Visa Madness & Your Visas Are Incorrect Go Home

Visa Madness & Your Visas Are Incorrect Go Home

Originally Posted 10/22/2006

Body

Visa Madness

Mon, October 09 2006

AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!! I have just spent two hours at

the Russian embassy trying to correct an error to

the visas Jet and I need to go to Russia for a

holiday in a couple of weeks. I am totally

gagging with excitement to go back to Russia for

the first time since 1985, I can’t wait to see

how much Moscow and St Petersburg have changed.

But getting the visas is another thing entirely.

I managed to screw up first time round by only

having invites for Moscow and not St Petersburg

so the original visas were two days short for our

trip. The woman at the window when I pointed it

out on collection of the visas just told me to

sort out the invite for St Petersburg and bring

it in and everything would be sorted. Yeah right!!

I got there at 2pm when it opens for the

afternoon session to be told to come back at 3pm,

I’d have gone in the morning but didn’t get the

invite till lunchtime. I didn’t even make it

through the gate for that, so having killed an

hour record shopping, well the embassy does have

like 8 record shops within 300 yards of it!!

Which is why Otis Rush is singing My own Fault

right now. Time killed well, I went back and got

let in this time and having explained my problem

and had the guy look at me like I was dirt he

goes away and consults with the woman in the wig,

comes back and goes through the visas again and

asks when I collected them, then goes off again

and comes back and gives me a real dirty look and

asks whose fault the problem is, well mine of

course, I’m terribly sorry I don’t understand

your confusing forms and system. So it must be my

fault, this cheers him a little and he tells me

to fill out all the forms again like a new

application, luckily I had spare photos with me!!

Forms filled I go back again he goes through them

all and then tells me it’s going to be £240 in

cash at the window over there to get it sorted.

Like WHAT the visas only cost £60 in the first

place. Ah he explains it costs £240 for two visas

in the afternoon, if you want it corrected for

only £60 you have to come back in the morning! He

has been kind enough to give me a note to get me

through the gate in the morning without queuing

again! But still it will cost me another £60 damn

that’s a costly mistake, but I still don’t get

why it costs so much more money in the afternoon,

ah Embassies who will ever understand them!!

 

Your Visas Are Incorrect Go Home

Sun, October 22,2006

Well instead of spending today sightseeing in

Moscow I am instead sitting here at home looking

at the rain and scratching my head as to what I

did wrong.

Yesterday turned into the day from hell that I

wasn’t expecting.

It started out ok when we left for Heathrow at

5.30am and checked in with no problems we went

through the new security checks without a hitch

and that included me not realising I had some

throat spray in my coat pocket that should have

been confiscated but wasn’t.

The flight took off on time and the main

differences between Aeroflot in 2006 compared to

the last time I flew with them in 1985 is that

now they have leather seats and all the seats are

pre-assigned, none of the free seating of old.

That and nowadays they have plastic cutlery and

plates and back then they used proper cutlery and

plates.

Still we arrived in Moscow on time and to the

news that it was -1C outside, which is just the

sort of temps we were hoping for.

We got off the plane and while standing in the

queue at passport control I had a chat with the

guys from the band Polar Bear one of whom I

recognised to find out where they were playing,

they didn’t know the venue only it was at a music

festival that evening, excellent something to do

if we can find out where it is.

Then I got to the passport controller who unlike

his predecessor in 1985 who pointed at my badges

and said Musicka groups while stamping my

passport without looking at it. This guy looked

at the new visa and then at the first visa I

thought we had corrected and started calling for

his supervisor a quite scary woman who then

demanded my tickets and invites which I passed

over, Jet was getting the same trouble at another

window, the woman then pointed at some chairs and

told us to go and sit there, we did as we were

told like a couple of naughty school kids sitting

outside the headmasters office.

We sat there and sat there and soon an hour of

sitting there had passed while a variety of

uniformed officers walked past time and again and

we saw our passports being taken from one office

to another and back again.

Then another female officer came over to us and

told us we needed to pay 2000 roubles each for a

visa extension! Ok no problem, but we don’t have

any Roubles, ok she says and frogmarches us

through customs and into the airport up some

escalators and over to a bank where we handed

over $80 and £45 to cover the 4000 roubles we

needed to pay, she then gave us a receipt and

some change in roubles and frogmarched us back to

the passport control area and our seats once more.

Another 20 minutes go by during which our

optimism that the 4000 roubles will sort it is

the only thing giving us much hope and then a guy

with an Aeroflot uniform comes over to us and

tells us that it looks like we are being denied

entry but that he will have to speak to the

consul first and that we need to follow him to

his office, so we follow him into the departures

lounge and on getting to his office he says we

are now free to wander round and he’ll find us

when he knows something, well we don’t feel like

looking around or doing anything much at this

point, I am seething with anger but trying to

remain calm, so we decided to get a coffee for me

and coke for Jet and sit in one of the cafes

close to the guys office, after a while he comes

and finds us to tell us that as it’s a weekend

there is nothing they can do for us till Monday

as a Visa can only be changed in another country

and not in Russia itself!

Our options are this he can arrange for us to get

on the last flight of the day to London that

leaves in just over an hour, or we can sit and

wait in the departures lounge until Monday. And

we can either pay 85 Euros each so that the

record shows we went home again or we can be

deported. Now if we pay the 85 Euros our visas

will remain valid for the St Petersburg part of

our trip as will our roundtrip flight tickets from

Moscow to St Petersburg providing we re-confirm

them in advance. So we hand over 140 Euros and

£40 to cover this and off he goes to sort out the

ticket transfer and everything else, as he walks

away and we sit desolate at the realisation that

we are going home again Lou Reed’s Perfect Day

comes on the Cafes PA, there could be no more

Inappropriate song for how we felt at that point,

it was like a final kick in the nuts just

horrible.

He returns with our new tickets and tells us

which gate to go to as it is about to board and

assures us our luggage will be on the flight for

us as well, we thank him for his help, as he was

about the most helpful of the people we dealt

with and with heavy heart go to the gate.

At the gate as I handed over my ticket to get on

the plane the security guard having seen the

stamp that must have us down as being refused

entry says “Ah two unhappy travellers then?” I

could have smashed him one but managed to just

tell him what did he expect and walked onto the

plane seething trying to prepare myself for what

looked like the longest three and a half hour

flight ever.

Just to make us feel worse we then had a 40

minute delay on the runway before taking off

again, the flight attendants managed to magic me

up a Vegetarian meal which was a brief moment of

respite from both our depressions.

The only other respite for me on the journey home

was the fact that I managed to finish reading the

Dostoevsky Book The Eternal Husband that I had

started in the morning, I never thought I’d read

one of his books in a day!!

We finally landed in London and went through

passport control OK and went to wait for our

luggage, well we waited and waited and then when

no more luggage was coming from our flight went

and reported our luggage lost well it would be

wouldn’t it, it had been that kind of day, it was

also at this point that I noticed the luggage

tags were for an Air France Flight!! They gave us

a form to fill and a note for our luggage and we

left the airport to come home.

In the cab on the way home we made the awful

phone calls to tell a few people what had

happened and then we got in at about 11pm with a

great need to drown our sorrows.

So far today no sign of the luggage and calls to

our travel agent to try to get us to St

Petersburg next Friday have been met with the you

better call back tomorrow line as Aeroflot only

work Monday to Friday!!

 

Originally posted on Myspace and the USK.

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About simonovitch

Writer poet music freak etc etc based in London you'll find out more by reading my blogs.
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