Airport - Sheremetyevo II is the international
airport that services Moscow. When it was built during
the Cold War, it was an oasis of hope, freedom, and
western cigarettes. Unlike most things, which are
on a grand scale in Russia, Sheremetyevo II is a relatively
small airport, surrounded by miles and miles of forests.
Like the rest of Moscow, it has a ton of traffic.
The older terminal Sheremetyevo I shares two landing
strips with the new terminal, Sheremtyevo II. Although
Moscow has grown substantially, Sheremetyevo has not
been renovated or expanded since the early 1980's.
Everybody curses Sheremetyevo II these days. However
good or bad, Sheremetyevo II Airport is
where most people arrive. Sourpuss border guards oversee
new arrivals into a poorly lit stairwell to an area
that looks like a black hole. Tired travelers rush
to be first in line of a mob waiting to go through
airport control. You may have to wait in line an hour
or more, all wile fighting for position and choking
from the cigarette smoke. As you finally get into
customs, it splits into red and green corridors differentiated
by how many valuables you need to declare. Those who
choose the green corridor may be waved through with
no inspection at all. However, experienced travelers
go though the Red corridor where their baggage may
not need to get checked, but they will get their customs
declaration form stamped. This will come in handy
when one leaves the country, so the customs officials
shouldn't give you a hard time.
The drive into the city from Sheremetyevo
II Airport will take about an hour or two,
depending upon traffic. Moscow is the one city that
you should be met at the airport and only by a trusted
driver. Travelers stranded alone should hire only
"official" taxis from those in the main
hall. Major hotels will send a car, and the airport
novotel provides a shuttle service to the hotel. There
is a public bus that will take you to the nearest
Domodyedovo Airport since it's renovation
has attracted several international airlines and is
now using it as the first serious alternative to Sheremetyevo
II. Swissair and Sabena were the first air carriers
to use the new terminal. More international airlines
are considering the same move. Domdyedovo is conveniently
linked by rail to Pavelstsky Staion in Moscow.
There are four domestic airports that surround Moscow.
Vnukovo is located southwest of Moscow; Domodyedovo
is to the south; Bikovo is to the east; and Sheremetyevo
I is to the north. All are older airports with few
creature comforts. Domodyedovo has been somewhat renovated.