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Posts Tagged ‘Moscow’

… And it isn’t by flapping your arms!
As we had missed our booked flight because of the Moscow flight problems, we were moved to a later flight that was to leave in half an hour. At the check-in desk they couldn’t find us and after some frantic searching gave up and re-booked us. Mark requested some extra leg room and we then had to leg it (ha ha) to the gate which was 20 minutes away. To our great surprise and pleasure they had put us into premium class again.
Just enough time to get seated and we are off.
Armed with a lovely cup of English tea and fresh milk we are very glad the journey is nearly done.
No fuss, no bother and we arrive and collect all of our luggage – not a single lost item – a miracle after the affairs of the day.
The taxi is at the door and we are whisked homeward.
Tired but happy we look forward to a lovely rest in our own bed – restored and ready to plan our next big bundu bash!
I may do a post on high and lowlights of Moscow, in case there are any other wheelchair nutters out there who are prepared to face the old ‘Red Menace’ that is ‘Moscow in a wheelchair’!

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Smiling faces everywhere!

What a difference a day makes – suddenly we are on another island and the natives bear their teeth! What a welcome sight these happy people are. Welcome back to sunny England.
We are boarded on a new flight to Manchester and on the final leg of a very long journey.

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What a wonderful sight through the window of the aircraft to the sky-bridge – my k-2! It survived the Moscow flight in the hold.

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I’m in cloud nine – literally?

Being the last on the plane seems to have borne fruit. We were put into first class but because the plane is jammed to the gunnels, the k-2 has been bumped down to the cargo hold – it does feel a little like poetic justice.
Happy flying, see you in London….

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Really- we are taxiing down towards the runway and only 4.5 hours late. I guess we have missed our connection out of Heathrow.

Up, up and away And we’re airborne.

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A baitball?

Back in the queue which no longer resembles the orderly affair the word conjours up. It is more of a bait-ball which is getting smaller and smaller almost as if predators are picking us off one at a time – did I just see David Attenborough?
Patiently waiting for our turn but I see a light at the end of the tunnel – I hope it isn’t a train!

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Delayed our delayed flight! We are now told that it is 2.50pm which is the flight that people were offered to move to. How do you fit 2 flights worth of passengers onto 1 aeroplane? I can see trouble ahead (hum along).
When the vicious mob thins out at the desk, we will find out about getting our delay vouchers – that’s if a BMI representative shows themselves with all these anger Rusky’s around!

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I believe we are now late for our promised 1pm resumation of our journey. We are however, back in a queue – with me at the back!
I have a bus and stairs to face before boarding, so I am really excited – NOT!!
Cannot understand why we aren’t going anywhere because the bus is here and the check-in staff, but somehow we all feel obliged to join a queue – baaaah….

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Four Russians offered to carry me down the stairs and onto the bus – would you have accepted? Not me!
I get hubby to assemble and bring my Trekinetic to the top of the stairs. We have had plenty of practice taking the k-2 down flights of 20 or more steps in Moscow.
Picture this – I get into my chair at the door and to the cabin crew and bus load of gawping tourists entertainment, we flick the switch to recline mode and with hubby holding me back, we head down the stairs. Bump, bump, bump x 20 and we safely reach the bottom.   I thought it was worth a round of applause from the audience but they are obviously a tough crowd.
Now just the bus left to negotiate. It is fairly full and everyone (including all the blokes) watch hubby struggle to held me up the stairs followed by my wheelchair and all our bags. Thanks for the assistance guys!!!
One redeeming male helped me off the bus and I am now back in the terminal building where this whole adventure started. Dejavu….
We are informed that we may leave at 12 maybe, or 1pm maybe. I ain’t holding my breath!

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Techies can’t fix it so clearly it takes more than 5 blokes!
Now the bus has pulled up because we are on the runway nowhere near the terminal. Damn this is going to be a pain! Ah! Now the stairs have pulled up – oh joy, stairs and a bus with no ramp to negotiate!
I am going to just sit here and wait for everyone else to disembark before I make my move.

