How to make visitors feel welcome

today: Russia

I admit: it was my fault. How could I assume that being at the Russian consulate at 9 in the morning and having all papers would be enough?? Somehow, my memory must have been influenced by my experience at the German embassy: walk in with all papers, walk out 30 minutes later, done.

Not so here. First, one has to find the Consulate, then, they have you waiting outside – temperature this morning: 8°, but hey, it wasn’t even raining – letting 1 person at once inside. Only that it takes roughly 10 minutes per person. With 20 people in the queue, some were there as early as 8:00, and closing time at 12:30, hope was going down as well as body temperature.

After one hour, I saw this well hidden ad from an accredited agency doing the same job in a shopping centre nearby. And yes, they did have a well heated waiting room and even chairs. What the ad had not mentioned was that they almost doubled the price for a simple tourist visa. But after one hour in this &*ù$_ç( cold, it was worth it.

Now, I feel really reassured travelling to a country where I don’t speak the language, where the notion of service seems even less developed than in Belgium and where paying more suddenly makes life much easier. I should probably take some additional cash with me…

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6 responses to “How to make visitors feel welcome

  1. Oy, be careful over there. Don’t get too taken advantage of.

    • I will be careful. Yesterday I have been told to avoid smiling in Russia and especially with administration. It is not considered appropriate 🙂

  2. I’m off to the Belarusian embassy this morning. The queue is much shorter there.

  3. You should have asked me, remember when I had to get the visa for Saint Petersburg?

    • I don’t think that this would have changed anything regarding the freezing temperature 🙂 But as you suggest it: how do I get best, cheapest and fastest from the airport to the city center?

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