Well back from Russia, what a trip, let me tell you. First Russian’s in the airport are the rudest people. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very nice people we met, like our translator he was awesome, Sergey was helpful and friendly.

We got off the plane in Moscow, now a 10 hour plane flight is a pain in the ass if you aren’t traveling business class. Economy class sucks ass if you are tall and fat, you might want to save a little money by traveling economy class but if you are tall don’t do it, because you will be hurting for like 2 days afterwards.

Anyway we get off the plane in Moscow and are met by Sergey and Michael at the airport, both are really cool, Michael our driver didn’t really speak English but he knew a few words and phrases like “Thank You”, “Your Welcome” and knew the universal sign for I want a cigarette. First thing we passed was McDonald’s which is just really strange in Russian.

Driving in Russia (not just Moscow either. All of Russia), I would rather drive in Manhattan at rush hour, 2 days before Christmas, with Macy’s having a half off sale 5 blocks away. It is insane, truly insane, Traffic lights just a suggestion, lines on the road just a suggestion I mean 3 lanes of traffic, nope you can fit 6 lanes of traffic if you include the shoulders on both sides of the road. Pedestrians are considered speed bumps. Sidewalks are just another place to park your car, or if you have a narrow enough car it’s just another lane to drive in. If you ever wanted to drive in NASCAR you would be in heaven driving in Russia.

Well we just finished the flight to Moscow, and the interpreter asked if we wanted to go anywhere before he took us to the hotel, we declined, it was a long flight, we just wanted to get to the hotel and get some rest before we did anything else. The time difference and the long flight kind of wore us down to the point we didn’t want to do anything else.

We stayed at the President Hotel in Moscow, the hotel was great, the rooms were awesome, and the hotel staff spoke English. The President Hotel is a five star hotel, and everything about that place reflected that rating.

After check in, Jen and I went to the bar in the hotel and had a drink and bought a pack of cigarettes, as with any hotel in the world I think it was over priced for the area, the cigarettes were about $4.00 a pack and the drinks were about $5.00 each. The bar area of the hotel was nice, the décor was something you would expect at a hotel of this caliber. Large sofas, comfortable chairs and warm wall coverings were the norm here.

Our room was just spectacular, 2 bathrooms, a very large living room with a china cabinet, complete with a queen size bed in a very large bedroom. The view from the living room was great also right outside of our living room was a statue of Peter the Great about 15 stories tall.

The next day was check out from the hotel, and sightseeing in Moscow. We had eight hours from check out until our flight to Kemerovo. Our interpreter was right on time, and took us literally all over the city. Our first stop was the Kremlin, it actually was very impressive, it has been around before the US was even a country, it’s a very massive structure with guard towers and large iron gates. Right outside of the Kremlin is Red Square, Lennon’s Tomb. On the other side of the Kremlin and across Red Square is the palace of Ivan the Terrible, which some citizens of Russia have really embraced capitalism because they have turned his palace into a high end clothing shopping mall. We also toured Victory Park which was mind blowing, Russian’s really love their statues and museums.

Then the flight to Kemerovo, okay if you are taller then 5’4” and / or weigh more then 150 pounds I would strongly suggest business class tickets on Aeroflot airlines. The airport going to Kemerovo is not the same airport you arrive in for international flights, its small and very old. Actually the airport is really nasty looking to be honest. There are three security check points you must pass to get to the gate for the plane. Our translator took us to the second check point, and could go no further in to the airport. The other passengers in the airport, the Russian’s were rude, I’m not talking New York rude, they take the definition of rude to another level completely, as with driving in Russia lines are just a suggestion, its really a free for all. If you are from a major city and are traveling within Russia, just act worse then you would at home and you will be fine. If you are from a smaller town or suburb here are your directions to take a successful flight within Russia. Push your way past people forget about manners because you will be eaten alive. Period, which is all the advice I can give you.

Well after about 4 hours on the flight we were circling for a while, and then an announcement was made in Russian, to which all the passengers let out a sigh, that is never a good sign in any language. The kid next to my wife told her “No Kemerovo” great we were just wondering what the hell was going on, but not speaking the language we just waited a while and landed somewhere. It was a tiny airport in a small city called Barnaul, in Siberia. We just took note of the other passengers on the flight and followed them into the airport, and were taken to a small room to just hang out and wait. Three hours later someone (One of the very few nice people in Russia) got someone to come over to us and tell us Kemerovo was fogged in and we were waiting on our plane to be refueled and de-iced, then we would be on our way again.

I would have liked to get a sandwich in the airport, so I waited online for 45 min at the counter, there were only 6 people in front of me when I got on line at the sandwich window, but remember what I said earlier about lines being just a suggestion, about twenty people just walked in front of me in line and pushed their way to the window. I’m not a small guy by any means and in the States I would have put most of these people through a wall, you know a little warning shot to the side of their head. Being in Siberia and not knowing the language, and being in an airport swarming with military personal, I just kept my mouth shut and hands in my pockets. Finally I get to the sandwich window, of course not one person speaks English, figures, I finally place my order, and end up with a can of diet coke and a bottle of sprite for all my effort.

