The International Airport in Moscow
One of the most amazing nights of my life was spent in a Moscow airport. It was huge, brightly lit, and shiny, and it provided no place to sleep except in uncomfortable metal chairs where sleep was impossible. I tried dozing at a 24-hour cafe (spending too much money on food and tea just to sit there), but eventually I found my way down the (probably forbidden) levels of stairs into the basement.
I climbed under the stairs, lay down on my faux fur coat, and simply slept for a few minutes before a woman descended in her noisy heels, and I felt like I must move back into the passenger terminal before I was caught and put into a Russian jail.
Now I know a little how Edward Snowden feels.
Ironically, for $200, I could have slept in a nice hotel-like room complete with shower and television, on the upper floor. But I barely had enough money to leave Russia after teaching English in Samara for a long, frozen 6 months.
I had missed my flight because I was attacked by an Uzbecki man on the train from Samara. He tried to wrest my passport from my pocket as his friends watched and laughed. I was able to escape and run to the Provitnitsa at the other end of the wagon. She let me hide in her locked compartment while she alerted the Moscow police who met us at the train station and delayed me, my luggage, and the suspect (who ended up deported to a Siberian work camp without a trial). That’s how I missed my flight and spent a simply sleepless night.
Read more about my Russian adventures in my book, Fire and Ice.