After I finished my masters I had enough cash left over from a semester’s living expenses that I could afford to blow a couple of grand before I started my job. I planned a trip – a week in Milan staying with a friend that was taking her last semester there, 2 weeks in St Petersburg with a buddy who was born there and still had some family there, and 2 weeks all over Turkey.
The trip was awesome, but the craziest story was between Milan and St Petersburg, although it was only crazy for me. Try to put yourself in my shoes while reading this.
The night before I was supposed to fly out, I had dinner with my friend who hosted me, and another girl from our program. We bought 3 bottles of awesome Sicilian wine. Them being girls, and me being an idiot, they had a glass a piece, and I finished the other 2.5 bottles. I woke up with the worst hangover of my hangover filled life. My friend was kind enough to somehow force me to collect my belongings, get me out of the door to the nearest cafe, and fill me with multiple espressos and a whole lot of aspirin.
This got me to the point where I could function independently, though not well. I dragged my ass on the train and made it to the airport. At the airport I started looking for Pulkovo Airlines. After at least 3 laps of Milan Malpensa, the functioning brain cell told me that something is wrong. I booked through Travelocity, so I, my hangover, and my luggage successfully located their kiosk. After a bit of bad Italian on my part and bad English on their part, they told me that the airline stopped flying out if this airport a month ago, and I need to contact the rep.
The rep materialized, looked me in my bloodshot eye (I only managed to have one open), laughed at me for a few minutes, and put me on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow with a connecting flight to St Pete.
I got on the flight to Moscow, got more water, got more aspirin, and more weak-ass Russian airplane coffee. The flight attendants took pity on my plight. One even offered me a beer for the hangover. I declined by slightly throwing up in my mouth.
Finally, we landed in Moscow. Well, not really. We landed in Sheremetyevo 2, which is the international terminal. Now, this being Russia, everything is done with the least possible efficiency. This means that the international terminal is not connected to the domestic terminal. This means that a connecting traveler needs to get into a cab and take the scenic route around the airport for about 20 minutes. My second eye started opening a bit, so I could take in the scenic view of what can only be described a dirt road, swarming with heavily armed men.
As fate would have it, I made my connecting flight and was seated behind an obnoxiously drunk American guy and his no less obnoxiously drunk Russian friend. Me, being an American of Soviet birth allowed me to be privy to the entirety of their inane conversation. Luckily I was in no position to make any sudden moves, so I didn’t attempt any violence.
Finally, I was in St Petersburg. But alas, the fun doesn’t quite end here. Since I was about 6 hours late and on a different airline, I had no idea where to go and no one was meeting me. My buddy’s number and address were in my email, so I needed internet access. I found a cabby, promised him untold wealth in hard currency if he took me to the center, found an internet cafe, and held my hand through the process. It was about 10PM local time. It was also June, which means that White Nights were in full swing. In St Petersburg this means that the sun doesn’t set, but makes a loop in the sky. So, I set out of the airport with that blazing ball of pain shining in my now open eyes.
My driver, who was now my father, brother, and best friend, saved my sad existence. He got me to an internet cafe, let me use his cell phone, and then got me to the jazz club where my friend was partying it up.
My luggage was deposited with the bouncer and I was deposited into the arms of my friend who greeted me with a silent WTF. I was handed an ice cold shot of vodka and a pickle, gently placed in a chair, and all was right with the world.