Waiting for the plane at Edinburgh airport I wasn’t scared at all. It was completely different to the first time I went to Russia. This time I was grinning, at ease and confident: totally ready for a new adventure!
The connection at Heathrow was smooth and as our plane rose into the sky above the clouds, the red sun burst the morning alive. The flight to St Petersburg was 3 or 4 hours and once we got past the cloudy Netherlands, gorgeous snowy Sweden was revealed below us, followed by sunny, white Latvia and Estonia.
Just as we were reaching St Petersburg the cloud returned, and as we descended I couldn’t see a thing. Getting through security was simple, luckily, and when I came out into the arrivals section I was regretting wearing 5 layers in preparation. They obviously keep their buildings extra toasty in Russia! I tried to keep calm as I couldn’t see my Airbnb host anywhere – he said he would pick me up from the airport. In the end he was just late. When he turned up he reminded me of a friendly vampire – he was tall and lanky, extremely Russian and kind.
My first step outside was lovely and refreshing; I had been sweating a lot in the sauna of an airport.I can handle this cold, I thought! As I got in his dusty car I laughed to myself…I couldn’t believe I was doing this again! Going to Russia and getting in a car with a strange man…ah well, what’s life without risks!
He immediately jumped into tour guide mode, and on our drive into the city he pointed out landmarks and interesting places. I felt like my Russian was even worse than the first time I came, (that had to change!), but we managed okay. It was snowing quite atmospherically.
I had the cosiest welcome to my new home: the smell of baking. One of my new flatmates was making a carrot cake. The flat was super warm (in a good way), and everything was perfect, just as I’d hoped. the four of us sat down and had tea and berry tart before I collapsed into bed.