No, it ain't as easy as 'Buy ticket - Fly'!
Apparently the Indian passport has a power rank of 59.
The number 59 is nothing but the number of countries that are Visa-free [which I believe may refer to the fact that you may need to get a visa later if not sooner!]
You may be strategically located in a region that provides numerous opportunities to country-hop, but you will definitely need a visa for around 99% of the countries you set your heart on, even be it a quick visit/detour!
P.S. I'm perpetually jealous of all my friends in the Schengen area. It in the least, provides them access to a whopping 26 countries with the visa they currently hold.
After deciding that we wanted to complete an entire country in 4/5 days and zeroing down on Malta, we did not think twice before getting out tickets booked, more than a month in advance. No country is going to issue a visa unless the return tickets are booked and the stay and insurance complete.
Mutual decision : A month is more than sufficient to get the visa done.Much to our dismay, we realized that the Maltese [yes that's the correct term] embassy provides visa by appointment, and the next available date was 4 days prior to our onward flight!They had no collaborations whatsoever with vfs or any other visa medians and had only 2 locales wherein visa's were issued- London and Edinburgh.Leeds is a great city for a relaxed, authentic English way of life and to save a few quid on housing, but it definitely is not the place to be to get official tasks done or catch convenient flights.
Then started the week long brainstorming session: Postponing the flights was equivalent to cancelling it - RyanAir is great for economy travel, as long as you stick to 'Fixed baggage,fixed dates, no frills n fancies'
It wasn't a cakewalk keeping in mind the following points:
- We needed to get a Schengen Visa - one visa, 26 countries.BUT - the country from which the visa is issued has to be the first port of entry or needs to have the longest duration of stay
- Malta could no longer be the first port of entry as it was not remotely possible to get a visa issued in 4 working days
- Neither could we have an extended vacation and step into an adjoining country, as Malta is an island, right in the middle of the Mediterranean sea
- It was not possible to opt for additional leaves
Ultimately ......we decided that we now HAD TO visit another country [that made me happy] during one of the previous weekends, in order to fulfill our dream to get to the Azure Window in Malta!
And after extensive research, Belgium it was for:
- The cheapest return flights from Leeds itself
- Not a mammoth of a country so it was was possible to skim and get a feel of the country, to return in future
- The visa could be done in Manchester, saving valuable time and money!
We were to travel the weekend before our travel to Malta.I was biting on my nails till the very last day as the visa come in 1 DAY BEFORE our flight.
We were thanking our stars as we had played a gamble and it did seem that we would end up losing money either way - but it had paid off.
We had ignored the fact that it was going to be a hectic weekend with flights between 4-6 am. That meant we had to be up by 3.30 am on a Monday............
It's the same hassle every-time to get a visa: State your reasons, submit a stack of documents, bank statements, ensure you don't look shabby,etc. etc.
And then the wait.
Your fate to visit that Firefly mangrove excursion in Palawan, or take part in an international exchange program in Poland - all rest in the hands of that one officer who decides if you get to go ahead with your travel fantasies or not.
Well if it's difficult for us Indians to get a visa, we reciprocate equally to visitors to India as well.
I remember this incident that a British friend of mine went through, wherein he made an online application for a visa.He had to complete the online application thrice because the application kept crashing and he had to start off from the beginning.After being reviewed and told his photograph did not match the one on his passport, he had finally jumped through all the hurdles, and his application was now processed. Only to realize a few weeks later his passport was now lost and nobody exactly knew how!
Forward to current day: he had got a new passport issued, an Indian visa stamped and had an amazing journey in the forests in the South of India.He had also returned with a huge beard as well, and it somehow reminded me of a 'Sadhu'...a tranquil determined person!
If a Britisher can surge ahead through all the exasperation, never having done it before, I think we as Indians have much more patience and perseverance when it involves official matters ;)
I still go through annoying visa applications in the hope that countries could evolve over time to make it easier to obtain at-least a 'tourist' visa, or have an online process maybe? If not now, when do we make use of technology like Skype to make life simpler? Things like these make you realize the lengths you would go to for travel - and you''re still happy to go through it nonetheless.
In the end once you're back from that trip to Ireland and you've paraded around in a cape listening to tales from a bygone era, that you realize it was all worth it!
Have you ever been through a really tiring process of obtaining a visa? But found it worth it in the end? I'd love to know! Tell me in the comments below!