After crossing borders on trains, planes and boats we decided to round it off on a bus. We booked a 6 hour mini bus ride to take us from St. Petersburg to Helsinki. As we climbed aboard we were greeted by 6 rows of couples. We walked to the back and each row in turn chirped “Good morning! How are you?” As we sat down in the back of the bus we looked forward to meet 12 sets of staring eyes and smiling faces. “Where do you come from?” the obvious leader inquired. We replied and, before we could ask in return, 12 voices responded collectively, “We are from Holland!” They all broke into a synchronized laugh and I tried to block out similarities of their voices to “Gold Member” from Austin Powers. The group talked non-stop and made the journey zip by as they quizzed us on our trip and simultaneously recommended places not to be missed.
I was a bit nervous coming into the Russian border crossing. Russian visas supposedly require registration when you enter the country for more than one week. We were coming up on our third week. I thought that the rule read you must register if you stay in one Russian city longer than a week. Every place we stayed or person we asked gave a different response on the rule. Of course we heard horror stories of people being detained or fined exorbitant sums for not registering.
Being a tight ass I did not want to pay the $50 to get registered. I talked Nug out of it several times. As we waited in line Nug reminded me yet again, “I’m going to be pissed if we were supposed to register!” “We will be fine,” I said trying to assure myself instead of as a response to Nug. As the border guard waved me up I couldn’t decide what scared me most…being detained, a fine or Nug’s fury. I wondered what Nug would do to me as the guard reviewed my passport. Several excruciating minutes later my passport was handed back and I continued through the border. Later that night as we watched an epic sunset rainbow at the Helsinki port I confidently scoffed at Nug, “I told you we didn’t need to register.”