It has reached this stage in the preparation process: sorting and reassessing the clothes, drying the ones that have hung outside with the rain (we don’t own a dryer), buying gifts, and yesterday going through my itinerary and filling the gaps with all the useful information (in case I’m unable to access data!).
In the course of this process, I discovered – somewhat to my horror! – that I needed a visa for Canada. I have traveled by car into Canada in the past and don’t recall getting one, and you know, I thought being part of the same Commonwealth of nations and all that, but no, I needed one. Here’s where a state of near panic surged up and I took the first official website offering online visa processing and proceeded, finding that a sum of $100 was needed. Not til my friend in Canada stated that I needed to beware of false sites did I double check and feel my adrenalin rise again: the OFFICIAL site said I only needed to pay $7. A quick phone call late at night to my bank and the distressing news that they could not cancel payment pending, and “Did I want to cancel my credit card?”. Um, NO!! Not with only a day to go before heading out into the wild beyond.
Great has been my relief this morning to find that I have a valid visa for Canada for a princely sum, paid to an ‘immigration service’ (who pocketed the $93 for doing what I could have done), and who sent me the $7 visa. I have double-checked with the official site and it is valid. A LESSON FOR THE LESS VIGILANT.
Apart from that brief glitch, I’m feeling excited and have the leisure to ensure I have got all the details sorted. To make matters even better, I received a free upgrade to Business Class on the 12.5 hr flight to Los Angeles, so I certainly cannot complain about being diddled of that lesser sum. (My last long trip pushed my airpoints status up to silver, which gives you a free status upgrade on flights. These requests often don’t happen because of the planes being overbooked, but the miracle happened this time.)
The next time I write, I imagine it will be from the Northern Hemisphere and the diagonal opposite of where I am currently. Until then . . .