The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Mar 31, 2008

Schengen Expansive

Clearly I have not been paying attention. Despite constantly bemoaning the fact that the boy and the wife can hop onto the next available flight to anywhere in Europea and not worry about visas, while I have to queue up at unearthly hours at sundry consulates, this piece of news escaped me totally. From 27 December 2007, nine countries of the old communist block are part of the Schengen agreement, and a visa from any of the Schengen states now allows free entry into these as well.

So now we can plot our trips to (in base 2)
Saaremaa, and
Hradec Králové,
which are famous, respectively, for
0. Catherine the Great (born here),
1. The Venetian House (built by a merchant for his mistress, and containing an inscription between the upper windows Lassa pur dir,or let them talk),
10. Sorting out chronic inflammatory gynaecological patients,
11. Cigánska pečienka (a pork roast in a roll),
100. Constant flooding during heavy rains (and the town council plans to demolish buildings that stop the overflow from merging with a local river. Weird? I think so.),
101. A lake within a lake,
110. The cocktail Lady of Jurmala (Grenadine syrup, vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice),
111. Meteorite craters, and
1000. Petrof pianos.


Shefaly said...

Feanor: You really have not been paying attention. ;-) Many of the 'first circle' Schengen countries now operate a racket, oops, a 090- phone line where you can book your appointment. No more queuing at unearthly hours, nor the fear of being elbowed from no 7 to no 47 (if lucky, else being elbowed out of existence from that day's queues, by those who have no regard for the great British tradition of queuing - why would they? They are immigrants, not natives!).

After Prague, that smells like a giant ashtray and where the hotel constantly warns you that fraudsters pose as police and ask for ID papers (someone forgot to tell them that the communist daya are over), I cannot muster enough courage to go to these new-fangled EU members. Hilton even has a nice side line in taxis, giving a new meaning to 'Take Me To The Hilton'. After a fancy dinner at the Pravda (I kid you not!), you ask the restaurant to telephone your Hilton and they send a Hilton car so that you won't be mugged by any other person. Why go far when the hotel will do it for you, haain bhai? They even had a Govinda vegetarian restaurant! Old Town is beautiful though all sculptures on Charles Bridge are fakes. The town is lovely to walk in, but you may need a gas mask given the amount of tobacco smoke, at least for the kid. The city is punctuated with modern and post-modern sculptures. The food is made nicer by the nice people, who serve it, I must say. When I was there, I watched the Ashes in the bar - need I say more about the popularity of the city with people from the island? And German will get you through, though you speak Russian, don't you?

By the way, is anyone left in Poland or are they all already here and in Edinburgh? ;-) Just wondering..

Fëanor said...

Shefaly: hmm, so you didn't like Prague all that much, eh? Why do you think I chose all those other weird-ass places to go to instead? :-) Nina's parents had their pockets picked in Prague, so they weren't too pleased with their trip either. But when I went 11 years ago, it was awesome. Flirted with a lovely Czech violinist, discussed life with a Pakistani boy who worked at a local convenience store. He was so pleased to have someone to speak Urdu with that he began to ignore the customers, much to the discomfiture of the owner. I tried Russian on some people who flinched as though scalded, so I stuck to English after that.

Actually, there's a bit of sunshine in the 0900 racket. As Nina's a Brit, I can get a visa for free anywhere Schengen; at the Austrian consulate, I can even get it without an appointment. And the French were kind enough to give me a year-long visa, so I needn't go to the consulates too often.

Of course, none of this is a problem for you, no?

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