Just when I wrote that I always book my trips myself and don’t travel in groups, I must admit that I was on a very interesting trip to Russia. As a part of a group. And didn’t book anything myself. But one must always keep an open mind!
My late maternal grandfather was originally from the part of Karelia that is now beyond the Russian border. Both my uncles were also born there before Winter War and Continuation War. My mom was born after those wars in present-day Finland but she has always wanted to see where her parents and brothers lived before they needed to flee as the war began. I agreed to go with her, I remember my grandpa well so it was a trip to our roots.
I’m used to traveling in Europe, it’s easy and convenient. No hassle with visas or anything like that. When traveling to Russia, a visa is needed and although we had a group visa, you have to have all sorts of papers and pictures and whatnot. This time I was glad someone else did the applying! But the best tip when applying for a visa to Russia is to check that everything is exactly as it should be: name is written correctly in all papers, photos are like they should etc. Also note that your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the trip and the picture for the visa application should not be older than 6 months old.
More on our trip soon!