So everything has been a bit of a panic: from rushing to get my visa and get accommodation sorted on time to the last-minute packing to the sudden feeling of being very alone just after taking off that made my eyes go all leaky. However, I thought of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and how it has 'Don't Panic' inscribed on the front in big, friendly letters, and that dammed the flood of tears that was threatening.
I must say, flying Club class is lush! It was super-nice not to have a long queue at the bag drop, and to go through Fast-Track security (though I did set the scanner off and ended up getting frisked, removing my boots, having my bag searched and my spare deodorant thrown away for being oversize). I didn't take as much advantage of the BA lounge as I should have because of mooching about shops, but I wish I'd come there earlier and hungrier because there was one heck of a buffet laid on. I helped myself to teeny-tiny pains au chocolat because I can never say no to them.
Super-tired I reluctantly dragged myself to the gate, whereupon I tried to show my boarding pass to the lady and she had to tell me they hadn't started boarding yet. Pretty sure everyone saw it happen *cringe*. The seats on the plane aren't a whole universe more comfortable, but having a window seat with nobody sitting in the adjacent two seats is nice and private. The food is also a whole lot better; the chocolate mousse pudding thing was easily the best thing I've eaten on a plane. This is as compared to the last BA flight to Russia when it was a choice of omelette or omelette, and I was lucky I'd bought a sandwich.
We touched down in a snowy Pulkovo airport 3 hours after take-off, the sky was clear, bright and blue which seemed a good sign. My bags came on to the carousel first, and soon were being carried to the taxi by the driver sent by Liden & Denz. Once I let on I speak good Russian it became apparent he was a very chatty and friendly type, who told me about his boy-racer past, and assured me I shouldn't worry about meeting Denis after only talking for a brief while on Skype (something about the Russian soul meaning people are very welcoming. The ever-mysterious Russian soul came up only minutes after my arrival, maybe I'm closer to finding out what it is). He took my bags all the way up to Denis' apartment, really feel like I ought to have tipped him!
When I arrived Denis was busy preparing a dinner of pork chops, cauliflower cheese and greens for us both, which was really the best welcome I could have asked for. Once he went out I showered and pretty much managed to recreate Noah's flood on the bathroom floor, oops!! My room is spacious, light-blue, high-ceilinged and I'm about to test how comfy the sofa-bed is.