My final days in Zofingen went by quickly, as I struggled to get all the stuff I had accumulated into my carry-on suitcase and the briefcase. I had already mailed one more package to myself. Had to, I forgot to put my Victorinox bread knife into an earlier box. Briefly, I toyed with the idea of putting it in my carry-on, but dropped it when visions of being held in detention by TSA danced through my head.
TRAVEL BARGAIN TIP: My room at the hotel was an attic room. I’ve learned that those are the least expensive, especially in hotels with no elevators. The stairs are killa! You can usually prevail upon the manager to carry your bags up to your room, especially if you are staying several days. Attic rooms have interesting ceiling and room shapes, and the windows open onto my favorite views – roof tops on neighboring buildings.
Since my stay at the hotel was between Christmas and New Year’s, the restaurant and what guests there were had to fend for themselves for breakfast. That’s way better than it sounds. There was a nice little breakfast room with Italian coffee maker, a refrigerator stocked with orange juice and milk, butter and jam, and plates and utensils, and a huge wall-mounted TV which had a dozen channels. All we had to do was bring breakfast breads. The manager showed me how to operate the coffee machine and showed me the contents of the fridge.
Of course, getting to the right gate at the Zurich airport was stressful! This has become a pattern, though this time it was the Swiss Police, not the TSA, that caused the delay. Fortunately, I had hours to wait before boarding. The police passport control noted that my passport hadn’t been stamped properly.
“So?” was my thought, “that’s your problem not mine.” But it turned out it was my problem. They called a higher-ranking officer, who was very sweet. They all laughed when I said, “Are you going to keep me here? I’ve already applied for a residence permit.” To make a long, bureaucratic (EU) story short, it appears I had misunderstood rules relating to the Schengen Area – the EU plus Switzerland. You can only stay in that entire area for three months unless you have a special visa or go to the UK or other non-Schengen area country to break up your stay abroad.
My stay had been nearly four months, or 20 days beyond the three month limit, as the ZuPo (Zurich Police) explained to me as kindly as he possible could, while putting Miranda Warnings under my nose! Being in the Czech Republic and Italy didn’t count. Grrr. I wrote an explanation of my misunderstanding. Not sure what the consequences will be.
I’ll keep you posted. Also, though I’ve been back in Oregon for a little more than a week, I’m still tired, probably because of all the stuff I had to do when I got here.