Sky was dark, street desserted at 4:30am when we headed to the airport
We had a 6:30am flight so we got up and left the hotel at 4:30am! It was the only time we had seen some real night time skies in Russia. It didn't last very long! We flew on a Russian airline called Pulkovo to Hamburg. My first time in Germany but only got to see the airport, sigh, I would have to visit Germany for real sometime. The airplane was some Russian made model called a Tupolev TU154, which got us safely to Hamburg although its seats were not all that comfortable, it was nothing like when I flew on the Indonesian Garuda airline 20 years ago on Java where we saw a cockroach crawling over the window! The fly crew seemed to speak German and Russian, we didn't hear much English, and I did not speak German. So mostly I just tried to catch some sleep.
We checked our luggage all the way to San Francisco, however, since we had more than 4 hours to spend in the airport, we hung around the luggage area for a while, and guess what? Our luggages showed up on the belt! So much for checking the luggage through. Our connection was on Britsh Airways, whose counter was not even open yet, so we found an internet cafe in the airport, and stayed there until we ran out of Euro coins (to feed the computer for access, at 20 minutes per Euro).
We flew from Hamburg to London and then to San Francisco. After getting on the plane, we were told that the engineer had to check something and didn't have the proper tool for the airbus 319 and had to go find it somewhere in the airport! That was not a good sign.
Our Russian airline taking us to Hamburg
But they did find the tool and whatever problems found were fixed and we were delayed for about 40 minutes. Since we had a short connection in London of only 95 minutes before, we were sure we would miss our connection. However, we landed only 30 minutes late, and we hurried from one gate to another in terminal one at Heathrow in record time of only 25 minutes and made it to our gate before they even started boarding, amazing!
Well, I have not had a lot of good experience with air conditioning in 747's lately, and this one was the worst. It was so warm in the back of the airplane where we sat people were sweating just sitting there. After we took off it was not much better the whole way home, so I had to complain to the crew when we got off about 11 hours later.
Long wait at the Hamburg airport, using their coin operated internet cafe, 1 euro for 20 minutes
Then we waited til all the luggages were off and still my suitcase was not there. So off we went to the counter to report missing luggage. They actually knew it was not on the airplane and had a piece of paperwork for me already! In any case, my luggage make it home 2 days later safely. And we were glad to be home again for sure. We were greeted by the report that our dogs had chewed off a piece of the area rug and started on the corner of another one. And one dog hopped the fence to chase a deer in the back of the house, luckily he came back when called. The dogs were happy to see us home again! Now it's a matter of sorting through about 1800+ photos and updating the travel blogs on travbuddy.com before we can think about another trip.