I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Moscow Domodeja-vu

Bleurgh. It's always hard to blog the last part of a trip if I don't do it during the flight home. I've spent the whole last 23 hours or so getting reacquainted with my sofa and bed and various Netflix things and forgetting to watch Kung Fury and just bleh. I'm not on holiday any more. Neither of us won the lottery so we have to go to work tomorrow.

Anyway, enough about that. Fell asleep on Friday night only 1.5 cans into the 4 can haul, still being serenaded by what we learnt on Saturday morning was the club's visiting entertainer named T Killah. Think the T might stand for "tune". It was still going strong at 4.15am 'n all, bloody hell.

I woke up for good at 6am and played Threes for a few hours. I did try and get on the internet from the blogging sofa but rather than just getting online, this time round I was offered the choice of paying 900 rubles (a month) for fast access, or 64kbps for free. On the hotel wifi, this is. I chose the 64kbps option, which it turns out is painfully painfully slow. To think I remember 56kbps modems being state of the art consumer tech. Pfft.

We checked out at midday. On reception was a member of staff we'd not yet met or seen, which isn't so surprising since there seemed to be someone new on it every single time we'd walked past during the 5 days. Paying for breakfast seemed unnecessarily difficult - she originally seemed to not want paying and had to be told that we'd had it at all, and then when we handed her 1000 rubles she couldn't find 300 in change to give us - from petty cash, her own purse, the cleaner, or the tip jar. We settled for 200 and fucked off. So long, October Riverside Inn.

It was hot outside. The walk to Kropotkinskaya was not quite as painful as before though Helen's blisters weren't helping. Moderately well-trodden path to change at Park Kulturi onto the circle, back to Pavletskaya, then a looong walk to a sweltering platform heaving with people waiting for the Aeroexpress train's doors to open. Helen grabbed seats while I put the bags on the luggage rack, by the time we left the train was totally rammed, lots of people standing. As usual, it was not very express and despite no obvious delays as such, it had ended up taking us 2 bloody hours to get from the hotel to Moscow Domodedovo.
Mystery pies

Check-in was simple but the queues for exit immigration were long and slow. X-ray was fine, and then hey presto, we're airside. Some last minute shopping was required so we went into the second nearest duty free shop, picked some stuff, went to the till and were told by the woman sat next to the credit card machine that they weren't taking cards. Oh. So we went to the first duty free shop, ended up with even more stuff, and queued behind a man paying for a lot of booze, with a credit card.

When we reached the front of the queue the guy rang the goods up and then said, oh, cash only. No cards. Um, what? We may have been just about to quit when some concerned other people behind us in the now 6 or so strong queue said "what? no credit cards?" and the till guy looked vague, chatted to his mate, and put Helen's card in the machine. After some time she entered her PIN, and after some more time we got a receipt and our goods. Throughout this he had been repeating to other people in the queue that they were not accepting cards. And even if we did have enough cash, it wasn't going to be Euros or US dollars, which everything was priced in. No fucking clue what was going on there.

In a re-run of last year's debut trip to this airport, I am now in a massive grump, having consumed no calories so far yet. It's about 2.45pm and I really want the lounge. At check-in the guy had told us where it was, so naturally we did exactly the same as last year: walk the length of the terminal, go down some escalators, walk the length of the terminal back, go up an escalator, emerge right next to where we'd just done our shopping and see the BA lounge sign. For fucks sake.

Thankfully the lounge was not this time being used as a creche. Grabbed alcohol and rice and goulash and other stuff and took a photo of our plane at its gate. All these things cheered me up no end, of course. Some excellent Engrish in the lounge told us we could have our pick of "printed output", the most interesting of which was a guide of where to go shopping in London. I picked up two "pies" - this time, bread shaped like Cornish pasties - from the unsegregated plate marked both "cabbage pie" and "apple pie". What can I say, I like a gamble. They ended up both being apple.

Helen doesn't like to even chance being late, and I have a long and established bad habit of getting to gates way way way before necessary, so predictably we left the lounge early to join a queue that wasn't moving, but was spilling out of the gate area. We'd been told boarding for the 4.15pm flight would close at 3.55pm, but of course it hadn't even started at 3.45pm and in the end did not until gone 4pm - coincidentally during Helen's "oh fuck it, this is going nowhere" loo break. While in the queue the man behind me phoned a colleague of his, saying to him "I just emailed you and see you're on holiday, so I thought I'd call, sorry to disturb on a Saturday". Hang on, you what? Really? You're deliberately interrupting a man because it's both weekend and his holiday? Jesus, I think if any of my colleagues did that I would quit within a week.

Boarding, even via the fast track line, was slow, mostly because a good 20 or so people were being moved and/or upgraded. Lots of boarding passes beeped and caused the gate lady to go fetch a new one. We didn't get upgraded because of course we were travelling in first class again, don't you know. Window seats this time, though you have to crane your neck quite a bit to see out.

The cabin was full and there were even children present, dear lord what good is first class to a kid? Thankfully they were quiet, and the service all flight was great. Personal welcomes and then some champagne, why not. Took a while to get airborne and then came the nuts and more champagne, plus pyjamas and amenity kits. We do love us some cheap swag.

I decided to watch The Gambler, a Mark Wahlberg film featuring Omar from The Wire. Took most of the flight to get through it as I kept pausing it to be served, or to get up and talk to Helen - we were sat behind rather than across from one another. I was a bit sad to be on such a short flight because I love sitting up front so much.

Over another champagne I said yes to the amuse bouche - caviar and vodka - and ordered a mushroom fritatta thing for starter and a chicken Kiev main. I'm not exaggerating when I say the starter was possibly the nicest thing I've ever eaten on a plane. I recall Turkish airlines food being amazing back in 2010 or so but bloody hell, honestly, BA outdid themselves yesterday. The main was fantastic too but that starter...

The Gamber reinforced some of my approach to life - if you're not a genius, don't bother; there are plenty of happy electricians; don't make the same mistake twice; base everything around "fuck you". I do wish they wouldn't classify films starting with "The" under T in the inflight entertainment though. Mark Wahlberg and Jon Goodman are both great; I won't give spoilers about what happens in the film but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Unlike the food. I was asked if I wanted dessert or the cheese plate and asked if I could have both. The answer was yes! The cheese came first, with not enough oat cakes but nice quince. There was also port, and some more champagne. The thyme and pear tart would take a little while to heat and I was asked to give my opinion because the attendant thought it sounded lovely but hadn't tried it.

For the next refill I was asked if I'd like to try one of the other champagnes on the menu. I admitted that I'm just a drinker, not a connoisseur, and so really won't be able to tell the difference. She insisted I try a different one and y'know what, if I don't like it, she'll pour me one of the first lot again. I presume this was all a ruse to try not to open a new bottle of something that wouldn't get finished, and it worked.

Service was so great. I think the lass serving us smiled more during the 3.5hrs than I have in my entire life. I'd go to ba.com and issue a "well done" thing if I could remmeber her name. For the last 20 minutes before descent I sat on the buddy seat opposite Helen, and no new booze came. We were told we'd land at the C gates, which meant a pretty long trek to get landside but it also meant fuck yeah monorails.

Our bags game out pretty quick and after a brief vape break we got on the tube from platform 6 of the two platform T5 station, to Hatton Cross. A debrief in the Green Man pub was required, courtesy of gin and Guinness paid for with Sterling. Tube for Helen, bus for me - holiday over. Now where the fuck are my headphones?

Footnote: we did not split up on this holiday. 2/2 in 2015!

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