6:00am comes too early sometimes. Especially when its the day of your departure to come home with your new little one. Katia and Vladimir picked us up at 8:30 so we could get to the SVO airport as quickly as possible. With the weather warming up in Russia, many people leave the city on the weekend for their summer homes in the country. Thus, the traffic on the weekends can be unpredictable. Sure enough, Vladimir called it correctly. Traffic was rough going out of the city Saturday morning and it took almost 1 1/2 hours to get to SVO. With no traffic that trip would normally take 40 minutes.
Piece of advice for families traveling with children in Russia. Families with children can jump to the front of ANY LINE in Russia. This includes VERY LONG LINES at the airport. Don't forget this advice, especially if you're traveling to Russia in the summer when the number of people at the airport apparently skyrockets based upon what we've been told.
It took about a full hour to get through baggage X-ray, airline/passport check, baggage screening, check-in, passport control and security. Whew!!!!
There's a great restaurant on the second level of the SVO airport, next to the souvenir shop. The burgers are ok, their Russian Noodles is great.
Be sure to get to the gate for your flights as soon as you can. They started boarding our flight a full hour and 15 minutes before the scheduled departure of the flight.
The flight home with Daniel was great. We lucked out and got the bulkhead sets. He was a real trooper on the way home. He napped twice from Moscow to Atlanta. He flirted with the surrounding passengers and the flight attendants; he laughed and played and never once cried. He wore us out keeping up with him, but it was better than how some of the other parents were doing on the flight. One flight attendant stopped by and commented that he was doing great and that some parents in the back of the plane were fighting with their kids since they had departed. Daniel was funny...he would stand up in his seat, scan the surrounding passengers and when he would make eye contact with them, he would flash that smile of his.
Getting through passport/border control in ATL was fairly straight forward. You get off the plane as you normally do, go the agent, show your passports along with the passport of your little one. They will ask to see the envelope of embassy papers. You hand them over and off you go to a special room for processing of immigration. You are processed in order in which you come off the plane and get into the queues for the agents. Once your packet is retrieved by the agent for processing, it takes them like 5 minutes to complete their part of the work. You'll hear them stamp your little ones passport and that's the moment of magic. That stamp officially declares them a citizen of the United States.
The flight from ATL to Tri-Cities was horrible!!! Delta of course merged with Northwest Airways who was still keeping the old Saab 340s turbo-props in service. OMG I HATE THOSE PLANES!!! They are loud, slow, hot and cramped. Unfortunately Daniel had a messy diaper once we boarded the flight and I had to change him in the lavatory. There is no changing table, not enough room for an adult to stand. I had to lay him on the toilet seat and change him. It was so hot in their I was concerned about passing out. This, coupled with the stink of his diaper...oh my...
We were greeted at TRI by family and friends. Daniel's grand parents, an uncle, some aunts, a cousin, god parents and good friends all came out to welcome him home.
We hadn't eaten much so we went to Cracker Barrel and then went home and CRASHED!!!! Daniel passed out cold before we got home.