The 3 hours and 20 minutes flight from Paris to Moscow left late and arrived at a snow covered Moscow. With the temperature hovering at -10 degrees celcius the runway was covered with ice and the Moscow River was frozen. I tried to look out the window the entire flight to avoid watching the Russian woman sitting next to me picking her nose throughout the flight...what does she think, i'm blind?
The pathetic airport which is my home for 8 hours is barely heated so i've decided to keep my fleece jacket on. There are a few tacky tourist shops and 2 or 3 restaurants where I bought a ham and cheese sandwich at the bargain price of 7 euros (that's about $10). The same sandwich costs $4 at the Paris airport...talk about profitiering!
This airport is a crossroads for many destinations. You can tell where a plane is going by the people huddled around its terminal. There's a group of Italians all dressed up in their seudo-rock-star clothes and gelled hair heading back to Milan. At another terminal you can find cute old Mongolian ladies gorjing on peanut M&Ms and a Russian version of Hi-C orange juice in a cardboard box before boarding their plane back to their remote homeland of Mongolia. Then you've got the Chinese businessmen who march through the airport taking inventory of all the duty-free shops and comparing prices from back in Beijing.
Then you've got your Indians waiting for their flight to Delhi. They have strategically positioned themselves on the 2nd floor veranda to look out at all the people.
In the midst of all this you've got the very few rich Russians with the Luis Vuiton bags going to the 1st class lounge while the rest of the Russians sleep on benches to save money on a hotel while waiting for a flight to whichever part of Russia they're from.
There are a group of Chinese women giggling next to me while munching on some type of chips. They seem to travel in herds. I don't know what they find so funny, but i'm sure they're amusing themselves just as much as I am (which isn't hard to do).
I have yet to see the Armenians, because I still have 4 more hours for my flight.
Still at the Moscow airport. Armenians have slowly started to trickle in on what is well known as Armenian time (more then fashionably late). So how can you tell that you're at the right gate to board a plane to Yerevan? If you're surrounded by very talkative, lively people with dark hair and baltic features, either travelling with their family or men in bad suits or nylon sweat pants, then you're in the right place!!! Most importantly, you know they're Armenian if they are travelling with food. It would be shameful to pay 7 euros for a sandwich if you're an Armenian who has bountiful bread at home and not to mention cheese.
I have finally arrived at our designated gate for Aeroflot's flight to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. I noticed that the gate next to my flight was for a flight to Istanbul. Don't Russians know they're not supposed to put Armenians and Turks in a four walled room together??? Thankfully, the flight to Istanbul was 1 hour later and there were only a handful of them. They noticed they were outnumbered and sat by one wall together. The Armenians, to show they control the room became even more lively, all simultaniously needing to call someone on their mobile phones to let them know that they're about to board the plane.
The night would not be complete without the Armenian kid sitting behind me in the airplane throuwing a temper tantrum and his Mom screaming louder then the kid to show everyone on the plane her fierce Armenian disipline.
The plane is approaching the ground but there are no lights in sight. Armenia is covered in darkeness. The plane's lights go on and i can see snow falling on the ground. The overhead compartment above me opened up from the abrupt halt on the ground. The Armenians on boards started clapping and screaming "Bravo! Bravo!" in their excitement on arriving to the Motherland.
I walked half esleep through the communist looking Zvartnots airport, which is supposedly being renovated. There were a few men in trenchcoats standing behing the glass watching up walk from the plane to the airport in the freezing cold, God forbid they send a bus to pick us up!
The Norwejian couple i had met onboard and I went over to an officer and asked for a visa on arrival. We filled out the forms, paid the $30 and waited in line to go through customs. The customs official wanted to know if i spoke Armenian so he asked me if I'm wet? I said "Ayo tzuin ga" which means yes, it's snowing, but really i wanted to say yes because i had to walk to the terminal!