Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Aliens Bureau

Now, I know it isn't possible, but if by some chance I'm reincarnated as a country (let's say GREECE for example), and I was giving Americans a hard time about staying in my country for more than 90 days, and I had to have a place for them to report to extend their visa's, here's a few things I would do:
  • Place the Aliens Bureau IN TOWN, and not way out in some seedy neighborhood that is hard to get to, find, etc. I took the train (as advised by the Embassy) and then tried to walk there, discovered I couldn't find it, see next point, then tried for 20 minutes to get a cab to take me there)
  • Put the STREET NAMES on the STREETS. Every street in Athens has a name. And a street sign. Except Petrou Ralli, one of the biggest streets off of Pireous Street. No sign. Nice.
  • Employ more than one person at the Aliens Bureau who speaks ENGLISH!
  • Make that person be helpful and kind.
  • Let people renew their visa's anytime.
  • And, maybe, just maybe, if I was feeling in a really generous mood (as a country), I would make it a law that taxi drivers must pick up customers and take them where they want to go, instead of rolling down their windows, asking, then saying no and speeding away.
  • Have a website explaining all the rules and regulations, necessary paperwork, directions to the Aliens Bureau, a phone number, people staffing the phone, etc. The Cambodians have a better systems than here. And that is saying something people!

So, obviously things did not go so well Tuesday. The basic outcome was I was there "too early" and need to go back 25 days before my current visa expires. I have to PAY THEM 470 Euro (which is $620 dollars) to get this extension. You would think they would be glad to take my money anytime. What a strange government. And, I get to go again. What a treat.

When I finally convinced a taxi to take me back to town (20 minutes standing outside waving frantically at taxi's), I had a light lunch in the sun in Syntagma, tried to calm down, was unable to, went shopping for dinner and came home.We did go out and play darts and drink beer that night, just to take my mind off HATE!


CaliforniaKat said...

Hi Rachelle,

I'm sorry to say that's normal; that's a story that every tourist or new person to Greece tells. I don't tell all of my bureaucratic stories because it isn't anything that any foreigner or Greek hasn't heard before, and I don't think it's nice to scare people with my stories, which unfortunately are much worse.

I also did everything while living in poverty and without a spouse, though I can sympathize with what you experienced that day.

Flatbacker said...

CK - I know I'm just hitting the top of the iceberg with the bureacracy here in Greece (and lots of countries). Fortunately for me, that's the worst of my experiences here!