Why yes, that there is a Visa-to-Russia, circa 2013. It’s like a vysov in reverse. So this is where I’ll be for the last half of June, in St. Petersburg, where I was born and my mother grew up, and in Lviv, where my father grew up. I will try to post some photos and thoughts while we’re there.
So far, my five hours in the visa line (drop-off and pick-up), I’ve gleaned that all Russian couples argue in the same way, and that I’m heading to an entire country filled with my family (this would have been helpful knowledge when I was a child trying to figure out why my family was so strange. Apparently we were just semi-Soviet, semi-Canadian, Jews.) I’ve also had to explain to my husband that while yes, the Russian consulate could easily set up a number system for that long, snaking line going out into the hallway, but that just wouldn’t be very Russian. That would look too much like caring about our experience of their bureaucracy.
For those of you who pay attention to these sorts of things, yes that’s my name in Russian COMPLETELY SPELLED WRONG. (It’s missing the ‘‘.) The good news, apparently, is that no one bothered to look us up in the old KGB files and find the proper spelling of my name.
If you have any suggestions of things I absolutely should, or should not, do, please sound off below. St. Petersburg seems less immersed in Soviet-era history than Moscow would be, but if you happen to know of that one obscure shop that sells Soviet-era memorabilia – and hey, maybe some underground refusenik material or samizdat – you should definitely send me there. You can also send me to any significant Jewish Leningrad spots.
Finally, to the two women who thought they didn’t need to read the instructions before filling out their applications – and who still cannot believe that when the instructions say “money order only,” it really means “money order only” and no, there’s no Interac available – well, I wish you well in your naive Russian adventures. Please don’t tell anyone you’re Canadian.