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“due to technical problems, we apologise for ze delay but we will need to change planes”.
No! No! No! Is this their idea of a cruel joke?

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At least five under the hood and another four confering next to them for glasnost! I only wish I was joking, take a look at this….

Has the engine devoured this one?  And look, his friend just looks on with interest!

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Another fifteen minutes and they switch all the lights back on and start serving refreshments. This is a clue that we may be a while!

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Mmmm… Sitting on the runway waiting for twenty minutes. I see two men under the left engine; now they have the lid up! Two more official looking blokes arrive ouside.
Waiting a little more. Eventually, an announcement – in Russian – no English translation but obviously with my ring-side seat we are experiencing some technical difficulty!
Please don’t make me change planes after the rigmarole of getting onto the first one.

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Our flight has moved to a different gate so we set off. I have never seen a gate with only five seats but I make sure that I am at the front because they always load wheelchairs and children first.
However, this is Russia and it is a free for all and people start to converge on the gate and so I decide that from my front position I am just going to go with the tide as they don’t call me forward.
At least only one woman manages to squeeze between me and the door and we are off. I managed to get to my seat using my crutches and leave hubby to deal with the porters and my wheelchair. After ten minutes I am starting to worry because no wheelchair appears through sky-lift door on it’s way to the hold.
Ah! There he is, sporting a very amused look so I am now worried because it could be genuine or a “you are never going to believe this” grimace.
All I can say is “is my wheelchair okay?” to which he responds “great, it is flying first class”. This is a definite first as they have decided to bring my Trekinetic k-2 inside the cabin into first class – probably the first k-2 to travel up front while The occupant has to sit behind the curtain.
I wonder if they will give her some decent service?

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….London. I thought that not much would surprise me in Moscow after spending the week here and experiencing firsthand how bad facilities are for the disabled – I was wrong, wrong, wrong!
Check-in took forever because they kept looking at my wheelchair (not me) and calling someone else over to confer, then another and finally on the phone to some other person who also had no idea what procedure to follow. Eventually we explained to one of them that I didn’t need the medical crew and would make my own way to the plane – they were very sceptical but clearly relieved to get rid of me and let me become someone else’s problem.
Passport control was interesting to say the least because all the gates are for walkers and no wheelchair could fit through the gates. The woman happily stamped us through and then we asked which way I got through and she simply raised her arms skyward and shrugged ‘I don’t know’ – very helpful. The questions was then passed to her friend next door who also shrugged and shouted to another guys across the hall. He at least had enough common sense for the two girls and after a short wait he came over and led us through the restricted areas and back out into the departure area.
A quick breakfast and stroll around before we head off to our gate.
What are the chances this will run smoothly, without the need for a party political conference?

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and I therefore have to be very careful of my selection – mmm! Make that crepes then please.
The Russians make a lot of crepes and blini (little pancakes) and this chef is superb. I have a lovely selection of marmalde, jam, sour joghurt and condensed milk! No, really. I was suspicious at first but on tasting it, I was transported back to South Africa and tins of the gorgeous sweet white nectar!
Needless to say, my not so healthy breakfast just became even more unhealthy. I can’t even push myself around too far in an effort to work it off because I am surrounded by pavements that resemble a cliff edge and I have no tackle in tow!

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Passing time….

Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits…..

Today hubby has to actually go work for some of his hard earned wages rather than simply being a Russian tourist.  I know which we would both prefer, but until we are left a fortune by some long lost distant relative, we both have to pull the plough ourselves!

Just for the record, the espresso we both had after dinner last night was a very bad idea!  We had a dreadful night tossing and turning – serves us right I hear you say? Ha!

It is now lunchtime in Moscow and after sitting around in the lounge area catching up on a little crochet and reading, it was time for a refreshing latte in the bar.  Just as I settle in, the humungous clock in the centre of the hotel starts off with the hourly song and dance – very entertaining and typically Russian OTT!  This thing stands about 5 stories high!

