Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Obama and Putin

I’m making my normal stop for my communal boozing of coffee  at Old Fart’s.  Locked into the corner table, my full view of the village performers is partially blocked by the smoke plume produced by  one old and partially bald fellow with a love affair for filtered cigarettes.    His bumpy red nose gives away his other love, prosecco.  As smoke clears this is what I hear…
voo2 patta lei….be la  machuwee.   then a newly entered guy comments, “ Buon Giorno”, and they all answer the same.  
I have no idea what voo2 patta lei….be la  machuwee means.  Then I hear … ah veii accumma ayvammi.  Veneto is a dialect spoken here.

Visa Fees On Agenda
Yesterday I took the train to Verona, a city near Padova, which has a University, and the famous balcony of "Romeo's" visit.  My visit was, however,  for an appointment in the Russian Consolate to apply for a visa to Russia.  Back home while filling out the forms we discovered that the Putin/Obama feud reaches down to the little people as Putin’s hand reached deep into my wallet for 175 Euros.  He does not have a beef with Italians as my wife’s visa cost 35 euros.

It doesn’t stop there, however, as the questions on my visa left me scrambling like ants to fill in the blanks, while my Italian wife, was quickly finished with her visa form.   Americans are forced to list their travels to other countries and I had to do some digging  into my past travels, and since I have traveled a lot, (34 countries), I was in a pickle.  Complete pandemonium!  Russia wanted to know about all of them which  caused some frustration as I cannot remember what I had for dinner two nights ago.  I was going to have to know, for instance,  when I had a visa to Russia in the early 1990’s, and they wanted to know the month!  My passport book only goes back to 2008.  It is so covered with stamps from the stamping of customs that there are stamps upon stamps. Some of them are lightly made or smudged over by other stampings.   I broke into my stamp collecting box and found my magnifying glass and began several hours of work listing dates and countries.  

I began to make some progress, but hanging over my quest was what to do about travel history before 2008.  A quick email to the consolate, gave me some relief, I would only have to show countries that are on my passport, which went back to 2008.  Three hours later and with some help from my wife we had a list almost complete with year/month/day of travel.  Finally we typed out a list to bring to the appointment!  

The next step was to fill out the online visa form, and that is when we discovered that I would not bring the typed list of travel, but I would list all the information online.  (My wife filled out her form first and she did not have to list dates of travel.)   They would use this during my appointment.  It was a great relief to have it finally completed and sent to the consolate. 

Russia also requires travel health insurance, of which we already had a full year’s worth with our usual Company.  We found this to company to be a reputable one when two years ago my wife fell and crushed her knee in Turkey and she taken to the best hospital in Antalya and her surgeon knew the latest techniques in rebuilding her knee, etc.  The whole experience, ambulances to the hospital, ambulances to the airports, and to our home from the Venice airport, the operation, the hospital stay where I shared the room with her.  It  was paid completely by the insurance company.  We are talking thousands of dollars.  However, we were told by the consolate that Russia did not recognise this company, so we had to buy additional insurance in order to get  visas.   Another tax we must pay!

Albert, I want to see this!

After all this, I expected problems during my appointment in Verona, but  it went quickly and I was told that there would be no problems.  We will pick up our visas on May 11.    Now for that appointment with Putin…….

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