Preparing for my Russian Visit.


Following the announcement in October 2012 by Easyjet that they would introduce low cost direct flights to Moscow from Manchester England I had the idea of preparing a trip.
As an independent traveller I am use to doing things for myself firstly obtain a visa. My very poor Russian language skills would not hinder me surely, in these days of internet websites and online language translators.  First stop VFS. Global a company the Russian Embassy outsourced its visa application service to in 2009 following high demand for visitor visas.
The website is in English and has a lot of helpful information and links. A very strong sense of customer  beware comes to mind as you read the advice, emphasis on you to get things right before submission of your documents. It almost insists you check your visa when you get it having a page on how check the visa and where to contact if you think there is something wrong on the visa. I found the section on letters of introduction a bit confusing though.
So as good as the website is you still have to download the visa form fill it out and present it at either the Russian Embassy in London or the consulate in Edinburgh. The visa charges are reasonable a 30 day tourist single entry visa £27.70 plus VAT and a £7.40 special delivery charge for returning your documents. The cheapest rail fares I could find for me to London off peak Monday – Friday £81.60 and to Edinburgh £70.70 same criteria. Given these additional expenses it seemed to me not unreasonable to use a visa agent company at a cost of £125 including VAT they to also recommend the special delivery postal service. Both give you the option of tracking your application on line. An extra cost for rapid process of applications but on average 5-7 days is all it takes if you’re not in a rush.
Easyjet began their direct flights to Moscow from Manchester in March 2013 and I have booked my flights at prices I could not believe. Even cheaper than their flights from London. The outbound flight was £67.99 and the return flight £50.99. Though there were tickets as low as £45.99. Whilst booking your flight you can select your seat/s indicate luggage and access needs. Select extra leg room seats something I always try for even though I am not particularly tall. The way Easyjet works you pay for your tickets then once you’re within 30 days of your flight you are able to login to their site download your tickets and print them off yourself.
On this trip I will be meeting up with an online friend in Moscow, who is travelling there by train from Minsk Belarus. After a couple of days we will travel north to Saint Petersburg where she will stay with family and I have yet to select my accommodation.
We are both concerned with our ability to speak the others language. Which I think could make for a deal of laughter as I continuously mix up the gender of Russian words.
When we arrive in Saint Petersburg 22nd May it will be the “White Nights” festival. This wikipedia link outlines the main points of the festival yet a grumpy oldman.

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