Russian Visa

How to get a Russian Visa

Getting a visa for Russia is going to be one of the major pain points while preparing for your journey to Russia. The process of getting a visa is cumbersome and there’s a lot of red tape to get through. However, the recent surge in tourism has created trails for everyone to follow and that has certainly removed the guess work from the process.  As an Indian passport holder I had to go through a slightly more gruelling visa application process. All the documents submitted for the visa have to be original and it’s compulsory to show reservation of accommodation. I did eventually get the visa after some struggle, but I am certain that the process can be made much easier and less expensive.

Russia-visa
Image Source: visahq.com

There are three main stages of your visa application: Invitation, Application, and Visa Approval

NOTE: Start preparations for your Russian visa at least 1 month prior to your departure.

Invitation:

Entering the Russian Federation requires an invitation from a hosting agency. These are government approved agencies that issue invitations to visitors. This form contains details of the type of visa, duration of stay, places you plan to visit during your stay and your hotel/hostel reservation details.

The invitation typically costs $40 – $350 depending on the type of visa (single entry/multiple entry/tourism/business) you need. Some hotels/hostels offer this service free of charge or at a nominal fee.

Indian passport holders need to order an original copy of the invitation. This will mean extra postal charges for the applicant. Yes. It sucks!

Application:

If you’ve gotten this far, you are 70% through. Don’t give up now. Head over to the Russian embassy in your city and submit your application. They usual take 3-6 days to process your application.

Visa Approval:

Once you have the visa sticker on your passport you are set and good to go. Only in rare cases, your application may be declined. I personally haven’t heard of anyone’s application being rejected if they have provided all the correct documents in the correct form.

Is that it? NOPE. Once you’re there you have to tackle something called the Migration Card!

How the Migration Card works:

All foreigners are supposed to register themselves at the local immigration office on arrival. If you are staying in a hotel/hostel for more than one night, they will do this for you either free of cost or for a nominal fee. You better keep this little slip of paper with you as the border authority at the airport may want to check it when you leave Russia.

Now that you’ve read all of this, you’re good to go.

Here are some resources to know more about the Russian Visa:

Visa Requirements for Indian Citizens
http://www.russiaconsulmumbai.mid.ru/visa_01.html

Visa Requirement For U.S Citizens
http://russia.travisa.com/

Russia Tourism Centric Website

Express to Russia (www.expresstorussia.com)

Russian Business Visa (www.russian-business-visa.com)

Russia Direct (www.russiadirect.co.uk)

Visa Able (www.visaable.com)

Way to Russia (waytorussia.net)

Still haven’t got what you want? Leave your query in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

 

 

6 russian foods

6 Delicious Russian Foods

Travelling to amazing new places is surely great thing and I really love, but there’s something that I love even more: food. I don’t think I can ever travel to a new place and not try out local food. I come from the city of Bombay and we say that if you can stomach Bombay street food, you can eat anything, anywhere in the world. I can proudly say that I am a living testament to that belief.

When I was in Russia, I was pigging out every meal and by the end of my trip I swear I could eat Russian portions of meat. They are huge. Really huge.

Of all the delicious Russian foods I had, these are the ones I absolutely recommend:

Shashlik

Shashlik

Shashlik is the Russian word for barbeque! Picture delicious meat roasted on a coal fire. The meat sweats out some of the fat and the aroma of coal is infused beautifully in the tender meat when it is ready.  You’ve got to try this stuff. Shashliks are a perfect chow-down with some classic Russian vodka.

Blini

Blini_with_sour_cream_and_red_caviar

Pancake fans this one is for you! Russian pancakes are called ‘Blini’. They are everything you expect from a pancake. Light, fluffy and delicious, Blini are usually had with honey. Consider this as something you’d have to get your jaws moving at a Russian breakfast table.

