Hello-hello-hello and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
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And we want to hear what you think. And now I wanna hear how you Gary and you Benjamin have been doing. What’s up?
Yeah, busy at work, happy, enjoying the sun. Got my hot water turned back on, so I’m a happy guy.
Now there’s true happiness.
That’s the definition of happiness is two weeks without hot water and then getting hot water.
And also I went two weeks and then they turned it back on and then they disconnected it for another three days. So they taunted me.
Fake out, they faked out.
Yes, we’re gonna give you water, no we’re not! Right, yeah. Who’s got power over the water here.
It’s a very mean trick, a very mean trick.
So what do you chose when the water’s off – to take a cold shower, an icy cold shower or, you know, to heat up three kettles just to…
I do the cold shower, but then sometimes you need to have a shave, and it’s kinda hard to do that with cold water. And yeah, you have to use a kettle for that.
Only one? I mean cause when I had those horrible two weeks, I was like kettle one, kettle two.
Oh wow, a multiple kettle situation as we call it. Right, yes. Many kettles.
Well you know, this is the time… These two weeks is the time when you bond with your friends more than ever. Cause you suddenly want to text everyone asking do you have hot water? Do you have a boiler? Can I come? Can I come see you? I’ve missed you so much!
Yeh this generation is the only bonding experience we have is the hot water situation.
Previous generations it was the war, it was…
Those were the things that we….
Yeah, horrible two weeks. Have you noticed that every single time that they turn the hot water off, it’s very hot? So you’re like, you’re sweaty, you want to take a shower. And then there’s no hot water and you’re like why?
It’s intentional, they plan it.
They sit in their big offices and just decide okay…
Is it hot enough to turn the hot water off? Get the switch.
Well you know, we have this Russian saying, it’s like how to make people happy? Take something away from them and then return it. Tadam! People happy! So you know, we don’t value hot water as a rule, but once you take it away from us for two weeks, we sure do.
I mean, it is actually totally true. You really do appreciate hot water after, yeah.
Can you imagine? I know it’s not really related to the topic much, but when I lived in Yakutia we didn’t have hot water from May till October. Like, at all. That was…
Unbelievable and unforgettable experience.
So did you have like a metal tub at home which you would…
Well you know, it mostly buckets and kettles. And then once a week we would go to my aunt to, you know, take a bath.
Oh so your electric bill must’ve been insane from all the kettles.
Well, I mean, it’s Yakutia, it doesn’t matter whether you have to use more kettles, it’s always insane.
I mean, my parents used to pay 12 thousand for utilities every month, like electricity, water.
Oh wait wait wait, 12 thousand rubles? Yeah that’s a lot.
Well, yeah, I mean like 5 years ago, 3 years ago even.
I think it’s like… What is it, the pension in Russia isn’t it 12 thousand rubles a month, something like that.
Depends on how long you’ve been working and what places you’ve been working and where. Cause my parents, again, they lived in Sakha Republic, in there the…
Yeah it’s higher than the other parts of the country and also they retire… Usually they retire 5 years earlier because it’s the Far East, it’s the North. So for them it’s not 55-60 for women and men but 50-55. 50 for women.
Of course now it’s older.
Yeah, they’ve just breathed it. It’s been a cause of much unjoy, lack of joy, yes, in the public. But they did it.
So, but we’re not here today to talk about hot water.
Yeah, these are both topics in and on themselves. Yes, maybe another date.
That’ll draw in the listeners. Wow they’re talking about pensions, I’m in! Thumbs up!
We’re here today to talk about transport. And I wanna ask you – are you guys drivers? Do you drive?
Yeah I’ve got a driving license, I’ve got a UK license and a US license.
So how long have you been driving?
Well I learned how to drive when I was I think 17 or 18. Got my license in the UK. But obviously being… Living in the UK you barely drive. When I briefly moved to America for two years I was driving all the time, which was great. I honed my driving skills in America.
You said that you don’t drive in the UK much. Well, and that’s understandable cause you lived in London. But what about you know, rural areas? Do people tend to drive over there?
Yeah, they do, yeah. And the difference between the UK…. Well we can talk about this a bit later, but the main difference is in the UK you have to do a manual license or an automatic license.
Oh that was gonna be my question.
Yeah, so in the UK if you have a manual license or in the US as they say a stick shift. I think that’s what you call it.
Yeah you can call it a manual.
Yeah a manual license. It allows you to drive both manual and automatic cars. In the US it’s fortunately you don’t have to distinguish between the two.
Cause it’s always automatic?
Well they do have stick shift cars in America.
They’re phasing them out.
They’re hard to find even in the states.
So Gary, do you have a manual license or an automatic license?
I just have a license, we don’t make a difference and we don’t… There’s no distinction in the licenses. And it used to be that cars would have manual transmissions or stick shifts, and but there was never any licensing differences about them. So but I learned on an automatic cause that was the car that my parents had. And then later when I got a car, a second car, it had a stick shift and I just learned how to do it.
What car… Could you remember what car you learned on?
I do, my parents had a big car, they had a Cadillac.
Yeah, like a sedan Deville, she was two door. So monster big doors. And a monster car to learn how to park with, cause the one difficult part of the driving test is parking. You have to parallel park we call it, which means a city parking situation.
Well I know you grew up in Ohio, which part of Ohio again? I forgot.
Cleveland. So it’s a major city.
Yeah. I mean I wasn’t doing city driving and you don’t actually have… You would rarely have to parallel park in Cleveland. But that’s part of the test. It’s like a skill part.
Gary how old were you when you got a driver’s license?
I was 15, I got my learner’s permit and then it allows you to drive with a driver with you. And then at 16 because that was a big thing in the day.
You know, I’ve noticed that whenever I say to people that I don’t have a license in the US, they are just so shocked like what? How? I mean, how come? But… You know, they are so shocked cause everybody seems to have a driver’s license at the age of 16 or maybe 17.
So and they just can’t understand how come that I don’t have one. And I said well I don’t have the reason to. I mean, I just don’t.
Yeah, well, in certain places in the states people wouldn’t have a car, wouldn’t have a license.
Yeah, New York City, maybe. And maybe, I don’t know, Boston? I don’t know, you lived in Boston suburbs.
I mean if it’s Boston itself, maybe not. But the greater area, you have to have a car.
Actually we’re gonna talk about, you know, the availability of public transport and you’ll understand why. But I’ve noticed that in the US having a car and having a license is a must. It’s not a luxury but it’s a must. You can’t properly function maybe.
The only exception is New York.
Yeah. But they, you know, they take pride in not being able to drive. That’s what they’re proud of. Like oh, I don’t need a license, I’m a New Yorker.
Yeah until they want to get out of the city during Covid and then the shine of that distinction.
If you don’t wanna pay $2500 a month for a terrible flat or apartment, you’re gonna learn to drive.
