Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Travel mode

Once again, I'm staying up all night to pack. This is not just because I didn't make time to pack during the day, but also because it gives me a slight advantage on battling jet lag the first few days in St. Petersburg. I did put the most important things into my purse earlier today -- my passport and itinerary -- earlier, before the delirium set in. Just now I remembered to pull out my small cache of Russian currency (what is the exchange rate these days?). To forget it would not have been a big deal since there are ATMs at the airport and everywhere in the city, but definitely an annoyance. Do I have Euros? My second layover is in Helsinki, a few Euro coins for a cup of coffee would be nice.

I experience lack of sleep as a state of altered consciousness not unlike being drunk on a bottle or two of wine, even to the point of nausea. I don't practice staying up till dawn often anymore, but I do enjoy it whenever I can justify the loss of time the next day. I am so much more aware of my surroundings at night -- dogs barking across the street, cars speeding by on the highway a quarter mile away from the house, the noise of my computer fan. I can almost hear the cogs in my brain rotating slowly: did I pack underwear? did I pack running shoes in case I decide to exercise? did I pack an umbrella? No, I didn't pack an umbrella. Should I? The rain is inevitable (what a strange notion, I haven't seen rain since early June!), but my mom might have a spare I could use, and I can save myself half a pound of luggage.

Packing is always a feat of imagination. They've had a crazy hot summer in St. Petersburg this year, weeks worth of record breaking temperatures. But now google tells me the temperature is in the low sixties, with rain expected every day of the week ahead. Will I need sandals? Jeans jacket or a warmer (and nicer) corduroy? Sweaters? Bathing suit? I would love to get a chance to swim in a country lake this trip, but wishful packing is not likely to guarantee the best results. What about theatre clothes? Should I bring jewelry that I never wear? Oh, alright, I'll bring a dress and a baggieful of earrings. I've brought them on every other trip before, no reason to leave them behind now.

MP3 player! Check.

Can I do with only one novel on this 20-hour, 2-layover trip? I shouldn't pack more books. I have lots of things to read on my computer, and Dave says my plane from New York to Helsinki will come with a power plug.

I've been stuffing my suitcase with food all day -- I'm bringing edible souvenirs this time. Maple syrup. California wine. Fancy chocolates. On the way back, these will hopefully be replaced with books. And maybe a box or two of chocolate muesli. How come chocolate muesli remains an exclusively European know-how? Chocolate granola has become available in the States in the recent years, but chocolate muesli is still nowhere to be found.

Yay blogging -- I have to take with me the contents of my gift drawer, a few random things I've set aside for friends and family during the last few months. A kid toy. A bandanna. More chocolate. What's the point of collecting this stuff, if at the end of the day I forget it at home? Not quite, not this time. This time it's all coming with me. Anything else? Anything else? Maybe. But I'm rambling.

All this chocolate is making me hungry. I have an hour to go before my taxi arrives. Time for breakfast. I'll make it simple: chocolate granola and yogurt.


  1. Even though I just read about your trips I am exhausted. But maybe I am living vicariously - last night I dreamt I was in Russia. It was very nice.

  2. Theresa, my post today should give you more material for pleasant dreams -- maybe :))