Thirty hours is a long time to be traveling. Lots of sitting in airport terminals and in airplane seats. But Russia is far from California , and not just in terms of distance. Ken is doing his best to go with the flow, which includes a mixed-bag of bureaucracy. Our out-of-his-comfort zone adventures during the past year have helped to settle us into a pleasant rhythm as travel companions. And although I tried to do everything humanly possible to create a smooth experience for his first trip to Russia, well, our arrival was not without snags. Aka bureaucracy.
As in, we were detained at the border control.
But first the positive aspects:
All flights were smooth and on time. We got to go through the fast track security line in LAX. We got free exit row seats on the last leg into Samara. The brand new terminal in Samara is dreamy. No more shuttle bus from the plane to the terminal bldg. No more makeshift baggage carousels or squeezing through narrow doorways with bulky luggage. Lovely, warm receiving area, and lovely friends waiting for us there. With flowers and chocolate.
At the hotel
At the Holiday Inn in the city center we were upgraded to an “Executive” room with a Volga River view. Our king sized bed is comfy, and the hotel has all the amenities we could need. The food is good too!
Now more bureaucracy
There is a glitch with our official “registration” — a requirement of all foreign visitors. We are still working on that with the hotel manager, who promised to make it work out somehow. Part of that mixed bag of bureaucracy I mentioned above. That, and being detained at border control, which Ken cannot stop fussing about.
Granted, Samara is not a tourist destination like Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Foreigners here for reasons other than business are rare. But until I could prove we had friends here by providing a name and phone number, we weren’t getting in. What a country!
But in spite of some weirdness, Ken is finally here with me and we are enjoying this new adventure as “tourists” together. I plan to share his impressions of the city in future posts. I expect a mixed bag. We’ll see.