So, how… What is the process of getting a driver’s license like? I mean, in the UK, in the US? How does that work?
So typically you need to do about, I don’t know, 25 lessons, something like that. You can get a driver’s license without doing lessons, you can just be instructed by a parent.
You’re talking about the UK?
Both countries, both countries.
You can just learn on your own. But you have to take a theory test and then you have to do the practical test, in both countries. The theory is generally pretty easy, you just have to revise some materials in a book. Practical test is a little tricky.
In the UK I passed on my first try, luckily. Very happy I passed. When I went to the US, I failed the first one and passed the second one. The reason why I failed was so annoying. It wasn’t because of a dangerous maneuver or anything, it was because I was driving in a residential area.
Speed limit is 25 miles per hour in American residential areas. And they had some speed humps, you know speed bumps? And it said 15 miles per hour over the speed bumps. So I thought okay, let’s just keep it at 15 and I failed the test because of that. And I said why did you fail the test? And the guy said…
Oh you can fail a test for going too slow?
I thought let’s demonstrate the instructor that I’m responsible. It says 15, let’s just keep it at 15. And he said no, 15 over the humps, and then 25 and then 15 over the humps and then 25. And I just thought I understand, give me a minor infraction or something like that, but fail the test because of that? It was just…
So apparently you can go too slow?
Well you can. You know, some highways have minimum speed.
It’s what? 50? 40 or something? You know, like for farm equipment or something, you know. Or if you’re… Or if you’ve got vehicle problems, you can… If you can keep it at 40 miles an hour you can stay on the road. But lower than that it becomes a danger. I don’t even remember. I think I did fail the test one time, but it’s so long ago I can’t remember.
So in general it’s easy to get a driver’s license? I mean, bureaucratically wise.
Yeah they’re not trying to make it difficult, yeah.
Yeah, as long as you haven’t illegally driven a car before and got caught with it you shouldn’t have any problem.
Interesting. Cause in here, it seems to be so difficult. Cause it’s a big business over here, like a huge business. Cause you can’t just learn how to drive somewhere else or let’s say, if your parent teaches you how to drive. And then come to the school or some place and say I wanna take a test, like theory test and then the driving test.
You want professional drivers here.
Well-instructed. And the results speak for themselves. Very effective.
So you have to go to the driving school, pay hell of a lot of money and then take a theory test. And then driving test. And they used to have a driving test on like autodrom, something like that? And then you would have a test in the city. But then if you fail, each following test is, you know, is for money. So you have to pay. My sister failed the first three ones I think. But that’s…
Yeah I know somebody who I think failed maybe 8 times, 7-8 times. Anyway, it looked like maybe a bribe situation.
Exactly. So my sister at that school where she was taking classes, it was an unspoken rule that the first test it should be no more than 2 people who pass it. So the next time, some more. Next time – some more. So that, you know, the school needs money.
Oh so the school gets a cut of that or does the money go to the school?
The money goes to the school.
Only a part of it goes to the officers.
Well that doesn’t encourage corruption at all. I mean, really. Creates just…
I mean it used to be like 15 thousand or like 16 thousand for the whole process like years and years ago. Now it’s about 40 thousand if not more. Bu honestly, I’ve been thinking about getting a driver’s license.
First I thought about that in the US cause I thought if I wanna live here for some time, get my degree here, I will need to have a driver’s license. Cause otherwise getting around a small town – no. I mean it was a 35-minute walk to the nearest supermarket.
But then I came to Russia, I’m like okay, maybe I can get a driver’s license here. And I realized how aggressive all the drivers are here. And I said no.
They’re so aggressive, I’ve seen…! Well in America there very aggressive drivers too to be honest. It’s not just Russia.
You know, I don’t remember if I’ve told you the story how I came to the US and I’ve been talking to people, you know, about Massachusetts in general and drivers and everything. And people ask me so how do you like Massachusetts.
Yeah Boston is the worst… I mean…
It’s actually the worst in the United States I think.
I said you know, I love people here. They’re so friendly. They just looked at me like…
Are we talking about Boston right now? Like, are you sure? Friendly? I’m like look, I’m from Russia. And they’re like you do know that we have a special term which is Masshole, right? I’m like okay. But yeah, apparently Boston has some of the worst drivers.
Yeah, they’re bad, they’re really bad.
But coming from Novosibirsk.
New York isn’t that bad. I mean, I’ve lived in New York for a couple of years, it’s really not that bad at all.
But comparing to, you know, Siberia where the drivers are very aggressive. Like, really, when we… So my parents and I several years ago, not even several but like 7 years ago, we had a, you know, car trip from Novosibirsk to Yakutsk. And then we also had one from Yakutsk to Novosibirsk. So it was 5 days, 5-6 days.
And we understood that this Siberian region is where most of the car crashes are it seems. Because of the drivers, they are very careless. They go, you know, way too fast.
And the road… I mean, you’ve got two lane roads and it’s just… They’re very dangerous.
And ice, bad roads, not always good.
Yeah. But I have only been at the wheel once in my life when I had to, you know, move some stuff from my apartment to campus. And my friend was helping me and then she just gave me the keys like sit. I’m like I’m sorry?
She’s like you wanted to learn how to drive. Here’s your chance. I’m like but we’re in a parking lot. She’s like yeah it’s empty. I’m like there are four cars. She’s like well please do your best not to hit them.
Right, yes. Right, your job is not to hit those four cars scattered over this huge parking.
I’m like what do I do? She’s like wait, you’ve never actually done that? I’m like I don’t even know how to start a car. And she taught me, you know, some basic things and I had several rounds around the parking lot. And then I parked in such a ridiculous way.
I’m not talking about parallel parking right now.
Shut the door and walked away with a smile. Yes.
After that I started to admire people who…
Brought her home. Yeah, right, yes. Kind of at an angle, right, yes. On the curb, but well…
When you first start driving, you think it’s gonna be really easy, but it’s actually quite…
It’s not easy at the start. It’s easy after a while.
That one time taught me that it’s not easy.
Yeah, it’s not like just getting on a bike. It’s… Cause you have to be very spatially aware and it’s very easy to clip a curb or to…
I feel like you have to be, I do not know, it’s a whole new set of skills. You know, noticing everything, on the sides, ahead, what’s happening behind you. Everything! The signs, the traffic lights, other cars. How can you do that? I admire people who drive. Honestly.
Right, yes. They are very amazing. It’s right.
I have a feeling you have somebody special in mind, you know.
America’s a wonderful… All those amazing people. That’s right, yes.
So and what… Wait, Gary, have you driven here in Russia?
I have. I used to have a vehicle here. I used to have an Uazik, not just any…
You know the bread loaf ones, like the ambulance is.
Ah, yeah, I’ve not heard that, but yeah, I did, yeah, I had a classic uazik, как скорая.
