Rocket to Russia: 100 rubles per jug


The correct gate (Pulkovo airport – St. Petersburg)

(Moscow local time: 7PM.  Weather, colder and rainier)

The morning's shuttle through light snow flurries to the Pulkovo airport near St. Petersburg is effortless. At the airport we are thankfully without instruments, as they've been shipped a different way.  

Security is tight, and the examination area is packed with travelers, including a young mother with her baby having a tearful goodbye with Grandma directly inside the metal detector frame.  A couple of minutes wait and this emotional scene is sorted out.  

Down and through several escalators and moving walkways, none of which are functional, we finally emerge in a small round glassed-in waiting area and, after a wait of no more than ten minutes, have our final boarding pass check and walk out on to the tarmac against the frigid wind.  

On the plane I'm seated next to a mother and her young son who is carefully reading aloud from a Russian publication of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He is diligent in his pronunciation and his mother only corrects him when he looks up at her inquiringly, testing a new word.  It's a short flight with a mysterious sandwich.

Soon we are on the ground in Moscow, where we are met by Mike, who guides us to our ground transportation. The drive to the hotel in Moscow is about thirty minutes and takes us past many abandoned buildings and many, many blocks of apartments, some of which appear to be in severe disrepair. I remember that it is early winter and bare trees lend a somewhat maudlin look under this bleak mid-afternoon sunlight. There are many brand new shopping malls too, with familiar Western brands well represented. The malls with movie theaters have lines of chartered busses parked close to longer lines of warmly dressed people.

At the hotel we are met by a small group of fans, clutching guitars, CD covers and posters for Joe to sign. Having connectivity in one's hotel room is 3000 rubles for a 24 hour period and, as there's free wifi in the hotel lobby, I make my way back down where I am greeted by a deferential but insistent fan who asks bluntly: "Where is Joe?" I gently point out that I do not know and he wanders away to wait with his posse. Soon afterwards we depart the hotel lobby for the club, an odd two minute walk to the ambitiously named Moscow Arena. It appears to be a large black box capable of holding over 3000 people.

Tonight: Big Rock Show, Moscow style!


My bag, motionless, stuck between two moving worlds (Pulkovo airport – St. Petersburg)


Mick recounts another in a long list of travel stories while in the middle of a travel story (Pulkovo airport – St. Petersburg)


Here's something I don't see every day (Pulkovo airport – St. Petersburg)


There's a long line for the man with the large turntable who envelopes luggage in plastic wrap (Pulkovo airport – St. Petersburg)


Our doughty little Aeroflot Airbus 319 (Pulkovo airport – St. Petersburg)


Security guards find time for mirth in a clandestine pic (Sheremetyevo airport – Moscow)


(L to R) Ben Shprits (Entourage Booking) and Galen Henson (rhythm guitar & tour manger) meet Mike, our escort (Sheremetyevo airport – Moscow)


There are several of these vendors by the side of the highway. Antifreeze? They offer one jug at 100 rubles. (Leningradskoe shosse – the main drag between Sheremetyevo airport & Moscow center)


Enigmatic structure is enigmatic (Leningradskoe shosse – the main drag between Sheremetyevo airport & Moscow center)


Joe signs stuff at the hotel (Moscow)


Galen Henson hands out the always very welcome room keys and daysheet (Moscow)