With stout heart and courage, our two heroes bravely travelled the surprisingly short trip to Moscow (3 hour, only 3 hours!). Surviving the somehow effective chaos that is Schipol Airport, they left the low lands at the behest of their Dutch Overlords to plunder the barren wastelands of Siberia.
The voyage to Moscow was boringly uneventful as only long short-haul flights can be. Arriving in Moscow, our heroes added another to their number, a native of the land, in order to facilitate discussions and seamless integration with the locals. A slight delay occurred to the heroine as the new girl on the passport desk appeared not to trust the Russian Visa within the temporary German Passport issued in Holland. With quick wit and sharp tongue she ran rings around said official and proceeded across the threshold
A carriage to their place of rest was sourced by following the signs and our heroes settled down in the plush comfort of a Park Inn. After a brief fight with the currency exchange machine with which are heroes struggled bravely but ultimately conceded defeat, sustenance was found in the form of the hotel restaurant, a hotel restaurant with some soft house music playing dear reader. Our heroine bravely opted for a Russian Specialty whereas our hero wimped out and had a burger.
After a fitful sleep, our heroes woke to a Red Dawn over Moscow (airport). Such luck was destined not to last however and by the time our heroes had finished breakfast a low grey cloud hung over the city. Their first quest resulted in a long trek from one side of the airport to the other in order to find the check in desks. Their Quest over, our heroine had another chance to confuse a member of Russian Border Control – and all this before her first coffee! – but domestic flights appear to attract much less suspicion and our heroine passed without incident. After fortifying themselves with a coffee/diet coke, our heroes re-met with the third member and made way to the airplane.
Our hero cannot really comment on the view out of the window as it was A) cloudy and B) he was asleep. However having been woken up by an air hostess shouting at him in Russian, he elected not to take a tea or coffee but was nonetheless awoken for the landing (Comment – KLM Hostesses wear a fetching light blue uniform whereas the Aeroflot hostesses wear an equally fetching orange outfit. Surely given the Russians favour blue and the Dutch are massively preoccupied with orange, they should swap?)
Siberia appeared wide, flat and green. Small villages with dirt track roads were visible alongside beautiful large meandering river systems that sent our hero into minor Geoecstacy. After landing in the city of Tyumen, our heroes stepped out into the cold afternoon air of a Siberian September. With characteristic humor and wordplay our hero remarked to our heroine,
“Cor, it is proper Netherlands flat innit?”
Our heroine had to admit he had a point!
The heroes then repaired to a nicely swanky hotel. Comfy beds, warm rooms and hot showers the size of dinner plates were all present and correct. Having rested and cleansed themselves, our three heroes set off on a further quest to explore the city of Tyumen. It is an interesting city, meshing the grey concrete or wooden buildings traditionally associated with Soviet Russia with new shiny building payed for by the uber-capitalist excess of the oil industry. This is a town that owes it’s existence to BP-THK and GazProm. Dirty old shops nestled between new electrical goods stores, designer stores and shiny world food restaurants, Italian and Japanese appeared to be particularly popular.
Our two non-Russian heroes grappled with the unfamiliarity of the Russian alphabet and language, with our hero showing some particular aptitude for Russian pronunciation (though he says it himself) although was sorely lacking in memory. A quest was set to learn at least as many words in Russian as he knows in Dutch. This was exceeded by day 2! The people fitted nicely into the stereotypes of Russian people, Mullets and short hair appeared to be the order of the day for the boys while blonde hair or dark hair with well defined fringes were commonplace on the girls. Black leather and thick jackets were worn by all and clothing was grey or at most navy blue. Our hero felt somewhat conspicuous in his green jacket! A stark contrast to the bright colours worn in Holland. Our heroes elected to sample the Japanese option this day and enjoyed a numptious meal of soup and rice.
Stomachs filled, our heroes returned to the hotel to rest before exploring the TNGG Core Warehouse which will be discussed in Part 2.