Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Visas in hand

This morning I had a meeting in DC. Monday I realized, hey, the meeting is in DC. So, this morning I left prepared to pick up our visas just in case the meeting ended early enough for me to swing by the Swiss embassy before they closed their consulate affairs office at noon.

The morning started out well, no traffic on 295 south. As soon as I thought that, wham! Traffic on 295 south. Darn.

Thankfully I had given myself enough time that I arrived to my meeting with time to spare. Meeting went smoothly, covered everything I needed to cover for this project that is going out my last day at work. Ended early too, doesn't usually happen that way. I got lucky.

So I took care of some things at the site and headed out to my car. Plugged the embassy's address into Garmin and headed off to find the embassy.

This is when I started to get a little nervous. Even with Garmin, DC is incredibly difficult to navigate in. At least it is for me. But thankfully, I paid attention to the little pink pathway. Even if the street's name was wrong, that pink line was always correct. It took me past the World War II Memorial (lots of students), the Washington Monument (still tall and pointy), up 17th Street to Connecticut Ave (busy, busy), and past the DC Hilton (where Reagan was shot). Thank god for that pink line. And that white arrow. Also helpful.

After a couple of more turns off of Connecticut, I found myself at the embassy.

Nice building, expected a bigger sign though. However, I like the sculpture in the courtyard.

Off to the right was an interesting building.

I did some research after I got home tonight. Turns out the building is the Swiss ambassador's residence. Here's a better picture:

That white tree sculpture reminds me of the White Tree of Gondor. Yes, my husband made me watch the Lord of the Rings. And I enjoyed it. Anyway....

As I gathered all of our paperwork, I decided against bringing the camera into the embassy. Last thing I need to do is piss off the Swiss before I enter their country.

So I made sure, again, that I had all of the paperwork I had been told to bring. According to my checklist, I was good. So I grabbed the bag and headed inside.

Once inside, I told the receptionist that I was there for visas. She asked if I had all of my paperwork. I proudly showed her the stack of stuff I had brought with me. But wouldn't you know, I got it wrong. Passport photos had to be attached to the visa applications. Strike one. So she gave me a glue stick and I fumbled around with all of my paperwork to glue the passport photos to each of our applications. After the glue work had been completed, I handed everything to her. She took it, then asked for the visa fee. And, with pride that I was prepared again, handed over cash to cover it all. With that, I was sent to the waiting chairs.

I settled into my chair to wait. Because that's what you do in government agencies, right? Lots of waiting.

A couple of minutes had gone by when the receptionist came back and asked if I had made copies of our passports for their records. Uh, nope. I hadn't, not on my list. Shoot, strike two. The receptionist turned around and said something in a foreign language. And all I could think was "Crap! I pissed off the Swiss!"

After about 15 more minutes, I was pulled into a side room and given our visas. Wow, fast! And a fairly smooth process, except for my two strikes.

And that was that. I walked out with all three visas. Which, by the way, are also very pretty.


Susan said...

I'm getting so excited for you!!!

Jessica Cartwright said...

I love all the photos in this post... and I love the Swiss Ambassador's residence. How unique.

You're on your way now... I can feel it. Susan is right, how exciting.

Make sure they stamp those babies on the way in... not crucial but I have read that it is important, so make sure you show those at passport control at least and see if they stamp them...

mrsmac said...

susan- thanks! the excitement is there, somewhere below all of the stress :-)

jessica- great advice, thanks! question: most customs places i have seen have two lines- one for residents, one for non-residents. which one do we go through? i mean, we aren't residents officially yet because we haven't registered there, but we have the visas... and i'll be sure we get stamps!