Adopting from Russia: Trip 2 (Oct/Nov 2003)

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Oct 3

Letters Home: Andrew's return
Nov 1 + Nov 2

Nov 7

Saturday Nov 1 / Sunday Nov 2 - Ekaterinburg to Moscow to Toronto

Sent: 3 Nov 2003 18:37:35 GMT
Subject: I'm home... now the wait for Maureen and Bailey

Hello all,

I am finally home, while Maureen waits out the 10 day waiting period in Ekaterinburg.

The flight from Ekaterinburg to Moscow was 10 HOURS LATE leaving. Since it is flight #719 FROM Moscow, and flight #720 TO Moscow, you have to wait for the plane to arrive from Moscow before you can take it back to Moscow. I had managed to get one more visit to the orphanage in the morning, and then I was driven out to the airport in the afternoon to wait for developments. Slava and Dima and Lena (I think) kept me company. The flight finally arrived from Moscow at 4pm. My flight, Instead of leaving at 7am, left at 5pm, arriving in to Moscow at 5:30pm. Slava knew enough to get a "special" stamp on my ticket from the airline, that would indicate to Moscow that the flight was late, and that might entitle me to special services since they delayed me. A couple Americans I met, who were associated with the University, had waited at the airport all day, with no translator, and were really frustrated (I don't think they got the special stamp!)

I was met by Olga's daughter-in-law "Olga" in Moscow (I had previously met her at the end of our first trip, when she accompanied us to the ballet. )

Because of the flight delay from Ekaterinburg I missed my connection to London. Luckily the missed connection was an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to London. So Olga, knowing the ropes, immediately took me to the Aeroflot offices on the 2nd level (down a hall, that I NEVER would have found on my own) and waited while they decided and then found accomodation for the evening.

They were very fair (more than fair) and rebooked Moscow to London for 8:45am on Sunday. (I was originally supposed to fly from Msocow to London at 10am Saturday!). They put me up in the Airport Novotel (including dinner and breakfast..very decent), AND put me in Business class when I checked in on Sunday am. They also booked my ongoing flight from London to Toronto (with Air Canada...and when I got to London, sure enough, I was booked on the 12:35pm flight....and not a penny extra from my pocket). A lot of thanks go to Olga, for staying with me and sorting out connections and accomodation. It was a snowy cold evening, and Olga (the rep) finally caught up to us as she had been busy, I think with another couple, and I got to say hi to her.

I managed to make a quick call to Maureen in Ekat, and to Lynn and Fred in Toronto to let them know the situation. The Hotel was very nice, and just at the edge of the Moscow International Airport, so just 15 mins from the airport in the morning.

Dinner was a fixed menu , served at a couple of tables for all the people who had missed connections (a mom and a young son, a student travelling etc.), and though I tried to start some conversation, I didn't succeed. Also of interest, I met a couple in the lobby, who quickly identified me (thinking that Olga was my wife) as a westerner adopting from Russia!!! Turns out they were just heading to Siberia on their first adoption trip. I chatted briefly with them.

I caught a shuttle to the airport with some of the flight crew, and because I had been slotted into business class, I was able to hang out in the "flight lounge" after I made my duty-free purchases. That was very nice, and there were snacks, and drinks and magazines. Very restful.

The business class seats were very good, and the service was quite fine. I sat beside a student, who was afraid of flying, and was wimpering and praying beside me on both take-off and landing. She survived, and thanked me for my understanding, and comforting during the flight.

In the London airport, I was able to find an electric outlet hidden underneath a grand piano display stand, so after buying a plug adapter for the UK at one of the airport stores, I was able to charge up my laptop for the next leg of my return.

The Air Canada check-in was uneventful. They knew about me, and had no problems that I hadn't originally been booked on this flight.

My seat mates on the London to Toronto leg, were a couple of girls (8 and 13?) who weren't able to sit together with their dad, who were returning from Spain (thinking back, I suppose I could have given up my seat, but no-one asked!). They were returning to Toronto 3 days late, having been delayed in their return by the power failure that had happened in North America. They were looking forward to getting home too.

SO..21 hours later than expected I arrived safely in Toronto. Fred was there to meet me, and I got my big hug from Sullivan when I got home (picture at right)

Now I wait for Maureen and see if the plans for their return on Nov 18 come through.... Andrew