The Volga Flows Westward: Dammed up

So I hope you guys had followed me on my crazy trip across Europe in my Gaz 22 Volga!
...is what I wish I could say. Problem after problem plagued the trip, eventually culminating in me having my suitcase with all my expensive electronics stolen in the Copenhagen train station.

I’ll try to go through stuff in a bit of shorthand Q&A. (for a more full version, please see the facebook page or the instagram. also, see a rosier version than you’ll see here.)

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  • Did you go to Russia?
  • Yes.
  • Where is the Volga?
  • Still in Moscow.
  • Why?
  • Some paperwork issues, some engine issues, some “dealing with people who say they’re working on a car, but then aren’t” issues
  • So what happens now?
  • The Volga is having work done on it, it’ll be here eventually.
  • Did you do the rest of the trip to Europe?
  • Yes, most of it. I wasn’t able to do certain parts due to the lack of car and some other stuff.
  • Where’s all the footage from the trip?
  • All my cameras and electronics were stolen in the Copenhagen train station, a place I hadn’t intended to be.
  • So how did you find the trip in the end?
  • Pretty shit. Problems everywhere.
  • Everything was doom and gloom?
  • Not everything. I did get to see friends, and I learned a lot.
  • So what’s next?
  • I’ll probably go back to Russia to pick up the car and get the paperwork done. I don’t nearly have the money to do that trip again. Turns out even bad trips are expensive.
  • We want more Volga content!
  • The moment I have some, you’ll have it. In the meantime, here’s a slideshow of a lot of the pictures from the trip.
  • (there was going to be a lot more here, but Kinja sucks. please see more photos and descriptions at the link, and if you really want to hear the longhand versions of all of this, get in touch. I just don’t feel like dealing with Kinja for the long-form version.)
  • Volga Flows West
  • And now, at the bottom, is an example of what the long-form version of the clusterfucks I was dealing with looks like.
  • Flights:
  • How it was supposed to be:
  • August 7th 3pm detroit to chicago
  • 5pm chicago to london
  • 6am london to Saint Petersburg getting in at 3pm August 8th
  • Started in Detroit, going to Chicago. That flight got delayed after we were already going towards the runway. So they brought us back to the gate and got us off the airplane, but only after sitting in the plane for an hour.
  • A nice man gave me American Airlines Platinum number, so I called American Airlines to see what they could do. They said they’d take care of it. Got an e-mail saying they’d reset my flight from London to Saint Petersburg for the next day. Not ideal, but it was whatever.
  • Went to get back on the plane (around 5pm), and was told my ticket was no good. After checking in the computer, the lady at the counter said Apparently they’d rebooked ALL of my flights one day later. I asked her to put me on standby on that flight. She said that wasn’t possible, because there were no empty seats. But of course there was one, because I had gotten out of it.Was told my flight was tomorrow, and to go home.
  • That plane left, but I noticed there was a second flight to Chicago on American. at 7:30PM. I asked the attendant at that desk if he could put me on that flight, He said “no problem.”
  • I flew to Chicago, but I arrived at 8:30PM, and my flight from Chicago to London had left at 5:10PM
  • So I got into Chicago, and saw a flight going to London that night at 10:30PM on the same airline I was supposed to take. I asked a gate attendant to put me on standby on that flight. He said sure. He spent 5 minutes entering codes on his computer, and then said “Go to the gate, they’ll take care of you there.”
  • I went to the gate for that flight, and said I was on standby there, and they said “who did this? You can’t standby on this! You can fly to London tomorrow at 5:10PM and get into Saint Petersburg at 3pm on Thursday. Now go wait in the long customer service line.”
  • I waited for a little bit, but then said fuck it to the line, (because there was no point in waiting in it if I had 20 hours in the airport) and sat next to the gate.The flight got delayed about 30 minutes, which changed which gate the flight was at. I went to that gate and noticed two people on the standby list! I talked with the lady there, who had actually been standing next to the guy who said I couldn’t do anything.
  • She told me that those two people were airline employees who were allowed, and that the big issue was luggage. International luggage had different security. I said “Good! I don’t have any! I only have carry-on bags!”She said she’d see what she could do, and I should sit back down.About 20 minutes later, I noticed I was on the standby list for that flight! she said she had talked to her supervisor and He ok’d it. I thanked them both quite a bit.
  • So I got to London Heathrow at 1:30PM the next day.So, Heathrow airport has 4 terminals. 2,3,4 and 5. (makes sense, huh?) in between each one, you have to take a 10 minute bus ride, and go through the security again. I landed in Terminal 3.
  • I looked at the flight board and saw an Aeroflot Airlines flight to Moscow in Terminal 4.So I went from Terminal 3 to Terminal 4, taking a bus and going through security. The lady at the Aeroflot desk couldn’t help me, because American wasn’t in the same “group” as Aeroflot, but she offered to call American airlines for me. she called American Airlines and they spoke with me and I asked them what they could do and they told me I was getting on a Lufthansa flight to Munich, and then on to Saint Petersburg, getting in at 130am, and to go to Terminal 2. (I was supposed to be in Saint Petersburg at 3:30PM that day.)So I went to Terminal 2, taking a bus and going through security.
  • At terminal 2, the Lufthansa desk looks at my reservation, and called American airlines. They were on the phone for a minute or two, hung up and said “they screwed up. They made your reservation for the 9th.” They said their hands were tied. if I wanted to fix it, I had to go to American Airlines desk in Terminal 3.So I went to Terminal 3, taking a bus and going through security.
  • Got to the American desk. The lady there was sympathetic. Gave me 30 quid in vouchers for food. Booked me properly (I asked 3 times) on a flight that night for Moscow, getting in at 430AM. (And a flight to SPB, (getting in at 7AM) but didn’t need that anymore. )
  • I realized I might as well just go to Moscow and meet up with my friends. That flight was in terminal 5. So I went to Terminal 5, taking a bus and going through security.Eventually, got on the 10:30 flight to Moscow, and landed at 4:30 in the morning, with my friends Dimitry and Igor picking me up from Moscow airport.
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