A few more hours pass and the plane is ready to take off, back in to the cramped seats, and crappy plane. The flight takes about an hour to land in Kemerovo. Our new translator Illiana is there to meet us she is holding a sign with our last name on it. Okay get the luggage and were off to the orphanage 7 hours late. (See previous post for orphanage events)

Now at the hotel, this place is NOT ‘The President Hotel’ in Moscow, very far from it, actually on the other end of the spectrum of it. The words sleazy shit hole whore infested dump come to mind. Our room was okay they have been remodeling the hotel and it looked like they just finished redoing our room, this is evident by the lumber leaning against the wall outside of our room door. The elevators were tiny, I mean very tiny about 3×3 feet and you have 2.5 seconds after the doors open to get yourself and your luggage inside before the doors close.

Now the first night was interesting at the hotel, we heard rumors that hookers call all night long on the phone, this is not true, it is not ALL night just 5 or so times per night. Our first night at the hotel we were on the phone calling many people, because the first referral we had lots of problems with. (See previous post)

Well back to the orphanage in the morning to officially decline the first referral. After that was over we were given the medical background on another boy there, he is 10 days older and is birthday is the day after mine. His medical background was fine, we met with him and after about 5 minutes it was easy to look at each other and know this was the boy we are going to take home.

After the first visit was over, we asked our translator if we could go back to the hotel and get our camera and video camera, after the first experance we weren’t sure that we needed to be lugging stuff around with us anymore. At this point we were all hungry, thinking back on the time line we hadn’t eaten in two days at this point other then the diet coke and the sprite at the airport.

About 2 buildings away from the hotel was a little country restaurant that Illiana took us to, they had menus in English which we just pointed out to the waitress what we wanted, I had a meat platter, on my was that good, it had country sausage that they made right in the restaurant, beef on a stick, and steak, for an appetizer I had potato pancakes. Jen had pigs neck, and for a appetizer meat filled potato pancakes, also a beer, without knowing the size of the beer, it was a litter glass which she did not finish.

Back to the orphanage after getting our gear at the hotel, we played with little Jack for about 2 hours and accepted the referral to adopt him.

After we called every that night at the hotel, we decided to go back to the country restaurant for dinner. We didn’t have our translator with us this time, but the wait staff remembered us and brought us the English menus. I really don’t remember what I had to eat because the day was becoming a blur to us, it was just a very stressful time.

The next day we were back on a plane from Kemerovo to Moscow, oh the fun of Aeroflot airlines, just for the record they suck ass if you didn’t get that from several paragraphs ago. There were more pushy Russians cutting in front of us while waiting on line, same bullshit as before.

We land in Moscow, and Sergey was waiting for us in the airport, which was cool because there are like 20 different translators working for the adoption agency, so we could have gotten anyone when we got back.

He ended up taking us to a flea market type of area, where we picked up a ton of trinkets and such for people back home. Then after we were done, it was back to The President Hotel, I really like that place a lot. They have a 5 star restaurant in the hotel on the top floor, which we went to for dinner, but it was closed for a private party or something like that, we ended up eating dinner at the bar, which was really good, this hotel doesn’t skimp on anything. I had a nice glass of ‘Russian Standard Vodka, Platinum’ which our translator recommended. Finally a good nights sleep in a nice room with a comfortable bed.

The flight leaving Moscow was at the international airport which is the modern one in the city. We left the hotel at 9:30 am for a 1:45pm flight, a different translator picked us up, and sorry I don’t remember her name off the top of my head. She took us to the airport, and up to the second security check point. There are about five security check points at the international airport.

We were finally going home, we board the plane, and the overhead bin over our seats is full with a small bag and 2 coats neatly folded. I think Jen had finally reached her breaking point, she just snapped, grabbed the bag that was sitting there and smashed it in to the corner of the overhead bin. A Russian couple sitting a row over started to object, she tossed their coats at them and said “I don’t care, put your crap in the bin over your seats” which they replied “someone using that now” At this point I don’t think Jen really gave two shits when she said “That’s your problem, I’m putting my bag in here, I don’t really care what you do with your things, this is my overhead compartment, period” When my wife sat down, she was at the breaking point I think, I was just hoping she wouldn’t have a complete melt down before we hit American soil.

I was a little nervious that she was going to toss this little guy off the plane. When we sat down I told her to cool off we would be home in ten hours and I’ll put him through a wall if she wanted. Well it was an uneventful flight going home, they showed two movies which both sucked.

After the plane touched down in New York, someone a few rows back cheered “We’re Back Home” and people started clapping. As we stopped at the terminal I stood up and reached for our carry-on in the overhead bin, the little guy and his wife that gave us shit about the bin started to stand up and suddenly fell back in to his seat after being struck with a carry-on bag containing 4 bottles of ‘Russian Standard Vodka – Platinum’ I looked at him and smiled while drawing myself up to my full height, then broke out laughing at him. It was only one rude as shit Russian knocked on his ass but it sure as hell made me feel better, he was in my backyard now and I knew it wasn’t going to be a problem.

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