Saturday, October 01, 2005

How do you say, "Can I get a visa" auf Deutsch?

So, we arrived safe and sound in Mainz after a considerable amount of Drammamine and some difficulties with the customs officials in Iceland. J! and I were actually very excited about our stopover in Iceland. Neither of us have ever been and in fact, on the way back, we’ll be spending a few days there. For this flight, however, we were only supposed to be in the airport for about an hour before our connecting flight to Frankfurt took off. As it turns out, you have to have a visa if you are planning to stay in Germany for more than three months. Both the university here in Mainz and Berlitz told J! and I that the visa wouldn’t be a problem—we’d simply have it all arranged when we arrived here. Ha! Germany was completely fine with this but the guards in Iceland were very worried. Very nice, but a little concerned. We had to sit in a hallway for about forty minutes while the guards called immigration services and a lawyer to make sure that they could send us along. Luckily it all worked out and now we have some lovely Icelandic stamps in our passports. One thing I will say—Iceland has a beautiful language and the guards spoke perfect English. The main guard helping us out told us he visited Los Angeles one time but he didn’t like it at all—it was too crowded.

Mainz is a great town—lots of nice, old historic buildings but not so historic that they make the city unlivable for everyone else. My apartment is actually in a suburb of Mainz, called Mombach, that is about a ten minute bus ride from the Hauptbahnhof (train station) in the center of town. So far we haven’t toured too much, most of our time being taken up by paperwork kinds of things (like visas), but the historic district is really lovely. We already found the natural foods store, which as far as I can tell simply seems to be more expensive than other food stores, and there’s a terrible Chinese restaurant about two blocks away from the Hauptbahnhof. We’ve also discovered that it is almost impossible to locate men’s slippers, unless you care to buy the kind that are made for really old men who never wear anything but slippers, even when they go out to walk their old man dogs.

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