Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Welcome back to Moscow

I had a plan. When the plane landed, I would pick up my luggage, take the train from the airport to the metro and then take the metro home. It seemed flawless and very inexpensive. Needless to say, things did not go according to plan.

As planned, when the plane landed, I walked to baggage claim, picked up my luggage, painlessly passed through customs, and began making my way past the taxi drivers, trying to avoid eye contact, through the airport to the platform for the train.

Unfortunately, because I was so happy to be back in Moscow after a 9 hour flight and 24 hour delay, I couldn't stop smiling. This was my fatal mistake. Smiling. Taxi drivers are relentless. They descend on the unsuspecting and do not take you seriously if you say no with a smile on your face. The only way I got rid of the first taxi driver too accost me was by countering his 2,500 rubles with 100 rubles. He shook his head in disgust and left.

I thought I was home free as I continued to walk as briskly as possible through the airport, but a second taxi driver, this one younger and less threatening, decided to walk with me. "Taxi?" I told him, in Russian, no, it's not necessary, but again, the smile on my face convinced him I wasn't serious. Then I made the fatal mistake, "How much?" 1,900 rubles ... I couldn't think of the Russian for too much, so I gestured and said, "It's not necessary, I'm taking the train." But he persisted and walked with me all the way to the train terminal.

As soon as we arrived, the train began pulling away from the platform. A thinker, this taxi driver checked his watch and told me what time it was. Noon. Then he proceeded to look at the train schedule and told me ... "By taxi it will take only 30 minutes, but if you take the train you will not leave the airport for an hour. Then you will have to spend another 45 minutes on the train and then 20 minutes on the metro." He definitely held all the aces, but I wasn't going to give in that easily. "Ok, 500 rubles," I said. He looked at me and told me, "I can't." 500 rubles would only pay for parking. 1,300 rubles. I tried to talk him down more, but he made a good point and was in the ideal negotiating position. I did not want to wait an extra hour to get home and he knew it ... so I gave in. "Ok."

1,300 rubles and 30 minutes later I was at my apartment, still happy to be in Moscow and glad I did not have to lug my 80 pounds of luggage through the metro.


  1. Glad you're safe and sound:-)
    Those taxi drivers have to make a living too, eh?!!!
    They a smile is a universal language...I never equated it with vulnerable!
    Love ya,

  2. Ah! The ever preistant Kim. Interesting mental image of the taxi driver and Kim with all her lugage negotiating all the way to the train station. Oh that smile! Where was the taxi all this time? The only train station we remember in Moscow was a BIG place, of course that was not at the air port.

    Glad to hear you're back and happy.