There are 2 kinds of people in Switzerland and I just met both. The first I met on the train from Zurich flughafen and complained about the size of my ugly suitcase using up space on the airport train. ( I very nearly responded with uber*ssslot). He was old and bitter. The second I met on the train back to the airport, who offered/requested that I store my suitcase in his seating area as it was obvious that I had too much (of Simmiâ€™s) luggage to contend with. Happy to be home!Â However I am still so happy to have married a Swiss girl!
The reason for us visiting Moscow was for my sonâ€™s wedding to a beautiful Russian girl. Part of the wedding custom is for the groom to visit the brideâ€™s house and answer some trick questions and perform some tasks, posed by the brideâ€™s mother. Having nearly failed the questions and tasks the final task was to cover a raunchy picture with rouble notes â€“ I suppose to represent the end of his wayward ways. Problem was that Alex did not have enough rouble notes, and not wishing to see him fail his final task I helped to cover this picture on the floor with notes. Unfortunately I was not warned of this task and began to cover picture with 500 and 1000 rouble notes. Had I been aware of such a custom I would have filled my wallet with 10 rouble notes beforehand. Neither did I appreciate at the time that the money does not get returned to you. I have never seen such a large calandar picture. Ouch expensive.
Never mind, I hope and expect the money went towards the expensive cost of such a beautiful wedding day.
At first I thought I had found another concept that our UK transport system should examine and copy. On the Moscow Metro you can travel any distance on the entire system for 50p. However the system is crowded beyond safety limits and has no apparent affect on the congested streets above (ok it could be worse), causing pollution which contributed to the recent smog problems. The trains run every 2 minutes and so there is never really any delay, except for the huge queues that build up arround the really long escalators.
So just take the good bits: Cheap fixed fares, lots of police, frequent trains, decorative stations.
I read somewhere that in the 1930′s, Moscow mothers would make their children wash their hands before using the Metro so they would not get the trains dirty but now it appears washing ones hands is a must after using it, but then thats the same for every metro system.
I was told more than once that Simmi and I do not look Russian and stand out a mile in the crowds- but I was also told I looked like Russian mafia in my suit- so maybe that explains why I never had any problems traveling around Moscow. Elsewhere people assume Im Italian – but never Italian mafia.
Thank you to BAA peolple for not going on strike as threatend and so not leaving me stranded in Moscow.
Im currently spending a week in Switzerland. Gone are the days where I was getting Â£1 = 2.50 SF. Its now Â£1 = 1.63 SF making everying so much more expensive here. Most of the Swiss peolple know that the UK and other European economies are in a shambles and currently feel good about their current prosperity. What they do not realise is tha their will be less UK (and other Europeans) spending their currencies here due to the exchange rates. Im here for family reasons, but if it was for skiing then Im sure that places like Austria and Canada are now more economically appealing, which in the long term will affect the Swiss economy and SF.
I just planned and booked a journey here in Switzerland that involved a bus and two trains- all different companies, and yet I could plan it, book, pay and download* the document all from a single web site. If only our transport companies in UK could work together.
(*downloaded eventually. But that was not the fault of SBB, but the horrible MacBook/Safari thing that I was using. It took almost an hour to get the pdf documents downloaded – but thats another story)
On average it costs about Â£150 to obtain a Russian Visa via an agency. The alternative is to go direct to the Russian Consulate, this will cost about half of the agency fee. But the online form is awful. Whoever designed this form has never ever filled it in. eg List all counties you have visited in last 10 years. I wanted to add 12 but could not enter more than 8 countries . You can only save the form on completion of the form, and not part way through. Using an agency does not prevent you from having to fill in a similar online form with the same questions. But the system works – after the promised 5 working days my passport returns complete with VISA.