When we first decided to go to Africa, our travel agent told us to apply for the French visa immediately. We sent everything in and got it all right back with a note saying we should apply within 90 days of our intended arrival in France. Trouble was, we weren't sure when we would arrive in France. We'd be traveling for months before then and would need our passports in hand. What a bother!
Just before we left Alaska, we resubmitted our applications, to be mailed to us in care of Dennis' parents in Minnesota.
Dennis called his mom in late July. "Your passports are here," she said.
"Are the visas stamped in them?" he asked.
"I don't think so. There's a paper here that says you need to send your money, photos, and visa application forms."
We'd sent them. What was going on?
I tried to call the consulate in San Francisco. I got through to the receptionist, but the telephone extensions didn't work. They'd ring and ring—no answer. The receptionist said there was nothing she could do.
I called the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. They gave me the phone number for the consulate in San Francisco.
It was hopeless. Somewhat fortunately, we eventually received some mail forwarded from our Alaska address. Inside were our applications, photos, money order, and a note saying we had neglected to include our passports! It was too close to our departure date to try again, so we decided to apply for the visas in Europe.
In Amsterdam, we asked a woman at the Anne Frank Museum for help looking up the French consulate in the phone book.
"It is closed for the day," she said. "For visas, it is best to go to the Hague. Here is that address."
We were planning to go to the Hague anyway after visiting Rotterdam. (The photo is of the Hague.)
At the Hague, traffic was terrible! We looked and looked for parking and finally found a place for one hour on a meter. It took over half an hour to find the right address. When we explained what we wanted, we were told. "Sorry, this is the embassy. For visas, you must go to a consulate. Here are the addresses in Amsterdam and Rotterdam."
My desire to visit France was waning fast.
Five months after our initial applications, we were finally issued French visas, valid for three years, in Hamburg, Germany. It only took a few hours and was no trouble at all!
Go on to The Car
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