I’m standing in line. A red light is lightning in front of me. It is the customs check at the airport in Saint Petersburg. It looks different than I’m used to. I don’t see the customs officer. I look into a corridor with a large mirror on the left and a counter on the right. The light is green, I may walk into the corridor. A lady looks straight at me. I smile friendly. She doesn’t smile back. Akward. She probably is not here to smile at people. She checks my passport, asks where I come from and puts a stamp in it.
With a gigantic box with a bicycle in it, I walk towards the exit. A customs officer stops me and ask me the put the whole package on a scale. She points to the box and asks something in Russian. I make bicycle movements with my hands. I don’t really speak Russian. She talks to her colleague who is looking into the box. Fortunately they agree and point me to the exit.
A taxi driver walks towards me. “Taxi?”, he shouts. I make bicycle movements with my hands. He starts to laugh and shouts something in Russian to his fellow taxi driver. He is also coming with great interest. I proudly show my tires with little metal spikes through a hole in the box. They both laugh now. The first taxi driver starts to type something on his phone. He leans closer to me and points to some text on his phone.
They laugh again and I start laughing with them. They don’t take me serious at all. I like it, it’s funny, and besides that I’m to tired to even care.
Fortunately it’s possible to cycle. I did the first 10km to the center of Sint Petersburg from the airport. After two nights of acclimatization, I cycle tomorrow into the cold white world. Depending on the snowfall I’ll cycle towards Petrozavodsk.