USSR Trip 2015 is only two weeks away and while I haven’t really updated the blog over the last month, that’s not to say I haven’t been doing any pretrip stuff.

So, here’s a little snippet of some of the stuff I’ve done over the last month in preparation for my trip…

Got my Russian visa!


After getting all my paperwork together and dropping off the visa application, I received that glorious phone call a couple weeks later to tell me my visa was ready.  At first I was going to blog about it and add a Part 4 to my Russia Visa Adventures but there really wasn’t much to talk about.

The whole “adventure” was just me going downtown to the VisaHQ office and picking up my passport from them with my new Russian visa pasted inside (yes, I know I look like a criminal)…

Booked all my flights

I had already booked and paid for my British Airways flights in and out of Europe 2 months ago but I had left my other flights unbooked for awhile.

Unlike the cross Atlantic flights where the prices fluctuate and get higher as the date approaches, the other flights were all on European carriers where the price (pretty much) stay the same.

I didn’t book these right away simply because at the time I still wasn’t 100% set on my itinerary and once a flight has been booked there’s no turning back.

So, when I completed my FINAL final itinerary I locked it in by booking the rest of my flights.

In total I’ll be on 11 flights.  Now, mind you, 5 of those flights are the flights getting in and out of Europe.

I actually take 3 different flights into Europe (Vancouver-Dallas, Dallas-London, and London-Oslo) and 2 flights back home (Stockholm-London and London-Vancouver).

The other 6 flights are all on low cost carriers.  How low cost you ask?

$55      Oslo to Helsinki
$90      Vilnius to Kiev
$119   Kiev to Moscow
$73      Moscow to St Petersburg
$129   St Petersburg to Prague
$65      Gdansk to Stockholm

Yup, it’s that cheap to fly from country to country!

Okay, one more tweak…


Yeah, yeah – I know… I said I finalized it a month ago but there was one last little tweak I made.  Everything is still the same except I was able to add Budapest, Hungary to the itinerary so now I’ll be visiting 13 countries on my trip…

They are:  Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden.

The cities I’ll be visiting are:  Oslo, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Kiev, Chernobyl, Moscow, St Petersburg, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Krakow, Gdansk and Stockholm.

Booked a tour of Chernobyl


When I tell people that I’m going to Ukraine I get alot of “Why would you do that?  Isn’t there a war going on there?”

Well, yes, there is but it’s in the eastern part of the country near the Russian border while I’ll be visiting Kiev which is over 200 miles away.

Just as I’ve gotten them to understand that, no, my life isn’t in danger and I’m not going into a war zone, I tell them I’m going to do a tour of Chernobyl.

Yes, it’s radioactive…

No, it’s not dangerous…

Chernobyl happened almost 20 years ago and while it is still unlivable it’s safe to travel to parts of the zone for a short period of time.

So, with that in mind – there was no way I was going to visit Kiev and not do the Chernobyl day trip.

Anyway, I booked a ticket for $109US (about $140CAD).  Yes, compared to other things on my trip it’s expensive but, for me, my travels have always been about seeking out unique experiences and this rates way up there.

Booked some culture


There are a couple other unique experiences I booked as well…

While in Moscow I’ll be visiting the Bolshoi theater to take in an opera and in Vienna I’ll be in for a night with the Vienna Boys Choir!

Now, because I’m going to be all “cultured” for a couple of nights I actually have a bit of dilemma…

What the hell am I going to wear on those nights?

When I travel my wardrobe is very limited and I’m certainly not going to lug around a dress shirt and pants along with dress shoes.

So, what to do then?

Good question!  That leads me to…

Clothes shopping

As I go from country to country in September and October it looks like the temparature will hover around 15-17C (60-63F).

This is definitely not shorts weather.  I also have this sneaky suspicion I’m in for more than a few rainy days.

So, for this trip I’ve decided to travel with a couple pairs of pants (tan and blue), one pair of casual blue shoes, some t-shirts, a couple long sleeve shirts and sweaters and a jacket.

Oh, and of course socks and the best travel underwear out there…

For the nights where I need to appeared “cultured” I’ll wear a sweater with my tan khakis – pretty sure that’ll be enough to avoid any unwanted “what the hell is he doing here?” looks…

It’s kind of funny the difference in approaching my pack list this trip compared to where I was two years ago embarking on my first trip to Europe.  Back then I was so worried about making sure I had everything right and now I’m just kind of “whatever, I’ve got this”…

Started planning


On my first trip to Europe as well as the trip I took last year to southeast Asia I was openended meaning I didn’t have any specific return date set.

I could come and go as I wanted and decide what I was doing for the day the night before.  If I wanted to switch up my plans – no problem!

This time is different in that my trip is pretty much laid out for me.  I know which city I’m going to be in every day.  What this means is I don’t have the luxury of having any wiggle room in my itinerary like I did before.

As I only have a couple of days in most of the cities I want to hit the ground running.  Not to say I’ll be all “go, go, go” as, frankly, that’s too much to endure for 5 weeks.

I do, however, want to be prepared.  I want to know which hostels I’m staying at and how to get there.  I want to know what to see and do in each city and what food I simply must have while there.

So, for the last week or so that’s what I’ve been doing in my down time.  It’s actually pretty exciting to look up each city and anticipate all the things that await me when I get there.

To say I can’t wait would be a huge understatement…

15 days to go!!!

USSR Trip 2015, Pretrip, Trip Journal

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