I went to the Russian Consulate this morning. It was fun. I don’t know why, but I really like state buildings. Perhaps I have been raised to trust the State, at least trust them not to steal my purse or spill drinks on me. Consulates tend to be pretty. The tiny waiting room for the visa desk was very elegant. Ornate but not excessive.
I feel privileged to have a Russian consulate within driving distance. Apparently very few cities have them. It makes me feel special.
I waited in a very short line and wound up having almost no questions to ask when I got to the window because I had already asked them of a woman who works for a travel agency. Her agency specializes in Russian travel. Her credibility was bolstered by a big fat stack of files with people’s passports attached to them. If all those people let her have their passports, she must be trustworthy. She even gave me a name (Dimitry) and an office for someone who might be able to help with game tickets.
I did ask the visa desk fellow how long I should expect a visa to take. He said about six business days. Or I could pay a ridiculous high fee for guaranteed turnaround of three business days.
I have decided to try to go to Russia. This idea has been bumping around in my head for a couple weeks now. Much longer if you count how long I have been vaguely thinking about it, but only for a short time have I actually decided I must go see, no matter the inconvenience or expense or scheduling obstacles. I cannot afford it. I will be borrowing money to go, money I may never be able to pay back but I really don’t care at this point. I am on a… something, and I must go.
So, I await word from the Department of State about my passport renewal, and once it is in my hands I will rush back to the Consulate and hand it right over to the Russians for a visa. Hopefully, by then, I will have housing, plane tickets, and game tickets. I really want the game tickets first because without them I would probably nix the trip altogether. Only hockey fans would understand that, and maybe not even they would.
The Russian Consulate is in a very pretty neighborhood. The people you see walking their dogs there must have oodles of money. San Francisco real estate is ridiculously overpriced, maintaining its “value,” if you can call an inflated price real value, even in this pigstye of a housing market. I saw a standard poodle trotting down the sidewalk and could not see a person with him. I almost stopped but then realized that this neighborhood was so posh, no one would hit a big dog like that. Probably dogs are hardly ever run over in that part of town, even little squeaky dogs. I doubt even the dog catcher goes there, as no scruffy stray would venture into that pristine territory.
The Consulate has visa desk hours from 9am to noon on weekdays, open to the public. You have to be buzzed in, but it is open to the public, no appointment necessary. That was a surprise. The US passport people have “appointments only and even then only if you absolutely have to have it fast and can prove it” all over their website.
When I went to the passport office in town, they did not require an appointment. They were very helpful, but they did tell me I should not just show up at the Russian Consulate, I should call first. I did and got an automated message directing me to the website. I am sure if I’d been willing to wait longer I would have reached a person, but their website said “open to the public,” so I went with that. It was an exploratory mission anyway- I don’t have my new passport yet so there is nothing I can do yet. I just wanted to get a jump on finding my way around.
It is a rash plan. It is irresponsible. It is slightly insane, this running off half way around the world after something I hardly understand. It might even be a waste of perfectly good hockey tickets and travel expenses. But I have a pretty good visual memory, so maybe I will understand it later, some time after seeing it.
I have to plan it in a mad rush because it took me so long to understand the KHL schedule, and even now I am a little leery of my ability to read it, though it is in English. But if I do understand it, Avangaard (read “Jagr”) will be in Moscow on the 25th of next month. As much as I would like to see Siberia someday, I do not really have a burning desire to go there very soon. So better to catch him in Moscow. Oddly, I will have to go to St. Peterburg to catch Hasek. For reasons that may be obvious to hockey fans, I feel it is a good idea to see both players sooner than later. Things happen in the course of a hockey season. Better not to assume a team will look the same in March as it does in September or October.
As long as I’m there, of course, I would want to see any other games in town, like Nabby’s. If I could see Jagr twice or ten times I would, but I can’t, likewise Hasek. As I was so recently tearing my hair out because Nabby was leaving the NHL, it makes sense I should see his new team play a couple of times, even if I would not have gone rushing off to Russia just to see them. I figure Nabby will be there for a while. Jagr and Hasek not so much.
The mad dash is on, where it will end I do not know.