Russia requires all foreign visitors to obtain a visa, aka “permission to enter.” Each year I feel like I’m holding my breath until the Fed Ex letter from the Russian Consulate arrives with my passport and visa sticker affixed. Then, I am “sure” I’m going. Before I can apply for a visa, however, I have to get an official “letter of invitation” from an authorized Russian agency. This process involves yet another application, time, money, and the legwork of my faithful friend Tanya in Samara. For a reason yet unknown to me, even after nine years, the agency won’t begin to process the letter of invitation until 45 days prior to arrival in Russia. You can bet Tanya is standing in the office with fees and documents in hand on the first day of the 45-day countdown! That was March 15. According to the “new” office person in the agency’s new, unadvertised location (this year’s unknown factors), I should have the letter by the 3rd of April. I’ll keep you posted.
» » March 15 the visa countdown begins