Saturday, July 28, 2007

Got my luggage, now an update on Moscow

Ok now that I'm in clean clothes and am not frantic about potentially having to buy all new stuff here in Moscow, I can really update.

When I started my trip, it went really well, b/c i got upgraded from a coach seat in between a lady with a baby and a older woman to business class, since they brought a seat for the baby and it would basically trap me in my seat. Business class was niiiiiiiiice. :)

And then the travel gods decided to hate me after that. So to make the long story short, I missed my connection in London, apparently the worst airport to be connecting through, wish I would have known that when I was making the flight reservations. I would say live and learn, but that was a big pain-in-the-ass thing to learn from!

So the missed flight and subsequent lost baggage are a result of the construction they're doing at Heathrow, and in order to get to your next flight, you have to wait in a long line for a bus that will take you to another terminal, at which you wait in another long like for security (the downfall of my connection) and then walk forever to get to your gate. In other words, transportation hell.

I got it even worse when I missed the flight, I had to actually leave the arrivals part of the airport, go through customs, set foot on English soil, then go to another terminal in order to get a new ticket. Then had to stand in line to check in, and go upstairs for security, where I waited forever, and was just about to walk through the screener when they stopped me because I had two carry-ons, which you can have if you're connecting from the US, but not if you are originating in Europe.

SO I had to take all my crap downstairs again, pay to check an extra bag because I was over the individual weight limit, check that damn backpack, and go back up to security, where some tears persuaded them to let me skip the line to get to my gate. Oh yes, I used the tears, and ladies and gentlemen, they were not fake.

When I finally got to Moscow, I did get my backpack, but not my suitcase, shocker there. Stood at the lost-and-found counter for 2.5 hours before I was able to get all the correct forms filled out, declare my bag at customs and get all the stuff filed so there would be an actual record of my lost bad. FINALLY got out of that horrible place and my driver (the one bright spot) took me to the student house.

And then found days later, with the help of friends at the embassy, my luggage was delivered to me here at the academy and I lugged it home through the metro with the help of some lovely friends.  I had had to wash my clothes in my sink with dishsoap for four days. Luckily I met a girl in my program in the passport control line at the airport, so she was there and helped me through this whole thing, and her roommates have all let me borrow stuff so I'm not completely disgusting. They've really been great, so now I'm like the fourth part of their room.

Losing your luggage really makes you appreciate that question "if you were lost on a desert island, what one item would you want to have with you?" Umm, how about your entire bathroom? Or a noseplug.

I have my own flat in the building that the Academy is housing us all in and on Monday, my bedroom door had to be broken off the hinges with a prybar because the lock stopped functioning and wouldn't let me in. My flat is one of the nicest in the building, clean, fridge and oven, balcony, big windows. Not a bad place to live for a month.

Correction: a verrrry nice place to live for a month, after seeing the state of the flats other students were living in!  Crumbling wall paper, old appliances, peeling linoleum, windows that won't shut all the way - this is the true Soviet lifestyle.

This morning a pigeon flew in through my window at 6 a.m., an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off, and flapped around making all kinds of cooing noises that I was roused from my bed, and chased the damn thing back through the kitchen and out the window. Cooo!

Classes are good, I'm kicking ass in Russian, but really only because I already knew the alphabet. Today it started to get harder, so I suppose I will have to actually study now. :) That's about it for now, my friends are calling me off to go explore a little, but more is soon to come!!

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