Across Continents

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First world visas

July 28th, 2010

It’d seemed prudent to look a little ahead, check the entry requirements for the Antipodean nations, and North America. First World. Didn’t think they’d be any issues. And, ordinarily, there wouldn’t be. And, with a bit of planning, there shouldn’t be. But it does reaffirm the need not to assume. And make sure you understand the often subtle distinction between having a visa, or a waiver in most cases, and actually satisfying the Immigration Officer on arrival that you’re not an economic migrant with aspirations to over-stay.

New Zealand’s fine, no visa required, just need to make sure I arrive with tickets for onward travel, and have evidence to show I am able to support myself whilst there. Similar story for Australia, but my online application for a six month visa faltered a bit when required to list countries I’d visited, and there’s a limit of ten. So – if you’re counting – got stuck at the Azerbaijan border.

I thought Canada a bit like New Zealand, with the addition of needing to show ties with the UK. Better find my driving licence. And have to show I’ll leave at the end of my visit. Hopeful a passport full of used visas will be convincing.

I’ve been to the US quite a few times on their Visa Waiver Programme, but that limits me to three months for all of North America, which isn’t enough, and I’d need to show a ticket for onward travel. Which I won’t have. Not until deepest South America. So proper visa required. And whilst all the rules and regulations, the application forms, are rather more extensive than those for Central Asia, shades of the UK’s own onerous requirements, they are at least very explicit about it. Which I like.

Might be making a few Consular calls in Hong Kong. Making sure I get a decent haircut first.


Pancakes and maple syrup

May 1st, 2010

We’d agreed to meet at a familiar US fast food outlet on Rustaveli, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare. Easily recognisable. Sort of. My efforts getting directions to it by drawing a large ’M’ in the air caused a great deal of confusion. A case of mistaken identity. They seem to think I wanted the Metro, although how they thought I’d be able to get a fully laden touring bike on it I’m not sure.

M signs

Eventually finding the right place, coincidentally next to a Metro station, I caught up with my host. It all seemed rather apt, Austin being a US citizen, but from Iowa rather than Georgia. Fortunately the outlet wasn’t a drive-through. Dreaded to think what the Georgians would make of that sort of thing. Carnage probably.


The next morning breakfast was traditional American homemade pancakes and maple syrup. Seemed only fair to continue the theme and grab lunch in the nearby ’Donut Stop’ cafe.

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