I know there are families reading this blog who anticipate going to Semey soon to adopt. I'd like to throw in pointers for you guys as I write. First ... you can only take ONE carry-on on the plane to Frankfurt. Your bags can't be over 70 kg or you can't take them ... period. If the bag is over 50 kg, you pay a $50 over the weight limit fee for each bag. I ended up paying $100. If you take a backpack, make sure it also has wheels. Mine doesn't and I literally have HUGE bruises all over my biceps from lugging it around ... this is all while I watch Joanie gently pull her backpack on wheels!
We had an 8 hour flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany. During the 5 hour lay-over, don't stay in terminal A ... hang out in Terminal B where there are restaurants and sleeping areas. There is also a restaurant there that sells great German Beer!!! Trust me ... I had a few!
On the flight to Almaty, I met a wonderful American gentleman named Bob who agreed to help Joanie and I maneuver through passport control once off the plane. What we feared might be difficult was quite easy. There is NO customs AT ALL in Almaty. Do not even ask for a custom's office. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. Simply show your passport and immigration card at the passport control booth and walk through. You WILL see your interpreter and driver through the glass with your name on signs and they WILL be waving!
Kate , the interpreter (very energetic) and Sam, the driver (quite the charmer) ... are very nice people and want to make your experience absolutely PERFECT. They take great pride in seeing that all your needs are met and that you have clear instructions as to every step to take. I have attached a picture of them!! They took Joanie and I directly to the Tien Shan hotel (also a picture attached) ... on the way, we were giving a clear bag with a local cell phone to use in Semey and all the phone numbers we would need. We were told that we would fly out at 12:30 the next day. We were told where to exchange American currency for Tenge that next morning. Joanie and I met for breakfast there at the hotel and then went to the supermarket next door to the exchange booth there and exchanged $300 for Tenge. They showed up at the hotel at 10:20 and we loaded up and headed to the airport. Semey ... here we come!!!!!