Yeah, that’s the one. Oh wow!
So I was travelling in style.
Did you have the opportunity to trade in the US license or did you have to do the Russian course?
I didn’t have to do anything. This was in the 90s. And I didn’t have to do anything. I don’t think I would have to do anything now.
I don’t think you would have to do anything now.
No no no, I was dong a lot of research on this and...
Apparently I would have to do the Russian test now. So I would be allowed to drive on my UK license for up to 60 days. But because I have a work visa here, it’s… You have to get the Russian license.
Also I would, you know, if I were you, I would actually take, you know, a test or something. Especially after driving in the UK, cause it has like left side.
Oh you drove in the US, oh yeah, that’s true.
The interesting thing is that the UK is part of what is called the Vienna convention which means that there are reciprocal recognition of driving licenses. Whereas in the US there’s not reciprocal recognition with Russian licenses and US licenses. So it’s much easier to drive on a British license.
It used to be… I’m sure that…
You can drive on a US driver’s license in Russia if you’re a tourist for instance. But there is more reciprocity… It’s kinda complicated because there is more reciprocity between the UK and Russia with driving whereas between the US. It’s really complicated, but…
Gary and you said you used to have a car.
So why did you stop having a car?
Well, I had to leave the country in 2003 and I wasn’t sure I was gonna be able to come back and so I just sold the vehicle basically.
That was also an interesting choice of a car.
Oh it was. It was, you know, I was going into villages somewhat and things like that. It was a utility type of thing obviously.
And it was good, it was very good for the purpose. And I had a friend here who could work at it and keep it operating which helped. And so, at that point it was just a vehicle that I had… It had a garage at the time, a metal garage. So I could’ve kept it, but you know, vehicles deteriorate and you don’t know if… So anyway, I just sold it.
Ben, have you ever had a car?
Yeah well in America I owned two. So the first one was…
Well not at the same time. So I bought one for $2000 in Vegas. Well, I bought in Los Angeles and drove it over to Vegas.
It made it. Which is cheap for America.
If a $2000 car does that, it’s doing well.
And it was a stick shift car, a manual car. Well stick shift is an American word. And obviously I’d learned how to drive a manual car in the UK, but I hadn’t driven it in so many years and I forgot how to do it. So it took a while to get used to driving a manual car again. And because of the $2000 car eventually… You know. It had some problems. And I was driving around Vegas on really hot summer’s days. So it’s about 45C.
I can tell you the problem you probably did it involve your cooling system at all?
It wasn’t actually the cooling system. Well I’d never turned on the AC because I would just fry the car.
So you were just driving without AC…
It was disgusting, it was disgusting.
It was so bad, an experience. The problem was to do with… Do you know what the clutch hydraulics are?
So the clutch is the mechanism…
Can you dumb it down to me?
So the clutch is what engages the transmission with the gears.
The clutch is the thing that when it’s manual, it’s the third pedal. So there’s three pedals.
So the clutch… So the hydraulic system… Do you now what the hydraulics are? So yeah. The hydraulics pipes leaked everywhere. It was really hot. I’m guessing because it was really hot weather. And it’s really hard to explain, but the clutch pedal, when everything’s working well, it has some stiffness to it.
Yeah. It went to the floor. So the pedal was touching the floor.
That does not sound good.
So I was driving around Vegas and all of a sudden the clutch was not engaging, it was not working. And there was this hydraulic fluid all over the flood.
So what does that lead to?
So you have to completely replace the piping system for the hydraulics. And this was quite an expensive job so I just thought let’s just sell the car. And I’ve got…
Yeah don’t tell them about the hydraulic, just refill the…
Well the car just didn’t work.
Just refill the reservoir and put it on sale. And say this thing is a gem. You’re gonna love this car.
Everything works perfect.
The car wouldn’t drive at all, so I had to get the car towed to… Towed back home.
You know, use the tape, stick it all over the place and say yeah, it’s perfect.
And I sold it to this guy who… For nothing, for like $200 because the car was… As they say in America it was a lemon. It was…
What kind of a car was it?
It was a Mitsubishi Lancer. So it was a pretty fun car, but I sold it to this guy for $200 because it was nothing I could do with the car. And I didn’t want to pay for parking and insurance et cetera. So funny story, very quickly. He obviously couldn’t drive the car and the guy didn’t wanna pay for a tow truck to…
Because he’s buying a $200 car.
He’s putting his life savings into it. I’m giving you my last dollar.
So what he did was he had a really cheap car himself, like an $800 car. And he told me to sit in the car, steer it and he pushed the car with his car.
And then I said are you sure we can do this? I’m not insured.
And he said believe me. Look at my equipment, look what kind of person I am.
Exactly. That’s exactly what he said.
Trust me, I got a $1000 in these two cars. I’ve got a lot of money in these things.
And I got out of the car. We were in a residential area and I said I’d rather cancel it. I’m not messing around, I don’t want any blemishes on my record. I want a clean driving license, I don’t want police problems. So I got out of the car.
And he got a, what is it called? He’s got a big piece of string, a big rope and he tied my car to the string. And I got in his car cause I didn’t want anything to do with it. And we were driving on a busy road, it’s called Desert Inn Road, it’s a very busy road in Vegas. And he made a turn and the rope snapped.
But your brakes worked, right?
And the car was just floating around in the middle of the road.
Well the guy’s car, the working one, had the brakes working, but Ben’s car…
I thought my driver’s plate, my car’s plates are still on this car, if the police see this, I’m in so much trouble.
Life is flashing in front of his eyes, yeah.
So I said to him come on, let’s get in the car. He didn’t speak much English, he was from Mexico. And I said vamos, vamos! Let’s go! So I got the steering wheel and just turned the car into someone’s driveway and this guy…
Okay. What happened next?
I was so happy that I managed to get this car of the road, cause a police car drove by a few minutes after. And oh god, I was so scared.
And what about people you know, in whose driveway you ended up?
We didn’t think about that.
That was the problem for your future, for a future Ben. Okay.
Luckily this driveway was nearby this guy’s house. And so he managed to just push it in the middle of the night back to his house.
I was so happy cause I was… I’ve never had a parking ticket, I’ve never had a speed card.
So you have like a clean record.
I drive like a grandma. I like having a clean…
Yeah we noticed, cause you didn’t drive your test because you were driving too slow.
That’s right, cautious from the very beginning of his driving career.
I was being… I was so nervous…
You didn’t even have a license and it was because you were too cautious.
So, grandma Ben, what was the second car that you got?
So I bought it off my brother, cause he wanted to sell it and buy a pickup truck, which is this great pickup truck. It’s a Toyota Takoma, it’s a great truck. And he sold it to me, yeah. I’m still paying him back for it. But it was a good car, it was a Hyundai Accent which is a Solaris here in Russia. They’re quite common here in Russia.
