The Long Road Home

Today we woke up and checked out of the hostel. My flight was for about 1.00 in the afternoon so I headed the metro to catch a bus to the airport. However, upon arriving at the metro station where the buses to the airport are, I remembered there are two airports in St. Petersburg: Pulkovo 1 and Pulkovo 2. In Russia it seems there is always an airport for international flights and an airport for domestic flights, a fact I almost always seem to forget. Suddenly I couldn’t remember which was which. So I jumped on the bus to the Pulkovo airport. It’s a good thing the airports are close and quite small. I was able to walk in, look at the board of departures, and immediately assess that this was the airport for domestic flights. No problem. I caught a bus back to the metro station, and then caught the bus to the other airport.

Fortunately I had enough time (and had brought enough rubles) so this wasn’t a problem. But I’d never been to this airport before and had never flown domestically within Russia. So I showed up and saw the area for registration (check-in). There was no one there. I was used to all the airlines having a check-in area and regardless of your flight, you check in there. Instead, there was a huge board on the wall indicating the various flights. My flight’s check-in would be open only for a certain time and at certain check-in desks. So I waited in line, then checked in, then went through security. After that we were led to what seemed like a completely different building (through a long tunnel, up an escalator, along another moving conveyor belt) and then out onto the tarmac where we boarded a small plane.

Within an hour I arrived in Moscow, took another bus to the metro, then the metro to where the buses are, and a bus back to my town. I’ve never been so happy to see my city, so beautiful and familiar, in all my life.

One of the many things I realized during this journey is how resourceful I’ve become and how I can easily solve problems in Russia. During my previous trip to Russia, or perhaps even a few months ago, I would have been terrified and wouldn’t have known what to do. I would have wanted to have all the information before proceeding, would have had a plan to ensure nothing went wrong. Now I can fly by the seat of my pants, making it up as a I go along, inferring information from past experiences, present observations, or just winging it and seeing how it turns out. For all the hiccups that have occurred during the past week of travelling, I think getting to that point has made it more than worth it. At this point I feel like I could be thrown into any country and I’d be able to survive. Now that’s empowering!

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