When writing about travel there’s a tendency to skip the ugly bits on the way. This, isn’t that.
Our flight out of Sydney was delayed by an hour so we sat in a hot plane on the tarmac, waiting; that might have been where the problems started.
We eventually took off and almost as soon as the fasten-seat belt sign was off Callum raced for the toilets. He came back to his seat and promptly vomited everywhere. It was at this point that the Qantas flight staff began covering themselves in glory. We got Cal wiped down, the staff changed his seat cushions and gave him a pair of first class pajamas to change into. He continued vomiting and looking increasingly like a pale, wet rag. By a couple of hours into the flight he had an oxygen mask on, and doctors were being consulted about whether to give him an injection – the very mention of which achieved what I thought was impossible and moved him to an even whiter shade of pale. Let’s just say this was not fun.
By the time we ticked over the half way point in the flight, Cal had fallen into a fitful, exhausted doze. Then Declan started vomiting.
Our arrival in Hong Kong was not what we’d been planning. We had planned to quickly dash into the city, catch a ferry and see the light show. Instead we started by trying to negotiate with Finnair to move our connecting flight to Sunday night. That doing so would have meant missing Moscow and blowing off the non-refundable hotels and flights was a measure of our desperation. But the flights for all the following days were fully booked, so not continuing on would have meant not just missing Moscow but much of the rest of the holiday.
So we spent the next few hours with the kids stretched out on seats trying to get some sleep. After about an hour and a half, Declan sat bolt upright and started squealing. He then proceeded to have a half way lucid conversation. Sadly the other half was not even nearly lucid. His inability to find words or finish sentences was making him panic (and I have to say Jennifer and I were not far behind). Finally he woke up enough to calm down.
Getting some sleep seemed to help until we were boarding the Finnair flight for Helsinki. We just joined to queue to get on the plane and Declan vomited again. The Finnair staff gathered around and after some consultation suggested that we would have to be bumped from the plane for health and safety reasons. I must say that by this point, we were all so exhausted that we didn’t really argue. But the flight staff had a longer chat and decided we could continue on, with the words “Well the next 11 hours are going to be fun for you aren’t they.” Jennifer and I consulted quickly and finally decided that the boys might be OK after some sleep.
Actually they mostly turned out to be OK. Both boys slept for most of the flight and were fine until we landed when we resumed normal operating practice. We then had three hours in Helsinki Airport to recover a bit until our final flight through to Moscow. Once again we went through the vomiting regime.
And so we finally arrived in Moscow, some 35 hours after setting out, tired, wrung out and, in the boys’ case, starved and dehydrated. It was, simply enough, a trip we would not want to repeat.
But Moscow is making it worthwhile. Our hotel is on Red Square and so we only had to cross the road to take a walk this afternoon and drink in the sights through lightly falling snow. The Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, the GUM department store are all wonderful and right now they are surrounded by a wash of Christmas markets and decorations. Already the bad stuff about getting here is beginning to fade. So from tomorrow normal travel writing will resume.