And it wasn’t a fancy car or anything, but it was really good, it worked. It was automatic. It got me from A to B. Only a couple of small problems. Do you know what a check engine light is?
Yeah. I think it’s called in Russian check engine light. Something like that.
So was it always on? Not on but…
Not on, but it blinked a couple of times cause it’s really hot in Vegas and it was just a couple of issues. But I reset it. In America you have to do this thing called the smog check. In most states you have to do a smog check which is… It’s kind of like a техосмотр in Russia where…
Like once every year or something?
And you can’t register your car unless you do, unless you complete the test.
That’s why you have the sticker, right?
It’s part of getting a sticker, yeah.
You need, exactly, the tags they’re called in America. So you can’t have a check engine light on if you want to register the car. At least in California or in Nevada or in most states. Some states I think Tennessee, it doesn’t matter. Some, maybe Florida, Alabama, they don’t care. But in most states you need to do a smog check.
Alright. You know, I have… It seems to me that in the US it’s sometimes cheaper to get a new car than to fix an old one.
Well I’ve got a philosophy of car buying.
Which is, yeah, I’d never paid more than $3500 for a car, ever. And for $3000 you can get pretty decent car usually. Now it depends on the market. Now I wouldn’t wanna try to do that now. From what I understand. But when I’ve been trying to do that, it’s been possible to do that. And it’s always been okay. You get enough of a car and it does what you want it to do. And then you sell it for $1000 or $1500 or whatever.
$3000 is a good price. Cause it’s somewhat decent.
Yeah I mean surprisingly. You wouldn’t think you could get anything for $3000, you know, that would be like 210 000 rubles or something like that. So that’s like not a car here. But in the states you can do that usually, not now. You might have to go to four. Sometimes a 5.
My friend actually, she was… She has a favorite type of car which is Toyota Solara. So she was driving it here in Novosibirsk before she moved to the US. And then over there she had been looking for one for a year, you know, with good record, good condition.
So she bought it. It was her dream car. She was so happy, you know. Until last year she got into a car accident, someone just hit her from behind.
Oh rear ending it’s called.
So and she had a concussion and the car was just done. And her insurance said that it would cost $6500 to fix it and they’re not paying that. So they just, you know…
Totalled it. We call it totalling.
Yeah. And they just gave her the money to buy a new one, so she ha to look for a new one. And of course she couldn’t buy anything like that again. Cause that was basically a once in a lifetime opportunity cause it’s an old car.
So she got a concussion. What else happened? So she… Was she…
So as far as I understand she was driving and someone… How do you say?
Rear end. Rear end someone.
So somebody rear ended her?
So somebody rear ended her and she’s like all I could understand is that you know, that happened and she had like… I think first she was functioning on adrenaline, on shock maybe. Cause then the second day, well, you know, the car’s got towed and everything.
She went home. And then she realized that she was feeling nauseous, you know, she had a severe headache, so she went to hospital, to the ER, she and her passenger. And it turned out that she had severely hit her neck.
So it was a whiplash accident. Do you know what a whiplash is?
Yeah yeah, exactly, like the word whip.
So and she had a concussion and I think for 3 or 4 months after she couldn’t wear a bag on that part because of the injury. So every time she tried to turn, she said she couldn’t hug anyone cause it was painful. So I think now…
So was it because the seatbelts constricted her collarbone?
Might be. But she said if she didn’t have the belt on, she would’ve just, you know, flown out of the window, like through the window. Yeah. So yeah. And she was so sad about the car. Of course scared as well, you know, cause…
You know, in Russia, everyone is so reckless about wearing seatbelts. She’s like if I hadn’t been doing that, like if I hadn’t had a seatbelt on, I wouldn’t have been alive right now. So.
That’s a very good conditional sentence.
Write that down, put that in the grammar…
Yeah let’s use it in our lessons.
Whenever I can’t think of an example, let’s…
A naturally occurring, a naturally occurring, we didn’t’ even…
See Ben is now is getting all into being a teacher. Like, oh that was a good conditional.
That was a good case of using prepositions and phrasal verbs.
Parsing his own sentences and…
Nice second conditional man.
Gary, it’s third. Gary, it’s the third conditional.
Is it third? Well I didn’t…
I wasn’t paying… Anyway, I wasn’t… Okay. I knew it was third conditional.
If I had been thinking about it…
We’re multiplying it here. That’s why you’re tuning these native speakers, just throwing off third conditionals left and right. It just comes out of our mouths.
Naturally. Every second sentence, every other sentence is a conditional, right.
It’s just like music out of Mozart, you know.
We should do a whole podcast only in conditional.
We call it the conditional podcast.
We call… You know it’s like… I think it’s called what if Cleopatra’s nose had been longer. That’s the name of the podcast and it’s all about alternatives in history. What if. What if that, what if that. So we do have one.
Anyhoo. So I think that this is the seatbelt situation is the biggest difference between the countries. Cause in the US people, you know, buckle up so they don’t have an accident or they are alive after an accident. I think in Russia the mentality is more like ugh, I have to put the seatbelt on so that I don’t get fined.
Well by the way in New Hampshire it’s not a legal requirement. In New Hampshire the only state…
Why am I not surprised right now?
No offence to any New Hampshire residents listening of course.
Their slogan is live free or die.
I mean, and they’re doing that. And they’re doing both of this, big apple size. They’re living free and dying. It’s wonderful.
I remember I mentioned it in one of the episodes…
It’s not even a choice, we just do both of them. Happy in New Hampshire. We live free and we die. Living free.
You know… Yeah but I remember actually about New Hampshire. So in Massachusetts it’s illegal to buy fireworks, you can’t buy firework or set fireworks. But you can do that in New Hampshire.
Of course you can. Yes. Another opportunity to live free and die.
A fun fact about New Hampshire – the moment you cross the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire you see a firework shop on the left and a strip club on the right. And that was a very interesting combination, like, okay, that was my first impression of New Hampshire. Lovely.
Alright. So have you noticed any other differences between the US, the UK and Russia in terms of driving? Like how people drive? Anything else? Cars?
To be honest there are reckless drivers everywhere, cause obviously, of course Russia has a reputation for having a lot of car accidents. But a lot of that comes down to the weather. And yes of course there are some reckless drivers.
But in the states too, you see trucks driving in the fast lane and.., This problem’s everywhere for reckless drivers. I would say… I wouldn’t say that UK… Cause in the UK we have some idiot drivers too, but if you go to countries like the Netherlands, there you have a lot of responsible drivers.
There you go. They make Ben look like a daredevil.
Right. The speed limit’s 25, they’re going 18.
They have a lot of cyclists and bicycle infrastructure.
I heard that they have… The cyclists have a priority.
