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Day 39 – 20 June Dubai to Cochin - The Home Run

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The Quantas-Emirates code share flight from St Petersburg landed in Dubai ahead of the scheduled time and I took the train shuttle to the T3 terminal from where the Cochin flight was scheduled to leave. After the security check, which was quite rigorous but not intrusive, I had more time to roam around the dazzling T3 terminal complex. I had a long walk to the gate and I kept gaping at the amazing display of products all along the way. I had to wait for about two hours before boarding the flight that would take me home. I used the free WiFi at the airport to update my status and catch up on pending news. I also arranged with Ajay to pick me up from the Cochin International Airport.
When the gate was opened there was a mad rush to board. I waited till the tail of the queue was clearly in sight. When I got to the gate entrance the young girl asked for my passport and gave me a new boarding pass. I realized that I may have been upgraded, but was not so sure. So when boarding for Business …

Day 38 – 19 June St Petersburg to Dubai

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Finally it was the day to leave for India. The days have gone by so quickly, interspersed as it was with some tensions and stresses, and I felt I should have driven onwards to Finland and all of Scandinavia! The white nights in St Petersburg light up the skyline quite early and so it was this day with the early part of the day being bright and sunny. The wind was tolerable and hence, I stood relaxing in the balcony for some time taking in the skyline and wondering if I will ever have another opportunity to come back to this city. I get this thought every time I leave a place I stay overnight or spend enjoyable time in. A city that my mind goes to without a prod and immediately is Cobb in Ireland. The halt in that city had been just a couple of hours during the London drive, but the amazing city, loving people and great hospitality made the visit memorable and yearn for a leisurely visit sometime inthe future.
I am maniacal when it comes to packing. Major part of the luggage had already…

Day 37 – 18 June In St Petersburg

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I woke up to howling winds but a clear sky. I ventured on to the balcony of the 13th floor apartment and almost got blown away. I feared for the phone camera more! The high railings around the balcony was a harness of sorts while I took in the glorious sights from that height. But the cold winds sent me shivering back into the warm confines of the bedroom in a short while. I decided to take it easy this day with the only objective of wanting to experience the Metro and possibly go to the Nevsky Prospect in the evening. I lazed around trying to find something to do! It had to be the blogs. By about noon I was up to date and ready for the Metro outing.
The Moscow Metro had fascinated me when I visited there in 2014. Many of the stations are virtual museums. Roman had warned me that I would not find the St Petersburg Metro stations so ornate but they would be clean. I learnt that the discussions about building an underground rail system in St Petersburg had started in 1812. There were man…

Day 36 – 17 June In St Petersburg - Taking leave of the Champion

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If I was under any misconception that what happened last evening with the flat was the height of stress during the Expedition the events of this day corrected that. Vassily had sent me a link last night of the place where we could meet at 9 am to complete the formalities for shipment of the car. I wanted to avoid rush hour traffic and started early after making sure that I had put all the required stuff in the car and had all the original documents with me. I reached the location advised by Vassily well in time and messaged him that I was already there. I parked the car and strolled around. I walked to what looked like a beautiful church of Our Lady close by. The premises were closed. However, a security guard opened the side gate for me and said that I could walk around inside if I chose to as the church would open after 9 am.
When I was praying to Our Lady standing outside the church I got a call from Egor asking if I had time to check my mail and get the required documents done. I t…

Day 35 – 16 June Kolomna to St Petersburg - The Finish Line

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It was indeed a pity to leave a place like Kolomna in such a short time. The place is a spa. The peace and quiet of the city, the hygiene and cleanliness, the air and the water, the friendly people and its history – all of them give the city a 10 on 10. Kolomna is indeed one of the prettiest cities I have been to in all my travels. Moving from here was indeed a difficult thing to do. Yet the overarching desire to realise an objective, a dream, kept the focus sharply on the same. So it was adieu to Kolomna early in the morning. The day had broken so bright that it looked as if it was already just a couple of hours to noon when I left a half hour before 5 am.
The target of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg was over 800 km away. I had heard about the notorious traffic snarls in Moscow. And prayed that the road condition was good. It all turned out quite well right from the start. I took to the last stretch of M5 from Kolomna to Moscow and did that 100 km in as many minutes. From very…