Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I might as well open my own travel agency

Considering the time I spend on making travel arrangements for meetings. Apparently research money is just as well spent working on visa applications or on the phone with travel agency employees. I am going to Russia for a meeting in less than two weeks and since it is business I have to wait for an invitation from the organization inviting me before I can apply for the visa. All information regarding the invitation was sent about a month ago (shortly after I knew I was going to this thing) and I still haven’t received the invitation. Today the first sign of hope appeared – a fax with something looking like a slightly altered copy of my passport if it got translated to Russian and written in Cyrillic letters. The document looks a bit odd, but it was sent from the right institution and it does contain my personal details in Russian, so I suppose it is the faxed version of the invitation I have been promised. I also got an email saying that the actual invitation, which must be brought to the embassy, is in the mail and on it’s way. That would all be very fine if I wasn’t leaving on Friday for another meeting. Since my location here in the Arctic is far away from pretty much everything, it is not possible for me to get back here between the two meetings. In other words – I need the invitation document by Thursday, latest.

So tomorrow, while busy with a grading marathon and preparing for student conference on Thursday, I have to figure out an emergency back up plan if this document does not arrive on time. I also have to check with “my best friend” the-travel-agency-lady-handling-my- bookings what happened to the flight ticket she promised to send me last week. I am travelling on no less than six tickets (not counting change of planes) on this upcoming trip and of course one of them has to be an old fashioned paper ticket.

If I do get all the documents together in time and do not die from stress before it’s time to leave, the itinerary for the odyssey looks something like this. First I am going to visit Fiancé for a few days at his place in central Europe before he moves up north to our first shared home. Directly from there I am off to a meeting in Scandinavian capital, where I will also visit the Russian embassy to get the visa. Then a quick visit to my actual home, when Fiancé is moving in, from there to Russia and finally up here again. The combination of a long distance relationship, international collaboration and living on the edge of the world does not allow for much continuity. There is a good chance that the hours I have spent travelling or travel planning over the past year outnumbers the hours I have spent doing research.

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