Well, here it is the middle of January 2008. I had just got accustomed to writing 2007 on my checks....and they had to up and change the year! Darn!
A lot has changed since my last entry on September 30, 2007. As many of you know, I was planning a six month trip to Crete...I had intended to leave the USA on March 31, 2008 and return to the USA on September 30, 2008. However, in order to stay in Greece for more than three months, one must first obtain a national visa from the Greek government. After contacting the Greek Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, I was advised by them that I would have to fill out the "official" application for a visa, provide evidence that I was in possession of a valid U.S. Passport, pay a visa processing fee, provide one color photo (passport size), provide documentation that I had sufficient health insurance coverage up to $50,000, get a physical examination and a notarized statement from my physician that I had no communicable diseases, provide a police background check conducted by the FBI indicating that I had no past criminal record, proof that I had a place to stay for the duration of my six month visit, copies of my bank statements for the most recent three months, a copy of my most recent W-2 form, proof that I had at least $2,000 a month income, and then bring all of that documentation and and present it personally before the Greek Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia to apply for the visa. I jumped through every hoop that was placed before me, dotted every "I", and crossed every "T". Then, just last week, when I was talking with a representative from the Greek Consulate in Atlanta, I was told that I would need to obtain a "visa number". When I inquired as how to obtain this "visa number", I was informed that I would need to travel to Greece to the perfecture (region) in which I would be staying, apply for the visa number there, then, return to the USA and present the "visa number" along with all other documentation before the Greek Consulate in Atlanta, and pay a visa fee in the approximate amount of $800! &*@%$#^&$!!! It seems that the only thing the Greek Consulate did not demand, was the scalp of my firstborn child! My friends, if you intend to return to Greece, please, do not plan to stay for more than three months...if you do, you will be confronted with the biggest bureaucratic nightmare that you could ever imagine!
As a result, I have had to alter my plans. I will not be staying for the intended six months; instead, I will be staying for three months. I have had to exchange my airline tickets and pay a penalty fee of $200, plus the difference between the price of tickets when I bought them and the price of the tickets now, plus a processing fee of $30, and an Express Mail fee of $25. I also had to contact my landlord on Crete to arrange for my reservations to be changed from April 1, 2008 through September 30, 2008, to May 1, 2008 through July 31, 2008. I am still awaiting confirmation from my landlord that my reservations have been changed.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS THIS: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER PLAN TO GO TO GREECE FOR MORE THAN THREE MONTHS!!! NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!!!
Well, that is enough for tonight. I apologize if it sounds as if I have vented my anger and frustration in this forum....but who else could I possibly turn to....but my friends with whom I spent so much time on Crete?
In the future I will try to be more diligent about posting timely updates to my blog.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",
Bob (a.k.a. Midget, Bobby)