If you remember, we found out last Wednesday that there were no trains running between SPB and Helsinki on the 23rd (as it turns out, there won't be any service on that route for all Tuesdays until the end of the year). On Thursday, I returned to the travel agency to bring in our proof of travel insurance and new visa applications (because we're staying one day longer, we need visas that reflect that). At that point she hadn't received confirmation from the hotel regarding an extra night, so we still had no visa support (in order to get a visa, you need support - usually a hotel stating they have reservations made for you).
On Friday . . . still no news.
Monday . . . still nothing, so I called the travel agent. She had heard from the hotel that they didn't have the same kind of room we had booked for the third night, so we could downgrade for all 3 nights or change rooms after 2 nights.
Today we got an email that the hotel has confirmed our 3 nights, in the class of our choice (yipee) so we have our visa support. Our applications (and passports) will go to the embassy tomorrow and will be ready for us to pick up next Thursday.
Now we have to make a decision about train travel. We can choose the cheaper option: board the train at 2am and change trains twice in Finland or the more expensive: board at midnight and change once (Helsinki). I suppose we could also consider another option - taking the train earlier on the 22nd and sleeping in Helsinki, but it's already the worst time of the year for Stefan to be away from work and he could probably use that extra 12 hours here. The thing is, we'll be going straight from the train station to the children's home on the 23rd, so we'll want to be rested, right? I'll keep you updated. (Footnote: we are to be on a specific train from Helsinki to SPB, it's the connections we can decide about ourselves).
In related news, we found out that a family that is travelling on the same train as us from Helsinki to SPB has the exact same schedule as us. They have their doctors' appointments at the same time, court the same afternoon. We are even adopting from the same home. How cool is that? They live about 50km from here, so I think that will be great for Sofia to have someone she knows relatively close (unless it's her worst enemy . . . )
The outskirts of St. Pete
Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.