A Travellerspoint blog

8th September

“The time has come the Walrus said,
To speak of many things,
Of ships and shoes and sealing wax,
And cabbages and kings.”

And our time has come too. We spend the morning cleaning and tidying the apartment and making sure we have left nothing behind. I venture out on my own mid-morning to go back to the “tunic shop” to buy more postcards. This is my first time out on my own without Marina looking after me. I feel confident and quickly find the street I’m looking for. But do you think I could find the arcade? In no time at all I’m lost. I spy one of the “Militsyar” (A cross between Police and Military) carrying a machine gun. He’s giving directions to a tourist couple who have driven the wrong way down a one-way street. While I’m waiting for him to finish, I practise how I’m going to ask him in Russian for the directions I need. This bit goes real well- the Russian flows from my lips, I understand his reply, and I thank him. Then in perfect “American” English he asks me how I’m enjoying my holiday. Turns out he has spent several summer vacations on work exchange programmes in the States. He almost recognises my accent- asks me where in Australia I am from.

I find my way back to the apartment, sign the papers with the apartment manager, and we catch the taxi to the airport. While I was out Marina has rung every taxi company, found the cheapest and ordered a cab. She saves us 20 UAH, about $3NZD. (Every little bit helps as the monkey said when he peed in the Nile.)

The airport is a very emotional time. All too quickly I get the boarding call, we embrace, say good bye, and I disappear into the bowels of Ukrainian International Departure processing. It is now seriously hot, there is no aircon, and once again I feel like I am in an All Black ruck as all the local people push and shove and take every possible opportunity to queue jump.

I get lucky at check-in, I am able to get a boarding pass not only for this leg, but the next one as well. I am able to get an emergency exit seat for the Vienna-Bangkok leg. This is good because this is a night flight and the extra leg room will enable me to sleep.

Once again there are no air-bridges. This time instead of a bus to the plane, we have to board an articulated trailer towed by an old old truck. Our driver is smoking, something that would never be allowed in NZ. I wonder if perhaps their aviation fuel is not as explosive as ours, then I wonder if that means that their planes fly slower than ours. Just as we are about to mount the stairway into the airplane, a couple of gun toting guards tell us to step back because there is a “veep” coming. Turns out they mean a VIP. A magnificent limousine pulls up at the plane and out steps a black woman who looks for all the world like Condelisa (sp?) Rice (sp?). Maybe it was her, there have certainly been many diplomats in Ukraine this past week as they celebrate 20 years of Independence.

Eventually this VIP is settled in her seat and we allowed on the plane.

Vienna airport is one of the great boring places of the world. There is almost no shopping, only 2 food outlets, insufficient seating, piss poor flight information and I’m stuck here for 7 hours. I make friends with a mother and daughter who have Kiwi emblems on their bags and clothes. Turns out they are going to athletic meeting for some world junior championship being held in Albania. They have missed their connecting flight after a delay getting out of Heathrow.

About half an hour after our plane is supposed to have left we are told by Austrian Air that our aeroplane has what they euphemistically describe as a “technical problem”. We are to be bussed to a hotel for 3 hours sleep and will depart in the morning. We are then abandoned and left to our own devices to find the buses that are taking us to our hotel.


Posted by chrisbakernz 21:41

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