This Monday I departed from New York via Beijing through Moscow. In one day I meant to fly across the planet and be exactly on the other side, with 12 hours difference. To tell you honestly it is not easy physically. There was 4 hour break in Domodedovo airport in Moscow. I did not have to collect my luggage but had to wait.
I though that since I am in my country, I should have some Russian food that I like a lot, to be specific, it was a Russian salad that I was looking for. It is called “olivie”. Plus I was quite hungry. So I went to a restaurant asking for it, and they told me that they have it, but refused to let me pay with dollars (and I did not have any rubles on me). I said “Not a problem, I will go and exchange my currency, where can I do so?” – “Oh, sorry mam, you can not do it here…” I thought he was kidding me. I just could not believe that in such a big international airport there was no money exchange available. I had to ask someone else to see if this was true. The person confirmed, but gave me a tip how to trick the system. Apparently you could pay with dollars at the duty free liquor store. When you do so, they give you change in rubles, but only instead of coins (cents), so how about I go there and buy a bottle of water. I thought it was a good idea, I wanted to drink too. Once I arrived to the store I found to my surprise, that they did not have any water, but there are chocolates on the shelf. After the closer look I studied that each of those Russian chocolate bars was about 7 euro! Rip off! so I wandered about the shop looking for something different and found red caviar, which I am a big fan of, for the same 7 euro (little jar of course). So I got that, thinking that I would buy some bread with my Russian change to compliment the caviar. They gave me 40 rubles, which I then offered to the original restaurant to buy a piece of bread. The answer was again NO! – Why not, you take rubles, no? – yes we do, but one piece of bread is 65 rubles. Oh my, was I mad? At least they gave me a plastic spoon for free. After a few more minuets I also found a bottle of water, collecting another 4 rubles.
I tried then to find some place with the least people as possible.
So there I was, eating Russian caviar with a plastic spoon, drinking water in the middle of the airport. And caviar is not food that you can hide, it has a strong fish smell, everybody around me knew what I was eating and probably considered me some sort of weirdo.
Later, I shared my caviar with my airplane seat neighbor, a Chinese guy who did not speak any languages but Mandarin. It looked like he never had it before but he liked it. I am glad that I offered.
Moral: be prepared for red caviar when you don’t have rubles 🙂