I must confess I am not an early riser. Particularly not at 4:45 on a Sunday morning. But rise I must, as I have a 7:30 flight out from Venice – and after the initial sleepiness, I move with a certain spring in the step as my destination of today is Moscow, Russia – a city and a country I have never visited. Even the jaded international traveller has a frisson of excitement at the prospect of an unknown destination!
The early flight to Moscow goes via Vienna with Austrian, undoubtedly a softer approach than the direct Aeroflot flight, and the timing is more convenient… The view out of the window on approach to Moscow is of snowy forests with large white plains. As we descend, I notice that the plains are in fact frozen lakes and rivers, with large boats solidly iced in. March in Russia is evidently still a cold month!
Arrival in Sheremeteyevo airport. What do I expect? A drab concrete Soviet era building and surly officials poking through my bags. What do I get? A drab concrete Soviet era building, lots of glaring fuorescent lights, but the immigration is quick, the suitcases are waiting for me at the concourse, and the customs official barely glance at me before waving me through! Our hired driver is waiting for me outside, and soon we are off to the city. Faster in-and-out than any other major airport I have visited!
We spend much of remaining afternoon at the fair where we are exhibiting, conveniently right next to the hotel. The cyrillic signage leaves me baffled, and at first we cannot located the fair organisers’ office, but some waving of papers gets the message through and we manage to get the necessary badges. I am glad we will have an interpreter with us the next few days!