737 Leg 9 Elbrus - Day 218

Hi Guys. Apologies for not blogging for a few days, since summit day I've been busy travelling.

We trekked back down to base camp after a night at high camp after summiting. On the morning of leaving high camp Dai Camera was on the loo and Parksy and I played a practical joke on him putting some rocks in his rucksack. Dai carried them for about 4 hours without noticing until it started raining and he had to go in his rucksack to get his raincover out for his camera. It was very funny!

After a night at base camp we then had the overland drive back to Mineralny Vody in what can only be described as Russia's answer to the vdub camper. It was the most uncomfortable 5 hours in a car ever. We were in this 1960's 4x4 pretty much off roading for 5 hours solid.
The next day we left Mineralny Vody and flew to Moscow. We almost missed the flight and were promptly frog marched to the plane by the military, as we were late!

We were sat about 10 metres from the gate but we didn't realise it was our flight as they were getting on really early, bare in mind we can't read anything in Russian and our interpreter is no longer with us.

When they realised were the 3 passengers they were looking for who were late we got on our own bus to the terminal and walked on the plane very embarrassed. Dai and I were luckily sat at the front and kept our heads down avoiding the stares of everyone waiting but the other Parsky had to do the walk of shame because his seat was near the back!

We got to Moscow and we had been warned already about non-official taxis at the airport. All we had was an address of the hotel and loads of bags. We tried to get a taxi but couldn't so we decided to chance our luck on the train. It was proper hot, mid 30's and there were no seats, so we stood on the train for 40 mins sweating uncontrollably!!

Got to Moscow and its chaos! Millions of people! We ended up bartering with an official taxi driver…who drive us around the same monument twice so we did get ripped off anyway but we got to the hotel, had a welcome shower and found a really good steak house and had a good meal. After steak and 3 espressos, we had sambuka chasers and went out and had a few beers in Moscow, which was pretty awesome!

The next morning (yesterday) I had an hour or two in red square before flying back to Heathrow last night. Mum, Dad, Simon Lowe from Jagged Globe and Pinders my PR Manager were there to greet us, which was awesome. Went back to the hotel in London and had a few glasses of Champagne with Mum, Dad and Pinders. Stayed up chatting for a while and then got a few hours sleep.

I have really mixed feelings about being back. It still hasn't sunk in. I don't feel any different at all but I hear that I've been all over the papers and getting a lot of coverage. I have a lot of press stuff and appearances lined up for this week, it's going to be busy!! I am really looking forward to coming home on Tuesday to the Senedd in Cardiff to see everyone and I can't wait to see my dog Ben. I never did this with the ambition or intention of being in the limelight but its cool that I'll get the opportunity to raise the profile further of the challenge and try and raise more funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. I am sure I'll be tweeting lots this week whilst I am buzzing around. I'll be continuing my diary too here at 737challenge.com so keep on browsing and thanks for tuning in and for all your support.