As I'm sure you all know (apart from those of you that haven't been watching the news this week...) a massive volcano has erupted in Iceland and volcanic ash has spread itself across Europe, grounding all flights and testing my patience to the limit.
Massive cloud of stupid ash.
When I hear reports about these kinds of holiday ruining disasters I'm always so glad it's not me. Apart from when I once had to survive a week in Russia without my bag because of the terminal 5 cock up (which to be honest hardly affected me - I had everything I needed) this kind of thing NEVER happen to me. My family however are a different matter. They don't seem to go well with planes. We never went on holidays far enough away to warrant getting a plane so my first experience on a flight was aged 16 on a short flight to Italy. Although the flight was fine all I can remember about it was the immense stress and panic at the airport (from me not mum, for a change). The next plane journey the family Brier embarked on was another short flight to France which I didn't join them on as I was working/fed up of family holidays. Because of my dads (true Yorkshire man) love of anything cheap they were on a cheap airline – the kind where you have to run to find a seat. In the mad rush mum managed to really hurt her knee, ending with her on crutches for the entire holiday. Now on their third flight, they have managed to choose the same time to fly as a volcano chose to erupt. They are NOT good with planes. And now they're stuck in Russia.
This morning we woke up in St Petersburg to find out that their flight home has been cancelled. As there is only 1 flight to London per day from St Petersburg and 5 per day from Moscow, we made the decision to return to Moscow where the likeliness of them getting a flight home soon is a lot higher! So after a quick rush to the train station (and a major test of my Russian - ask anyone who has [tried] to purchase train tickets in Russia. DIFFICULT.) I successfully managed to get us 5 tickets on the fast train to Moscow. The only problem being that we were all in different carriages as it was so last minute. But I assured them it would all be fine as the train would be just like an English one (I hoped)... and I was secretly bursting with joy at the prospect of 4 hours of peace away from them!
The fast train is a relatively new concept to Russia. It's only been around a couple of years max. Russia is more a fan of trains that are so slow you could walk faster than them and that take around 9 hours to do a journey that should clearly only take 4 hours. But not anymore with the arrival of SAPSAN...
Marvel at it's spaceship like glory.
FINALLY Russia is catching up with the rest of the world. I nearly cried with glee when I saw that is actually WAS like a virgin train (... and was relieved I had not lied to my family). After making sure they were all in their carriages safe and sound I spent the first half an hour making sure we had an apartment for when we arrived in Moscow and checking whether their visas needed extending. After sorting all that out I sat back and enjoyed one of the best train journeys I've ever had in Russia. The seats were comfortable, the carriages light and airy... and the toilets hygienic!!! I read British Cosmopolitan (a present from mum) and for those 4 hours I almost believed I was on a virgin train from Manchester Piccadilly to Birmingham New Street... until we arrived in Moscow on time (a sure sign it was definitely not a virgin train).
So now my family are stuck in Moscow and as all flights tomorrow have been cancelled I don't know when on earth they're going to leave me in peace!! I think they're all a bit fed up of being stuck in Russia, so I keep pointing out that I am 'stuck' in Russia until the end of June... so a couple more days for them really isn't that bad. I hope they get a flight soon though, 10 days is enough family time for me. So let's pray that flights start soon... and in the meantime bow in awe at the brilliance of SAPSAN.