First, yesterday (Monday) we were warned that was going to be a LONG day with lots of running around - collecting paperwork, signing paperwork, dropping off paperwork...supposedly could take up to 8 hours to complete. But our wonderfully efficient in country coordinator had it done in less than 2 hours (despite Russia's propensity for working on road construction out of the blue)! We picked up the official court decision, the 10 day waiting period for any objections has passed, and it is OFFICIAL (again).
Next up a drive to Deeana's birthplace to pick up copies of her birth certificate and adoption certificate, including signing the official registrar's book declaring ourselves the adopted parents of Deeana! And finally driving to the orphanage to drop off copies of paperwork, but it was naptime so no playtime with Deeana. The orphanage knows what is best to right now - to limit the amount of time with Deeana, to reduce stress, take complete medical and dietary care of Deena to ensure she is healthy for the long trips she is about to embark on with us.
This gave us time to go shopping with our driver to a new grocery store. When a new grocery store opens they always have the cheapest prices. So we bought gifts for the caregivers, doctor, and speech therapist at the orphanage. Everyone will receive coffee (instant of course), tea, and some chocolate candy. The doctor and speech therapist will receive a bottle of wine. And the orphanage director loves flowers, so we will pick her up a nice bouquet of flowers the morning we return to pick up Deeana.
As a quick aside, speaking of flowers, Russians love their flowers. A day doesn't go by that we don't see a guy carrying a rose or two to give to his girlfriend or wife at the Metro stop or just walking down the sidewalks. Funny story from our driver, he has seen on a few occasions, guys park illegally to run in to buy flowers only to have the police quickly have their cars towed...oops...then you either spend 2 to 3 hours getting your car back or grab a taxi to meet up with your loved one.
The best part of the quickness of the day meant Mel and I could talk with Hayden, we were a little fearful we were going to miss talking to him. (HI HAYDEN!) Then we made some meatballs and veggies for dinner that we bought at the grocery store and relaxed watching some shows we brought with us from home.
As the passport office is not open on Tuesday, Mel and I had a free day before another possible long day tomorrow. We decided to take a boat tour of the canals that our driver recommended to us and it isn't that expensive. Looking in the Lonely Planet book I found an English speaking tour place. Fortunately, I checked the website on-line and it turns out they moved their location from where the book claimed they were. A quick ride on the Metro and another stop at our favorite street, Nevsky Prospekt and we were on our way.
It appeared to be a long walk, so we stopped for lunch at Sbarro (yes Sbarro, just like in the States), but here you pick up your food and they weigh it to see how much you owe. Plus (no offense to those who love Sbarro's), much better here in Russia. Fortunately, while we were eating there appeared to be a downpour that we missed. That long walk, ended up to be quite a bit shorter than I expected as Mel saw the 4 bronze Horsemen that adorn the bridge where the boat tour is located. We were early enough to take some pics of the amazing architecture and the bridge before purchasing our tickets.
As our tour guide was walking towards us, she informed us we were the only ones on the cruise... Cool! We had the whole boat to ourselves, most cruises like that cost 4 times as much as we paid! The weather had cooled off considerable from the past few days, it was chilly but comfortable, plus we had blankets to drape over our legs. I took as many pictures as I could, and Mel filmed brief videos of various locations.
After the hour-long cruise, we snapped some pics of more architecture and Catherine the Great's statue before heading into Gostiny Dvor for some quick souvenir shopping.
|Us on the boat as we head out to sea. ;)|
|The Peter & Paul Fortress|
|This neat boat is actually a restaurant!|
And now we prepare to head to bed early as we must wake up early to get a ticket to wait in line at the Passport Office (it can take up to 5 hours of waiting in line). Afterwards, we will purchase our train tickets to Moscow, once again with the help of our driver (really, truly a terrific person!).
Michael and Mel