When journalists get invited on inaugural flights to new destinations, they can usually pack shorts and suncream. This week's new route for bmi was a departure in more ways than one - to the chilly city of Moscow.
Although Moscow is in many aspects just like other major cities, full of teenagers walking the streets with mobile phones clamped to their ears, it felt distinctly alien to me, on my first visit to Russia. The fact that signs everywhere are in the Cyrillic script, which means that you can't even hazard a guess as to what they are saying, all adds to the mystique.
The high spot of the flying visit (no pun intended) for me was walking through Red Square on the way back from dinner in the first snow of the Moscow winter. With the Kremlin on one side, with its red stars glowing on top of its towers, the GUM department store covered in lights like a giant Christmas tree on the other side, and St Basil's Cathedral in front, it was a magical experience.
Although we didn't have the time to visit Lenin in his mausoleum, we did manage a tour of the Kremlin, including the Armoury Museum, with its stunning display of pre-revolution royal clothes, coaches, weaponry, gold and silverware and Fabergé eggs.
The mystique of a foreign language worked in reverse while we were being taken round by an English-speaking tour guide, as a number of teenage locals decided to attach themselves to our group, rather than their own familiar Russian-speaking one.
The fact that the Inter Milan football team, in town to play Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, was staying in our hotel, added to the excitement, and having experienced for ourselves the appalling traffic jams Muscovites endure each day, it was amusing to read the next day that the local team coach was stuck in a jam so lengthy that the players and staff were forced to abandon it and sprint for the metro in order to make the kick off.