Now, for most people, the trip home from a vacation is not usually the happiest day. At minimum, most people go through mixed feelings as they leave their vacation destination.
On one end, they are sad that they have to leave such a wonderful trip and return home, often to go back to work and back to their life at the daily grindstone. On the other end, they are relieved to be sleeping in their own clean bed, not living out of a suitcase, and being in a place where everybody around you speaks your language.
For myself and leaving Russia, it was definitely a day of mixed feelings. I was sad to leave Russia, sad to leave my in-laws, and my wife and kids stayed an additional 2 weeks, so it was sad leaving them. At the same time, I was happy to be returning to sleep in my own bed at home, I was happy to be around people who spoke my language, and I was happy to go back to work where apparently all hell broke loose during the two weeks I was gone.
My Trip Home
Here’s how it all started out, I woke up in the morning. I took a shower, and I began packing all my belongings into my suitcase. My younger daughter began crying because she was so sad that her Dad would be leaving her today. I ate my last Russian breakfast and before I knew it, I was downstairs outside of the apartment building waiting for my brother-in-law Andre to show up and take me to the airport. He showed up, packed my suitcases in his trunk and my wife and I rode to the Chelyabinsk Balandino Airport (CEK).
We arrived to the airport, and my wife helped me get through check-in and to get my boarding passes for all 3 of my flights home. It was time to say goodbye to my wife and go through security. It was hard to say goodbye, even though it was only for a couple of weeks.
I went through security, which was much faster and easier than going through TSA security back in the USA. Once I was through, I waited in the small airport lobby for them to call my flight. The time came pretty fast and I hopped on the terminal bus that drove me out to my plane.
Flight from Chelyabinsk to Moscow
My first flight was on Aeroflot Russian Airlines on an Airbus A320. The flight was considered a domestic flight since it was within Russia, so our flight attendants only spoke Russian, which presented a challenge to me and the Peruvians sitting next to me in my row. The service on the flight was okay, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad either. The old lady flight attendant wasn’t too friendly and snapped at a few people. I think I had a better experience on S7 Airlines on my last domestic Russian flight.
All in all, we took off and the flight was only 2 hours and 20 minutes, so before I knew it, we were descending in to Moscow Sheremetyevo.
6 Hour Layover in Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO)
What do you do on a 6-hour layover in a Moscow Russia Airport? Well, normally the first hour is spent going through passport control, but I found that process much faster this time. When I debarked the plane in Moscow, I made my way down the escalator to Baggage Claim, except the problem was that Moscow was not my final destination, but we were all directed here.
After several minutes of walking around baggage claim looking confused, I finally found a hallway leading away from baggage claim to passport control. I arrived and the line was very short! Phew!!!! Passport control was quick and uneventful, I got some young guy who was really fast. He grabbed my passport, looked me over, gave me back my passport and opened the electronic door. It wasn’t always this easy in Russia on past trips.
Now the fun was about to begin, my vacation was over, but the adventure was not. I walked through terminals D, E, and F looking for something fun to do before my next flight to Amsterdam. My flight was leaving from Terminal E. I looked around and came to the conclusion that once you’ve seen one international terminal, you’ve seen them all. This Terminal had all the Duty Free shopping, McDonalds, Burger King, TGI Fridays, and all.
I was really on a mission to find a restaurant that would serve something unusual. A Russian restaurant would do, but anything other than American fast food would suffice. I pulled up my phone and did a google search on places to eat at the Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. I found there was an Uzbek restaurant (food from Uzbekistan) in Terminal D. I’d never eaten Uzbek food, and I am not aware of any Uzbek restaurants in Salt Lake City, so this was my chance. Not knowing how I missed that, I headed back to Terminal D and there it was, I walked right by it before and didn’t take notice. The restaurant is called Uzbechka.
It was a cafeteria style restaurant. You pick up a plate and tray and you head down an assembly line and pick the food you want. I got a salad with beets, feta cheese, and stuffed grape leaves, eggplant wraps, some yummy looking sausage, and a based piece of flatbread cooked with some type of melted cheese in the middle. The meal set me back about $27, so not cheap, but the food was very filling, so I only ate the salad and sausages. I packed flat bread for later.
I waited around in the terminal for the next few hours observing people from all over the world boarding their international flights. The temperature in the terminal was hot, so I was looking forward to getting on the air-conditioned airplane. Finally, the time came to board my plane. I boarded an Aeroflot Airlines Airbus A321 for my 3 hour flight to Amsterdam Netherlands.
Flight from Moscow Russia to Amsterdam Netherlands
The flight to Amsterdam was pleasant, the stewardesses were friendly and they spoke good English. They served us a good meal and took really good care of us. The flight went by fast because I slept through all but 1 hour of the flight. My only complaint was there was no in-flight entertainment and no WiFi, but thankfully I had downloaded a movie to my phone from Netflix. During the time I was awake, I watched Annihilation, which helped make the time go by even faster.
Overall, the flight was decent, I just wished Aeroflot would invest in some type of entertainment on their smaller airplanes.
Overnight Layover in Amsterdam Netherlands
Once we landed in Amsterdam, I headed straight to Passport control, so that I could get to my Hotel, which was just about 100 meters from the airport. Yes, I had an overnight layover in Amsterdam.
I stayed at the CitizenM Hotel right outside the airport. Once you go through passport control and through the big open lounge, you go outside and make a right. You walk along the walking path for about 100 yards and the Hotel is on your right.
Once I entered the hotel, I was greeted my a young lady who helped me check into my room on the self-service Kiosk. Once I entered the room, I knew I wasn’t staying in any ordinary hotel. This was all-together very different, but very nice at the same time. I took a shower and went to sleep. It was nice to break up the flights with this comfortable stay in the CitizenM.
I woke up only a few hours later and took another shower, got dressed and headed to the airport. My last and final flight was at 10:00am from Amsterdam to Salt Lake City, so I showed up at 7:00am, 3 hours prior. The lines were short at both security and passport control, so I was able to get into the International terminals by 7:40am. I had some time to kill.
I bought some Dutch chocolate to share with my family and friends once I got home. Then I remembered that a friend of mine suggested that I try out a Dutch Sausage Roll, Saucijzenbroodje. I quickly found the Dutch Bread Company restaurant and bakery right near my gate. I decided to sample a Dutch Sausage Roll, I can understand why my friend suggested this to me. It was really good! Lots of grease, lots of carbs, but so so good you see!
Flight from Amsterdam Netherlands to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Sadly, the time came to board my final flight back to Salt Lake City. My last flight was a Delta Airlines Boeing 767-300. I would be on this flight for 10 and a half hours, leaving Amsterdam at 10am Sunday morning and arriving in Salt Lake City at 12:30pm noon Sunday. It’s funny how long I was on the plane, only to arrive a couple hours later in the morning.
The flight was amazing. The service was outstanding and was comparable to the service I received on KLM from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam. Despite all the bad experiences people have flying on American airliners, Delta stands out as the one big American airliner that still provides excellent service and a comfortable flight experience. We were served food 3 times on our way home and we were even given ice cream shortly before landing.
I kept myself entertained by finishing watching Annihilation on my phone and watching a couple of movies on my seat back screen in front of me. Before I knew it, the engines of the aircraft were powering down and I looked out the window to see the sunshine and desert landscape of the Salt Lake Valley. We landed pretty quickly, and I went through passport control in the Salt Lake City airport for the first time. It was a little more laid back than going through JFK or LAX and I made it through pretty fast. My suitcase made it back without any problem and I headed to the shuttle to go pick up my car and drive home.