Oh hello, Russian visa

Russian visa

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 ‘Russian letter Ya‘.) 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.

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  1. Natalie on June 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, I’m so happy for you that you’re going to Russia. I went for the first time four years ago and have been itching to go back ever since. You’ve got to tell me: why doesn’t your visa have a thing on the left? I’m American, so maybe our visas are issued differently, but when my mom and I sent ours off we got them back with shiny silver seal thingy that said Russia in both Latin and Cyrillic.

    Regarding bad first name spellings, they messed up my mom’s first name, too. They gave her name a German pronunciation instead of American English, LOL.

    I’ve been to St. Petersburg and it’s fantastic. One thing I really enjoyed there was the area around the Church of our Savior on the Spilled Blood. There were loads of vendors outside with cute touristy things to buy. If you get lucky, you might even see a man with a pet bear like we did! 🙂

    I hope you have a great time! I’m going to go drool over my photos from Russia now and try to find that cute restaurant we went to in St. Petersburg that you might like.

    • Lea Zeltserman on June 7, 2013 at 7:54 am

      Hi Natalie, there’s a seal/sticker type thing at the top that’s silver, but it doesn’t say Russia on it. Maybe there are different visas for different countries? Or maybe they’ve changed them?

      Let me know if you find that restaurant. And if I see any pet bears, I will definitely post a photo for you! 🙂