We had an early breakfast and made our way down the cool and empty Saint Petersburg streets and walked to the Metro station for our journey to the airport. We even managed to find time to grab a photo with The Prez.
Like many things, it sounded really simple, change trains once, then jump on a minibus to the airport. However we seemed to have gotten on the wrong bus from the Metro station. I had read that Terminal 2 was used for most European international flights, so we caught a bus that was headed there. The ticket didn’t mention anything about a different terminal, so I thought that was correct. The bus pulled into what looked like an airport, however it also looked borderline derelict, and the bus didn’t stop anyway. There were other passengers with suitcases, so I thought that it would probably go to the other terminal.
However, following our progress with the navigation on my phone, I could see that we were headed further and further away from the airport. We started to get nervous, and after doing our best to ask if it was going to the other terminal and not getting positive responses (which could be more to do with the way we asked the question, rather than the question itself). The comedy of errors continued, and instead of going back towards the airport, our bus took a detour and headed towards town. We decided that maybe we should hop off the bus and try and head back towards the main highway and try to pick up the correct bus from there. I flagged down every bus that had something written about Pulkova (the name of the airport), but when I asked about Terminal 1, I got a most resounding nyet (no). Time was running out, but still far from the point of desperation, we hailed a taxi and negotiated a price. I thought he said 50r ($1.30), but it turned out to have been 500r ($13). Unfortunately for him, I only had 300r ($8), so after much frustration on his part, he gave in and took the money. Considering the short distance we had to travel, I think we paid more than a fair price.
We’d made it, checked in to our Air Moldova flight, and made it through Russian immigration and customs without too much problem (it was lucky that we had evidence of where we’d been, and even luckier that the hotel in Kazan had registered our visa for us). Risa seemed to have faired better, as she said that she even got a smile from her officer, all I got were heated phone calls and dirty glances.
Once again, we thought that we were prepared, but once again, things had gone very pear-shaped before working at the last minute. If nothing else, it has been good experience of remaining calm during potential calamity.