They do, they have priority. I mean, they generally have priority in most countries. But in the Netherlands, you have bicycle lanes everywhere. And the process of acquiring a license is very very long in the Netherlands. And people drive more for pleasure than they do for a daily necessity, for instance the US.
So people don’t want to screw up their license, they wanna keep their license, so they generally are more responsible. Of course in Germany you have the famous autobahns which, on some stretches of the autobahns, you don’t have any speed limit.
The reason why is because the German government believes that alright, our drivers are more responsible, they’ve been tested, like, yeah, they’ve undergone many tests and examinations. So they should be able to drive at whatever speed they see fit.
And obviously all the accidents that happen on the autobahn are foreign drivers who, well, mostly foreign drivers, who want to take their Lamborghinis out for a spin. I mean you see some amazing videos on the internet of people driving 200 miles per hour on there.
Generally there aren’t more accidents on the autobahn as there are in other countries, even though there is no speed limit. That is one very famous difference I guess you could say.
You know what else came to my mind about being different and Gary you have mentioned that about Russia that in Russia on highway we have, let’s say, two lanes or four lanes. Okay. But what I’ve noticed in the US and what I loved and I think we should have that here in Russia is that…
So, lets say 3 or 4 lanes going one direction and then lanes of cars going the other direction – they’re usually separated by…. They’re on different sides, there’s a hill between them or some kind of…
Barriers. But they’re never, you know, close to each other. So which I guess…
They are… Like on state routes in the US, like in Ohio for example and in Florida, just everywhere… It takes way more money to lay out parallel…
But that would lead to fewer accidents I believe.
Because in here, if you read the news about Novosibirsk region, every single day you read news about how several people died in a horrible car crash. And…
I hated the passing here. Like driving to Barnaul, I had an occasion to drive to Barnaul a few times and I mean, just so there are two lanes… And the same thing in the United States – two lane roads are just terrible.
And people are driving like crazy sometimes. Oh how do you actually call that when there’s one car you want to…
Overtake. So and people are overtaking, you know, like crazy. Even if there is a car going at you basically. They’re like I can make it, I can make it.
My dad used to do that sometimes and my mom would swear at him like what are you doing right now? We could’ve died! So but…
Well in the US on the roads you have the yellow line which divides the two directions of the road. So if the line is not a dotted, if the line is striped…
Yeah if the line’s dotted, you’re allowed to overtake. But if the line is solid, you’re not allowed to overtake.
Same in here. You know, when we were having this trip which was 6 days from here to Yakutsk, sometimes my dad would be driving, sometimes my sister was driving. And you know, she was driving and my dad was like slow down, you know, you’re going way too fast. She’s like no I’m not, it’s like 110, it’s alright. And he’s like it’s an American car, it’s miles per hour! She’s like oops.
And then she did the calculation and she was like oops, and I was thinking why you know, it suddenly feels so good and we were just… My mom and I, we’re not drivers…
You were going 100 miles an hour?
Wow. I mean you would feel it.
The steering wheel would shake at that speed.
Even getting close to that, it’s… You don’t feel safe, I mean…
Oh yeah, well, maybe. Maybe in a Lexus, yeah.
The steering wheel would go, shake. I mean grandma Ben would go nuts.
Right, grandma Ben has anxiety just listening to this.
I was driving on an open Nevada road, no one around, so I thought let’s just push the car to its limit and the steering wheel just shakes like crazy after 90.
It was a $800 road handling.
But anyhoo, so she… Sometimes she would be driving quite fast and you know, my mom and I we were like did you just cross the double line. She’s like no I didn’t. We’re like yeah you did. She’s like really? Did I? Oh jesus. That’s… How? What?
And within those 6 days there were so many moments that I was like, okay, here comes the end of my life probably.
Cause you know, when she was really trying to overtake and there was a car coming, you know…
Yeah you would say to pass..
I hate the passing situations. I mean, I don’t like them in… I mean in Florida it’s bad too because… And that’s where accidents happen because people misjudge, it’s hard to… Yeah. Judge the distance and everything else and just…
So yeah, I just enjoy it when it’s average, you know, speed, not too fast, you know. So like now that we’re going to the dacha for example, it’s like an hour drive. But now my sister is smarter. Also it’s two lane, you know, road.
And usually the traffic is… Well it’s not really jammed, but you know, you don’t get to overtake cars. So she’s just driving, enjoying the surrounding. I’m like that’s what I like. No, you know, extreme dangerous situations. Let’s keep it that way.
Yeah if you like that, you can always just go to a race track and…
I have a question actually. So in what situations can you driver’s license be well, taken away? Or how to…
Well in the UK it’s if you get 12 points. If you have 12 points, then…
Yeah, there’s points, we call them points.
So usually an infraction on your driving license is normally about 3 points. So let’s say if you’re driving and texting, that could be six points. Something like that.
So you have like a point system. So let’s say if you over speed, it’s like 2-3?
3 points, something like that.
Okay, and if it’s 12 points, it is revoked for how long?
In the states I think it’s probably gonna be less than… It would take maybe your third infraction.
So like third strike? For how long?
I believe it’s pretty similar in the UK too.
Okay. Cause I tried to, well, find some information about Russia. Cause I’m not a driver, I don’t know, so I had to look it up. Apparently if you drive without a license plate for example, it can get revoked for up to 3 months.
Then if you enter an upcoming lane where you’re not supposed to or speeding more than 60 kmh or using fake plates, then it’s from 3 moths to up to a year. And then if you’re caught drunk driving…
Oh Russia’s very serious about that. I think it’s a zero point, it’s a very low…
Zero tolerance. Which is good.
And then if you’re drunk driving or you cause an accident. Well, drunk driving or you are under some kind of substances, then it’s from 1 year to 2 years. Although I think… I might be mistaken, so dear listeners, I’m pretty sure you know more about that than I do, cause I’m not a driver.
But they wanted to, you know, to make the rules stricter. So if you’re caught drunk driving, then it would be up to several years. Like 6 years or permanent… But 6 years of the driver’s license being revoked.
And some countries do not let you cross the border if you have a DUI, it’s called a DUI in America and in the UK. Driving under the influence. Some states I think it’s a DWI. Driving while intoxicated. Yeah. It’s a very famous term in the states and in the UK. So DUI.
So if you ever DUI you can’t go to Mexico. And there are some other countries too where you can’t even go as a tourist, they’re very serious about it.
But also, you know, very often I’m sad to say this, and I ‘m not sure if I should, but you know technically when in these situations when it should be revoked for up to 3 months, very often people bribe the officers so they…
Well it’s becoming… Well I believe bribing is becoming less of a problem in Russia, sure, I’m sure it’s a problem to an extent. But it’s becoming less of a problem.
I think it depends on what part of Russia you’re talking about.
So when there are no cameras, no CCTV, so how can you prove anything?
