I actually don't know which is worse, actually getting on the plane and sitting in an enclosed vessel with the humidity of a Sahara dessert for 13 hours or knowing that you are going to have to do it in a few days and stressing out over it.
The nightmare began Friday, August 27th when I walked through the doors of the international terminal at LAX. I knew I was at the right check-in counter when I saw fat men in tracksuits, and women in tight-fitting clothes and high heeled shoes. When I finally got to the counter they told me my backpack was too big.
I specially packed everything into my carry on because I wouldn't have time to wait for the baggage. So, checking the bag in was not an option. I have taken exactly the same backpack on exactly the same flight during Christmas time, no less, and it has never been a problem. Now, all of a sudden, they won't let me on the flight with the bag. The woman claimed that the bag doesn't get smaller if you take stuff out of it. What? Maybe a hard-case suitcase doesn't, but this is an adjustable backpack, fucko.
I had to stuff it into their little metal check-to-see-if-it-fits-in-this-space thing to prove to her that it's a carry-on size. She finally gave me a boarding pass. Whew. Never mind that nobody else had to stuff their shit into that thing. I specifically checked a bunch of people's suitcases that they put in the overhead bins to see if they fit vertically. Nope! None of the ones I tried could fit depth-wise like my backpack had to. Inconsistent bastards.
Of course, because it's Aeroflot, the time that the plane is supposed to take-off is completely disregarded. They didn't even start boarding people until AFTER the flight's departure time. We finally took off 68 minutes after the scheduled time.
The flight was long. It's 13 long hours. I will say one good thing about Aeroflot, they got a new plane with pretty cool personal TVs on which you could watch a bunch of pretty recent movies. I don't get to go to the movies often, but I do watch previews. So, there are always movies I want to see but never do. They had Valentine's Day under the recent releases and I immediately jumped on the opportunity to watch a movie for free! Yay! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Jennifer Garner and Julia Roberts are so cute. I just love them.
Chick flicks are good, but a movie only lasts 2 hours or so. Being able to sleep on the plane is of paramount importance to remaining sane. I'm sad to say, readers, but I think I've lost my mojo. I used to be able to sleep anywhere, in any position, and with any amount of noise and light. On this flight I just could not get more than 30 minutes of sleep. I was really frustrated with myself.
A couple of hours before landing the captain had the nerve to tell us that "we are going to be landing at 6:55 PM, basically without delay." Say what? Since when is arriving 30 minutes late arriving "basically without delay"? Did I miss something? And it would be fine if they at least stuck to that, but at 6:55 we were still at 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) altitude. Is 5 km off the ground Aeroflot's landing altitude? Is that another memo I didn't get?
A Dave Chapelle's quote comes to mind. "You ask, why treat our customers that way? Because fuck 'em. That's why."
They didn't let me out of that airplane until 7:24. The last train through Moscow that mama and I could catch to get to our train to Penza was at 7:30. I was the first one through customs and we ran through the whole airport just to watch the doors close right in front of us at the platform. Missing that train meant spending the night in Moscow, spending the night in Moscow means sharing metal seats without backs with drunken bums at the train station and paying to use a bathroom that is basically a hole in the ground.
We tried to find a cultural way to spend our night, so we went to check out this newly built monument next to the train station.
I saw a drunk man with an eyepatch dripping blood who was pissing right on the monument, so we quickly left. I will spare you the description of the rest of our night, but it followed a similar theme.
There were no trains to Penza until late the next day, so we took a bus. Somehow drivers think it's totally cool with everyone to smoke on the bus. No big.
I saw the most majestic lion and tiger at a stop somewhere between Moscow and Penza. We quickly snapped a few pictures:
I'm holding up an ice-cream. It says CCCP (USSR) on it. It was yummy.
13 hours on the plane, 12 hours in Moscow, 10 hours on the bus - 35 hours later I was finally home.