Our adventure started, like many modern day adventures do: with a trip to the airport. While I have never had any desire to drive a car in Moscow as I would certainly be rapidly crushed by angry Russians, I would have made an exception in order to get to the airport. Moscow's airports are scattered about the suburbs, far away from the city center, and as such, the metro (for some reason) does not go there. Fortunately, they have set up some express trains from several train stations that go out to most of the airports, and we were lucky to be flying out of Sheremyeteva, the main airport with an express train.
We agreed on a time to meet in the metro next to the train station several hours before our flight. There were 6 of us going, another married couple and a guy and a girl, all of them in our BYU group here. The other couple, the Jensens, got an email the day we were set to leave that our flight had been delayed for about an hour. Paige and I got a phone call from the guy in our group, Ryan, that we would be meeting 2 hours later than we had originally planned. Paige didn't like this: why were we meeting 2 hours later due to a one-hour delay? We called around, and we all decided that this did not make sense, so we adjusted our meeting time to one hour later. Good thing.
We met and embarked. The train was nice and fast and it took us on a direct-route, straight line to... a train platform about 10 minutes away from the airport. “Oh Russia,” I thought. “You just don't QUITE understand.” After disembarking from the “Express” train, we found a bus that would take us to the right place and made sure we knew how to get to Sheremyeteva Building 2. A few guys from our group went to Finland earlier in the summer, and they made the silly foreigner mistake of going to Sheremyeteva Building 1 because foreigners forget to read minds and just spontaneously know things such as which arbitrary building number to go to and had to pay 1000 rubles for a taxi, which is so much money that you would immediately vomit if I told you how much it was in dollars. In any case, despite not at all being labeled anywhere as such, Sheremyeteva 2 is apparently the international terminal complex, which is about a 10-minute bus ride away from Sheremyeteva 1, which is the domestic terminal complex. All WE knew is what was in the confirmation email: we needed “Terminal C”, and since we were flying through Kiev, Ukraine to Istanbul, we heeded the advice of our friends, and set our course for Sheremyeteva Building 2. Upon arriving there, we began to ask around for “Terminal C”. This seemed to annoy the Russians in the area, despite the fact that there were big signs with “C” on them with arrows pointing in various directions. They explained we had to go back to Sheremyeteva 1. This couldn't possibly be right as we were flying internationally. Unfortunately, the more people we asked, the more they insisted we needed to go back to Sheremyeteva 1.
We found a bus. This bus was apparently running behind, and had a very long line of cars behind him, including another bus on the same route. He needed to get people on and get out of there as quickly as possible to move the traffic flow along, so naturally, he stopped his bus, opened the door, got out of his seat, and began yelling at all of us waiting to get on that it was very important that we listen to him because there were a lot of cars behind him that needed to get by and he was running late and that we needed to be very fast in getting on the bus so he could leave. As he was loudly explaining this, he was standing in the door, preventing all of us from getting on for the minute or so he was talking. “Oh, Russia...” I thought.
We were all grateful we had enough time to screw up like this, but we had a few good hours left regardless. Finally, as we rolled up to Sheremyeteva Building 1, we understood. Sitting a few feet away from Sheremyeteva 1 was a large building as big as the other terminal buildings with a huge sign that read “Terminal C”. Sheremyeteva Airport's building layout turned out to be three buildings in the following order: Terminal C, Building 1, and then 10 minutes away, Building 2. “What the crap, Russia?” I thought.
Finally in the right place which we broke all laws of logic and reasoning to find, we entered our terminal and approached the check-in desk to receive our tickets. We looked up on the departures board to find our flight and discovered, to our amazement, that our flight was scheduled to leave at the original, early time, which was in less than an hour. Naturally, all of us praised Paige as being inspired, and I couldn't help but think, “Ok, seriously, though, Russia...”
And so our adventure began: a trip to the airport, and a flight to Kiev. The flight to Kiev was about as uneventful as could be expected. We were all seated around the airplane, and I had the unfortunate seat assignment next to the token “totally-smashed-drunk-guy”, who insisted that the seat next to him wasn't mine. Russians like to do this on flights, I've found. There have been several flights I've been on where Russian people in my seat have tried to convince me that THIS flight doesn't DO assigned seats, and I must be mistaken. Eventually, his friend showed up who was supposed to be seated next to Ryan, so I graciously switched with him so he could juggle his friend's vomit if we hit rough air. Immediately after take-off, while plane was still climbing, my former drunk friend arose, lighter and cigarette in hand, and made his way to the back of the plane. Wait, what?
He reached the back of the plane, some how convinced the stewardesses that he needed to go to the bathroom during take-off and couldn't possibly wait 60 more seconds, and apparently lit up in the lavatory. “Hahaha, Russia!” I thought. “You are retarded.” I really wish this had happened in America, because he probably would've been immediately rushed by half of the passengers in the plane, wrestled to the ground, and citizen-arrested as the FBI was informed and we were redirected to the nearest air-force landing strip to unload the perpetrator and watch through the cabin windows as members of the armed forces kicked him in the bollocks. This is Russia, though, and instead, he was directed back to his seat, reprimanded, and his friends were warned and asked to make sure he didn't get up again during the course of our flight. Boooring.
And so we reached Kiev. At this point a thought occurred to me that I have frequented Kiev's airport more often than, for example, Long Beach's. That's kind of weird. After a cold night in the transfer terminal lounge, we boarded another plane to Istanbul, which is just a quick jump over the Black Sea. All in all, it was 2 flights, about 1 hour and 45 minutes each and we arrived. Turkey does require a visa, but as an overture to the awesome-ness that is Turkey, the visa application and approval process consisted of a man behind a window in the airport asking “What country? $20!” and sticking a sticker in our passports. Not bad at all.
After passport control and the doorway that was customs, we boarded an air-conditioned metro train and publicly-transported ourselves into paradise.