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Published: July 24th 2016
We slept well which was good as we both knew the challenges ahead today could well make us exhausted again by the end of the day.
We had over 500km to drive to our next destination in Holland and although that would get us closer to Paris we weren’t sure what time we could get on the road if there were more things to attend to while we had the internet in the apartment at the hotel. Our checkout time could extend to 11am if we needed to.
We readied ourselves for departure by having breakfast and being packed up and ready.
First though we needed to hear from The Hague as to whether they were going to ‘disown ‘me for running the border without documentation or what their suggested next steps for us should be.
The phone call came and as I expected the woman from the Embassy told me off in a nice way but added that they had to advise people of the correct thing to do in these circumstances.
She still wasn’t keen on me crossing any further borders and had started to talk about going to Berlin now that we were
in Germany so we didn’t need to cross any more borders.
But she explained the British embassy in Copenhagen could not have helped a Kiwi out with a Commonwealth Emergency Travel Document and anyway that document or even one produced by the NZ Embassy could be a problem even for transiting through Dubai which was on our way home as there had been reports that the UAE do not recognise that type of document.
So the best plan was for a replacement passport to be issued from London and she had already been in touch with them and I should telephone them to get the process started.
We had to wait a little longer to telephone as there is a time difference of one hour to London and although this was taking us closer to a time we needed to vacate the apartment there was nothing we could do.
At 10am (9am London time) I telephoned and was helped immediately by a young woman called Stacey who had it all set to go. She would email the documents to be completed by an email. I would need to print them off and complete by hand, then
scan them and send them back.
Now as independent travellers we do everything for ourselves, no tour director to run after us if we needed something done!
However the BBA V3 did not have in its travelling assets a printer or for that matter a scanner!
Oh well said Stacey check with the reception in the hotel to see if they can help but the documents had to be completed in my handwriting along with my signatures where necessary and then scanned and emailed back to them.
If they had them by midday (London time) or 1pm German time then the passport could well be produced by the end of today and couriered to wherever we wanted to receive at.
We had thought about The Hague embassy which was sort of near where we were staying the night in Holland but then decided on the embassy in Paris as we had two further nights for the replacement passport to arrive in time for us to make the flight to Ireland.
If that was the case said Stacey we would need to check that the NZ Embassy in Paris would accept a courier package for
Foolishly I had thought this would have been a matter of course thinking that the Passport Office and Embassy being Government departments would just link in with each other in situations like this.
Not so and I would need to telephone them and get their OK and remember to let her know when I sent the paperwork back by email.
I telephoned the Paris embassy and they said that they would accept the courier package but just make sure that it was one they would have to sign for.
The email arrived a minute later with attachments of what was basically a passport application and a declaration of loss.
So off down to the reception in the hotel itself.
Now they hadn’t been that friendly when we arrived later than they had expected us last night and there had been a definite no to any late dinner so we were a bit doubtful that they might be easy to persuade to accept the forwarded email from us, print it off, scan the papers and then email it all back to us.
Sure enough this wasn’t going to happen. They had 20 local
children arriving shortly and they were too busy. However we could try AMT Berkenthin just down the road and they may be able to help.
We had no idea who AMT Berkenthin was but we were soon going to find out just wonderfully helpful they were going to be in this testing situation.
There is just one thing worse than having no internet connection when you need one and that is an internet connection that doesn’t work consistently and that was the problem in the apartment which must have been on the outer range of the router.
No one had emailed or telephoned from Loaded for Travel as to what the status of the secondary card really was or as to why we had still not been able to top up the Euros in the account. We resolved to find an ATM once we got the passport renewal underway and get ourselves some cash out of the balance that remained, if the card still worked, while we could. Travelling without cash or access to money is the next worst thing to having your passport stolen.
We never did find out what AMT Berkenthin was as an
organisation in the 3 hours we were about to spend in and around their building but they have the most wonderfully helpful receptionist in their employment.
We left the hotel as the 20 children marched in for whatever the hotel had prepared for them and drove the short distance to AMT.
