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This is the most stressful trip-planning ever.

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One problem was caused by my hotel reservation in St. Petersburg, which I accidentally made non-refundable. This fouled up the visa-free ferry I'd planned on taking from Helsinki to St. Petersburg because I wrongly assumed I could take the ferry on a Friday, so that I could spend 3 days in St.Petersburg without getting a visa from a consulate.

I decided I'd get the Russian visa from the Seattle consulate. I filled out the on-line application, which was not easy because every time I'd leave the website to check on an address or date, I'd have to start either completely or partially over. I finally got the thing filled out and printed, only to discover that I'd need to put in more information. I don't want to have the application rejected because it's incomplete.

For example, I did enter Russia with a guided tour in the 1960's, but I didn't recall the dates. I finally looked at the pictures I'd taken. A couple of them had the date of April 1967 printed on the back. I know the trip was during Easter vacation, and I looked up the date of Easter 1967 and counted backwards to ascertain the date when we must have arrived.

They also want to know which countries I've visited in the last 10 years. That means I have to find every flight confirmation (stored in my travel email folder) and figure out which country I was visiting on each flight. That's either 9 or 10 flights. There was one trip in which we hit the highlights of various countries--Germany, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland. I'm going to try to get by without listing all those countries in addition to England, France, Italy, Germany Spain, and Ireland, which we visited on separate trips.

I've been trying to phone the consulate in Seattle to ask some questions and make an appointment to see them. However, they don't seem to be answering the telephone. (Insert snide comment here about possible reasons why the USSR dissolved.)

I am assuming that eventually I'll be able to reach someone and take a plane to Seattle to get the visa. In the meantime I'm trying to figure out how I get from city/country to country in the Baltics.

Having read Gertie's trip report on the Baltics, I know that I can take the very comfortable and convenient Lux Express from Tallinin, Estonia, to Riga, Latvia, and Vilnius, Lithuania, thereby seeing some of the countryside as well as arriving in the cities. Of course, I'm nervous about making any reservations for busses or hotels until I know how the Russian visa situation will be resolved.

So that's my whining for today.

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