It started off well enough. Our flights left DC okay and our connection in Germany went fine. We arrived at noon in Moscow, picked up our luggage and breezed through customs. We had an onward flight booked to St. Petersburg so we headed to the departure area and looked around for Aeroflot, our airline.
After 10 minutes of fruitless searching, we finally asked someone at another airline for help. He then informed me, with a mixture of pity and amusement, that we were at the wrong airport.
Did you know Moscow has four different airports? Did I? No. But I probably should have.
Okay, no big deal. We can just hop a cab and be there in time for our 3:30 flight.
So we find a “taxi” driver, who we aren’t even entirely sure is a taxi driver. He informs us that the other airport is 110 km away and the fare will be 3,500 rubles…which is well over $100. After some back and forth, we manage to talk him down to 3,000 and finally get into our cab.
The cab right lasted over two hours and I went through a lot of emotions during that two hours. All of them had to do with the assumption that I was going to die.
First, I assumed I would die at the hands of a murdering fake taxi driver. We had noticed that his car looked different than the other taxis so we were very concerned - especially after some of the things we had heard about fake Russian taxi drivers. I kept making non-sensical reationalizations to Shannon to try and make us feel better.
“Well he certainly seems like a man driving to the airport”
“I felt like the other cab drivers respected him”
I don’t think I was helping. However, after a while it did become clear that we were driving to the airport and everything seemed on the up and up.
Then I became afraid I would die from his crazy driving. It wasn’t just Moscow crazy – this man had his own personal brand of crazy driving which was evident from the many disturbed looks the other drivers were giving him.
Traffic was horrible and he seemed to think the the shoulder was his own personal free way. The word “shoulder” doesn’t even really fairly describe how little space this man drove down. It was more like the two foot gap between the road and the median. He even honked when other drivers dared be too far over in their lane to prevent his passage.
At one point, the police came by, sirens on also using the shoulder. “Busted,” I thought as he pulled back into that lane.
Then he pulled out right behind the police to use the path they created to move forward. It wasn’t until the police noticed this infraction and told him off that he stopped and finally stayed in his lane.
After two hours, I was just pretty sure I was going to die of old age in this cab. We were never going to make it to the airport.
We finally did arrive, but we missed our flight by a lot. It wasn’t even a “run into the terminal” situation. We were an hour late and the ticket counter informed we had missed our flight and our tickets were now lost. The only other option was to purchase new tickets.
New tickets for almost $500.
Obviously that wasn’t an option. So, now at a new airport, we had no other option but to head into town on the “Airport Express” train. From there we took the metro to another train station and bought an overnight train ticket to St. Petersburg.
Shannon was sad as we purchased the 100th ticket of the day:
We finally arrived in St. Petersburg at 5 am and made our way to the hostel.