Argh! Russia!

Pretrip

So, I had everything planned.  I even had my flight into Europe and my flight back home booked.  Everything was set.  Just counting down the days til I leave.

My ticket home is from Moscow to New York and then onto wherever I decide to end up in Canada.  I found this ridiculously cheap airfare between the two hubs and was so proud of myself.  Only $380 for a one way ticket – are you kidding me?!?

So, back to the counting down the days.  Well, I’ve taken to reading other peoples’ blogs about their travels to Europe and came upon an entry in one that made me gulp.  He was talking about having some potential problems with a visa to Russia.

Oh crap!  I remember reading about the visa back a few months ago but totally forgot to apply for one.  Yikes!  By now, I was 34 days away from leaving and was greatly relieved to find out that the process for issuing a visa took 20 days.  Ok, no problem – I got this!

Boy was I in for a surprise…

Getting a visa to Russia takes a bit of leg work.  First, you need someone from Russia to send you an invitation letter basically saying that you’re going to stay there at a certain time.  Luckily, all the hostels and hotels will email you this letter (for a charge, or course).  So, after a couple emails back and forth, I got the letter… what next?

Second, you need to fill out a form online, print it and bring that, along with your passport, the invitation letter and another letter from you saying “hey, I’m going to this city during this time and I’m a tourist” to the Russian Consulate.

No problem!  I got this!  Filled out the form, printed everything, I’m ready to go!  Now, where is that Russian Consulate?  If you thought I’d say down the street in downtown Vancouver, well, you obviously didn’t read the title of this entry.  Yup, you got it.  While there is a consulate here in Vancouver, they don’t do the visas.  Only the consulates back east do that.

What now, what now?  Guess I’ll have to go through a Visa Company that will do that all for me – of course all for a nice fee – but, dammit, I’ve come this far.  Let’s just get this done and over with.

So, I find a company on West Broadway.  I bring all my stuff, and after driving around forever looking for 2hr parking, I finally make my way into the office.

Turns out, of course, I’ve entered the form wrong and have to do it again.  I anticipated something like this would happen and brought my laptop – Ha!  You have WiFi, right?

After heading down the street to a coffee shop to use their WiFi, I sit down and redo the online form.  Finally, after another half an hour, I’m done.  Everything… Is…. Done…

I head back to the office and give them everything.  The lady starts entering stuff when she enlightens me that my visa application can’t be sent more than 3 months ahead of my visit.  Basically, I can’t apply for a visa before July for a September visit.  Of course, I’ll be in Europe at the time – so I would have to FedEx my passport to the office and have them rush process my application and then FedEx my passport and visa back to me.

Seriously?!?

And so now, I’m flying out of Iceland.  Screw you Russia!

Euro Trip 2013, Pretrip, Trip Journal
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