I’ve seen this before and I saw it again. People’s faces change even before they come home. For some reason, most Russians tend to have this hard look on their face and an absolute absense of smile, unless, of course, they see something funny. People can enjoy walking down the street, but the moment they get to the Russian Embassy, they change. The same happened in the Larnaca airport. People were coming relaxed and rested from their vacations, but the moment they queued up for flight registration, their faces were changing.

Needless to say, when I came to Moscow, everyone had a wooden face. I’ve been to several cities across the country, and the faces were almost the same everywhere. Moscow faces were a tiny bit more serious than everywhere else, but there was no huge difference anyway.

First impressions and cultural shock

As always, the first couple of days consisted of most impressions and deepest degree of cultural shock. That’s why I’ll cover the first few days in more details than the rest of the trip.

At first it seemed that everything is different from how I remembered it, and from how things are in Cyprus. All these differences overloaded my brain pretty quickly and started to ignore them. Pity, but that’s how my head works.

The benefits of Cyprus passport

My trip to Russia was the first real test of Cyprus passport. I wondered how would it work out altogether…

At Larnaca’s passport control I showed my ticket and Russian passport first. The ticket was to my Russia passport, so that I could avoid getting visa to Russia. But my Russian passport in virgin clear – I got it here, in Cyprus, and it has no arrival or departure marks. Officer checked my passport, flipped through its pages, and than checked it in the computer. Obviously, it wasn’t there. He asked me, if I have my old passport with me. I replied negative. He looked puzzled.

I then said that I have Cyprus passport as well. Right at that moment his face lit with delight. He said something like “Why didn’t you mention that earlier, my friend?”. He took my Cyprus passport, run it through the computer and I was ready to go. No stamps or anything. He asked me if I wanted my Russian passport stamped with departure, and I said that I do. That was it.

I didn’t show my Cyprus passport upon the arrival to Russia as it wasn’t needed. Leaving from Russia though, I was asked about my visa by the airlines reprepsentative. I showed my Cyprus passport and that was enough.

When we arrived to Cyprus, everyone hurried to ‘All passports’ queue. Our flight came from Samara, and there were no Cypriots or EU citizens onboard. Except for me, of course. I took Cyprus passport out of the bag, joined it together with Olga’s Russian passport and Maxim’s birth certificate and went to the EU queue. Customers officer stamped Olga’s passport and we were through. The first and the only. That was SWEET!

The rest of the people saw that this queue worked also and rushed to join us, but they were all ordered back to the ‘All passports’ queue, unless they had EU or Cyprus passport. I still remember those envy looks behind my back…

But life is fair – we all had to wait together for one hour for our luggage to appear on the luggage belt. So, I got no practical benefit this time. Still, I’m glad I’ve tried it in and out.

Daily del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user tvset on 2006-08-01

Itinerary overview

Since I have loads to think about (still) and tonnes to say (already), I think that I’ll give a rough idea of what I went through in the last two weeks, and then I’ll post more about this and that as I finish writing or think of something. So, here goes the itinerary summary or an overview of our routes.

I have started my journey in the airport of Larnaca, Cyprus on Sunday, July 16. I flew to Domodedovo airport in Moscow, Russia, where my mother was waiting for me. We travelled for 40 minutes on a train to the rail station in the city, where we were picked up by my mother’s friend. She drove us around Moscow, we went for some coffee, and then drove some more. Later we had dinner together at my mother’s place. Mother’s friend left, and we went for a little evening walk around the block.

Next day we went to the center of Moscow. I bought tickets for the evening flight and we went for some sightseeing, photo exhibition, and Japanese food. In the evening I flew to Novokuznetsk, Russia.

After a brief stop in Kemerovo, I met with Olga and her sister Elena in Novokuznetsk, who drove me home to Mezhdurechensk, where Maxim and my mother-in-law were waiting for me. I spent one week there.

Early morning on Monday, July 24 Olga, Maxim and I were driven back to Novokuznetsk airport from where we flew back to Moscow. Again, my mother met us there. We spent half a day running around Moscow, getting air tickets, arranging visa paperwork for Olga and Maxim, and buying presents. The second half of the day we spent at Domodedovo airport waiting for the flight, talking, eating, and playing with Maxim.

We took a one hour twenty minute flight from Moscow to Samara airport and arrived at 00:05 local time on Tuesday, July 22. My father met us in the airport and drove us to his place in Togliatty. We stayed there until morning of Sunday, July 30. It was then that we drove back to Samara airport and flew to Larnaca, Cyprus.

Since our flight was delayed several times, Vladimir had to spend almost half a day in the airport waiting for us. But finally we all arrived and he drove us home.

Everyone loves statistics, right? Here are some for you:

  • Number of trip days: 14
  • Airports visited: 5
  • Hours in the air: approximately 20
  • Kilometers travelled: approximately 13,000 km
  • Widest timezone span: 5 hours
  • Airplane models used: 3 (Boing 757-200, TU-154, TU-134)