By this time, I am probably freezing my ass already in Paris. The main purpose of this trip is for business. Yes, business. I’d love to do the guessing game here and make you think about what sort of business I have in Paris but you will definitely not have guessed it. You see as part of my job, I am supposed to try out the products that we are selling. Only then will we be able to sell it better right? As a travel agent, we are selling holidays, hotels, excursions, theme parks etc. etc. So this time, I was sent to the happiest place on earth – Disneyland Paris!
Two months ago, I had this conversation with my manager:
Manager: Have you been to Disneyland Paris?
Me: No, why? Are you going to send me?
Manager: You read my mind.
Me: Seriously???? You can’t joke about these kinds of things.
Manager: I’m serious!
Me: Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!
Then afterwards, I had this conversation with the boyfriend:
Me: I’m going away for business.
The boyfriend: Where?
Me: Disneyland Paris.
The boyfriend: Who the f*ck goes there for business?
Me: ME! 🙂
Disneyland is Disneyland, nobody’s too old for that magical place. On top of that, I am being sent there for work which basically means three things:
1. It’s fully paid by the company.
2. I get to fly on business class in an A380 aircraft. Woo hoo!
3. These days aren’t taken out of my leave bank since technically, it’s still work.
Since my annual leave was already filed for the days exactly after the business trip, I ditched my plans with my cousins to go to Cebu in the Philippines. Well actually, it wasn’t me who backed out first. Another cousin of mine couldn’t make it either as she found a new job and won’t be able to take a leave until after August. So when she sent me the email, she was probably expecting me to be really furious about it since everything was already booked. Instead though, I was doing a happy dance.
I immediately planned my extended holiday in the beautiful country of France. I have been to Paris before, 5 years ago. The very first city that I visited after I completed my 6th month with the company that I am working for and I was already allowed to take a leave. It was also during April and my short Parisian vacation was ruined because I got the flu when I arrived. You see, before heading to Paris I asked my friend who lives there about the weather at the time. She told me that it’s no longer that cold and out of stupidity, I took her word for it and didn’t bring much warmer clothes. Well, imagine this – I have never been to any European countries at that time, I came straight from a tropical country of the Philippines where I was only exposed to two seasons (rainy or sunny) and last but not the least, I was living in the Middle East where the sun is far more stronger than in any other parts of the world. So as soon as I arrived in Paris, I immediately caught colds and flu. My body couldn’t handle the sudden shift of weather. Having said that, this time I’m far more prepared. The only downside is, the colds, cough and flu came earlier than the trip itself so my body is already a little weak as I start this journey. I know I can make it though, I MUST make it.
You’d think that planning my own vacation will be a piece of cake for me since I do this for a living. Well I tell you what, it’s far more worst! I am dealing with the most demanding passenger that I have ever dealt with in my life and the passenger in me is dealing with the most impatient travel agent. At some point, I think my friend in Paris who I’ve been contacting for advice about which hotel I must book in that city got fed up of me. I think I changed my hotel 5 times in Paris alone. Yes, I’m crazy like that. And for the rest of my holiday, the more I do my research, the more I get confused. Should I go to Giverny? or should I go to Bruges instead? Or maybe ditch Giverny and have a free day in Paris to explore the city further? Or maybe do both Giverny and Bruges? After Paris, should I go straight to Lyon? Or should I go to Strasbourg? Or maybe Geneva? Why not go to Nice again? or probably Marseille? Should I take a train? or a plane? Train is better but the flight is more convenient. Oh but the rates are expensive these days. Maybe take a bus? Let me check what Trafalgar has for the dates of my travel. Maybe Contiki? What about Gap Adventures? Should I stay in a hostel? Or a hotel? Maybe try couchsurfing? What about Airbnb? Roomorama sounds interesting. Oh wait! This flat in Go With Oh is awesome!!!
Well to make the long story short, I was only able to finalize the whole trip a week before I’m about to go. Right now the itinerary is final – I’ll be visiting 3 cities in France and will try to stay longer in each cities this time and not travel in haste as what I’ve done before (well there’s an overnight stay somewhere but that was actually not included in the original itinerary, yes that’s my excuse). I will also stay in hotels because just like Mitzie Mee of The World According to Mitzie Mee, I prefer to have my own space and not be constrained about what I should and should not do while trying to live with someone else or in someone else’s house. I want clean and fresh bed sheets and be able to sleep however I wish, fart whenever I want (yes, women fart so deal with it!) and just be lazy without having the need to be sociable to your host. I can get along with people, I’m not an introvert but for Pete’s sake I will be on vacation! I don’t need to get along with someone just so to enjoy it. I will not sleep in a room with 8 other people in hostels because I want to sleep peacefully at my own convenience and wake up on my own and not because someone is snoring from the other bed. I didn’t book The Ritz or the Four Seasons though, I booked the cheapest available hotels with good reviews about the cleanliness and location which for me is what really matters when I travel.
You may follow my Facebook page: Pinay Flying High if you want to be updated of this journey. Come on, like the page. You know you want to. At least I’ll have people following every step of my way just to know that I’m still alive. If I haven’t updated the page for 24 hours, can someone call the police please?
On a different but very related note, I have mentioned numerous times that I have a very restricted passport which basically means that I have to apply for a visa in just about anywhere I want to go. The process is tedious with a lot of documents to prepare however, I must do it and for those of you who happens to have the same passport restriction like mine here’s what you need to do if you’re also about to embark on a journey to Europe.
Schengen Visa Application
A Schengen visa is a document that you require if you wish to travel to any countries which is part of this agreement. Once you have this, you may enter the Schengen zone and visit as much countries you want within the validity of your visa. The Schengen countries are as follows:
The rule for the Schengen visa application is to apply for it from the country of your first point of entry if the same number of days will be spent in the countries that you’ll be visiting or the country where you’ll be staying the longest. If you are to visit France, Italy and Germany for example with your first leg being France then you can apply for a French Schengen Visa. If however you’ll be staying in Italy the longest during your holiday, you may also apply for an Italian Schengen visa. So the first step to do is basically have your itinerary in mind and decide which embassy you’ll be applying for your visa. Since I am only going to France, I have applied for a French Schengen visa.
First step is to SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT, they only accept online appointments these days and will no longer accept walk-ins. Once you’ve done so, you may proceed on preparing the supporting documents needed for your visa application. I prefer scheduling an appointment first before preparing the documents since the earlier schedule you get, the better. IT means you’ll have more time for the visa application process itself. The appointment that I got initially gives me only 10 days before I travel, so I checked their website every other day just to see if any earlier date opened up – and it did. So that’s one tip for you.
1. Two copies of the first page of the passport.
2. Completed application form.
3. Two passport photos.
4. Passport and residence visa must be valid at least 90 days from the date of expiry of the requested visa.
5. Two copies of your residence visa.
6. Copies of your previous Schengen, US or UK visas.
7. At least two free pages on your passport.
8. Employment certificate indicating your date of joining, current position and monthly salary.
9. Bank statement for the last 6 months.
10. Your itinerary (hotel bookings, excursions booked, flight ticket)
11. Travel insurance valid for Schengen country with an equivalent coverage of 30,000 Euro.
The Schengen visa for France is being handled by VFS Global along with other countries. Their office location is now in Wafi Mall in Oud Metha. The processing time as per the French consulate is 14 days however, I got my visa on the 4th day. The visa fee is AED395 including the courier charges (I’ve asked them to have it delivered to me thru Aramex since I wouldn’t want to go back to their office just to pick up my passport).
I leave you now with a video of where I possibly am right now: