As mentioned, the hall in Moscow turned out to be a wonderful place to play after all the tripping and slipping on the stairs. St Petersburg also had a magnificent concert hall, although I might not have been in the best spot on the stage to appreciate the acoustics. The earplugs were pushed in so far one of them didn't come out until I sneezed the next morning, if you know what I mean.
As with almost every tour, the public transit infrastructure in Russia made what we have back home look pretty shabby. I imagine if more Americans traveled overseas they might approve increased funding for transportation if only to avoid shame and embarrassment.
However, the St Petersburg airport needs works, and lots of it. One of my colleagues who dropped off his partner earlier in the day warned of a possible cluster-f#ck when our large group arrived. Sure enough, as our buses pulled up the line was already out the door, although that line turned out only to be a sort of preliminary line - a line to get in line. The real bottleneck occurred at passport control. If you imagine the human digestive tract, with however many yards of intestine crammed into the abdominal cavity, you will get an idea of how that line snaked around the all-too-small room. At every bend, a few enterprising, boorish, or clueless people took the opportunity to jump a loop or two ahead. Like any orchestra, we have a deep well of bitchiness and personal outrage to draw upon, but no appeal proved effective at getting the cutters to move back to their place. By my watch, it took about four hours of standing in line to make it through passport control and onto my flight.
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