Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Turning Japanese

Oy, what a time I've had of it.

Here's how the journey went.

Original flight plan: Moscow-->DC-->Columbus, Ohio

Saturday, Dec 19: Went to Domodedovo Airport, Moscow. Flight to DC cancelled due to Storm of the Century. Told "Go home, you will fly tomorrow." Went home, dragging our suitcases, and CALLED United. Told hold time would be up to 90 minutes. After about an hour I was told "There's nothing until Dec 27." Booked that, but, on advice of airport and phone people, returned to Domodedovo the next day.

Sunday, Dec 20: Returned to Domodedovo at 8:00 in the a.m. (This involved getting up around 5:00 a.m., taking the Metro to the train and the train to the airport, all the while dragging our suitcases.) Check-In opened at 8:30. Stood in the line as instructed. I was second. Then they said, "Oh, if you were on yesterday's cancelled flight, please come over to THESE windows across the aisle." That put me about ten people back.

They served us, one-at-a-time, to reroute everyone. They re-booked me Moscow-->Tokyo-->Chicago-->Columbus. Oh, but starting out of SHEREMETYVO Airport, which is across town. Flight scheduled to leave at 5:50 p.m.

Dragged suitcases back to train, Metro, home. The Spouse dutifully met us at the Metro and helped. Had some lunch, a little rest, and then dragged suitcases to the Metro, went to the OTHER train station, and then the OTHER airport (Sheremetyvo).

Flight departure delayed. Sat on plane for a couple of hours before departing for Japan (a nine-hour flight), but think this is okay because we had a six-hour layover in Tokyo.

Notice that one of the in-flight movies is Julie & Julia (hooray!), but cannot watch it or any other movie because none of the seats in our row has a functioning sound system. Merde.

Monday, Dec 21, I think: Now is when things get hazy because of the time differences. Arrived in Tokyo.

[Sidebar: No one yells at us in Security. In fact, not only is everyone extremely sweet and polite, but they offer us SLIPPERS when we have to submit our shoes for x-ray. SLIPPERS! No blue plastic shoe covers. The contrast between Russian and Japanese cultures is mind-blowing. Or maybe it's the jet-lag.]

Have about 5 hours to kill because of the delayed flight. Found what they call a "Dayhotel" in the airport. This gets the three of us three hours with three single rooms. Each room has a shower, a single bed, slippers, and some toiletries. The toilet is down the hall. I think it cost me about $70 total. I installed each kid in a room, took a shower, and had a nap.

Checked out of Dayhotel, and went off and found some sushi in the airport. It was lovely. Found the gate. They begin to board. We get seated (two on one side of the plane and one on the other, but whatever) when they announce we have to deplane. Oh, and take all your stuff with you. Delays continue for hours. A small child has a total meltdown in the waiting area. Never seen a tantrum of such epic proportions. Finally they announce that they are very sorry, but the flight is postponed until 2:00 the next day. They bus us all to hotels. A father has a total meltdown in the hotel reception area. I have never seen a tantrum of such epic proportions. We start to bond with other passengers. Get eight hours of decent sleep.

The following morning around 10:00 a.m., we return to the airport where we learn that no one will be there to deal with us before 12:30. The airline staff begins to re-book our connections after Chicago, one-at-a-time, until they realize that if they do all of us, we will not make our scheduled 2:00 departure time. Thankfully, we are processed before the staff abandons the project.

Board plane, fly 11 hours to Chicago.

Watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy (a show I have never seen), something called Royal Pains, a documentary called It Might Get Loud (which I recommend), Elf (I was so exhausted by now that this made me cry, that's what a mess I was), Julie & Julia (finally!), and the last Harry Potter movie (which I had already seen, but what the heck).

Arrive Chicago around 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, Dec 22. Flight to Columbus scheduled for around 1:00 p.m. Get through Immigration, Baggage Claim/Customs, return bags to airline, and make way to gate to learn flight delayed about two hours.

I don't know what time we arrived yesterday, but it was afternoon.

Had a shower, two martinis, carryout Chinese, and went to bed.

Woke up this morning to find kids up. Asked one, "What time is it?" She replies, "It's 6:30." I was done sleeping, so stayed up (LR, my father, is an insomniac, so he is ALWAYS up).

Put some laundry in, had some coffee, and started checking email. Wondered why The Spouse wasn't seeing my email activity and calling. Realize time on the computer says 5:45 a.m.

Kid's watch was still on Tokyo time.


Tina in CT said...

Santa better be damn good to you after your "Trip From Hell". What an ordeal!

Isn't your husband flying too?

Just be glad your girls are at the age they are and not little or you'd have wanted to shoot yourself.

That single room for a few hours at the airport is a terrific idea. What's wrong with the rest of the world for not doing the same thing?

Glad to hear that you arrived safely. Hope you are there for a few weeks as it'll take the rest of the week to adjust to the time change.

Diane said...

I'm glad you made it to Columbus before the next snow storm rolled in! Do you have a plan for going home? Or are you just going to stay in OH until the spring thaw?

TRex said...

You do realize that song is about, ahem, pleasuring yourself?

Japan is a pretty cool place. It might be worth getting a tourist visa and spending three days or so in Tokyo next time around.

valentina said...

Oh I am so glad you are here safely! I am just packing to hit the road and will see you all tomorrow! Can't wait! xov

Susan said...

I am so glad Katherine flew before the snow "incident."
You get the award for the trip from hell!!!

Allen Espy said...

entertaining! glad u made it back. enjoy the holidays.

The Expatresse said...

TRex: We got 90-day entry visa!

- English man in Moscow - said...

hmm..."deplane" I like Americanisms. Some airlines say disembark while others use deplane. Do you say baggage or luggage? pants or trousers, lift or elevator??

Ashira said...

That certainly was an ordeal! Glad you made it home, and in one piece :)

The Expatresse said...

And, personally, I think "deplane" is weird. Get off the plane. Exit the plane. Leave the plane. You would never "deboat."

- English man in Moscow - said...

Women de-makup so why not de-bed, de-bus, de-marriage, de-sex I could go on!! as you know life here in Moscow is a little boring at times when you are stuck at home all day with a toddler to take of.

Have a good Xmas in America and enjoy it all you can, breath the fresh air, enjoy understanding the language, enjoy shopping at normal prices, enjoy the TV etc.

Think of us other expats stuck here at Xmas!! Hope your trip home is smooth and hassle free.

Anonymous said...

That is just insane! It's kind of in line with the general Russia experience but on the US side of things I would have expected more organisation?!