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March 7, 2014

How to get the russian visa and not die trying..

It may be nothing new for those who were super clever to guess the cities that we will be visiting this year in our last post. Probably, also not for those who already knew it because we couldn´t keep our mouths shut. And definitely, it will be nothing special for those who were involved in our visa process but, and despite the latest conflicts with Ukraine, we are the happy owners of two plane tickets to Moscow, Russia, where we will spend 4 days with our friend Paul :)


Our first and main goal was to get the visa as soon as possible and without problems... Not an easy thing to do but impossible is nothing ;). There are lots of companies that offer some help to apply for it. Sometimes, they are a bit expensive but you avoid having to go several times to the consulate and probably some headaches too ;) Because I had some free time, we decided to apply on our own.

Since we are not citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany and we were not planning a trip to Hungary or Spain during the limited working hours of the Russian Embassy/Consulate in our countries, we decided to apply from Germany and see how far we could get.

What did we need to apply for the Russian Visa?

- Original Passport valid for 6 months beyond stay in Russia, with at least two adjacent blank visa pages available.

- A recent picture. Size 36mmx45mm - head and shoulders, face forward, neutral expression, in color, and with a plain/white background. The applicant must not wear glasses in the photo unless the photo in the original passport includes glasses.

- An invitation letter from a Russian company/organization in Russia or voucher. Since Paul is not a Russian citizen he cannot invite people but he kindly sent us a link to a company that issues invitation letters for 15€ in about 5 minutes. Click here to visit the web of the company.

- Travel Insurance where it is clearly written that the insurance is under your name and also valid in Russia for the period of time that you are traveling. We were lucky because we had one already with a company that was "Russia approved" and we only had to ask for a confirmation letter in the offices. There is a list of authorized companies in every Russian Embassy/ Consulate web site.

Once you have all these papers, you are ready to fill in the

- Online Application form that you will have to print, sign and stick the picture on it.

Some consulates, like the one in Germany, also require you to present some proof that you are not going to stay in Russia forever. In our case we presented:

- A confirmation that we have a working contract in Germany with salary and starting date.We just asked for it in the HR departments of our respective companies.

And, as said, because we are not German citizens we had to present a

- Confirmation that we are registered in a German city. This registration is obligatory in Germany so we only had to make a copy of the paper. 

Once we had all papers, we both had to head personally to the Russian Consulate, paid 35€ per person and got a slip to pick up the visa a week after. We had to leave our passports there so don´t plan anything crazy in between.

A week after, Adam went to pick up the passports and... VoilĂ !! Ready to enter Russia!  :):)

Paul, here we come!!

This is how the Russian Visa looks like. Foto

Attention: The steps described above are what we had to do in order to get the Russian Visa in Germany. Although these are the basic steps, they may vary depending on your citizenship!! Please, check the Russian Embassy websites before starting any process!

February 3, 2014

And... we are back!

With January already behind us, we are starting to plan trips for this year. Really? Where are you going? When? How? For how long? Will you visit us? Well, well, my impatient readers... why don´t we just start from the beginning? ;)

Although we will be also traveling to some of our favorite destinations, our main goal for this 2014 is to travel to the European countries where none of us have been yet. Of course, the number is bigger in my case than in Adam´s but I think we will manage. Until now, we have already two winners, four candidates and some other "always go back" destinations.

Do you want to know? Then... Guess it!! :)

In May we will be here:

Found the picture here
And maybe also here:

Found the picture here
In June we will be visiting our friend Paul here:

Found the picture here
And we will visit Adam´s favorite country:

Found the picture here
In July we would love to visit:

Found the picture here
And we will be going somewhere that I cannot tell you because it would spoil a surprise ;)

In September we would like to go here:

Or here:

And of course, we will keep on visiting our families here:

And here:


So, how was it? Could you guess the cities and countries without clicking on the Link below the pic? Let us know in the comments!

October 21, 2013

Day 23: And that’s all folks... for now

Landing in London Heathrow is not so exciting any more when you know that some hours later you will be taking another flight that will bring you back to reality. My mood was getting worse and worse every hour, Adam started thinking about his job again and suddenly we were at home, unpacking and getting ready to continue with our life.


It has been an incredible trip. A trip full of new countries, new cities, new people, new cultures, new flavors, new smells and, above all, new experiences that we´ve loved to share with you all.

Thanks to Tony and Stef for hosting us in Chicago, to Aida and Will for letting us sleep in their guestroom in Los Angeles, to Karen and her son to be patient with our comings and goings to and from Hong Kong and to Huang and Noah for sharing their flat with us in Singapore. Also a big thank you to Kim for spoiling us in Las Vegas, to Kahlier, Frank and Mike for the fun in Los Angeles and thank you Ankitt, Arendt, Mable and Karyn for spending some time with us after work in Singapore. We hope to see you again guys!

We also would like to thank our families and friends for being there all the time and, especially, we would like to thank Mireia and Robin for kind of postponing their wedding so that we could be there.

And well, thank you Adam for being there no matter what. It´s been a pleasure and I hope we can continue for a long, long time this never ending adventure that we started together some time ago.

