This trip has been a long time coming and actually been very stressful to put together. I will explain as much of the backstory as I know, and hopefully it won't bore you too much :)
First off, my dad is originally from Russia. He immigrated to the United States when he was 15 and he hasn't been back. My brother wrote a screenplay and filmed several scenes about the move, and maybe he will let me put some of it up on the web (I will ask him) because it's really well done.
So I have always been interested in Russia because I would like to see where my dad grew up. I studied Russian for the past couple of years in college, but by no means am I fluent (far from it), and I enjoy Russian food.
This trip started because my brother, who is a theatre major at Butler University, is studying theatre with several of his classmates and his director, who is Russian, in Moscow for about a month. He has been there since the beginning of June. Dad thought that now would be as good a time as any to see some of the country (we are going to Moscow and St Petersburg). So we bought our tickets after a lot of research, and applied for our visas.
Here's where it got stressful (actually, it was stressful already: the theater director lady was awful about telling us anything about the trip). We worked with the same travel agent as the other students and the director did for our visas. This was a bad idea. Up until about 4 hours ago, I didn't have my passport back. Do you realize how stressful that is? I am supposed to get on a plane at 2 o'clock tomorrow and I don't have my passport.
Luckily, it arrived safe and sound at about 1.40pm PST. Also luckily, I only had to work 4 hours today to fill out my 40-hr week, so I left work at 11 (yeah, I get to work by 7am), literally raced home (I got home in 19 minutes when it usually takes me 24), and physically sat on our front steps waiting for the FedEx guy. If I missed him, I was screwed, because they can't deliver inside our building, and I would have to wait until tomorrow to try to pick it up from wherever it is. But after only having to sit out there for 2 1/2 hours, most of the time during which I was talking to my mom on the phone, the FedEx guy came and I was so happy I almost cried. My dad also got his passport today, so we are all set to go.
I am traveling very light. I'm only taking a carry on with the most essential items: some clothes, my toiletries, my smaller camera and batteries, my mp3 player, my journal, and some snacks. That's it. I am not taking my computer or my nice camera, which most of my friends will probably be shocked when they hear about it. But my dad is bringing his computer, and the nice camera will just be a hassle to carry around and make sure it doesn't get stolen.
Hopefully I can find some Internet to hop on during the trip. I will for sure be taking lots of pictures and keeping my paper journal, so I may end up transferring a lot of what I write in that over to the Internet when I get back. We'll see how it goes!
Here's to a great trip! Moscow & St Petersburg, I can't wait to meet you!