Visa Success and Travel Info

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday, I ventured back to the Russian Consulate in NYC to pick up my visa. I woke up at hours that don’t exist while I’m on summer time (e.g. anytime before 9:00AM) so I could catch an 8AM express train to the city. I got off at 125th Street, took an express subway to 86th Street and walked the few blocks to the Consulate. I got there at 9:05AM, hoping to be towards the front of the line for 9:30AM, when the website says they open for visa related manners. It seems that I woke up early for no reason at all. At 9:05, the line was even longer than it was when I got there around noon last week. The line went from the door, along the fence, back around the other side of the fence, and ended at the front gate. While in my depressing spot at the front gate, I noticed a small sign that stated visa pick ups do no begin until 11AM (it would be great if they told you that when you hand in your paperwork or had this information listed on the website). Thus, I got to stand in the sun outside of the Consulate for two hours. Adding to my luck, I saw the high strung tourist woman from the last time I was at the Consulate. She was once again having a yelling fit at the guard and the people standing around. It seems she had incorrectly filled out a part of the visa application for the third time and was asked to leave and come back again. After more waiting, I was finally let inside, where I had to wait an additional 15 minutes to get past security. Finally, I handed in my slip and was given my passport with the visa pasted into it. Mission accomplished!

Visa in hand, I don’t have to worry about not being allowed into Russia. In addition to requiring the visa to enter Russia, the visa also has to have been processed a certain number of days before entering the country. The date that the visa is processed is written out on the visa. One cannot enter Russia until five days after the issue date of the visa. I’m safe now, with roughly a month before I depart and attempt to enter the Russian Federation.

My travel arrangements are quite nice. I leave on September 5th at 8:00AM from JFK (sorry Mom, after going to Lafayette for four years I forgot that Labor Day existed. You’ll love driving through Queens instead of being on Cape Cod). Thanks to somewhat recent changes to the Fly America Act, which stated that I needed to fly on an American flag carrier or code share partner because I would be using US Government grant money to fly, I was able to book passage on an EU flag carrier, British Airways.

Ohai Terminal 5. Guess we're going to be best friends again.

The flight on British was actually the second cheapest flight I could find. I’m flying British because a three-hour layover in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 seemed much more enjoyable than 14 hours in Stockholm if I flew with SAS. Although, one of my traveling companions from last summer’s study in Germany told me that something will happen and that I’ll be forced to hang around Terminal 5 for a week, which our nine-hour layover felt like last summer. I should be fine provided that the WH Smith store is still open around 10:00PM so I can buy a bottle of Ribena and the latest issue of “Top Gear” the magazine (it will be fun to compare the British edition to the Russian edition, provided I can find a copy in Ulyanovsk).


Does the Stig have a Russian counsin?

After another short British Airways flight, I should arrive at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport at 5:00AM. From there, I will catch a reserved cab to the Fulbright Office in downtown Moscow, where I get to put my bags and relax for a few hours. Hopefully, I’ll be able to drop off my bags and pop off for a few hours to wander around Moscow. The Fulbright Office is one metro stop and a handful of blocks away from Red Square, which would be nice to see in temperatures that don’t cause cameras to freeze. Later in the evening, I’ll find some way of getting myself and my luggage to Kazan Station to take a 15-hour train ride to Ulyanovsk, where I should hopefully arrive around 9:30AM on September 7th.

It won't be the awesome missile train from "Goldeneye," but it should do.

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