St. Petersburg, Russia
72; (Moscow) time.
A swathe through the tall conifer forest begins to show signs of increasing border disturbance. Fire clearings. New fences. Warning sign posts. Then at the border the fences turn to big wire security fences with rolling barb wire on top.
As my phone switches from Finnish carrier ‘dna’ to Russian carrier ‘MTS’, a station rolls into view. A large austere structure, the Russian flag hangs limp beside it. Further along two guards walk away up a forest lined lane way a large German shepherd at their side. At an overpass I spy a familiar shaped red box-like sedan driving on the road.
At Viborg the Russian border officials board train to ride with us to St Petersburg. My anxiety rose when the luggage official asked me what was in my bag. She prompted me by saying clothes and what else. After a pregnant pause in which I struggled to think what else to mention I blurted out ‘more clothes and oh yes a sleeping bag and some walking boots’. She waved me to stop and moved on down the train checking others. When the austere passport officer came I waited as she perused my documents, half expecting her to ask me something. But no, no questions at all and my passport was stamped. I was in! And I was official!