Day 143 | Thursday August 4

Alba introduced me to porridge in the morning. It’s very common to have that for breakfast here but I still think it’s for babies or grandmas without teeth. It’s probably one of those things you need to be raised with to enjoy it.

Around noon I left to Helsinki and arrived there around 3. My host Dieter was a very tall guy originally from Graz, Austria where I have been a couple of months ago. We quickly had a chat and than he had to go to a meeting and I wandered around Helsinki and sorted out what I still need to do for the Russian visa application. It’s not that hard to get one, you need a letter of invitation from a Russian company which I received from Bellona, the environmental company whom I visited in Oslo. They have branches in Russia too. That’s the most important thing. Then you need a statement from your health insurance to prove that you’re medical costs and repatriation will be covered. I filled out a digital application which was a bit hard to understand sometimes and they request a lot of info. Like where you will be staying from day to day, the purpose of the trip and details about the company who invited you, which was a travel organization in my case.

When I got back to Dieters place he told me that I need way more information and he will explain me that tomorrow.

Day 144 | Friday August 5

Dieter has been to Russia many times and know exactly how to handle the customs, he told me that its not that hard to get one and once you’re inside the country there are not many restrictions, which used to be the case until a few years ago.

I received the letter from my insurance but according to Dieter there was a lot of information missing. I went to the visa center and they indeed told me it was not right. There was no information about which costs would be covered and if I would be repatriated if needed. I called with my health insurance but they said this form normally should do and couldn’t add anything to it. The Dutch seemed to be harder than the Russians in this case. I had to write a special letter to ask for an exemption. At the end everything seemed fine and I can pick it up next Friday, so that’s when I will enter Russia! A new stage of this adventure.

My hosts for today was Seppo who just lived a few kilometers outside of Helsinki. He was there with his son. He was preparing a little party for his wife who became 49 years old today. I felt a bit uncomfortable to be in such a private party but they were very happy that I was here. I helped them with preparing some candles etc. His wife is Russian and teacher at a Finnish- Russian school. The school are starting in a few weeks and to prepare they had a teambuilding day with colleagues in Estonia and she arrived home around 11pm. We had a nice ‘party’ with some Russian delicatessen and she gave me a lot tips for my trip here. Nice to be part of this.

Pictures of today

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