We explained the situation as briefly as possible and the receptionist agreed to help. We had sort of expected what can sometimes be noticeable in German stand offishness to come into play here but what happened was far from that.
Fran (not her full name) gave us her email address and she suggested we use the internet hotspot from outside the building to forward the email to her and she would print off the attachments for me to complete.
The hotspot worked a treat and we were relieved it was so much more reliable than the hotel connection.
Back inside and we waited for a few minutes for the email to appear on her screen.
Nothing arrived and we started to get concerned that perhaps the AMT firewall might be stopping a ‘foreign ‘looking email from arriving.
We went back to the
hotspot and Gretchen sent it again from her tablet and I checked it had gone from the webmail OK.
Back inside and success it had arrived and Fran had printed it all off for us and we were welcome to use the office to complete the forms and to let her know when they were ready to be scanned and emailed back to us.
Logistically this was all coming together nicely and we could almost feel the replacement passport in our hands even though there were more hurdles to jump yet.
Now we should add at this point that Stacey in the Passports Office had stressed we read the email closely and complete everything so as to allow the process to run smoothly. There were parts that looked like we couldn’t complete such as the witness section because we couldn’t obtain their signature but the section still had to be filled in.
The instructions followed and the pages filled in Fran did the scanning of them and sent the email to us.
Back to the hotspot we waited for it to arrive.
All of this had taken about 45 minutes and it was approaching
midday which at the time was only significant to us because it meant that if we were on the road shortly we would be in Uden, Holland around 5pm.
Gretchen took Fran in one of the NZ biro pens that we have been leaving at the Air BnB places where the hosts had been particularly helpful to us, as an appreciation from us.
The email with the attachments was sent from the hotspot and we waited 10 minutes or so before I telephoned Stacey to ensure the mail had arrived.
We were one hour before the deadline of midday (London time).What could now go wrong with getting the passport to Paris to pick up.
A small problem, Stacey let me know. All of the sections had not been completed and the declaration of loss had not been included in the attachments. She needed all this before the process could start.
Looks like there was nothing for it but to go back to bother Fran in the AMT office as she had not given us the declaration pages from the documents she hopefully had fully scanned.
This would have been an easy process had the
time not passed midday and like many other European organisations they were on a two hour lunch break and the doors were locked and blinds on the glass drawn so even if we could we would not be able to attract anyone’s attention inside.
There was nothing for it but to cool our heals until 2pm until the office reopened.
In the meantime though I needed to think of someone as referee to complete the application form fully as I was supposed to in the first place. A good reminder to read and understand everything and then do it again as well as tick the checklist before you think you have everything done right. This can’t be complacency creeping in again after everything had gone so well with Fran’s help. We needed to pull ourselves together and get it right from here on. We would now be after the target time so whether the passport would make it through the system today was in doubt.
Our very good friends back in Tauranga, New Zealand would be able to help out with being the witness for the application. Both Ruth and Owen have passports which is the key element to this part of the application.
It was after 10pm in New Zealand would they still be up or would we be waking them from their sleep to help me out?
Thankfully they were still up, or at least we think they were when they answered the telephone, and within a short space of time we had Ruth’s passport number and the rest we already knew.
A quick check with how the visit of their daughter and two grandchildren from Switzerland was going and we had to get back to form filling plus we weren’t sure how much we had left to spend on the cell phone before the meter ran out.
We still had an hour and a half to kill so we wandered for a look at the canal that is the Elbe-Lubeck canal to see if there were any boats coming up to traverse through the lock.
There wasn’t, so we headed off towards where we thought the village with a few shops and a Bank that we had traced down on Google Maps were.
Sure enough the Bank was right where we had mapped it to be and there was an ATM.
Here goes with the secondary card to get some cash just in case the card stops working down the track.
At least here in a Bank they could open the ATM and give us the card back if it failed on us.Right? Who knows!
Anyway, bingo, the cash came out of the ATM and the card came back to us. Another hurdle overcome!
