A normal tourist visa lasts for 30 days.
The plan was thus:
We’d rock up in Helsinki, mooch for a few days whilst obtaining the visa. We would then leave the bike in Helsinki and take a leisurely train journey to St. Petersburg (3-4 hours). Easy-peasy.
The reality looks like this:
Following extensive internet searches and a phone conversation with a rather monosyllabic official at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, we discovered otherwise.
‘Good morning, I wonder whether you can help me please? How long does it take to obtain a visa for Russia?’
'Seven days. Unless you pay €188. Then 4 days.’
Ah, I see.’ (We were now considering arriving earlier in Helsinki to deal with this).
'You also need to book appointment at Embassy.’
'Can I book one for the week commencing 5 August please?’
'No, all full. You also need confirmation of hotel booking in St Petersburg.'
‘Ah, I see.' (... more clearly now! The pain/gain scale indicator was swiftly moving into the ‘abandon adventure’ region.)
‘Goodbye and thank you for your help.’ Not.
There are two options to visit Russia for 72 hours without a visa. You can travel on a ferry (St Peterline, now MOBY SPL) which takes 15 hours each way or go on a posh 5-day cruise with three days in St Petersburg.
Pilot and Pillion didn’t fancy the former and the latter would have made an enormous hole in our budget, which has already been adjusted by the 'Scandinavian weighting'. Don’t tell anyone what I do for a living! 😜
Also, the Bear Grylls clothes probably won’t allow access to the cruise dining room. We’d be munching our sad peanut butter sandwiches in our cabin.
So goodbye St Petersburg, maybe another time.