The flight didn’t leave until 16.30 so we only had to leave for the airport at about 2pm. Our plan for the time was: bit of a lie-in then check out, breakfast at The Idiot (because we couldn’t be bothered finding anywhere else in the mainly residential area), go up St Issac’s as a goodbye to the city, then pick up a car from the hotel.
We woke up about 10am and looked out of the window, expecting the sunny weather we’d had previously to really get the most out of a trip up St Issac’s. It was foggy. So foggy we couldn’t see St Issac’s itself. “No, no,” I had assured John the day before, “it’ll be lovely weather. We’ll be able to see for miles.” Bah to my weather-predicting skillzz. We checked out anyway (the hotel cost about the same as the Moscow one but it wasn’t as much of a shock this time as we expected the tax) and headed up to The Idiot, thinking the fog might clear as the day went on.
I had more bliny and lovely tea for breakfast again, while John went for a vegetable omelette and toast instead. As we ate, we decided we should forget about St Issac’s and go souvenir shopping instead – at a supermarket we had spotted on Thursday. We firmly made this decision and congratulated ourselves on how this was, clearly, a far better idea than going up St Issac’s anyway. Of course, as soon as we left The Idiot, we saw that there was the clearest blue sky we had seen all week but we had our new plan now so bah to it.
In the supermarket, we bought vodka (for Katherine and Dan), red caviar (for the cats), tea (for us) and bars of soap for everyone else (the Cyrillic alphabet made everything looks cool, even soap). We then walked around a bit further, finding two little delis for more exploration but not much more purchasing, before ending up at the back of the Cathedral of our Lady of Kazan again (cats! weeee!). We walked down Nevskiy Prospekt and Mal. Morskaya Ul back to St Issac’s. The area was now crawling with tourists (a cruise ship load by the look of it) and we spent an uncomfortable ten minutes or so trying to buy Russian dolls as souvenirs (mum gifts). I really hate pushy sales people and they were really quite pushy. The best moment was when I reached out to touch one but then withdrew at the last minute; the stall owner said it was ok to touch them and I proceded to accidentally knock over half the stall. Go clumsiness.
We had a car booked from the hotel so picked that up about 2pm. The driver made John look like he was of a slight build but the car was very plush (as it should be for Euro50). The drive to the airport was interesting as there were some big buildings and monuments on the way – and it was an opportunity to see more of the outskirts of the city than we had seen on the train on the way in.
The airport itself was a nightmare though. It seemed smaller than Leeds Bradford but was twice as busy – with constant security checks. You go through metal detectors to get into the airport, then a security checkpoint between the entrance hall and the check-in desks, then a visa/passport check point between check-in, then a final (shoes-off) metal detector from the departure lounge to the gate. In other words, we spent a lot of time in queues. I’m just glad that we got there in good time because I would have been panicking otherwise.
The flight itself was fine and included the same nice snacks as we had coming out. We didn’t have a window seat but I could peer across my neighbour to enjoy the sun on the coast of Denmark (mmm, coast of Denmark… future holiday spot?). The transfer at Amsterdam was reasonably smooth and we were surprised when our bags were first off the plane in Leeds Bradford. A very friendly taxi driver took us home and we ate bread (bought from the patissere in Schipol) and cheese for tea, with three of the cats.
Three of the cats? I hear you question. Yes, because Carbon decided to scare me and not come home for hours, even though I was shouting in the park. In fact, he didn’t come home until I was asleep – John brought him up to see me and I apparently cuddled him and stroked him, but can I remember any of this? Not one bit. So on Sunday morning, after a worrying night’s sleep even though I was exhausted, I got up quite early to see if my Carbs had appeared. He came in for his breakfast as normal and I whipped him up in an excited cuddle. Neither Carbs or John could see why I was happy to see him, since in their mind, I had seen him about 10 hours before rather than the 6 days as it was for me. Bah. But nevermind.