Gosh, latte is finished already!  Life is tough….

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Sherlock Holmes is obviously on the case but why is he on the bank of the Moskva river?

Answers on a postcard to:
Baker street, London

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Ridiculous, but I am stared at in varying degrees everywhere we go. Some blatantly open-mouthed, others surreptitiously and the rest turn around to stare after we have wheeled past!
You would think I would be used to it by now because the Trekinetic K-2 gets a lot of stares anyway, but really this is ridiculous – I would love to get some pictures to include in my blog.

The only other wheelchair we have seen since our arrival is another visitor from America in our hotel – this is a city of 17 million – what are they doing with the countless wheelchair users who were probably created by their appaling driving? Locked up somewhere no doubt – perhaps they don’t like to air what they consider dirty laundry. In fact they cover up derelict buildings all over the city in huge decorated sheets -sound similar? Sorry, that’s me having a cynical moment.

Now we really are heading off for the coffee shop – hopefully it won’t turn into something resembling ‘the hunt for red October’….

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Day 2 and we head off to a Market that comes highly recommended by all the guides. Thank goodness that today’s taxi driver was not a patch on the airport transfer and I survived without removing the little that remained of my fingernails!
The Izmailovsky market is north-east of the city and the oddest mix of flea market, theme park and car boot! On the plus side, I managed to get around most of it without a need for two burly blokes as lifting tackle.
We got some lovely hand crafted gifts plus a couple of Russian hats. Finished off with a shashlik or barbeque kebab and the worst cup of sweet instant coffee.


After negotiating with a crowd of local taxi drivers we packed into a rusty old Lada which may have been around at the time of Lenin, and we are off to the Moskva river on the other side of town.

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Pre-flight checks taking place before the taxi arrives to whisk us off to Manchester airport.
Off-road wheels are our chosen tyres for this trip because we have heard that wheelchair access is very poor in Russia.
The taxi is here. I hope this isn’t the last picture of my Trekinetic in one piece!
Bon voyage….
пожелай мне удачи (wish me luck).

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Into the jaws of…..

This image just about sums up my few concerns about our impending trip to Moscow….

Believe it or not, this is a real sign in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa!

One more sleep and then we are off…

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I’m set!  I know one sentence (two words strung together actually) and I am hoping that when all else fails, I can fall back on this to gain access and melt the hearts of the apparently rather gruff Moscovites!

My hubby went on a Russian course a few years ago when he was doing a lot of travelling to Kazakhstan and Siberia and he assures me this means “yes please”. What do you think?  Will I make it to Moscow and back?

Unless I start doing some packing I won’t make it to Manchester never mind Moscow!

Only one day to go so, da svidanye (goodbye) for now….

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Our next adventure’s clue is in the title!  Have you guessed yet?

As a wheelchair user, I am not sure that my destination of choice should be one that, in the travelogues Disabled access section, starts with….

‘Inaccessible transport, lack of ramps and lifts and no centralised policy for people with physical limitations make Russia a challenging destination’ .  Mmmm, I didn’t read any of this before I happily agreed to accompany my hubby on his business trip to Moscow.  It sounded exciting and exotic, and another place to see together.  The idea is to spend a few days exploring the city and then he would work for a few days while I lounged around the hotel reading, relaxing and taking in the local wildlife.

I am not easily intimidated and decided to trawl the internet to find other intrepid travellers who have taken on this city in a wheelchair.  Surely there will be plenty of articles on the great, big world-wide web?  Hah!  After an entire evening on the web searching for articles, blogs, information, anything really, I only found 3 entries!  Three!  Never in my life has the www returned so little information when I have searched online.  This has given me a clue about the few obstacles I may encounter.

Not daunted by lack of information or facilities, I have decided to forge ahead and take each challenge as it comes.  Now all I need to hope is that our BMI flights aren’t partnered with BA – who are on strike the week we leave.

Next post will probably be from the airport in either Manchester, Heathrow or Moscow.  Bon voyage….

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