Our visa-free year of travel: The background

Note for our dear readers: This post is a rant & provides background for why we decided to travel visa-free for a year and a half. We’re going to provide our best pictures from our last visa based trip (across France & Switzerland) as an incentive for reading 🙂 Also, what’s a blog without a few rants?

The ordeal

We hold Indian passports and are currently resident in the UK. As is quite well known in the travelling community, not being born in a first-world country is a huge impediment to travelling and seeing this beautiful world. One look at travel blogger demographics should reflect the privilege held by first-world passport holders. But we bite the bullet and try to get visas for the countries we want to visit.

The picture above of the Notre Dame came with a cost. Though we live in jumping distance from mainland Europe and the Schengen area, we have to get a visa every damn time to visit. But for this trip in particular, we had to get a visa from the French consulate in Edinburgh & the officer there was downright rude, pretentious and a jerk of the highest order. We went into the appointment taking in all the documents we thought we needed (having already obtained a Schengen visa from the German consulate in the past, we were confident).

  • To and fro flight tickets
  • All nights of accomodation pre-booked on AirBnb (this is especially stupid)
  • 3 months of payslips and bank statements (stamped & signed)
  • Letters proving employment
  • Health insurance cover policy documents
  • Train tickets within the Schengen area
  • Photographs

We were sent back twice, the first time for nitpickery and the second time because the hour long regional train from Lyon to Geneva did not have our names on the ticket. We pleaded that SNCF (French rail company) does not take reservations for regional trains AND we had reservations for the 3.5 hour journey from Rennes to Lyon. All we got was “How do we know its you who are going to Switzerland?”. We just stood there with our Swiss AirBnb bookings & return flights from Geneva going “WTF just happened”.

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The normal route which we can’t take

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Must take the longer route via Paris because ???

Third time was the charm indeed after making brand new bookings on 2 TGV trains via the much longer Paris route (not complaining, we love Paris). But we lost money on the non-refundable train to Lyon.

The funny side

Dalek’s mother aka The Mothership got her visa stamped from the French Consulate in India with the very first set of documents we had taken to the Edinburgh French Consulate meaning our first set of documents is acceptable for a visa (including the train tickets). :-/

The most cruel joke was that we had applied for a multiple entry visa as we had a few months left in our annual health insurance (Germany had given us a 45 day multiple entry visa). The French embassy obliged and gave us a multiple entry visa – for the period of 10 days. That was the length of the trip to begin with. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ But I hope they had a big laugh at our expense, because this visa hurt.

The outcome

The trip itself was fabulous and we’re sharing some pictures below along with our related blogposts. But the mental & needless financial cost was high enough to decide not to travel to a country that required visa applications for a year atleast.

Paris blogpost  |  Zermatt blogpost  |  Lake Geneva blogpost

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Paris from the Eiffel Tower

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Palace of Versailles

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Rose granite beach in Brittany

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Trestrignel Beach, Brittany

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Lake Geneva from Montreux

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Gornergrat observation station

Epilogue

We highly recommend visiting Brittany in France & Saas valley in Switzerland if you can (we are yet to document them on our blog). These were offbeat destinations for us and were just the best parts.

We are currently on track to apply for another Schengen visa after a gap of 1.5 years and we hope the Danish consulate employees are extra nice and give us a 30+ day visa 🙂

© 2016 Beyond Our Horizons

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