It’s an early rise when you have to get the train of 7:28 from Nijmegen to Schiphol. Some of us even went so far as to leave an hour earlier than that. Anna, our specialist on all things Russian, told us that Russians see people who laugh easily as fake, so we spent our time on the train trying to perfect our grumpy faces.
After a quick check-in, a nice snack and the occasional purchase of an SD-card for an otherwise useless GoPro camera, we got onto our slightly delayed flight. And what a flight it was! Smooth takeoff, nice food, super-friendly attendants and a somewhat bumpy but safe landing. We arrived at Moscow SVO around 4 PM. After surviving the crowd of taxi trolls, we met our very friendly contact from the HSE of Moscow.
Fun fact: a guard makes sure nobody enters the train station until exactly 15 minutes before the train leaves. Some of us picked new hobbies on the 40-minute train trip from the airport to the city centre. A few guys were trying to teach themselves the Cyrillic alphabet, attempting to read every Russian word they saw out loud. Others felt the urge to buy way too many expensive bottles of water. The lady with the cart didn’t know what hit her, after she received the vast amount of rubles for some simple H2O.
Another fun fact: there is a security checkpoint where they scan your luggage when you want to get out of the train station. In the possession of our brand-new unlimited one-week tickets for the metro, we arrived at hotel Agios around 8 PM. After the nice lady at the reception scanned our passports and helped some of us with missing bedlinen and towels – all while talking Russian rapidly – we met up to grab some dinner. Who knew that Borscht and Blini taste so good?
Some of us decided that a lack of sleep could not stop us from having some more fun and went out for a drink. The smarter ones stayed in though, as the next morning would bring a relentlessly early breakfast.