Well I believe… I’ve read somewhere that a new law is passed whereby police are just not allowed to handle cash in Russia. So you can’t… Well obviously I’m sure…
Well they wouldn’t have to, yeah, they don’t have to handle the cash, it just doesn’t go through the system. It just goes into their pocket and they didn’t have any cash or maybe there wasn’t any video and so it’s all okay. There was just no infraction.
And I also I think… Well Russia’s definitely becoming less corrupt. Of course I’m sure there are pockets of Russia which are more corrupt, but I’ve spoken to a lot of students about lives and a lot of people say they can’t get away with that anymore.
I’m sure it’s better than it was but it’s probably… I mean it used to be just a common practice.
Back to transport, yeah, right. Yes.
Before we get ourselves in trouble, you know.
So and what about public transport and its availability? What do you think about public transport here in Novosibirsk? And in Russia in general?
I think in Novosibirsk you have a great network of public transport. Of course there’s some older trams, but they’re charming.
Generally Novosibirsk should be really proud of its public transport, so it’s a good system. Of course there are problems. I was on a троллейбус, one of those electric buses and it did break down cause it was a little old. Of course there are problems.
But that was charming too.
I used to take a tram, I used to take a tram to work and ten every day it was, you know, am I gonna get lucky and get to work? Or not? Cause the thing is that if one breaks down, the whole line, you know, can’t move.
Exactly. But generally the transport is great.
Yeah it’s very good, it’s very good, yeah. So I don’t have a vehicle, I don’t need a vehicle. In fact I enjoy not having one.
That’s actually the thing.
I enjoy not having it as much as probably people that have a car enjoy having a car.
I mean if you just go somewhere within the city, you’re fine. And then if you need to go somewhere further, for example…
Then it’s a problem, like to the dacha.
Exactly. So let’s say now I don’t drive, but if I don’t need to go anywhere, you know, far, I’m fine. You know, there are taxis, shuttle buses like маршрутка, buses, trains, commuter trains – so many things!
But let’s say when we need to go to the dacha, so let’s say, when my sister can’t drive my mom or, you know, us, to it, so my mom takes the commuter train which is 40 minutes. But then after that it’s either taking three buses and some of them don’t run from 11 till 6pm. From 11am till 4pm sorry. Which means that she will need to take a taxi which is like 250 rubles.
So it’s either that, but she’s also retired, so she can only rely on her pension and our help. So. But yeah, three buses. So yeah.
And then, you know, the only things that she can carry, so probably some clothes, not many things. But when, you know, you need to take things there. So she has moved there for the whole summer now. So without my sister’s help, without her car it would be impossible.
Yeah. Well that’s how the entire Untied States is, it’s all like going to the dacha. I mean, sort of, a little bit. I mean, any place that I’ve lived, if I just think what it would be like to try to function in that place without a car. And it’s like impossible, I mean it’s so far from where you live to anything, I mean, to anything.
That’s why, you know, it’s a must, it’s more of a necessity rather than a luxury.
It’s a must in those places, yeah.
Cause I…. Let’s say the first year that I was in the US, I lived in a town of Waltham, which is 40 minutes away form Boston. And we had commuter train, commuter rail it’s called, and a bus. So one hour and a half on a bus – you’re fine. I mean, it’s there. And I think there are two buses that go around the town. So it was okay, it was fine.
If I needed to go to Boston, I could do that on a bus which is $2.40. But in Wellesley, it’s a smaller town. So there’s only commuter rail. And to go from there to Boston is $8.50. So go there and back it’s $17, it’s not something you can afford, you know, doing very often. Some people need to go to work. So they would pay like $500 per month for an unlimited pass.
Yeah, it’s outrageous. it’s the same situation in London. I mean, public transport. It’s outrageously expensive. This is one thing that Russia does really well is about the transport.
Yeah cause it’s 2.40, right?
That’s just one… Within the same zone.
So if you wanna go Leicester square to Covent Garden which is one stop, you pay 2 pound 40.
Yeah, it was the same in New York city.
I lived in Zone 3. I think it was…
Yeah. Zone 3, most people would live around.
And I remember there was more… And the thing is that I also had to take a bus to go the tube. And then if I wanted to go to the center…
So bus is one pound fifty, so 150 rubles. Then you go on the tube it’s 240 rubles. Whereas here you pay 25 rubles, 26 rubles if it’s on the metro.
And it’s good quality generally.
Yeah, it’s fine. I mean you just need to get where you’re going.
Yeah I remember I was shocked by the prices both in the US and in the UK.
Yeah they’re bad. Yeah I think in New York it’s maybe probably above maybe $3.50-4 subway.
And it’s a terrible subway as well.
Obviously the New York subway has a lot of charm.
That’s right as you would call it.
Is that the word you want it… That’s how you call it, okay.
Yeah the subway is kind of the трамвай.
Oh it’s dangerous, it’s dange4orus in New York.
Ben I’ve told you that you’re a master of euphemisms. Charm. Like I saw a rat the size of a cat over there. Like, okay.
No, it’s nasty, it’s not beautiful.
It’s 2.75 right now if I’m not mistaken.
So you pay for the horror show.
I went there last… Well yeah last time I went there it was 2.75.
Okay, well, that’s good. That’s good but when I lived there it was maybe $1.70.
I think in general one ride a subway and most buses in the US are more or less the same. Cause I checked Boston $2.40 for subway, $1.70 for a bus. New York city subway $2.75 and I checked out some other places. Let’s say Salt Late City it’s $2.50 for a bus. Miami metro rail it’s $2.25. And in general it’s within, you know, this from 2 to 2.70 for different areas. But $8.50 for example.
Yeah it depends on… There’s a lot of people commuting to New York city.
And then also here in Novosibirsk people wouldn’t let you on the metro if you are under the influence, if you’re drunk. They won’t let you, they stop you.
Yeah you don’t see drunk people on the metro.
Yeah, they have metal detectors and it’s pretty safe.
I like Novosibirsk metro.
Yeah it’s really good actually.
When you… The problem with transport here is that it’s available, but let’s say, in the peak hour, in the rush hour it’s jammed. Very often you can’t go to places just because, ugh. Well it’s usually in the parts of the city where there are two lanes and everyone wants to go to work. So usually if it’s, you know, Sunday morning…
Oh you’re talking about buses, yeah.
Well at least the trams run very frequently. Every 5 minutes.
Well, depends on the time again and the day. But year, there are always ways that you can, yeah, get to a place. And taxis are quite available as well. And I remember your story how you decided to tip a taxi driver with a pound, well not a pound.
Cause you were like oh, it’s just a pound.
He was like спасибо большое.
Yeah that would be a gigantic…
And I thought oh yeah, it’s just a quid, let’s give it to the…
Big tipper. Right, yes, right.
