Friday, October 25, 2013

Trip to Frankfurt

So, if you follow me on Facebook/Twitter, you probably were aware that we had to go to Frankfurt to do some things for Sadie. We had to do the "report of birth abroad," as well as apply for her passport and Social Security Card. Planning the trip was kind of a nightmare, but luckily the planning was the worst part.

The first thing we had to do was make an appointment. The passport office will only see you by appointment, and they are open from I think 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The government shutdown was over by the time we went, but it wasn't affected by that anyway. Also their phone hours are from 2-4. Why can't they just have separate people doing each job and have both open all day? No one knows! Anyway, we took the next appointment available, which was October 22 (Sadie's 1 mo. birthday!) at 10:15 a.m. Frankfurt is about 3 hours by train, depending which train you take, so we planned to spend the night before in Frankfurt.

Spending the night, obviously, meant getting a hotel. Frankfurt is a pretty big city, and I knew hotels would be expensive. What I didn't know is that apparently they have a lot of trade fair type things there (at least this is what Tripadvisor or something tells me) so even on a Monday night, hotel rooms in the main city area were 250-300 Euros per night. That's like $400-$500. And, the consulate isn't really even very close to any of those hotels. So, I found one that was kind of on the outskirts, but about the same distance to the consulate as the central area. I was like, OK, we'll just take a cab. Until Hunter reminded me that babies need car seats.

So, I'd already booked a hotel that seemed inaccessible, or at least difficult-accessible, by bus. So, we had to buy a car seat. We don't own a car and pretty much never ride in cars, so I thought we wouldn't need one of these. Although on the plus side, Sadie really likes just hanging out in the seat, so at home if I need to get something done I can set her down there, as she really doesn't take well to being placed pretty much anywhere else. We also had to buy train tickets, but that wasn't so bad because a friend of mine had a discount code that made the tickets super cheap. We got to take the train that was about 2.5 hours instead of the one that's 3.5 hours. Of course, now that the travel was planned, we had to deal with the paperwork.

In addition to the application forms, there are a bunch of documents you have to bring in. Marriage certificate, our passports and birth certificates, Sadie's birth certificate, any documents that can establish the length of your residency in the U.S... I'm probably even forgetting a few things. Plus the passport photo for a baby. If you go to the Department of State's website, they have pretty stringent guidelines for passport photos, although it's basically up to the person accepting the application, and I think they are a little lax on babies. I think the one I took of Sadie (see last post) ended up really good though. Her head is a bit tilted, maybe, but I think that just makes it cuter! Anyway, Hunter and I being, well, us, we filled out the application forms at like midnight the night before we left. They were pretty trivial except for where it wants you to list everywhere you have lived, and what time periods. We haven't moved around a ton, but it was still a lot to try and remember. I also had a minor panic about the birth certificate. The website that lists what you need is very specific about which birth certificate you must bring, and I started fearing that we didn't have the right one. I think the website is a bit confusing on this point, because it refers to the short-form (ie, non-useful in this circumstance) birth certificate as "Geburtsurkunde," which is what it said on my (valid, official) document. However, the paper we had said the names of the parents, which I think is the really important thing. So we got all the documents together and the diaper bag packed. My plan was to go to one of those photo printers at the drugstore the next day to print out one of the photos we took.

Of course, that wasn't really trivial either. The first place I went I couldn't figure out the machines, so I decided to just go buy some photo paper and do it at home. Then that place had a machine so I decided to try and use it. However, as far as I could tell, the machine did not have an option to just choose a picture and a size and print it. If I chose ID photo, it would give the right size, but it would make me crop it to the German proportions, where the head takes up a lot more space than in the American ones. So I ended up just buying the photo paper.

After taking a few more pictures because I thought the ones I had might be too dark, I printed out a selection of the best ones. I had read that there actually is a passport photo booth at the consulate (which is true as of October 2013) but I didn't want to risk it being broken or something, which is why I took the pictures myself. Anyway, we made it to Frankfurt, had some tasty Ethiopian food and a few expensive cab rides later, Sadie had applied for her passport! I found the employees at the consulate to be really nice. One of them even had a Saints lanyard and a New Orleans accent to match! I'm sure there are circumstances that would make the whole process  more annoying, but it took us less than an hour to get everything done and there weren't any complications. Now we just have to hope her passport comes in time to make Christmas travel plans!

No comments:

Post a Comment