But all that was in the before.
And then as we embarked on what we hoped would be the road to a globe trekker junior, and the spectre of infertility loomed over our lives, all that stopped. In in the beginning it was 'I might be...months pregnant by then' (ha! The foolish optimism!), meaning I wouldn't be able to safely fly/eat the street food/make that challenging hike that a particular holiday would entail. Then it was because of doctor's appointments and procedures. Or, because our travel choices have always tended to be to more off-the-beaten-path, less developed destinations, there was the fact that malaria tablets or vaccines - none of which are safe or compatible with ttc - would be involved. And so like many couples who are struggling in the ways we are struggling, an important aspect of life was temporarily lost. And it's something we miss.
So when H returned from work about a month ago with news that he'd have to travel to Estonia for a workshop, I glanced at the map and I imagined.
I've always wanted to go to Saint Petersburg, I said in an offhand way.
H looked at me and said, we could get a ferry from Tallin to Saint Petersburg. We'd be there during the White Nights, which would be amazing. (The White Nights being the midsummer period in Russia during which the midnight sun illuminates an apparently fabulous range of street festivities, picnics, parties and concerts that run through the night like a kind of two-week movable night feast. How H possesses this encyclopedic local knowledge from across the globe, I don't know, but I'm regularly delighted by it.)
After all, that particular corner of the continent, while perhaps not as intrepid as other possible destinations, is rather off the beaten path, and who knows when we might next get the chance? And before we knew it, we were thinking about itineraries and researching the best beaches in the Baltic and booking flights. How exciting! Without really having an impact our baby making efforts, an adventure presented itself. We're doing this old school people: with backpacks and budget hotels and train passes. We'll relive our wayward
Then we found out about the Russian visa application process. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, we realized we'd both need visas but found out very little about the actual process thanks to nearly useless and impossible-to-navigate Russian Embassy webpages. Well ok, let me clarify; for Canadian citizens like myself, it's pretty straightforward really. But for Austrian nationals - due in part, I suspect, to some historical my-empire-is-bigger-than-yours! sparring between the Russians and the Austro-Hungarians (fact: these kids haven't always played nice in the sandbox) - there was a series of seemingly interminable hoops through which to jump. There were very specifically (but actually also confusingly ill-defined) proof of address documents to supply. There were questionnaires to complete (blood type, boxers or briefs, etc, etc). There was Russian-approved, designated health insurance to obtain. And then there was a mixup with our payment. And the weeks ticked by and we waited. And waited, worrying that the impending date of departure would arrive before our travel documents ever did...It was all a little nerve wracking, let me tell ya.
But the story has a happy ending, because you guys, today they have arrived! One fruitless visit to the Russian Consular Service in London, many phone calls and contradictory email instructions later, we - finally! - are the proud owners of two Russian visas. Yes, we get to see our full names spelled out in Cyrillic script in our passports.
(As an aside, this has been a much more satisfying wait than my usual monthly anticipations, not least because it resulted in the desired outcome. For another thing, I could yell at the Russian visa officials when they gave me crap information. There is no such outlet, beyond random outbursts at my poor husband, which will relieve the tension of a two week wait. What am I supposed to do, start punching my ovaries?
We leave this weekend, for three weeks of hiking and train riding and city exploring, taking in Helsinki, Estonia, Latvia and Saint Petersburg. I could not possibly be more excited. We need this holiday. (Bonus: the next time I find out I'm not pregnant, I'll be in a foreign country!)
I plan to enjoy the hell outta this trip. Because if there's one thing we've learned in all this time, it's the following: while we continue to wait, that doesn't mean we just have to sit around and wait.
|Documented and ready to go!|