So wait, have you ever taken a commuter train, like электричка, over here?
To be honest no, but I can’t wait.
You’re about to have that experience…
Now there’s charm. Now there’s charm for ya.
Yeah you’ll go for a lovely ride from Novosibirsk to Iskitim, I promise.
Oh boy. That’s charming. And when you get there, it’s all worth it. You’re in Iskitim. The good news is the train trip is over, the bad news is you’re in Iskitim. I got good news and bad news for ya. The train trip is over, and the bad news is you’re in Iskitim.
Don’t joke about Iskitim people Gary. Be careful.
I know, that could be it for me. Yeah.
So and what about trains versus airplanes? So what do you usually prefer and what are the pros and cons of each of them?
Well I’m a complete aviation nerd. I’m obsessed with planes, I love planes.
It’s a very cool. Oh you can’t high five cause…
But yeah, I’m fascinated by aircraft and I love… I’m such a nerd, I’ll happily go and watch planes land and take off.
Yeah I’m a plane spotter, yeah.
I mean planes are beautiful. It’s beautiful. I have a little dream which is once to have a flight on Airbus A380 which is the largest airplane.
Oh cool. Yeah, airliner is huge. It’s, yeah, I was fortunate, I flew in it once, between, what was it? Los Angeles and London.
If you have a weird feeling right now, that’s my jealousy, ignore it.
It’s cool, it’s very cool. And if you see on the upper deck, cause the economy class is usually on the deck on the A380 you just barely feel the landing, it’s so buttery and smooth and… It’s a cool plane. Unfortunately they are phasing out the A380s, because…
Because they are way too expensive to maintain.
And a lot of airlines are phasing out four engine planes because the maintenance on the engines is absolutely insane.
But let’s say a friend of mine, she had a flight on this plane from where… From Moscow to Dubai and even though it’s a huge plane, she said there wasn’t a single empty spot. Like, it was full. So, apparently, you know, there’s demand if they…
Yeah. Cause they have a fleet of A380s. I believe, I could be wrong, I believe they’re retiring a lot of them. Well all the JumboJets have been recently retired by most airlines. And JumboJets are being converted into cargo freighters now. It’s a shame to see the Queen of the skies as it’s known.
It’s called the Queen of the sky. Well that’s the official, well…
Is it really? I’ve never heard of it.
No that’s the 747. The JumboJet.
Oh yeah you definitely would have, yeah.
Yeah but they’re being phased out. Sadly.
Yeah I don’t think there’s too many, I mean I haven’t been on one for years.
Yeah the queen of the skies is the official nickname for the 747.
Trains… Well, still great transport. I’d love to do the Trans-Siberian and I’ve still never done it. Can’t wait to do that.
Why do you think it’s so popular among visitors and tourists and people?
I think there’s just a romance to it.
That’s exactly what I was gonna say.
Cause that’s definitely not the convenience.
The Vienna-Bagdad or what, Berlin to Bagdad, you know, it’s the sort of fable to, you know, fabled route. I’ve done a trip to Moscow a lot of times.
From Novosibirsk to Moscow? It’s like 3 days, right?
Yeah it’s like 2 days, 2.5 days. And I really liked it. I like trains, I’m more of a train guy. I mean planes are fine. I mean the problem is it takes you 2.5 days, you know.
Well I’d still love to do that. It sounds as such an experience
Did you do the плацкарт? Or did you do…?
Yeah, I do плацкарт. I mean, I’ve done купе.
You get to meet more people.
I mean I’ve done общий. You had one of the things on the outline that is about worst trip.
So it’s just the seatings?
Yes, sitting. But it was overnight. It was overnight.
But it’s not like… They don’t have those, you know, from Novosibirsk to Moscow, it’s not a long…
No. I mean, maybe there is a way to do that. I’ve never…
No no no, I don’t think so.
I did it from Moscow to Riga.
Latvia, yeah. And I was planning to go to Tallinn and they just didn’t… Train was full. So my plan B became Riga общий which is sitting.
Yeah. overnight, it was 9 hours at least. It was nasty. But I actually decided that I was going to try to… This is what made it the worst trip ever. I decided that I was going to try to sleep in a… I guess there are some kind of compartments above. So I managed to get myself up on there.
Oh it’s like a luggage rack.
It’s basically a luggage rack.
I slept on a luggage rack once, I was on a train, a night train between Prague and Bratislava, and it was a horrible journey. It was so bad.
This was too. I can share. This was rough. Because also, I mean, you’ve got zero tolerance for like if you fall off if you know what I mean.
Oh so there’s nothing to stop you from falling basically.
There’s nothing except the floor.
The floor is there to catch you. Th floor is there to catch you.
Don’t’ worry, there’s plenty of floor down there.
I love trains now if it’s not too long. Let’s say for example once I took a train trip to Kazan which was 36 hours. To Nizhny Novgorod, 45 hours.
And I mean I usually, you know, take the top bunk, so I sleep most of the way, I read, and then I don’t worry about my bag being stolen. You know, cause I just put it on the luggage rack.
Above. So and nobody would like to go, you know…
Yeah, nobody’s gonna steal your stuff.
To go that far to steal it. But if you have, you know, your luggage or your bags under the lower bunk, it can get stolen, it happens all the time. But anyhoo, so I loved it, cause you know, I could sleep. But earlier when I used to take the train, there were no sockets, no AC.
And once I took a train when it was +30C, I thought I’d die over there. Cause in my part of the train, it was плацкарт, the window couldn’t get open cause it was an emergency exit. So and I was like okay, I hate it.
So every time there was a stop at night, I would just come out and be like fresh air, oh my god, finally. But now most of the trains have ACs, most of the trains, at least newer trains, they have USB…
Yeah I watched something about the Российские железные дороги, the РЖД thing. They showed something on Youtube about their brand new trains, which they are rolling out soon.
They tend to be more expensive, but I think it’s worth it. You know, taking a train ride, when it has AC.
Well yeah in general it’s not cheap anymore. I mean, if it ever was…
Sometimes it’s more expensive that a plane. So let’s say now if you wanna go to Kazan, it’s cheaper to go by plane. If you want to go Irkutsk, for return tickets, the plane is just 6 thousand more expensive. But then you know, a return trip to Irkutsk and back it’s 2 days and 20 hours. So, you know. You know.
But the best trains in the world have to be Chinese trains. They’re all brand new trains.
That depends on what route you’re talking about. I took a train from Harbin to Beijing – that was not a great ride I’m gonna tell you.
Yeah. The thing is that in Russia if you go on a train, it has bottom bunks and the top bunk, so two. And then the luggage rack. In China it’s three, so one, two three.
