Dad picked up my visa today from the Russian Consulate, which means that I’m officially going to Russia now!
The process isn’t super straight forward, so here’s a what I did:
- Get an invitation letter. I didn’t find any place that cost less than $30. I asked the hostel where I booked my reservations who they recommended, they suggested WayToRussia.net…and that’s who I used. It took about 2 days to processes. They’ll send you a PDF, which I printed out (in color).
- Fill out Visa Application form (US version), available from Russian Consulate. There’s an option for an online version. I tried using it and would not recommend it. It’s much easier to fill it out manually.
- Attach passport/visa sized picture to application. I got my picture taken at FedEx Kinko’s for $12, however later heard that WalGreens is cheaper.
- Write a cover letter (here’s my cover letter to the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Seattle). The cover letter needs to explain if you are travelling individually, who is going, where to, when and with what purpose, etc.
- Get a Money Order or Cashier’s Check from the bank (it doesn’t have to be from a bank, but it’s pretty easy and you can deduct the money right from your savings/checking account) for the actual visa fee.
- Copy your passports vital page(s). For me, this was just the front page (the one with my picture).
- Mail (or preferably drop off) all of the above, plus your actual passport to your Russian Consulate of
- Pick up passport and visa 6 business days later, in theory.
47 days until I leave!
My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:
That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)
They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.
After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.
I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.
- The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
- Kremlin Armory Museum
700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
- Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
- The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
- Moscow State University Zoological Museum
- Underground Moscow
Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/
I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.
- Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
- Grand Bizarre
- Blue Mosque
- Ephesus (1 day)
- Cappadocia (1-2 days)
- Turkish Aerospace Industries2
Erin also says I need to :
- See a Whirling Dervish dance
- Eat GÃ¶zleme and Kanafeh3
- Read up on AtatÃ¼rk
- “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”
Random thought, do I need a phone?