|Babushka cat lol|
HOWEVER, I'm a cheapskate and I forgot that Russia requires you to get a visa (an EXPENSIVE visa too) and an official invitation in order to enter the country, so I tried to reroute my flight for almost a month, but it's almost impossible to economically change your flight once you've purchased airline tickets. LESSON LEARNED.
I finally decided to buy a visa to go back to Russia almost six weeks before my flight to Moscow. I contacted BYU's Kennedy Center because I heard you can get free help getting a visa (and I was still a student at the time). They directed me to a company called Travel Broker that basically does all the paperwork for you. You pay them $100, they take care of the finer details of the visa application AND get you an invitation into the country. So, no free help, but I think it was the best option for me at that time. The visa itself cost about $250, so the entire visa process cost me about $350. :( But whatever.
Travel Broker sent me to the Russian visa website. They told me to fill in the visa application, then print it out and take it to them.
A couple things about the visa application:
- It asks you to list every country you've visited for the past couple (five or something) years. I just wrote in every country that's stamped my passport in the past five (or something) years.
- It asks you to write the address of every place you'll be staying in Russia. Travel Broker told me that I could just write any address in the city where I was visiting (Moscow) because the government doesn't follow up once you get there. So, I just googled a random hotel in Moscow and wrote its address. (And no, I didn't stay at that hotel and no it wasn't a problem.)
- It asks you to write in every city you'll be visiting and how you plan to travel in between cities. I was only going to be in Moscow, so I didn't have to worry about that part, but I assume you can just write in whatever you want here too because they most likely won't be following up on you.
- It also asks you to write in the dates of every other Russian visa you've ever had. If you've had multiple Russian visas in multiple passports, you only have to write in the visas that are in your CURRENT (active) passport.
- Remember that when you're visiting Russia, if you stay in any city/location for more than three days, you have to register, so it's easier to plan to be in the city for three days or less.
So that's basically the tricky part of the visa application.
I filled out all the paperwork, brought it to Travel Broker (they have an office in south Salt Lake), and I had a Russian visa within 2 1/2 weeks.
Next post: what to do/how to survive in Russia. IT WILL BE A FUN POST, I PROMISE.