Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The two stories below are connected but seem to contradict each other in some small way. See if you can spot the well hidden paradox:

1. Last week I travelled from Moscow to Krakow. There's no direct flight so I went via Warsaw. While killing time in Sheremetyevo airport waiting for my departure, I decided to purchase a duty free bottle of vodka for my father-in-law. I perused the shelves at length and eventually settled upon a bottle of Stolichnaya, primarily because it is made in Moscow and that seemed most appropriate. As is the way these days with duty free shops, it was placed - with receipt- in a plastic bag which was all then sealed up with one of those special sealing machines.

When I arrived in Warsaw though, I went through the deep pain of having my carefully selected booze snatched from me by security guards. This is not the first time this has happened to me as long time readers of this blog will know. But last time the wine was in an unsealed duty free bag, and these days I know that they must be sealed. Apparently, the guards explained to me, the sealed bag system only works if you are travelling within the EU or if you are coming from Croatia, the USA, or South Korea. And that's it. Have these countries done deals where they take EU officials round their duty free shops and show them how impossible it would be to pack liquid explosives in bottles of alcohol, and then sell it to passengers without their knowledge, and make it explode only when they'd got onto their connecting flight? It's hard to know. But it does seem like yet another load of inexplicable bollocks done in the name of "security". I wonder whether if I'd been routed Moscow-Zagreb-Warsaw-Krakow, whether I'd have been able to keep it - if so, it sounds like a very good way for Zagreb to become a major hub in Europe. I can only hope that the Polish security guards who put the bottle in the bin, retrieved it after I left and took it home. It's would be a great shame to have wasted it entirely.

2. On the same flight, my bag was checked all the way through to Krakow. As my final flight was domestic and I arrived at the large echo-ey empty warehouse that acts as Krakow's domestic terminal, this meant that my bag never went through customs at any point. In Krakow I just picked it up and walked out.


Catherine said...

I was going to say 'what's so special about Croatia?'. Gosh.

Zagreb as a major European hub, though.... really not sure the infrastructure at Pleso could cope!

Katharine said...

They don't sell Stoli in Romania?

It's all over the United States.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Spooky. I'd like to imagine that how to confiscate vodka is Lesson No. 1 on any Russian security guard training course.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

Whenever you have booze confiscated, the customs officers are well-trained at affecting an indignant response when you say, "Well, I hope you enjoy it." As if.