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Home Free...Almost

Our journey across the border from Russia to Helsinki came without any issue. Not one question. Not one query. Even with a joke and a smile.

And while I can confirm now, after going through many MANY customs and immigrations around the world, so far the U.S. and Canada are the most strict, this fact did nothing to alleviate feeling of doom that lingered leading up to the days before we left Russia.

As I've mentioned before, the visa process in Russia is confusing and mostly filled with convoluted information. I'll get into it another time but let me just say, that we were not filled with any sense of confidence that we wouldn't have a problem at the border.

Our last few days in St. Petersburg were spent wandering around to beautiful museums and lovely cafes. We enjoyed recovering from the most wonderful New Year's Eve and popped in and out of our favorite pubs and restaurants.

And as hard as we tried, there was always in the little gremlin in the back of our minds, worrying about the journey across the border. We talked about it with each other, realised that rationally speaking, we should not have any problems.

So, the gremlins took a few thoughts but rationality won out in the end as we sailed through the border in our normal seat carriage, with a tour group from Australia.

Helsinki, I'm sure, is a beautiful city. The children who were skating near the train station looked as though they were having a good time. But I saw mostly the inside of a nice hotel room, with a sauna and fancy restaurant.

And then it was an early flight back to London.

And it was all in English. The announcements. The food. The instructions. The signs. There was no more finger talking with the lady selling the train tickets or pointing to the menu in a foreign language.

It was now, 'can I please have a jacket potatoe with tuna and cheese and if you could please put the cheese on the bottom and the tuna on the top that would be wonderful thank you.'

Or 'what is the fastest way to get to this destination on the tube map because I see there are works going on here causing delays and just wondered if this was the best way to still go?'

It was things that I never thought I would find myself getting giddy over. I think I randomly spoke to about 10 people before we even arrived at our friend's flat where we were staying.

So it feels like we're there. Done. Finished.

There is still, however, one more leap home. And if the last week is any indication, it will take about 8.9 seconds to feel as though we've never left.

Like we've gone to the moon and returned after 18 months, because nothing will have changed but the place that we've come from seems so far away and distant that it must have been somewhere like the moon.

Well, except for those little ones who have grown or arrived. I suppose they'll show me just how much things have changed.

Looking forward to it.

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