Mineralnye Vody: To reach this airport, in the north Caucasus, passengers pass through a series of military roadblocks, where documents and the boots of cars are checked by slouching policemen, looking for weapons or terrorists. But a sensible terrorist would leave his weapons at home and buy new ones at the airport, where a wide selection of enormous knives and ornamental Caucasian swords is on sale. There are also embossed Caucasian drinking horns, and a large number of Brezhnev-era copies of the Kama Sutra.Mineralnye Vody airport is a lower circle of hell. In Soviet times, before the region that the airport serves was desolated by separatist insurgencies, blood feuds and government brutality, the nearby mineral spas were popular holiday resorts. The building is incongruously large for a part of Russia that today, for all its macho hospitality and merriment, feels more African than European in its violence, poverty and corruption. It is weirdly cold inside. Feral cats have been sighted. The floor has not been cleaned since perestroika; the toilets are hauntingly squalid. On the wall there are arrival and departure boards that no longer work, and a big, proud map of the Soviet Union.
There's also counter claims that it's not at all that bad, but it leaves me wondering if there are any special requirements for visiting this region, or if a normal Russian visa would do the trick?
Any help or feedback on what the place is really like and the reputation is justified, especially from the Russian members on this forum, would be most appreciated.