it's May. the weather is (surprisingly) beautiful. and Courtney has arrived. meeting her at the airport was an adventure in and of itself. Eric picked me up around 3:30 and we planned to meet Sam at 5:00 at Moskovskaya Metro station, which is the last station on the way to the airport. it was the last working day before a public holiday, so we gave ourselves traffic time and figured we could pick up sam at 5:00 and still be in time for Courtney's arrival at 5:30. (the airport sits about 15 mins. from where we would meet Sam). The original plan was to take the by-pass road around the city to where we would meet Sam and then shoot on out to the airport, but on his way to get me, Eric was driving the opposite direction on this same road and saw a big accident (he says maybe 12 cars) on the side we would need to take. About 6km of stopped traffic was NOT a welcome sight. So we had to make a decision: face the known traffic on the by-pass and the fact that there would be no way exits if we came into problems, or face the unknown traffic of the city center, pre-holiday weekend. we chose the latter. We set out and promptly were met with crawling traffic about 2kms from our apartment. what should have taken 5 minutes, took at least 20. we were still hopeful, but doubt began to set in. we proceeded to spend the next 2 1/2 hours crawling through the city, worrying about getting to the airport on time, second-guessing our decision and trying to decide when we should give in and tell Sam to take the bus to the airport to meet Courtney. There were numerous bridges jammed with cars to be crossed, and comments about "Peter the Great" and his lack of vision in seeing what it would be like to have to cross this interconnection of canals and rivers with a car. we decided the best way to get across the city was by helicopter. we finally decided to call Sam and have him go on ahead to ensure Courtney wouldn't be left to fend for herself at the Pulkovo airport. finally out of the traffic and nearing the end of the journey, we had an additional challenge - we were low on gas. after a quick re-fueling stop, we sped the last few kilometers to the airport, arriving at precisely 6:00. We grabbed the bouquet of flowers and ran inside, happy to find Sam still alone, peering into the arrivals hallway. her plane landed exactly on time, but we were saved by the lines at passport control and customs. Finally we saw her making her way through sleepily burdened by luggage and all the wonderful things people had sent for us. There were hugs and introductions, travel stories to be shared, and lots more adventures that were waiting to begin.