The Russians have surely brought queuing to heights that other cultures (including my own) can barely dream of. As well as the innovations of the Queue to join the Queue, and the Wrong Queue, St. Petersburg airport has also invented a further refinement – the time limited queue. This is one where, having got to the head of it you were told to go away and wait ‘ten minutes’ and then try again. This led to almost total gridlock when a large busload full of elderly Swiss tourists decided to do their waiting right there at the head of the queue, as a large queue of people whose queuing time had come waited behind them. As this was also merely a queue to join the next queue, it made for some tight flight connections. We were old Russia hands by then (having spent 20 minutes in the Wrong Queue at the Hermitage, followed by ten minutes in the Right Queue and thirty seconds barging to the front of the Not actually a Queue but a Scrum in front of the ticket desk – sometimes it’s helpful to bring a German along when travelling) so we squeezed through in time.
Actually one place in St. Petersburg where you don’t have to queue is to pee. This is because of a further innovation in public transport – the toilet bus. No not a bus with a toilet, but a bus that is a toilet (although I suppose if you’ve been on a Night Bus in London it’s not that much of a novelty). The fare is ten Roubles, the journey short and I hope you’re guaranteed a seat – I didn’t actually try it out for myself. It seems like a sensible solution to the needs of a sudden influx of visitors but I hope they don’t put them back into regular service afterwards, at least without a thorough clean out first.
Well, I’m back and London Underground has never looked so clean and inviting, even on a slow Picadilly line train from Heathrow. This blog’s brief excursion into exotica is over and it will be back to the normal everyday realities of commuting next week