Thursday, September 19, 2013

a flock of amateurs

we have signed the child up for a trip to st. petersburg with something called the ungdomsskole (youth school?), it's a public institution that's associated with the regular schools and they run a whole bunch of different after school activities and trips for kids from 7th to 9th grade. this is the first time they've planned a trip to st. petersburg and believe me, it shows. it seems that those organizing the trip haven't got the first clue about what it takes as far as visas and advising which clothes to take and how much money to take (they advised that the 12-13 year olds have a good selection of credit cards with them). and tho' i'm normally a very laid back traveler, this time it's driving me absolutely mad (both in the sense of crazy and of angry).

they even changed the dates of the trip slightly, but haven't published that anywhere - their website still has the old dates. they claimed to have sent the children who are signed up a text with the new dates, but both my child and her friend, who is also going, have received no such text. they guy in charge continues to insist they did. such a stupid lie is unnecessary. just admit you're a bit disorganized and didn't get it sent. don't keep lying about it when we can see the proof right there in two telephones. what's really stupid about it is that we need those correct dates for the visa application.

in order to get the visa, you have to have an invitation letter from someone in russia. in this case, the hotel where they will stay. only then can you fill out the application and apply for the visa. oh, and you must deliver the visa application to the embassy in person, you can't send it in. the embassy won't really say exactly how long the visa takes - if you pay extra, you can have it in 4 days, but it's likely to take anywhere from 7 - 14 days to get it if you don't pay extra. since they are set to leave october 15, time is ticking away. do you think we've seen the invitation letter from the hotel? no we have not.

do you think we've gotten a convoluted mail with some instructions about health insurance cut & pasted into it from the russian embassy website? yes, we have. is that the most important thing? no it is not. do you think this is causing me to pull out my hair? well, you would be right about that.

they held a meeting for the parents and the kids who are going on the trip on tuesday evening. i couldn't go, as i went to the salon allison park evening. but husband and sabin went. they met the three adults who are going on the trip - one is a bossy belorussian, one is a russian from st. petersburg who doesn't share a common language with the rest of the people going on the trip and one is a danish guy who was apparently heavily bullied by the belorussian throughout the course of the meeting. they showed some kind of only moderately informative power point with some pictures of what they would see and talked extensively about which credit cards the children should bring. they may have had some advice about what clothes to pack, but husband didn't write that down. he did, however, write down the following:
they will see:
* 4 shoe stores
* 6 candy stores
* 1 newspaper kiosk

they will spend 3 days in their hotel room.
nothing about culture was mentioned.

they are responsible for buying their own lunch, tho' breakfast and dinner are included.
this does not help me keep my hair. tho' i'm pretty sure most of it is a joke (except that thing about the lunch). he also drew a strange little picture of what appears to be a llama peeing. but i'm not sure what that has to do with the trip.

at this point, i actually have my doubts as to whether the trip is even going to happen. i want it to happen. i love the idea of my 12-year-old seeing the hermitage and the winter palace and the peter & paul fortress. i want her to walk the streets of st. petersburg and soak in the onion domes and see the canal where rasputin's body was found and feel the history that is lurking in every corner. all of this even tho' i am a moscow person. that flock of amateurs had just better get their act together and make this happen. a flock of amateurs, that's one of those danish phrases that maybe does translate.


paris parfait said...

"Flock of amateurs" sounds about right. Maybe parents could band together and plan an alternative?

paris parfait said...

P.S. Beautiful photo!

will said...

Sometimes it's difficult separating your experienced eyes with her naive senses. You see onions and she sees soccer balls.

Sounds like it will be a petty trip schedule. Teach her how to stroll out a back door.

julochka said...

tara - we may have to, i mean how many trips to Copenhagen do they expect us to make getting our hands on these visas?

bill - you're right, she probably won't see any of it the way that i do, but i hope she loves it anyway.

oh, and that thing with the shoe and candy stores was something husband made up, they are going to see things like the Hermitage and the Winter Palace and Danish Princess Dagmar's (the mother of the last tsar) grave. or at least i hope they are.

Veronica Roth said...

You should send in the peeing llama sketch as an inspiration for improvement. Lol. I love it actually. You know I've been dragging my children around Europe for almost their whole lives and what I used to do is prepare them for the important sight ahead so they would be anxious to see it for themselves. (But then you probably already do this :) )

Amazing webby meadow photo!

Anonymous said...

Oh I could go on and on and on about visas... I must admit to a wry chuckle escaping as I read about having to deliver the application in person. It's the same for me every time I want to leave SA and go anywhere even remotely interesting. And people wonder why we bend over backwards to get a UK or US passport...

If nothing else, it'll be an experience in travelling without Mom & Dad which I think all young teens should have.

Good luck!