Okroshka

Окрошка_Okroshka

Cold soup what? I never had a cold soup before. Okroshka was the perfect introduction to the whole cold soup range for me. This soup is a mixture of raw vegetables and cooked meat (usually beef) with ‘Kvaas’ a mildly alcoholic beverage made from rye bread!

Do try this out because it has a very unique taste!

Note: Kvaas is a mildly bitter drink that is very refreshing and unique in taste. You should try it for sure.

Manti/ Pelmeni

Pelmeni

Do you like dumplings? If yes, then Manti or Pelmeni is just the thing for you. Filled with beef meat, these dumplings come with a healthy sprinkle of rosemary.  They plate the dumplings with a big dollop of sour cream which goes really well with the Pelmeni.

Caviar

Caviar_butterbrot

Fish eggs. Those words made me squirm a little bit, but the idiot that I am, I decided to try it anyway. They say you have to develop a taste for caviar and I agree with them. My tryst with caviar was really eventful. You should read the complete story: (My Tryst with Caviar)

Borshch

Borshch

You may not know much about Russia, but you surely know ‘Borshch’.  It is the famous beetroot soup that is served on dinner tables across Eastern Europe. This soup is originally an Ukrainian preparation, but as they say delicious food has no boundaries.

Give these dishes try and tell me what you think.  Also, if you have already tried any of these, which one of these is your favourite?

Lastly, I’d love to know about other Russian dishes that you absolutely love in the comments!

Cheers!

Kazan Russia

Kazan – The Third Capital of Russia

I had the fortune of travelling to Kazan.  It’s been branded at Russia’s 3rd capital and also as the sporting capital of the nation. The city is famous for the peaceful co-existence of Muslim and Christian population. I for one really wanted to see what that was about and explore the serene streets of city.

Kazan is the city of Tatars, but it’s filled with people from all over Russia. Every woman is drop dead gorgeous and the men look sharp.

Getting In

Kazan is about 800 km from Moscow and can be reached by an overnight train, a series of buses or flights. I had taken the overnight train and it was probably the best decision I made. You really get to see the expanse of Russia with literally endless fields.

Alternatively you can also get in via flight from Moscow. These usually cost between $100- $120 and reduce travel time to an hour.

Places to see

Bauman Street

Chai Dom Kazan

This is Kazan’s very own walking street in the heart of the city. It plays host to some of the most best food spots, tourist merchandise and boutiques. Don’t forget to visit ‘Chai Doma’ on Bauman Street. It’s the best place to have authentic Tatar food.

Kremlin

Horse Carriage

The Kremlin is a vast piece of land on top of a hill, looking below at the Kazanka river.  The walls  are whitewashed with tombs of blue and gold. Most of the constructions inside the Kremlin were built out of wood. You’ve got to take a walk around the Kremlin! If you’re in the mood to splurge, you could also hire a horse drawn carriage for a tour around the Kremlin.

Söyembikä Tower

soyembika tower

Within the Kazan Kremlin you will find the Söyembikä Tower. Also known as the Khan’s Tomb, this monument was built in the 16th century.  It is said that this tower was built by Ivan the Terrible’s artisans in just over a week!  The site of the offers a stunning view of the Kazanka river and city’s skyline.

Kul- Sharif

Kul Sharif

The Kul Sharif is by far the most amazing mosque I have seen in my entire life! Its white walls and blue tops create a stunning image from any angle. This monument can be called as the definitive icon of Kazan.  A trip to Kazan would be incomplete without a trip to Kazan.

Kazan University

Kazan Federal University

Kazan is an important centre of education in Russia. It is home to the Kazan Federal University a premier institute of education in the Volga region of Russia.  The university has a lot of diversity in the field of studies it offers to students. There is a significant population of foreign students at the Kazan Federal University.

Kazan is really off the tourist map and so it makes it even more special. The city has a unique culture and cuisine that cannot be missed. You are sure to have a unique experience of Russia if you visit Kazan. I’d go further to say that it may even change the perception you have about all Russian! 😉