Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Journey to Atyrau

I left Sonoma at 5.30 to go to San Francisco International Airport for the 9.15 flight to Chicago.  All went to plan with my two large suitcases and two carry on bags.  One suitcase mainly contained an induction cooker, kitchen supplies like baggies and Press-and-Seal, and food supplies like crackers, cheeses, spices and  dried milk.

Industrial Induction Cooker

In my larger carry on bag I had perishable produce (we have had our baggage delayed so often on this route that we have learnt the lesson not to put meat and vegetables in the hold.).  This time I took a large 4 lb piece of home made bacon and a 3 lb piece of rarely cooked roast beef as well as broccoli, nectarines, mangoes, asparagus and green beans.  I also had Sandra's winter coat, panty hose, and four new pairs of shoes!  I did manage to fit in a few shirts and shorts for myself and an iPad. 

The luggage and I made it to Atyrau with transfers of about three hours in Chicago and two hours in Amsterdam.  I did manage to buy some smoked salmon, salami and pate in add to the supplies.
The final flight was only about a fifth full of the predominantly male oil workers going back to work.  It was still daylight as we approached Atyrau from over the Caspian and so I was able to take some photos of the scenery below as we made our approach.

As I was in the back of the plane I was last on the single bulging bus from the plane to the terminal (they still use buses even though the distance is about 100 yards and it would be quicker and easier to walk) so I was first off the bus and into immigration which is about 15 yards from the drop off door with another 5 yards to the baggage carousel then a further 5 yards to the customs control where all the luggage has to be x-rayed!  The induction cooker was spotted and had to be unpacked and examined, but it got through.  However I couldn't get it back in the case, so pushed my cart piled with luggage the final few yards into the arrivals hall.  It was actually a very quick process other than the immigration inspection where the official could not grasp that I didn't work and changed my "tourist" declaration to "work" as he couldn't conceive of a non-working husband and working wife (and of course the cooker didn't help!).

It was 8.00 pm and Sandra was there to meet me with an Agip "taxi", and so we were home in twenty minutes and able to get the food in the fridge. The outside temperature was cooling down, about 80F so we went next door to the Rennaisance Hotel for something to eat and drink before bed.  Beer at last!

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