Landing in Moscow DME

Landing at the DME

Photo of the airport

When landing at the DME it was quite the process to get to my destination. I received my migration card, and then waited more than an hour for my luggage. I didn't want to leave the luggage conveyor belt and in the end, realized that they have no bathrooms where you can go to the loo with your luggage. The carts don't even fit in the hallway where you enter the bathroom. Neither security nor the information desk speaks English. You will also have no luck with customs understanding what you are trying to say.

After realizing that I would probably have to use a bathroom by the time I get to the actual dormitory I figured out that the airport has no working wifi. The wifi has a special connection that opens in your browser and this is very intermittent. The roaming capabilities on MTN pay-as-you-go are atrocious and the man at Cinnabun sold me a R40 bottle of water just to tell me that I can't use their free wifi.

Inside the Airport

So there I was stuck. I struggled to figure out where to exit for the Aeroexpress that takes you to the city and the only other option was a taxi. So this is a laughable situation. You can only order an Uber inside of the actual airport where the dodgy wifi is but as I realized too late when I left the airport there is absolutely no way of knowing which car is your Uber and no way of communicating with anybody around you to ask.

Taxis at the airport charge 5,000 rubles ($80) and more for a ride that should cost no more than 2,000 rubles ($30). There are several services and apps to help you book a taxi in advance and the price is fixed on the app no matter how long you spend in traffic jams:

- Uber
- Yandex Taxi
- Gett Taxi
- City Mobil

Unfortunately, Yandex Taxi owns Uber in Moscow so all the cars will be a nice bright yellow and almost impossible to distinguish. There was a block of taxis a mile wide outside the airport, all with the same types of cars with drivers from the Adidas mafia standing with calculators trying to push you to get into their car. Now, these men are really pushy, they will show you a number which equates to a price for their car and then tries to force you to put yourself and your things in their car. To be fair I get that this is their main livelihood but if you ever think of taking a taxi from the airport as a singular South African woman prepare to have a panic attack or two.

All the Yellow Yandex Taxis

I subsequently gave up and canceled the Uber I ordered, paid the fine with my credit card and sat on the airport floor trying to psych myself up that I would go out and try to find the train station. Now the train station is apparently outside on the side of the building through a tunnel and instruction will not be clearly given. So I walked and hoped for the best. In the end, I bought an AeroExpress ticket from another non-English speaking Russian lady and proceeded down to the platform. Now the problem with Russian train tickets is that they are printed completely in Russian. Now imagine trying to find your platform and train number coming from a country where taking the train just isn't a thing while standing with a piece of paper that contains only hieroglyphics.

My Aeroexpress Ticket
The second problem with trains is luggage. Their doors are only open for a little while and if you have two suitcases, hand luggage and a laptop bag with you, you need to put them onto the train one by one, mind the gap between the platform and the train, then carry them downstairs to where the luggage corner is and the seats are. So the train is definitely not the best form of transportation if you have 4 months worth of luggage with you. The AeroExpress trains are beautiful though.

The Aeroexpress Train

Inside the Aeroexpress Train

The trip to the inner city from the airport was absolutely breathtaking. You get to see all the trees that you saw from the airplane coming into Moscow. Russia has a lot of very beautiful forested areas.

My view from the train window

My view from the train window

The AeroExpress stops in the inner city on one of the circular lines and then your options are basically the normal Metro also apparently known as "the natural" by the locals and taking another taxi. Given what I know now I would have opted for the taxi. A friend met me at the AeroExpress and tried to help me put my luggage onto the Metro in rush hour which is absolutely disastrous. There are so many sets of stairs and escalators as each line could run on a different level. We eventually made it out of the Metro and took a city car to the dorm for the last part of the trip. This whole experience of trying to get from the Airport to the Dorm must have taken at least 4 hours minimum. 


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