Hello all, first things first we are safe and sound in St. Petersburg, Russia. Left chilly and windy Chicago Saturday night on Michael's birthday and arrived to chilly, windy, and SNOWY Russia Sunday afternoon. A friend kindly drove us to O'Hare (thanks bunches), and we were able to chill out before loading the packed Airbus. While I dozed here and there, Mel stayed up watching movies and stretching her legs. Almost 8 hours of flight later and we landed at Heathrow Airport. Even though we were leaving from the exact same terminal we still had to follow the purple signs down escalators, to a transit train, up escalators to a security, then to a sprawling lounge filled with perfume shop galore. Our hearts were pounding as we waited and waited for the screens to post our gate, it kept saying "gate opens at 8:41" yet never mentioned which gate until 8:50 and our flight was supposed to leave at 9:20. So we trekked past perfume shop after perfume shop before arriving at our gate. After a brief delay for the incoming flight, we hopped aboard a much smaller plane for about a 3 hour journey to the small airport of St. Petersburg. Coasted through immigration and customs to find Andre the Driver waiting with a sign with our names on it. A very friendly man, we lucked out! He even bought us some water and pop for our apartment and was going to give us some money in case we wanted dinner or to get some groceries. But I had exchanged some at Heathrow, now I wish I had exchanged it all at Heathrow for a small flat fee, next trip I am so doing that. Fearing how much "commission" I'll have to pay at a Russian bank tomorrow.
And now really quickly, the two security posts...O'Hare's guards were rude and made us rush through getting our stuff in baskets and then out of the way. It included a full body x-ray, but no pat downs. Whereas, Heathrow had us take all of our quart-sized clear plastic bags filled with liquids out of baggage, wanted our computer out of baggage, wanted our coats off and belts off and jewelry off before even making to the security lines. We were sweating bullets by the time we finally made it there, plus they had us pass at least 8 other security lines before finally having us stop at the very last one...good grief!
Sigh...our tired bodies are telling us it is time to rest as tomorrow is a big day: first sight seeing with Andre, then our interview with the Minister of Education, then a drive to the orphanage to meet the directors, staff and Baby D!
Thanks for all the well wishes!