a. Peeing—obviously not while “lying awake” in the bed!Someone asked us if we’d printed our boarding passes, and when we said not they told us we could use the computers and printer on the conference level; so that’s what we did. Although we had checked out and surrendered our door cards, we were nevertheless able to get to the conference level or mezzanine floor in the lift with our luggage: for on the way up, there were others in the lift, so we just pressed the “M” button; and on the way down, we just pressed “1” and it worked without a door card (so maybe it was just going to the bedroom levels that required a card). There were two laptop computers on a coffee table surrounded by armchairs and a settee, so I looked up the “KLM” website on one of them, completed the asked-for check-in information, and tried to print. A separate window appeared, but it was blank. There were other difficulties, and it ended up with a message saying that the browser couldn’t display the information. This was using Windows Internet Explorer browser. So I tried the other computer. This had a Google Chrome browser, and without too much difficulty I got our boarding passes for both legs of the journey printed out. Meanwhile (Janet wrote): “I nipped out to Norman’s and got a 600ml bottle of Pepsi Light for under a squid.” I wasn’t aware that she’d gone! My boarding pass for the first flight from St. Petersburg to Amsterdam. I gave Janet hers, so that’s why I only had mine available back home to scan.
b. Janet added: “Realised later that it was half a loaf — what a good idea.”
c. NETTO—spelled НЕТТО in Russian. Janet told me that the apples she saw there were rotten, and that this was the only shop she’d been in that matched our preconceptions about life in Russia.
d. Norman’s: A street-corner convenience store with the sign НОРМАН over the door. On an opposite corner there was another store with the commonly seen word ПРОДУКТЫ over the door.
e Beer-off: A colloquial term for “off-licence”, a shop in the United Kingdom or Ireland licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises, as opposed to a bar or public house which is licensed for consumption at the point of sale (“on-licence”).
f. Squid—i.e. “quid” (pounds Sterling)
My boarding pass for the first flight from St. Petersburg to Amsterdam. I gave Janet hers, so that’s why I only had mine available back home to scan.
Both mine and Janet’s boarding pass for the flight from Amsterdam to Manchester. The reason I had both copies back home available to scan is that we didn’t use them; we were given separate boarding passes for this flight at baggage check-in at St. Petersburg.
Вера had told us that we’d be picked up at 2.30pm, so we went down ca.2.10pm and sat on some large, cuboid, pouffe-like seats opposite the lifts round a corner from Reception. (The couple of armchairs directly opposite Reception, that we would have sat in, were occupied.) So we missed the arrival of our driver, but saw him when he appeared to be wandering around after having been to Reception; we asked him if he was “Intourist” and had come for us. He was a pleasant, thin, hyperactive-seeming youth. He showed us to the minibus, and resumed our Pushkin route of the other day, past the Moscow Triumphal Gate and the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, till we turned off right for the airport. Initially we were too early for the flight to Amsterdam to be on the monitor. When it did appear, and indicated “Desks 4–6” (or similar) we headed there, where there was just one man standing. The monitors above the desks still said “Paris”/“Париж”, though. When one of the staff turned the man away, we asked him if he was going to Amsterdam. He replied in a North American accent that he was. We realised then that luggage check-in would start there when some text on the monitor, in white, saying “On time”, had changed to something else in green. So we took ourselves off and sat down, and waited — and waited.
13:25:36 in St. Petersburg (10:25:36 back home)
The hotel restaurant, viewed from the conference floor
When the text finally did turn green, we looked over and saw that already a long queue had formed at the desks. The line seemed to take a long time to clear. What’s more, when we got to a desk, the clerk was having a problem with her computer, so there was more waiting. Despite our having printed boarding passes we were nevertheless issued with boarding cards, both for the forthcoming flight to Amsterdam, and for the one from Amsterdam to Manchester. Then we went and joined the “snake” of people waiting for passport and visa control (shown in the photo, above). We got through that without a problem.
15:31:34 in St. Petersburg (12:31:34 back home)
Waiting for luggage check-in for the Amsterdam flight to start at St. Petersburg Airport
Stub of my first boarding card. The rest was removed and kept by someone as I entered the “tube” to the aircraft.
The plane landed at “D7”, I think — “D low-number”, anyway — and our connecting flight was from “D46”, so we didn’t have far to go. There was a remarkable lack of Dutch-language notices, the only one, under a larger English one, being for a smoking room in an on-site Irish pub. Even the toilets, which we visited, were signed “Ladies” and “Gentlemen”. There was a bank in the concourse so I got rid of my remaining Roubles. I had 560 left (not counting a handful of coins, which we put in a charity collection container), worth €11.82, but after €3.25 commission I only got €8.57. Still, don’t suppose we’ll have use for Roubles again. We kept these and our other remaining Euros, though, because we plan to go back to Italy next year.
19:23:10 in Amsterdam (18:23:10 back home)
Approaching Schiphol airport, I disobeyed the injunction against the use of electronic equipment to take this photo
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