Monday, September 28, 2009

Travel and Baby Home Visit

PART One: TRAVEL

We left for the airport at noon on Saturday. JC’s parents were kind enough to drive us there so that we could pull right up with our luggage and not have to leave our car parked for 10 or so days. MiMi has the boys for the first half of this trip so she met us at our house Saturday morning for us to be able to leave from home. We said our goodbyes to the boys, and we were off. Our flight left at 2:25pm, and we arrived at the airport around 12:30. We decided early on to go ahead and buy three roundtrip tickets so that Emma would have her own space on the way home. When we started to check in though, the first lady at the desk was asking us why we booked our tickets the way that we did. She was telling us that we had done it the wrong way and that Emma’s ticket would have to be cancelled since she wasn’t with us at the point of origination. PANIC already starting!!! We got all of our bags checked and our boarding tickets printed, and then thankfully another lady was available to help us. She typed a few things into her system and voila…all fixed. She told us that we just need to show up with Emma in Moscow when we are ready to leave and everything will be fine!!! Starting to feel a little better, we made our way to the gate.
We arrived in Charlotte with only about 30 minutes to spare and walked to the terminal from which we would be departing. We boarded the plane and still had our entire row to ourselves since we had originally booked the three seats across in the middle. We connected in Paris this trip, and our flight was very uneventful. It was just under eight hours so we thought that was great!
Once we landed, we had to get boarding tickets printed in the airport since we could not get these in NC at our point of origination. We waited in line behind an entire plane full of people arriving from Johannesburg and finally made it to the front of the line. All we knew to do was hand over our passports and try to describe what we needed. The person behind the desk finally figured it out and printed our boarding passes. We had about 2 more hours before we could board our plane to Moscow. We went through security, and JC set off every alarm. He had to have the body wand, and one of his bags had to be hand searched! They finally let us through though so we got a pastry and waited. At this point, it was about 13 hours into our trip. We waited our two hours and then started boarding for Moscow. When it was our turn, the boarding passes we had just gotten were rejected. Apparently the airport worker printed out first class seats for us, and we weren’t supposed to have those. We were able to get new tickets at the gate though and were allowed to board. The plane was PACKED full of people, and the rows and seats were very small. We were wedged into a row with another man and at this point, we were just exhausted. We did sleep a little on the way to Moscow, but I assure you it was not a restful sleep. Our flight lasted about 3.5 hours. We were at the back of the airplane, and by the time we made it off, the lines for Passport Control were outrageous. We were one of the last couples to make it through there. The luggage conveyor belts had already stopped, and our bags, the car seat and the stroller were just sitting there. Thankfully everything made it safely to Russia though.
When we finally exited into the main part of the airport, our guide was waiting on us!!! We were very happy to see his face. He helped us load our luggage into his car, and then we were off. We knew we would be flying to St Petersburg from a domestic terminal, and we thought that we would be flying out of Sheremetyevo Terminal 1 since we had just landed in Terminal 2. BUT we exited onto the highway going away from the airport. At this point we were exhausted, but we were still a little freaked out. We finally got the driver to understand that we were asking why we weren’t on our way to the domestic terminal of the same airport, and he told us that we were going to drive 80km to a different airport to catch a flight to St Petersburg. Insane!!! It took us 1.5 hours by car to make it to the other airport due to traffic. Once we got there, he handed me the tickets. On the way in I showed JC a date on the tickets that read 27 Aug 2010. He said let’s not worry about it right now. Thankfully our driver walked us in and went with us to the desk. He tried to check us in, but the lady would not let us check our luggage! You ask, “WHY???”!!!! Because the tickets were reserved for August 27, 2010 not September 27, 2009!!!!!! I tell you, at this point I was about to lose it!!! We had slept maybe three hours total off and on and had been gone from home 22 hours! The above scenario accurately describes every single experience we’ve had in Russia. You would think things could be a little more organized and planned out, but honestly, we have come to expect things to go VERY wrong. After an hour of standing at a different desk, we finally got boarding passes for a flight on September 27th – not 11 months from now.
We checked our luggage and decided to get a latte at a little café near our gate. We left Moscow at 8:10pm. The flight to St Petersburg only took about 1.25 hours, and Alex (our host) was at the airport to meet us. There was another family flying in with us from Moscow as well so we all four (with our luggage) piled into Alex’s little Honda. He took them to their hotel first, and we all got out. His girlfriend, Tania, was there waiting for us. Once he got the other couple checked in, they took us to our hotel. We found a nice new Courtyard by Marriott relatively close to the Metro and a McDonalds and Pizza Hut. It was 11:09pm when we walked into our room or 3:09pm on Sunday at home. It took 27 straight hours of travel. We could not wait to shower and brush our teeth! We slept about two hours only and then we were WIDE AWAKE from 2am to 4am this morning! We finally fell back to sleep and the alarm went off at 8!