And if you are on the top one, it’s one… It’s one… That’s difficult to get on there. And then…
And then when you take a train ride in Russia, you come in, you take… You know, you’re given some sheets, a blanket, they’re in a plastic bag, so you tear it open and put it on. In China when we had to go from Beijing to Harbin back, we saw the train come in, people coming in and we could see what was happening. So the people took, you know, the sheets and everything, turned them upside down.
And they were like come on in. I’m like I’m not sure I want to now.
Oh wow. So they flipped the sheets.
Okay, we put the good side… You re a valued guest, we’re gonna put the better sides of the sheets up for you.
In China people like to clear their throats a lot if you what I mean.
And you hear this on the train.
Like some weird Nazi, spitting all over.
So I mean, maybe they’re better.
Willkommen to our country. We are glad to have you.
Floor can be a little bit sleek under foot.
Yikes. But maybe the trains are better, you know, technically. In this…
The brand new trains are great. The Russian ones.
Okay. What’s the inside that train?
Maybe it’s like a super province, you know.
Well, you know, I wouldn’t say that Harbin is a province.
Well I don’t know, it’s a big city, but I think it’s maybe, you know, it’s like the outer reaches…
A friend of mine is actually… She has texted me just a couple of days ago asking are you gonna be in Novosibirsk from the 5th to the 7th of July? And she’s from Saint Petersburg. I’m like are you coming to the lovely city of N?
She’s like yeah I’m gonna be there for like a couple of days. I’m like why for a couple of days? She’s like yeah we’re taking a trip form Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok. It’s gonna take a month, 12 cities and then from Vladivostok they’re gonna take Trans-Siberian, 8 days to Moscow.
So I think they’re crazy but in a good way. But one month, 12 cities and then 8 day train back. So yeah.
They will have done it when they’ve done it they’ll get off and say well we’ve done it.
It’s like getting to Iskitim.
After 45 hours on a train when I went to Nizhny Novgorod, the first 12 hours maybe I had a feeling that the, you know, that I’m moving or the ground is moving. Can you imagine after 8 days? They’ll be like…
I started to have a bad reaction to the sleeping conditions. I mean I really like the train. I mean I really like the train. Just to think of it, if you ever have the time to do it. But just the thing of being flat, that flat, I mean I was on a mattress.
But I found that I had trouble like getting non-horizontal, getting up. And I don’t even know what that was, if it’s like action on the muscles or whatever. Anyway. So that is why I don’t know if I wanna do that cause it’s so strange. But anyway, that’s just me maybe.
And I have… My favorite question actually – what do you think was the worst train or plane experience that you’ve ever had. Gary, I guess yours would be…
I was describing the worst train experience, yup.
Yeah, that have to be one between Prague and Bratislava.
On a train it was, right?
Yeah, it was on a train. It was a night train and there was this crazy person running up and down the corridor. Felt bad for the person, but I felt bad for my sleep. I couldn’t sleep. This person was just… It was sad. Probably had schizophrenia or something. It was just… No one could sleep on this train because of this.
I feel like I’ve been relatively lucky cause I’ve never had, you know, like a horrible ride.
Yeah, this one that I had, it was not horrible, it was…
I’ve had a stressful flight when I was bringing a dog from Novosibirsk to Boston to a friend of mine. Yeah, don’t recommend. 0 out of 10. Okay, 2 out of 10. But I mean, the flight from Moscow to New York city was amazing. So because all the people they would come to me like do you need any help carrying something?
Oh, can we pet the dog? I’m like sure. Then a lovely lady from Israel gave me a chocolate bar and I hadn’t eaten anything that day. I was like thank you so much. That’s the first food I’ve had. But the flight from Novosibirsk to Moscow was so stressful. Cause first, the dog had never seen me before that. Of course she was, you know, she was crying.
Like… Then one month before the flight, I checked the dog in for the flight, cause Aeroflot has a rule – no more than 2 dogs or 2 cats on a flight. And it can’t be a dog and a cat. So, who’s… You know, if you are the first one, you are the lucky one to have the dog with you in the cabin.
So you don’t… Because you know if it’s a big dog, you have to check it in, and then the dog is going in the cargo part. Anyhoo, so that was a little dog. One month before the flight we also checked everything for the size of the carrier.
So and we got even a smaller one so it would fit under the seat, you know, in front of me. It didn’t. So and I was panicky, cause I was like what am I gonna do? How? What? So I asked a flight attendant, I’m like what can I do?
The carrier does not fit under the sit and we called the company twice. She was like, oh just put it between your legs or something. So I was flying like that, not moving for 4 hours. And then the man who was sitting next to me. So I had a plane… Oh sorry, a window seat, cause I paid for it.
Of course you had a window seat, yeah.
So I didn’t have to stand up and go, cause, you know, it was 4 hours. So I thought like, okay, if I take the window seat, if I buy it, then I wouldn’t, you know, bother people. So the man who was sitting next to me, he was annoyed by the crying of the dog.
And I’m like look, she’s scared, she’s stressed. Give her half an hour and, you know, she’ll be fine. So and he asked flight attendants several times to change my seat cause he was annoyed by the dog. So that was the most stressful four hours of a flight that I’ve ever had.
I had one bad flight, flight which was form Moscow to Novosibirsk. This was.. would have been in the 90s, early tens, something like that. Early 2000s. And it was on Илюшин.
Oh I love those, I would love to…
And the plane was full and I got a window seat and I had a bit carry on. And it was so tight and I was so cramped, I mean my muscles… I mean I’m a tall man. And there was, you know, it’s crush seating anyway. Just everything else. I had a window seat and a giant carry on, so it was nasty. Anyhow, so it’ okay, I lived.
I have one last question for you. So if you could choose let’s say ay destination, any ride or, you know, any trip on train or on a plane, what would it be? So your dream destination – how would you picture your perfect ride on a train or a flight?
I mean, I’d just do the Trans-Siberian. I mean, obviously I love planes, it’s… I love it.
So you would be really ready to take a train for 8 days.
You got to have a lot of books with you then.
Yeah, yeah, no I’d love to, yeah.
Wow, I don’t even know, I don’t even know. I don’t even know. I’ll just pick something out of your book and do the A380 before it disappears.
Yeah I would love to take, you know, to go somewhere on this airplane in a business class. We’re talking about dreams, so.
Can you imagine what it would feel like, you know, super comfort. It’s probably gonna be more comfortable than my apartment. Really. Alright.
Depends on your apartment, but yeah. If I’m rightly imagining your apartment, it’s probably more luxurious.
So and I really really really wanna know about the best and the worst experience of our listeners. Especially the worst cause that’s usually more fun to read. I mean, it is. So yeah, so what do you think about planes, trains, transport?
Is there a country where you’ve lived that is different form Russia and if so, how is it different? So tell us about your experience, your plans, your dreams, anything. We would love to chat with you about that.
Alright, so thank you for listening. That was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed transport. We talked about how grandma Ben drives.
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