I am on my way back to Salekhard. I arrived at LAX with plenty of time for the connection, but was told that I could not use the United lounge because I didn’t have an outbound ticket on their airline … despite having flown on them the same distance as two round-trips to the Moon.
On the Aeroflot flight from LAX to Moscow, the stern Russian lady sitting next to me has the demeanor and attitudes of a strict piano instructor, acknowledging only Pushkin or Tchaikovsky. My lack of culture is a disappointment, my decision to stay at the airport overnight (instead of going into the center of Moscow) is a disgrace.
I get to SVO. Successfully buy a SIM card for my second phone, so I’ll have a Russian number for the team.
Successfully buy more envelopes and stamps for mailing.
Last time, I had (literally) been taken for a ride by an unlicensed “taxi” driver – in retrospect, the fifty bucks I handed over was preferable to losing my luggage or my life – a mistake I will NEVER make again. This time: ask how to get to airport hotel … “The free shuttle is just over there, sir”. And although this one it is right next door to the horrible, faded place where I stayed in April … it was CLEAN, MODERN, an American “business traveler” hotel. PERFECT. Nice buffet dinner, glass of wine.
Dead tired by 8 PM; sleep till midnight; an hour of e-mail; one Zolpidem; sleep till 5. Back to the airport and I am … ‘nowhere’. Or ‘anywhere’. And very early.
Three hours to kill … so why not go to the “Czech Beerhouse”? Ha ha, I’ve NEVER had a glass of Pilsner at 9 AM.
Finally we board, take off.
Yes, the seat behind me has the inevitable screaming, inconsolable baby: but I have earplugs, they gave me a nice sandwich, I have passed through Moscow without stepping in the cowpat.