At the end of the second month of travel, just after crossing the border with Poland over a bus coming from Prague, I decided that it was time for a small break.
August had just begun and I was kindly conquered by the holiday atmosphere surrounding me.
So I visited some very old friends – in Wroclaw, where I would spent ten days – and started preparing all the documentation I needed to apply for the Russian visa outside Italy.
Then, worn out and cold, I left my bicycle in Warsaw for a few days … to fly to a place I would have really loved for sure.
3 August, Wroclaw (Poland) | Day 63 🇵🇱
4 August, Wroclaw (Poland) | Day 64 🇵🇱
So, after more than two months going around like a crazy bullet, after passing 13 countries and uncountable borders, after pedaling for hundreds of kilometers and taking buses and trains for many more, August arrived.
I decided that in August I’ll slow down a little.
There are many things to be prepared, Russia and Asia to be entered, and vacations to be taken.
I know it sounds absurd “taking a break” from a just-started-gapyear, but my mind and body need some rest after all that happened and before what will come.
So I’ll stay for a while in Wroclaw, hosted by some great old friends, and then I’ll do something else (you’ll see what), whilst waiting for the Russian visa.
Anyway, some things are not going to change: beer, friends and sunset are something I will never need to “take a break” from. Never.
7 August, Wroclaw (Poland) | Day 67 🇵🇱
Un Tato, un Niño y un Tito.
En un Jardín Botánico.
9 August, Wroclaw (Poland) | Day 69 🇵🇱
More than 2 months on the way with no real plans and following the flow are nothing compared to everything you need to do and present if you are trying to apply for a Russian Visa because you want to enter the country with a folding bicycle, no flights, no prearranged tours and, of course, no plans.
First step, done … will it be enough?
11 August, Warsaw (Poland) | Day 71 🇵🇱 – VIDEO
Back in the game!
At least for a couple of days …
12 August, Warsaw (Poland) | Day 72 🇵🇱 | RUSSIAN ROULETTE
oday was the day of the Russian visa application. A never ending story, and still the outcome is unknown as a Juventus – Milan midsummer match.
It all began in May, at the Russian Consulate in Milan. I wanted to start with the visa in my pocket, but when I was asked about the real entry and departure dates, my answer was a big question mark.
So I decided to request it later on the way, somewhere much closer to St. Petersburg, when I could have had a better idea about everything.
Since then I have asked for different kind of help, to receive an invitation (yes, for Russia you need an invitation) either for private visits or working reasons, but it would have been too long and difficult.
The only solution, therefore, was to go for a normal 30-days-tourist-visa.
Simple, yes. If you organize everything.
If you book the hotels, if you plan a route, if you receive an invitation (paying) from hotels or from any specialized agencies, if you print all the papers without missing any comma and doing it in the proper size, if the photos fulfill the requirements and if you purchase an insurance (with original documents) in order to cover perfectly the time you are going to spend in the Big Mother.
Done, everything. The last part only with Sandra’s help, my friend who lives in Poland and therefore could sign the insurance I bought after a one-hour-linguistic-battle with Ewa, the energetic 50 year-old broker lady from Generali Wroclaw.
I arrive in the early morning in Warsaw Visa Center, knowing that surprises can always be around the corner, even when you think you’re done with everything.
Artiom welcomes mr (“your Artemio,” he says, knowing it as he had been living for one year in Italy), a polite, prepared and considerably younger than me guy.
He controls every inch of paper and states that there is an error in the invitation, cause it is displayed a double entry and not a single one.
“A system bug” – I reply, knowing perfectly I asked the agency a single entry.
“I’m sorry, but this unfortunately in Russian means double entry. You should change the invitation … and then the paper.” – He explains to me, sincerely sorry.
“Can you do it here?”
“Yes. If you remember the password you used to generate it on the system.”
“Here it is!” – I answer boldly, happy cause I wrote it down and found it immediately in my agenda.
Half an hour struggling between PC and protocols, and I got the new form.
“Everything okay?” – I ask seraphic.
“Well, not really. The problem is that the invitation should be changed also, because even there it is written that you asked for a double entry. If we send these documents, your request will be rejected 100%.”
I think for a while.
Then I call the online agency which sent me the invitation and, to my amazement, after 10 minutes I have a new and correct copy via email. For the trivial cost of a international call to Russia, via mobile phone.
But now I have to print it.
I go back in the street, jump on the bike and look for the first available internet cafe. Then I remember that the guy I bought the photos from has a printer and can make me a favor, and that is how it happens.
So after another thrilling hour of I’m back in front of Artiom.
“Now everything should be ok, right?” – I whisper.
He reads and checks everything for another 15 minutes and then I hear another “Well, not really.”
“What’s wrong now?”
“The hostels you have in the voucher. Cities and names are ok, but they also want the addresses…”
I find out that I’m not yet a Zen monk when I burst out into a “But what the f*** is this? Really? Those reservations are real and effective, those hostels are there and they won’t go anywhere!”
“I know, you’re right, but they also want the addresses. Just as it is your application can be rejected at 50% … it depends on how the guys from the Embassy wake up that day.” – Artiom tries to calm me down.
Suddenly I feel relaxed. As if he had said the magic words. Everything appears now clear and simple.
“Ok. Then, Artemio, let’s do this. You were really kind and helpful, but I’m tired of all this waste of time. I will not call for a new voucher for the third time just because of this silly thing. We will proceed with these documents, let’s play Russian Roulette. Fate will decide, hoping that Mr. Sergej Whatever will wake up in a good mood that day. I’m not forced to go to Russia. I’ve done all I could and I would really love to know the country and its people, but now we’ll see if the Big Mother wants me too or not.”
“All right. However, for some reason, I have the feeling everything will be fine. ”
“Do not say it too loud … in Italy we are quite superstitious! But thanks for your help. It will be fine anyway, what will be will be. When’s the verdict? ”
“In 10 days. On August 23rd we will know.”
So thanks Artemio.
Now I just have to figure out how to spend the next 10 days
and see if my egg-shaped-little-Vlad face will help or not.
Maybe I will pass them in a park, with ducks, drawing lotus flowers on the sand
and trying to learn the art of inner peace. Or maybe not.
What will be, will be.
13 August, Warsaw (Poland) | Day 73 🇵🇱
Yesterday, after all the battles regarding the Russian visa, I told I would be looking for the Zen-me for the next few days.
So today I met my pagoda, my brook, my little shore, my green, my ducks.
Now I only have to find the sand to start drawing my lotus flowers with a bamboo stick …
14 August, Warsaw (Poland) | Day 74 🇵🇱
My passport is stuck at the Russian Consulate.
I have to wait 10 days.
I have to keep searching for my Zen Satori.
I have to find some sand.
The temperature in Warsaw is 15 degrees.
That’s why I’m at the airport. With no bicycle.
Where I’m going to … I’ll tell you tomorrow.
But you can start betting.
Anyway, Warsaw’s “Goodbye, see you in 10 days” was pretty fine.
KM on BICYCLE: 110
KM on AUTOBUS: 485
NIGHTS in HOSTELS: 3
NIGHTS in HOSPITALITY: 9
EXPENSES: 397 € (including Russian Visa)
“GOOD DAY”: “Dzien Dobry”
“THANK YOU”: “Dziekuje”