The 1st 33rd parallel tour kicked off with the boys meeting in Shinjuku, Tokyo way before we had to.
“You got everything, man?” I asked with extreme skepticism. Benjamin, not only had all his shit, but apparently all of someone else’s as well.
“What do you have in that bag?” The bag was just a little bigger than Ben. Visually bigger than both my bags put together. I suspect he used a Goetian demon to grant him the strength to carry it.
“Just my clothes, a camera, mayonnaise, suntan lotion, saltine crackers, blah, blah, blah,” Benjamin said. He could have just said a lot of shit, but I did make the mistake of asking the question in the first place. “I’m going to carry it on to the plane.”
Sure you will, I thought. I’m younger than Ben, but have been on considerably more flights in my life, and never, I mean never, has any airline allowed me, or anyone, to carry a bag this size onto the plane. Even when the aircraft was practically empty. Of course they wouldn’t let this generic soda water bring his behemoth of a bag on board a full passenger plane during the holidays? But more on this later.
We got on the Narita express and headed over to the airport. We had a special flight with a special airline, Aeroflot.
Aeroflot, is a Russian airline that is the official airline of Manchester United. A relationship that works great for Aeroflot, and works well for Manchester United. The airline makes its bones by channeling international flights through Moscow. Which is about as comfortable as it sounds. But we will get to that later as well.
The fun started at the airport check-in, where our tickets, purchased through me, were issued to us, with my name, by the Aeroflot staff.
“Are you checking in that bag?” The lady asked Benjamin as he let the oversized Sasquatch of a bag tumble down to the floor with a thunderous boom that echoed through the airport terminal. Somewhere a school of pigeons eating bread disperse into different directions into the sky.
“Yes. It’s my bag.” Ben said with all the shame most Caucasians do everything when it comes to rules. You see, rules for Caucasian people are nothing more than arbitrary guidelines. And no one knows this better than Ben. “I’d like to carry this bag onto the flight.”
I smiled. And to my surprise, so did airport staff.
“Place the bag on the scale please.” The check in staff attendant said as she typed away at her keyboard.
Ben, flexed his muscles as he just barely got his bag onto the scale. Which tapered all the way down as the numbers shot up like a rocket revealing the weight of his bag. The actual number? Doesn’t matter. Let’s just say it was a lot bigger than mine. Like twice the weight of both my bags combined. And guess what?
“Thank you Mr. Beardsley. Have a nice flight.” The check in staff attendant said.
Ben, picked his bag off the scale and dragged it away from the desk.
Now the check in staff turned her attention to me. I had two bags with a combined weight of less than half of Ben’s one bag. In fact, one of my bags tipped the scales at 2 kilos. Yet, this lady looked me in the eye when I told her that I wanted to take these bags with me onto the plane and said.
“You’re going to have to check in one of your bags.” The check in staff said.
“Excuse me?” I asked in disbelief.
“You can only bring one bag onto the plane. So you have to check one of your bags.”
“But both of my bags combines amount to less than half of his and you let him carry his bag on.”
“I’m sorry sir, thank you for your cooperation.” She said as she pried the bag out of my hand, marked it, and placed it on the conveyor belt.
Walking away, dejected, Ben tapped me on the shoulder. “Lets go get some English Pound.”
We would be in England soon, after a brief layover in Russia.
I spent the plane ride to Russia watching the first half of the latest season of game of thrones. I tried to watch American Gods, but there was a problem, it sucked.
“This is really bad,” Ben said. He went on to watch most of season one as this is what you do when you don’t like a TV show.
Then suddenly, it happened. The world outside the plane became dark and a sudden change in the environment of the cabin could only be explained in one word, ominous. And another word; freezing.
“That’s weird,” Ben said as his breath became a smoky vapor as soon as he left his mouth.
I turned to the man sitting across the aisle from me. He was already dressed in his full winter set-up. Down jacket, scarf, gloves, broadsword, and crossbow.
He looked into my eyes and said with a bellowing voice. “Winter is coming.” Vapor coming out of his mouth as well.
That’s when we heard the announcement.
We will soon be landing in Moscow. Please fasten your seatbelt and prepare for landing. The current time in Moscow is 4pm. The current temperature is, who gives a fuck? It’s always cold.
I looked over at Ben and he was already dressed for the upcoming battle. Except, instead of a broadsword, Ben, had a magic wand.
“Where the fuck you had that?” I said.
“My carry on.” Ben said.
We were transferred from the plane, to a bus. The bus driver was standing outside of the bus wearing only a thing hooded jumper and his jeans. He watched in disgust as the passengers recoiled and withered in the Russian cold. Being sure to taunt each passenger as they entered the bus. We later learned that this time was the darkest time in Russia in quite some time. Which made total sense now that I think about it.
On the bus, we tumbled together toward Sheremetayo Airport.
“Where is the airport?” I said.
Ben, who had already drawn a circle of protection around us, pointed to a gigantic mountain in the distance with his magic wand.
“That’s it over there.” He said pointing at the mound of snow.
“There?!? That’s a fucking mountain, isn’t it?” I said.
“In Russia. All buildings are covered in snow.” Ben said. “This is Snowfrica!”
“Snowfrica?” I said. What the fuck is Snowfrica?”
“Russia is white Africa, remember? You figured it out. I don’t know how. Being all inferior intellectually and all.” Ben said. “But the people here call it Snowfrica.”
Snowfrica.” I said. “That makes so much sense.”
“Yes.” Ben said. “I’m a Snowfrican.”
I don’t know how, but it somehow became darker outside.
Next Week: Journey to West Snowfrica AKA England