Aaah, the holidays are approaching. It’s that time of the year again when we scramble to outdo each other with exotic locations, adventure, and picture upon picture of perfectly captured family moments. Well, somewhat perfect!
With school almost over I’m left with dread again to try and figure out what to do with my crazy bunch. I’m reminded of last year, and I start to cringe. It all started with a lovely holiday in London, where we spent two lovely weeks at our place overlooking Battersea park, I would sit outside on the balcony and sip a lovely cup of English tea. It was pure bliss. As Emiratis, London is almost a second home to most of us, and we are fortunate to have the electronic waiver form which made going in and out of the UK very easy… or so I thought. At some point during my blissful two weeks, I was speaking to my aunt who lives in Germany and thought it would be a good idea to take my lot to visit her in Germany. We packed out bags and off we went! With visa stamped on arrival, we thought nothing of the next coming weeks and we set out on our German adventure.
10 days on and we decided we had enough bratwurst to last us a lifetime and we missed our place in London. Booking a flight from Munich, we packed our bags and set off to the airport to take our flight. Upon arriving at the airport we were met with a confused airport staff that asked where was our electronic waiver form? I thought it was a bit odd to ask as I had given it to Uk border patrol when we arrived in the UK. She went to check with her supervisor and we waited by the departure gate. 15 mins went by, 20, 25 mins, I started noticing that it was boarding time and the lady hadn’t gotten back yet. The kids and my mother who was traveling with us were all happily chatting and snacking on gummi bears and other calorie coma inducing German sweets and paid little attention to what was going on. Then, finally, the lady comes back and says, I’m sorry we can’t let you board, I thought goodness why not, what happened. Turned out, in typical Omaira form I failed to realise that I need an electronic waiver every time I entered the UK, and that meant I need a whole new form! A piece of cake I thought and told the lady, give me 5 mins. I went online and my jaw dropped, it needed a whopping 48 hours for it to be valid prior to departure. The lady at the same time realised and said she was sorry and that there was nothing she could do, either we had to spend two days in Munich or go somewhere in the European Union which would only require a stamp on arrival and complete the electronic waiver form now so that it will be ready in two days.
Kill me now! Not only did I have to explain to my crazy bunch that we weren’t going to London today, I had to explain that we have to go get our bags and then decide what to do next.
After 20 mins of trying to explain and my mother thinking all this could be solved by calling someone. We made our way to the departures lounge to decide what to do next. My youngest suggested we go somewhere else and not stay in Germany. So looking at the departure screen we looked at various locations of where to go. One of the twins then shouted out! Let’s go to Majorca, as her best friend is from there (rolling my eyes) I complied. We walked over to a ticket agent who helped us find a flight and a very nice hotel.
Arriving at the hotel we heard a lot of people talking German, confused we looked around as most of the hotel had information in German. My mom joked are we still in Germany. It then dawned on me, because we were in Munich, and a lot of Germans travel to Majorca, we discovered we were in a German-run hotel in Spain!!! As if that wasn’t confusing enough, we went through the day ordering “Ein Wasser bitte” with my children thinking Spanish people spoke German and if that wasn’t confusing enough, my youngest would then order at restaurants out of the hotel in German to the complete confusion of the poor Spanish waiter “café mit sahne bitte”
What a nightmare. 48 hours later and our electronic visas were ready. We finally fly out and make it back to our lovely apartment, where I vow to never use the waiver again and make sure I apply for the longest ever visa available with multiple entries for the whole family.
So as I sat on the balcony thanking God that I’m back in the comfort of my apartment in London. I realise there really isn’t anything better than sipping my lovely English tee, mit sahne!