As you know from previous posts that I am travelling to Italy in a few months or at least should I say I'm trying to travel to Italy in a few months.
Being a South African is wonderful, I love my country and every diverse thing about it but damn, it sure is hard to travel when you have that green passport!
The process to get a Schengen Visa is an absolute nightmare. Firstly you now have to go via a company called Capago (My Europe Visa) and let me tell you if you are trying to get hold of someone to get information or advice and need it in writing, well honestly think again because that simply won't happen. They do not even respond to emails, even though they advise you to email them on their website for assistance.
There are so many things that are unclear, such as everywhere it states that documents need to be original, original air tickets, original itineraries, original proof of residence but clearly these consulates and their representatives have not arrived in this century where everything and I mean everything is done via the internet and emails.
So now I have electronic versions of air tickets, travel insurance, proof of residence, bank statements and my tour itinerary but according to all websites that I have checked including the consulate these have to be original. So now the panic sets is because they clearly mention that if your documents are not 100% in order, your application will be rejected and you will need to make another appointment and all this AFTER you have already paid the exorbitant fee for the Visa, meaning that if even one document is out of order you will need to pay again and again until it is 100% correct.
Then you get the delightful British government who really want to make it near impossible for anyone to travel to their country, well mostly for Africans and some other 'notorious' countries. The latest is to charge a huge bond, which frankly added to the already high expense of travel will definitely cut out most people except the idle rich. I believe that their Visa applications are even more tedious and time consuming. So I guess I never will see Big Ben or the London Eye or the river Thames because our poor South African Rand is so worthless that paying a bond on top of a sky high exchange rate will just make it impossible to ever see this particular country. Our legs are being chopped off by red tape!
So to all my European, British and American readers, have a little sympathy for us South Africans who want to travel to all these destinations more than anything in the world but boy is it made difficult for us. That is why there will never be a South African version of the 'Amazing Race' because the Visa applications are just a nightmare and extremely stressful. We can never just freely travel from one country to the next by simply hopping on a plane.
I should be looking forward to this trip but at the moment I'm so stressed I sincerely hope I don't have a heart attack before I even get to go!
So to all of you out there, here's my advice. Come to beautiful South Africa, where your currency will take you far, what an average citizen can afford in your country will probably get you luxury in mine. 1 Euro gets you 13 South African Rand (ZAR), 1 British pound will get you 15 ZAR and one US Dollar will get you 10 ZAR. This country has so much to offer from Safari Game farms (think Elephants, Lions, Giraffe, Rhino), great beaches, mountains, excellent wine and delicious food, legendary train journeys, we truly have so much to offer, so COME TO SOUTH AFRICA!! You will love every second in our great country and don't believe everything you read in your papers, we are much safer than you think, just be careful and wary of your surroundings.
Hope to see you all soon. I'm already thinking that my next trip will be to Turkey, no Visa required for South Africans or perhaps South America! Any readers from these areas can let me know what you have to offer.
Ok, venting over. Want to know more about South Africa? Let me know and I'll try assist as much as possible.
Have a good one.