A little further on we came upon the Penny Supermarket. We have found these supermarkets to be untidy with poor choices of products but we were very pleasantly surprised that this one was exactly the reverse and we got our lunch and dinner for tonight so confident that we would make it to Uden.We even bought a miniature vodka, enough for 3 glasses, for when we could finally put our feet up for the day in Uden.
By the time we got back to AMT car park it was nearly 2pm and once the clock ticked over the hour we were back at the doors again.
Fran wasn’t at the front counter this afternoon but she must have heard our voices from somewhere else in the building and her smiling face reappeared with the declaration of lost passport in hand.
I quickly completed it and she scanned it and the witness page of the application and after more thanks for her great help, we returned to the car and the hotspot to wait for the email to arrive.
It was 2.15pm when we sent the attachments onto Stacey in London Passport Office. Now it was in the lap of the Gods as to whether it would process through this afternoon which was going to five us the best chance at picking it up in Paris by Thursday lunchtime with our flight to Ireland just before 4pm.
We were now sure we had completed everything and I didn’t telephone her again perhaps in fear of finding out something else I hadn’t done.
We guessed we would hear from her if things still weren’t completed and at this time of the day nothing was going to be gained by waiting around in the car park in Berkenthin.
We drove through some lovely rural countryside and every so often had to slow for a small village. Ahead of us the sky was clearing to blue and we suspected this was the mini heat wave that we had read on the internet was spreading north with temperatures today in Paris to reach over 30C.
Heading southwest on the A1 we made very good progress in moderate traffic.
Gretchen had discovered that I hadn’t lost my licence with the money belt as I suspected but that it was still in my wallet where it had been when we left NZ.I had forgotten all about my wallet and therefore hadn’t checked in Copenhagen when I made the Police Report. She was now happy, of sorts, to let me back behind the wheel and she needed to have a rest from driving even though she kept saying how she loved to drive.
It was all highway driving with not a lot to see either side of the road and it was a welcome change at just after 6pm to stop for an ice cream to stem the hunger as we weren’t going to be in Uden until after 8pm.
Double Peanut Butter Chocolate and a Double Caramel (why do things by half after we have been through in the last couple of days) were in order and very welcoming raising the blood sugar level that was starting to flail a little.
The temperature had steadily risen since we had seen that blue sky ahead and it was now 30C in the lay by car park.
At Osnabruck we changed to a westerly direction and crossed into Holland and the road became even flatter and straighter than it had been in Germany.
Just below Apeldoorn we switched to the A50 and our direction turned south again.
We weren’t too far from Wim and Diny in Zwolle and they had offered us a bed if we wanted to call in.
However, Zwolle was about 100km north of Uden and that would have added to tomorrows run to Connelles in France and we were expected in Uden.
It was still very warm when we reached the ‘hostel ‘just off the highway. We had a bedroom with shower and toilet and a kitchen shared by one other unit right outside our door.
We collapsed into the lounge suite and cleaned the vodka off in no time at all as we checked the emails. How wonderful to have an internet connection that worked perfectly and was fast!
As an aside the owner who was very friendly and helpful had a remarkable likeness to the late Freddy Mercury of Queen, prominent teeth and all!
The best news was that the passport had been completed and we would receive an email from DHL Couriers so that we could track the progress of the package to Paris.
Almost there! All that has to happen is for it to arrive in Paris and for us to go and pick it up and I would be ‘stateless’ no more.
Just one more place where there might be a border check and that was the crossing into France from Belgium.
We had no definite understanding that they were doing border checks but with the terrorist problems the police could stop you anywhere and the border was a likely place.
I had a further telephone call to Loaded for Travel and it seemed that the secondary card shouldn’t be working due to the incorrect code they had loaded when I reported the original stolen but they really couldn’t explain it.
By now though I had had a reply to Kiwi bank (they own Loaded for Travel) and were given instructions of how to load the Euros and Sterling by a Bill Payment method. It would take a day to be auctioned so I did that and we will wait and see what happens.
It was a very comfortable bed and sleep should come easy and it did.
PS:OK so the song is really about Paul and his band being on the run from the police because of drugs but we too were a band of sorts and would be on the run had we been stopped with me without a passport.So as usual enjoy on Youtube.
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