At the end of my last blog I mentioned that we have already decided on our next trip which starts with travelling to the northern tip of Norway to the town of Tromsø to witness the incredible natural phenomenon known as the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights.

This has been something that we have wanted to see for many years. Definitely a bucket list item! 

We took the first step in making plans for this trip in March of this year (2015) and during the year I have written blogs on how I prepare and how things have been going. The more preparation we do the more exciting it becomes. We have learnt to begin preparations early and read any fine print very carefully.

After an 8 day tour in Norway we take a train through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Spain, spending a week in S. Spain before returning home after a month.

As South Africans we have to obtain a Schengen Visa, making an application through the country in which we shall spend the most number of days. A Schengen Visa is issued by those countries which are members of the European Union (EU) and once issued is used to travel freely between all EU countries as well as some which are not members but agree to recognise this. Norway, Denmark and Sweden are all in this category.

I also mentioned that we visited E. Europe last year. We entered via Sarajevo, Bosnia which also accepts a Schengen for a stay of up to 7 days. What I did miss in the fine print was that we had to enter from an EU country. We had flown on Turkish Airlines and come to Sarajevo from Istanbul. Turkey is NOT an EU country. We were refused entry which is very embarrassing. Everyone in the airport arrivals area watches as you are directed away from the passport queue. Once again, I believe that God was caring for us, as the Bosnian police were very helpful and allowed us to hop on a short flight to Zagreb, Croatia and catch the next plane back to Sarajevo. While waiting for the flight to Zagreb we were able to sit in the Business Lounge and help ourselves to eats and drinks. Not bad for illegal persons.


This time we are being very careful in each step we take. We have now booked and paid for everything except our visas for which we will apply in November. Thank goodness we pay for those in ZARands and not Euros as the exchange rate is currently mind boggling. When we paid our initial deposit in March the rate was R14.03 to the Euro and now it is R15.60!

Gradually I am putting together all the documentation that we require for our visas and this is quite a lot of papers. It includes passports, air tickets, confirmation of sufficient medical insurance, proof that we have roots here and will be returning, bank statements for the past 3 months (and because I do not have a regular income into my account Trevor has to sign a form that he will support me!), a detailed itinerary and proof of accommodation. Having applied for Schengen Visas 3 times before we are getting pretty good at what we need but each country has something different to keep us on our toes.

In the meantime we sit back and think about the cold weather we shall experience in the northern hemisphere. I just love to travel, anywhere and everywhere.

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