PART Two: Baby Home

Since we were told to be in St Petersburg a day early, we were really hoping for a visit to Emma’s Baby Home. Our agency representatives were not available to take us on this trip since there are three families here that they are responsible for right now. They told us that we could go by Metro to visit Emma by ourselves if we wanted to and of course we said yes! Last night they showed us how to get to the Metro station close to our hotel and told us how to change trains and which stop would take us to Emma’s Baby Home. We had done this on our first visit in June with Tania so we were hoping we would remember exactly how to get to the Baby Home once we were off the Metro. It all came back to us, and we arrived right on time.
We were once again taken to a room with no toys – just a few chairs, a sofa and a table. We had not thought to bring any toys with us this morning since we were still in a fog from travel.
The caregiver brought Emma in and she was very jolly today. The morning visits with her have always been our best. Usually she is a little groggy in the afternoons since the visit is right after they wake her from her nap. Today just like two previous visits, she was wearing a little Winnie the Pooh dress that we had brought for the Baby Home. All of our photos look like they are from the same day since she is always wearing that little dress.
We had 1.5 hours with Emma this morning. We got her to whisper “Jack” and “B” and “MaMa” and “PaPa” today. We tried to call her Emma to get her attention, but she obviously didn’t respond to that. We are at a Pizza Hut now waiting for our afternoon visit with her. Hopefully we will have a pleasant visit. This may be the last one we have with her before we go to get her for good. :)
Enjoy some photos from today:

big smile

Normal Smile

crinkle nose

Big Smile

coloring book

loves crayons

We brought crayons and a coloring book back with us for the afternoon visit, and she LOVED them!

blocks

Our Russian paperchase starts tomorrow!

16 comments:

Tara said...

I was getting stressed just reading about your adventures. Hopefully it will all be over very soon! Thinking of you all!

findingourdaughter said...

Oh my goodness! I hope the rest of this journey is smooth for you guys!
My mind is reeling thinking of all the blunders that might happen when we travel for trip 1.....hopefully in the next 6 weeks.
Prayers and God bless!

Jo said...

Praying for a speedy return with your beautiful daughter. Hope the boys are doing well, I know you've been worried about leaving them again.

Jo

Love Being a Nonny said...

Right now I will stop and pray for your paper chase. I know you CANNOT WAIT to get her home. She is so precious! You are indeed blessed!

Stephanie said...

Gorgeous pictures as always. Such a sweet smile!!!

You all are in my prayers. Good luck tomorrow and the rest of your time there.

Kristine said...

Gorgeous smile...it was all worth the exhausting trip...just keep telling yourself that was the last time you have to go TO St. Petersburg...the next time you travel you will make the FINAL leg of your journey and will be all DONE!!!

She is worth it all.

Kristine

Rachel said...

I hope hte rest of the journey goes more smoothly! Emma is just adorable and soon she will be yours!

Barb said...

I'm so tired, just from reading about it. Hope everything goes smoothly!!

JCWillow99@gmail.com said...

She looks so happy. I wonder if she understands you are going to take her home to be your little girl? She is a pretty little girl for sure.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

She is just gorgeous....that smile melts my heart:) Hopefully the rest of your journey goes smoothly.....deep breaths, you will be returning home with Emma in no time!

xoxo,

Lisa

Jodee Leader said...

So sorry to hear about your rough trip over! Hoping and praying the rest of the trip goes well! Emma is absolutely adorable!

Over-Caffeinated X 4 said...

Yep, that DEFINITELY sounds like the Russia I know and love! :) Welcome back, right?

But seriously, must be like labor because just LOOKING at those photos of Emma I had forgotten there was a part 1 of that post. She is truly stunning!

Ondrea

teg said...

'We got her to whisper “Jack” and “B” and “MaMa” and “PaPa” today.'

Congratulations - you successfully made me cry! :)

I know you're looking forward to some closure in this journey. Thinking of you and excited to meet Miss Emma soon! xoxo

Joanne said...

Wow, what a trip! But, sooo worth it ~ Emma is a doll, those smiles, those cheeks :)

Heather said...

This sounds so stressful! I am sorry. But she is such a cutie. I am really excited for you.

Stacy said...

You are an amazing storyteller and I love reading your post! ;) Good luck and I hope you guys get some sleep soon! :) Keep posting....

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