That went well. Getting my visa took a mere 30 minutes, 20 minutes of which was queueing and the rest waiting for it to be processed. Everything is possible in Russia provided you pay, in this case the charge being $160. But it’s better than hanging around for several days.
I was surprised in another sense too. Just when you have gotten used to Russian officials grunting at you from behind desks and security glass, scowling at you as you pass them your documents, and behaving as though they are carved from cold, wet, granite, the young chap in the embassy today brightly asked what football team I supported and proudly told me he’d recently seen an English film about football hooligans. And with lots of goodbyes and good lucks, he waved me off from the counter.
That said, the above episode was only the second biggest surprise I got today, the first being the discovery of tuna porridge on the breakfast menu this morning. It looked to be nothing more than a pot of porridge with lumps of tuna thrown in. Needless to say, I avoided it and helped myself to the more traditional breakfast items, which were excellent.