Moscow Day 1: All safe

First things first: we’re all ok. The bomb attack in one of Moscow’s airports today was terrible, with a shocking loss of life. Luckily for us, we arrived into the other main airport in Moscow, so missed the terror attack. It’s horrific that so many people have died and in such a public place. Thanks for all the texts and calls. I even got a call from the news room in WLRFM in Waterford looking for an update.

The first I heard of the attack was on our plane after we’d landed in Sheremetyevo Airport. An Irish girl behind me had seen news of the explosion on her phone. I thought it was in our airport at that stage. Only when we got off did we realise it had happened in Domodedovo Airport. It was still a bit scary and brought back memories of 7/7 in London or 11/3 in Madrid. Only last year there were explosions on the Metro in Moscow.

Anyway, our colleague Mary had flown into Domodedovo and luckily she was ok too. Although she’s been very close in that she’d arrived at 4.30pm, just after the explosion. As she came through arrivals, she saw the chaos and even people on trolleys being taken out.

Hopefully the rest of the week will go better – although we do expect extra security on the metro and more police presence in the city.

Besides all that, what are my first impressions of Moscow? Well it’s cold: -3C when we came in from the airport but I imagine it’s below -10C now. It’s strange seeing all the Cyrllic characters written everywhere – even Starbucks and MediaMarkt are written in Russian! Coca Cola was the only sign of Yankee Imperialism – the can on the plane was still in Latin letters. The traffic is a bit mental. It’s worse than a school run in Dalkey, with loads of BMW and Audi jeeps. The contrast with the old Lada’s is huge. Haven’t seen one of them in over 15 years I’d say.

The day started with a 9km run at 6.30am. I was like an insomniac and couldn’t sleep all night. So decided to tire myself out by going for a run before the flight. We transferred through Amsterdam Schiphol. It was a tight squeeze as we’d only 40minutes to make the Aeroflot connection. There was drama as the Aeroflot transfer desk was closed and I was hoping they wouldn’t make us check in our luggage.

Anyway we made it, after some hassle getting seats and finding space for luggage in the overhead bins. The air hostesses on Aeroflot don’t overdo the smiles and charm. The food was a little too congealed for my tastes as well. After arrival, it was surprisingly hassle free to clear immigration and found out taxi driver waiting for the 1hour journey into town. We’re staying at the Radisson downtown. I just saw a plaque stating that such luminaries as George W. (“now watch this drive”) Bush has stayed, as well as Bill (“I did not…”) Clinton. So we’re in good hands.

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