Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Sushi... in Russia

We landed in Russia, and stood in line in passport control. Anxiety rising just a little... I walked up to the booth and handed my passport and arrival/departure card to the woman behind the glass. She didn't even look up. She took my documents and started pounding on a keyboard that I couldn't see, and when I say pounding... I mean you would have thought she was using a hammer!
After a short time, which felt all together too long, she looked up, stared me in the eyes, and then looked down and pounded some more. Then I heard the sound of the rubber stamp slamming it's way onto the pages, and she all but through the passport at me and I was halfway there.

We went over to the baggage claim area and shortly received our bags, and now was the final test.
Russian soil, or Russian Rubber glove.

There were two doors ahead. One door was green, and one was red. Green was nothing to declare, and Red was declarations. The green door had a sign that said, "If you hesitate, you should use the red door." Well, thanks for the advice! Without hesitating, I put my head down, and started walking at the pace of a New York Commuter. Like I owned the place.
Once you go through the green door, there are X-ray machines, and they can randomly pull you out of the line and run all your luggage through a security check. 

The distance between the sweet free air of Russia and ending up in a concrete room trying to find answers to questions that you don't have is only about 20 feet. 

There were official looking people in uniforms pretty much ignoring me, as I crossed the threshold into Russia. I was in!

I heard footsteps behind me and some dude say "Sir, please, your bags on the X-ray. I looked back still rolling forward, and Rob had gotten snagged for a random bag check.
I couldn't wait right there for him, so I walked outside the secure area, and waited. 

About 3 minutes later, Rob came out and had no problems. Woo hoo, we are all in Russia now.

The transportation was a bit insane, as we seven people and luggage for about 30.

Rick and I ended up in some ones car with Luggage on our laps, and basically Rick sitting on top of me. He was in the middle and I was against the door. 
This guy drove so hardcore and fast, that there were a couple of times that I was sure we were going to clip another car or slide into a bus on the way through an intersection.
Apparently, we were not the only ones that had a crazy ride either. Eric and Evan had about the same experience although maybe a little bit worse!

We got to the hotel, met with the AV Vendor. Straightened a few things out, and then all met down in the hotel bar. After a few drinks, and many laughs, a few of us decided to go to the restaurant in the hotel and eat dinner. I had a great chef's salad, and a really tasty club sandwich. And then off to bed. Rob, Eric, and I agreed to meet at 8:00 am for breakfast and photos starting at 9:00 am. 
I went to my room, climbed into bed, and had to close the drapes, because the sun doesn't set here till about 11:15 pm. I fell asleep for about a half hour, and then woke up and was up till about 1 or 2 in the morning. 

The alarm went off too early today and I went down for breakfast and there was no sign of Rob.
Eric and I went off on our own, and saw some cool churches and buildings. We tried to get some good photos, but it was cloudy and then it started to rain. We ended up finding a cool little souvenir fair, and bought some little stuff. Then we were hungry. So, we walked back to the main drag, and found a hip Japanese place. I ordered some sushi and Eric got some soup and then a cool dish of chicken and pineapple. I was still hungry after my sushi, so I got the same dish. It was really good, and we headed back to the hotel.

The boys had arranged for a bus tour around the city at 3:00 pm. I wanted to go, but I was just feeling exhausted after my night of not much sleep. So, I bailed on the tour, and went to my room and slept so deeply, I am feeling a lot better than I was.
Scotty called me up and we both walked around the corner and hit the Russian McDonalds for a Big Mac meal.

It was really tasty. I mean... you gotta eat McDonalds around the world. It is like a little slice of home heaven!

After we got back to the hotel it was about 5:00 pm, and we went to check the ballroom. The vendor had told us that starting at 1:00 pm, they would be bring gear into the ballroom for our setup tomorrow. 

At 5:00 pm... the ballroom was a ghost town! Not one piece of equipment or anything at all has been loaded in so far. I have a feeling, this is the kind of place where it really doesn't matter what they say... You get what you get when they decide to give it to you.


1 comment:

Michael Steighner said...

Steve, Your are a great story teller...Like a movie. I laughed, I cried, ..... then I ate my lunch (ceasar salad by the way)......whaaatt?