay extra, as is fairly normal in Russia, you join one queue for one piece of paper, then go to another kiosk to pay, then with receipt head back to the first, nothing happens in a great hurry here, but nobody gets narky or stressed ( except some of our group ). So I paid the extra 950pybls/rubs, then Meena also needed to pay extra, but only had dollars, having not exchanged enough at the bank the day before. Because things can be a little slow and cumbersome with anything official it is best to plan well ahead. So I gave Meena 1000rubs & headed though security. Turns out she needed lots more, so as the flight was nearly boarding and there was no sign of her… she’d had to removing items from her bag, poor lassie. Got through security, then Meena thought she had lost her camera and was stressing out…back though security, rummage bag, yes it was there all the time…and so it went on a rather stressful morning. We met a nice lassie in departures who didn’t speak Russian but English, she was from Azerbaijan and happy to travel onwards with us as the language barrier can be daunting. But this is whats happened the whole time, everywhere we go people chat, without the danger or perceived threat at home, without fake jolity, just warm, calm openess.
This 1st flight was another new experience, we boarded underneath the tail of the plane, engines roaring above our heads. A last look at that wonderful place and away. I fell asleep before take off even. Zoning in & out dream images of Tatarstan decorative motifs, gold glistening in Russian sun, the sound of Russian voices. Descent seemed to take an hour, engines revving them subsiding, I thing we must have been spiralling in a holding pattern as the plane was late in. Baggage, Meenas shoe broke, fixed it. Said our goodbyes to Meena who’s ongoing flight to Cairo was from the same airport Domodevo, luckily everyone too tired and zombiefied from a long night to get emotional.
Now the three muskateers needed to get across the massive city of Moscow to Sheremetyvo airport. On the way in we had come and gone from the same airport, only transferring between terminals ( which was then adventure enough! ). Shinod had already done the trip between airports via 2 trains. However Alex advised us we should be able to get a taxi for $100 /3200 rubs which between us would be MUCH easier and about the same price, the distance is around 90k. One problem is the taxi touts can be rather dodgy charging £100’s, and you have to negotiate a price in advance. At Domedevo though there were a couple of official taxi desks, so it was no problem!
I think some of the phrase\guide books are rather out of date, things are changing fast here. So we paid our flat fee 3200 rubs, the driver colleceted us…a word of advice to anyone doing the same transfer, allow PLENTY of time for your flight times, the traffic is mayhem! It took us 2.5 hours, but it was a wonderful opportunity to see the mad outskirts of moscow, a glimpsed building in the distance could have been the Kremlin. There were markets, crashed cars ( little wonder! ), power stations, parks, tower blocks old and new, one detouring into town to avoid a traffic jam. I will not ever ever be hiring a car and driving these roads! They overtake on inside, weave across lanes tail to tail , use the hard shoulder, no indication, lorries, all at speed, but yet no stress no waved fists, no road rage, no big deal, battered ladas and gas guzzling new money mercs- the lorries are brilliant! Mad old fashioned looking designs. The cooler towers of the power station were bright colour patterns, not just grey. No pictures sadly as my camera was with the luggage in the boot at this point.
( image off google to give you the idea ! )
Sheremetyevo terminal D, lunch, we were starving! The hotel had provided a packed lunch which was lovely, boiled egg, Russian bread ( its tasty rather chewy stuff ), a dough thing with meat and potatoes inside, kiwi, yogurt, tomato- we’d also bought provisions of chuk chuk ( sp? ) at the market yesterday, seasame biscuits, dried apricots and more potato bread. It was a great picnic, nice to just chill out for a bit. Then to Terminal E where Shinods flight for Delhi leaves an hour before ours at terminal F. so I’m sitting typing at the same place we spent the night on the way in, the strange now familiar. While we rest & pass time until Shinods check in.
to be continued…