So we set out as planned. The brass band was great. A delegation of high-ranking officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and Transport Minister Igor Levitin, arrived for the sendoff ceremony.
However, not even a hundred people could match thousands of residents who used to turn up for such events in “good old days,” Artur Chilingarov observed, adding that “the whole city” would be out there with flags and things for the sendoff.
The bus full of reporters who arrived to cover the event were given only 20 minutes “to talk to expedition members.” They were visibly disappointed.
A few hours after we left the harbor, we saw a sparrow-like bird sitting under the helicopter parked on the stern (see pictures). It did not even try to fly away. Did it get lost? It has obviously no way of reaching the shore. Or it could be a stowaway migrating bird but the place where we're headed is very cold – with temperatures said to be between minus 20 and 37 degrees Celsius. Still, there is plenty of room on board for it to take shelter. We'll watch how it's getting along.