Planning a European adventure

Posted by Kirsten Smart on 1 July 2011

As I write this, there are 30 hours and 36 minutes until my husband and I board the plane to Paris, the first port of call in our forty-two day tour winding through the south of France, up to Switzerland and down again to Italy. We have been dreaming of this trip for two years; the mere thought of Eurotrip 2011 (French wine, Swiss chocolate, Italian pasta and sunshine) has helped us keep on keeping on during exam times and has been the proverbial carrot whilst wading through the final ‘final’ drafts of our theses. Heck, we even came up with the celebratory EuroDance (think: chicken dance and macarena have offspring. At a rave. In the 80s.

And now here we are; on the cusp of the adventure we’ve been clinging to like two shipwrecked sods on a lilo. We’ve organised the accommodation (all twenty-four B&Bs and hotels), booked and paid for a car (a two-seater convertible Renault with a pitiful amount of boot space; no doubt my husband’s way of insuring I don’t go overboard on the shopping … ha) and dug out my old high school French-English dictionary.

We also finally got around to getting our Schengen visa on Monday which, as it turns out, is pretty vital for ensuring said Eurotrip actually transpires. It’s not so easy or cheap to acquire, so I’ll give you a list of everything you’ll need for a Schengen visa at the end of this entry, as the mes dames at the consulates can be somewhat short of temper (downright Les Miserables, really) if you don’t have everything in order beforehand, and your visa can all too-easily be declined if you’ve omitted some seemingly trivial information.

Another handy tip from me to you: pack like a man. I like to think I stick to the ‘keep it simple’ rule, but what I always end up with is a hippopotamus of a bag filled with impractical dresses and linen jackets. My husband, on the other hand, has just chucked two t-shirts, a pair of socks and a change of underwear into an overnight bag and declared that he’s ready. I’m determined to do the same, so I keep repacking my bag every day, omitting the more unnecessary items. But I maintain I really, really do need to take that long, white, satin poodle skirt …

So now we wait with mounting excitement, charging and re-charging our cameras and Ipods, listening to Pink Floyd CDs (we’ll be attending their concert in Paris next week!) and occasionally breaking into the EuroDance when counting down the hours. Eurotrip 2011 is almost here! It’s so close I can already taste it … and it tastes like well-deserved carrots.

Visa Requirements for a (French) Schengen visa

1) One recent identity colour photograph

2) A detailed itinerary of your stay in France and other Schengen States

3) A Return ticket to South Africa (original and photocopy)

4) Proof of accommodation

5) Proof of sufficient funds (original and photocopy). The amount required is €55 per day if you are staying at hotels and €30 per day if you are staying with friends or family who live there.

6) Medical insurance (original and photocopy)

7) Proof of your professional or social status

8) The visa application fee ( €60 or about R600) in cash

9) The completed visa application forms (available from the consulate’s website)

10) Patience (it can take literally all day. We waited for around two hours on the pavement outside the consulate as they have limited seating inside)

11) A smile (be friendly, even if you had to sit outside in the rain and now have tar stuck to the back of your favourite jeans. These staff will either help or hinder so it pays to be nice)

*An appointment must be made in order to hand in your application material. We had to wait three weeks for an appointment, so be sure to do this way ahead of time (call the call centre to make an appointment).

**The visa generally takes three to five working days to be approved.

Contact

French Consulate of Cape Town

78 Queen Victoria Street

Tel 021-423-15 75

Visiting hours: Monday-Friday 9am – 12pm

Call centre 086-7444-003

Call centre hours : Monday-Thursday 9 am – 4 pm, Friday 9am – 12 pm

Email [email protected]


 






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