Russia 2002

Russia 2002

Russia 2002

I woke up early this morning - very early - 3:50am.  I guess I am still adjusting to the time difference.  So having waited until 4:15am, I got up, did e-mails, had a shower etc, and did some more work before leaving the hotel on the 7am bus to the airport to catch the underground to the Russian Consulate.  I was keen to be well placed in the line when they opened at 9am.  I arrived at the Consulate at 8:30, and was 12th in line.  After half an hour, the Consulate opened and the first 15 people in the line were admitted (the next group were not let in until after 10am).

But getting in just means you can stand in the line under warmer indoor conditions.  I was not attended to until just after 10am.  At first the officer denied that the new fax had been received, but I was quietly insistent and so he went away to check - he was the same fellow I had seen yesterday.  The fax was there, but it turned out that the agent in Moscow who had sent it had got some of the information wrong, and the reference numbers referred to another person.  He suggested that I contact the agent in Moscow and get the correct information sent, because he could not change the dates without that authorisation.

Day 3


Friday 4 October 2002


So I left the Consulate and armed with a handful of coins, found a public phone to call Rosemarie at AusTrade in Moscow.  She was horrified, and undertook to phone the agency, asking me to phone back in another half hour.  I did so (it was 11am by this time), and she said that a new fax had been sent.  My problem was that if I queued again, I would not be admitted before closing time at 11:45am.  She suggested that I try and talk my way in.  So I returned to the Consulate, and did LOTS of insistent talking at the gate (with a queue of 20 or 30 people watching!), but it worked and I got in.  After another half hour wait, I saw the official again who by now was becoming a good friend (he knew me by name anyway).  He checked the records and with the words “at last it is here” agreed to modify the visa for £108 – not bad for two minutes work with liquid paper and a few rubber stamps.  At first he said I would have to return at 4pm to collect it, but he felt sorry for me with all my trips, so he did it on the spot (as I said, a two minute job).  The operation was duly finished at 12:30pm with a phone call from the public phone near the Russian Consulate that I was coming to know very well indeed to Rosemarie, confirming that everything was in place.

Having secured the visa, my next job was to reschedule my flights to Moscow and on to Vladivostok.  A phone call to British Airways brought disappointing news, however.  There were no seats available the following day, because Saturday’s schedule has lower capacity than the other days of the week.  However, I have been able to get a seat on the early flight on Sunday morning, which should still get me to Vladivostok (just) in time for the start of the expo.  My plan to arrive a couple of days early to get over jet lag is in tatters, but at least I shouldn’t be a ‘no-show’.