The Broadway of Russia: Watching Ballet shows in St. Petersburg (Mariinsky Theatre)

      Im going to start writing a little bit more again on this Blog, as I’ve been Vlogging quite more than the usual but theres really something about writing that makes a memory and a place more beautiful. I went to St. Petersburg, Russia last June for my ballet teacher conference and now I cannot think of a place more fitting to watch ballets.

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My Favourite Vladimir Shklyarov and his wife, danced my favourite Romeo and Juliet

From my years of watching ballets in Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and in Manila. I feel as though going to Russia just to watch ballets is one of best ways to experience a beautiful ballet, Watching ballet shows in Japan coming next to it. The crowd was so unlike Japan, they were so rowdy when clapping and screaming “Bravo” but they were so appreciative of the art, and at first it surprised me. Having watched most of my ballets in Japan, where everyone claps together and no one dare makes a sound or a cough. In Russia is the complete opposite, they are quiet maybe while the show is going but in between everyone is quite rowdy clapping.

I soon learned to appreciate their ways too and the way their audiences would clap for their favourite dancers. They would also leave flowers to their favourite dancers backstage, and I really loved that they would give plenty of flowers to their favourite dancers. Every show was full and every crowd had a different air. I loved the architecture of the place and the ambiance. When I first entered the Mariinsky, I almost wanted to cry because the place I had been dreaming about for so long was finally here right in front of me. I had tears in my eyes and my heart I knew by then felt a sense of relief and happiness.

Now after my trip even, I feel a sense of nostalgia each time I go into a ballet theatre. I always get flashbacks of my moments and the shows I watched at Mariinsky. I watched a total of 6 different ballets, and initially I had only bought 3 ballet tickets. At the end of my stay, I decided that it was so much more worth it than watching ballets that cost the same back home but with poorer quality.

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With my new and beautiful friends Marianne and Liezl. 

TIPS WHEN WATCHING SHOWS:
1. Buy the tickets online, purchasing them online is much cheaper than purchasing them at the theatre. I was able to get each ticket for about 60-100usd. If you are a student such as myself you can get the ticket on the special rate.

2. There is no need to dress up but it would be nice to look nice as there are some people who are really into dressing up for the ballet.

3. Enjoy and take in everything slowly. It hit me all at once and too quickly, and I cannot wait to return again for my next years of conferences. This time ill be ready to watch more ballet shows.

All the best and Much love.
From Russia with Love,

Lina

Getting a tourist visa to Russia, in Manila

Surprise surprise! Im going to Russia! I recently got accepted to the training program at the Vaganova ballet academy in June. This is probably one of the only visas ill ever need, being a Japanese. I have a lot of respect for those who have to go through this VISA trouble, just to get to a country you want to visit. Most especially for those who need a visa for a lot of countries.

I had quite an experience, in getting a Russian tourist visa that I just had to write about it. The first thing I did was to call the Russian embassy, the problem was, the persons on the phone were Russians who could not speak good english, it was quite a confusing call. We ended up saying pardon me? And can you repeat? Over and over again. After this, I contemplated on getting my visa to get done by an agent. I lived in Quezon City, and with Manila traffic, going to Makati would be a huge hassle. But with the blogs I read, assured that I could do it myself so i did, and I also wanted to try to do it, for the experience.

So i went on a Tuesday, and i found out that the embassy in McKinley is not where you apply for a VISA. VISA’s are processed in the RCI building at RADA ST. in Makati. So that was my first mistake, my second mistake was that i looked up online and it said it was only open TTH but apparently upon getting to the embassy they were only open MWF. So i wasted 4 hours in traffic from QC-MAKATI and that happened to me the same week I went on Wednesday, just to find out that it was a RUSSIAN HOLIDAY. So make sure before coming here, you come on a MONDAY, WEDNESDAY or FRIDAY, come early and you should check if it is or not a Russian holiday.

REQUIREMENTS:
You will not be able to apply for a visa without the following requirements:
1. ELECTRONIC VISA APPLICATION FORM which is processed on their website: http://visa.kdmi.ru
2. ID photo (photo for the VISA) photo has to have plain white background and natural face with no hair around your face (You will have to stick this on the electronic visa application form which you will have to print out on an A4 paper)
3. Ticket to Russia
4. Hotel, Accommodation and Itinerary
5. VISA SUPPORT, VOUCHER or Invitation to stay in Russia ( this is the most important, I got mine from http://hotels-pro.ru/order/hotelspro, some hotels also send out these invitations for you with an extra charge. The price should be around $30usd extra and nothing more.
6. Passport

TIPS ON YOUR APPLICATION DAY: 
1. Make sure you come early so that you can get your name NOTED DOWN in line. I was here at 8am but i was already 20th in line. Im not one who likes to wait especially since I woke up at 6am to drive here.

2. These are the actual OPENING HOURS:
Monday-Wed-Friday
9:30-1:00pm
(Not open on Russian holidays, so you should check for holidays) ** double check this before coming to the embassy 

So i waited a good hour for the consul to arrive, he forgot that he had to be at the office. So one of the travel agents decided to just pick him up. The process itself was very smooth, I waited for 6 hours from 8am before I got called around 2pm, and he just asked a few questions and then asked me to pay at UCPB which is around a 5 minute walk from the building.  Afterwards you just come back to the embassy to give him the paper, and voila! You can get your visa either rush or not. I think prices vary depending on the kind of visa you get, but for my 30 day single entry visa I paid Php 1800.

I noticed some individuals were asked for supporting documents, but maybe that was because they weren’t applying for a tourist visa such as myself.

All in all, for my first time, It was really a funny experience to get this VISA. I just decided to write about it since there aren’t a lot of blogs about it, maybe because its rare for someone to be wanting to go to Russia. But I am quite excited for this new experience, hoping this could help someone who wants to go to Russia, from Manila too!