October 17, 2013

Day 22: The Big Buddha and Tai O in Lantau Island

On our last day in Hong Kong, and also the last day of our trip, we stayed where we had been sleeping the last three days, Lantau Island. Following some of Karen´s recommendations, we made ourselves on the way to see the Big Buddha in the Po Lin Monastery on the Ngong Ping highland. We decided to go by bus and, once there, we bought a combined ticket to enter the complex which included the bronze Tian Tan Buddha, the Temple, which was under construction, and a little “snack”. 300 steps and a “No meat and no alcohol” warning were between us and the more than 25m high Buddha.


If you get to visit the Po Lin Monastery come with an empty stomach. Remember the “snack” included in the ticket? It happened to be a full meal with drinks and some sticky "mooncakes" made from lotus seed paste as a desert. It was like having and very sweet gum inside your mouth that you could hardly swallow without lots of water.


After the early lunch, and because we missed our bus, we shared a taxi with three other people to get to Tai O. This fishing town is famous for its stilt houses, houses raised over piles on the water surface, the dolphin watching tours and the dry fish you can buy on the street market. It is also called the Venice of Hong Kong... hmmm, really? Instead of taking the dolphin tour, we walked around the town for more than an hour and bought some dried shrimps that I didn’t dare to try after the not so hygienic conditions I had seen.


When we were back at Karen's place, we packed our stuff and headed with her to the Tung Chung station. There, we spent some time in the Outlet inside the station, we said goodbye to Karen, bought a ticket to the airport and got ready to take our fourth and last Intercontinental flight back to Europe. Bye bye Hong Kong! Thank you Karen!

October 7, 2013

Day 21: The Central-Mid-Levels escalators and the light show of Hong Kong

On our second day in the city we took the Central-Mid-Levels escalators, the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. It is about 800m long, with some landings in between, and it elevates more than 135m. The escalators start in Central Hong Kong and end at the Western districts. On the way, there are lots of restaurant offering cuisine from all over the world. We even saw one of them advertising San Miguel beer, whose name originates from Barcelona's San Miguel brewery and happens to be one of the most popular beers in Hong Kong and the Philippines.


The Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Gardens are worth a visit. Located on Diamond Hill, the Buddhist temple and the gardens are open to the public at no charge.  When we got there we left all the stress, the people and the noises of Hong Kong behind and enjoyed a moment of peace and silence for ourselves. We couldn't believe we were still in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.


Since Hong Kong is one of the countries with super low taxes, we decided to go and check the shops of the Kowloon neighborhood and, of course, to visit the streets full of placards advertising whatever you can imagine around the Mong Kok metro station. We also saw some strange “Sauna clubs”… well, judge yourself when watching the pictures ;).


Before heading home to spend a little bit of time with Karen, we went back to the Harbor to see the Light show with the Skyline. Well, sincerely, the commercial center next to my parents´ flat in Barcelona has a better show at night. We could hardly hear the Chinese-style music they were playing and only one laser was visible every now and then in between the buildings. We were wondering all the time if the show was what we were seeing or if it had delay or had been cancelled. It had nothing to do with the one in Singapore or any other light show that I had seen before. It is definitely not worth to go on purpose to see it. (Adam: ok, ok, we are a bit strict here. If you happen to be at the right spot, the show is quite enjoyable... for one minute. See it on youtube.)


Nice show, don’t you think? :P

October 1, 2013

Day 20: The markets and the Skyline of Hong Kong

We were back in Hong Kong and this time we had more days to actually see it. We bought an Octopus card, a rechargeable card valid for any kind of public transport inside the city, and were ready to go. The sun was shining bright and the Dragon Race Festival preparations were taking place so, we decided to go to the Harbor, walk along the Avenue of Stars (local version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame) and admire the Skyline during the day. In fact the Avenue of Stars has hand-prints of around 100 stars, most of them fairly unknown to Western civilization. The exceptions: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li can be recognized by far having all the foreigner tourists around them.


After meeting the stars, we decided to discover more of Hong Kong mainland and check some of the thematic markets of Mong Kok. There is a market for anything you can imagine. The most interesting market I have ever seen can also be found here: the Goldfish market. Here you can find fishes, turtles, shrimps and all kinds of creatures pre-packaged for easy take away. In one of the food markets we tried Mangosteen, a sweet and juicy fruit that had been recommended to us in Singapore. Definitely yummie!


At dusk, the bus 15C took us to the highest mountain on the Hong Kong Island called Victoria Peak, or simply The Peak. We wanted to see the sunset and take some pictures of the Skyline at night from the top.  The "Sky Terrace 428" standing at 428 meters above sea level offering a 360° panoramic view is more or less a tourist trap. Not really worth to pay the entrance because the views from the outside area are as good as the ones from the terrace. We were staying a good hour gazing at the neon lights of the skyscrapers, waiting for the famous light show, but it didn't want to happen. We concluded it was not visible from there, so we would give it a try next day from the harbour. This should have been the first worrying sign regarding the light show...