Above – The Sierra Nevada’s
My trip to San Francisco was a success in the sense of the word. I was able to make my appointment with the Spanish Consulate downtown at the scheduled time, and as I pulled up to the building, I had to lean far to the window as it looked like a small house, but low and behold, above posted a Spanish flag. I was here! After all this time and planning, let’s hope it is painless and without too much bureaucracy.
I was buzzed in the small building and proceeded to the guest window only 3 feet from the door and paused as the attendant was on the phone. I looked around the small entrance room and noticed a few families with small children and some other expats. I was then called to the window and explained to the man what my appointment was for. He told me to wait and my name would be called, as if I were at a doctor’s office and with almost as much nervousness. You see, this was not just a simple meeting to submit papers and get a visa as I did in Germany. The Spanish permits and visa take time to be approved or denied. So this meant that I could pay the fees and spend the time and money for travel to San Francisco (San Francisco Spanish Consulate services Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming, Pacific Islands and Nevada) and not be approved. Can you imagine?
While I waited, I chatted it up with an Indian foreign national who was working for Google in California. He was actually there to get a Spanish visa as well so that he could attend the Mobile Congress which is the biggest wireless mobile conference in the world (in Barcelona). Because he is from India, he must get tourist visas for many countries he wishes to visit. He cannot just go there using a passport. It is the same for tourists going to visit India, a tourist visa must be applied for and acquired through the embassy prior to travel. After some time he was called in and I waited further for my chance.
This process is broken up into two separate events – First, you must submit your business plan, passport copies (every page), application for residence and pay two fees totaling around $300USD – Second, once the permits have been approved you must then get fingerprinted for an FBI background check which then must be apostle (notarized) by the State Department in D.C., get a medical cert showing you have no communicable diseases, submit a bank statement showing enough startup and livable funds and pay the additional fees of $120USD+ to acquire the visa. Let’s recap, you will first need the permits to then be able to apply for the visa. This may be redundant but it is the way of the Spanish government and by God I will do whatever needs to be done to accomplish this. The agreement with the USA and Germany allows for a US citizen to apply for a visa while in Germany; no additional permits are needed. My thoughts on this are clear – why are EU states so different with their immigration laws? Obviously the USA and Germany have tight bonds and agreements that allow this and not so much with Spain and other EU countries.
Nevertheless, this may be the biggest challenge so far in my relocation process to date. This only makes my resolve so much greater and my will to be victorious is a given. I have done all I can at this point and now I must wait to see the verdict. I always look to the sky and hope for the best as I know I will achieve anything I put my hard mind and soul into.
As far as my visit to San Fran went, I was able to visit Fisherman’s Wharf several times and had some great new experiences. I ate red snapper fish and chips at a fish house and stumbled upon the bar that invented the original Irish Coffee.
Yes, the Irish Coffee was a drink created by a reporter from the US that happened to be in Ireland during the 40s while in an airport during a storm. The pilots gave the antsy passengers some coffee to keep them warm but that did not calm the passengers so the pilots spiked the coffee with some whiskey and topped it off with creamy foam (there is NO Bailey’s Irish Cream in a true Irish Coffee). The reporter brought that recipe back to San Fran to the Buena Vista Cafe and it was born.
I enjoyed a few Irish coffees while I chatted with the bartender who had been there many years. He showed me some pics of older musicians who had visited the cafe such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. All I could think was, damn, I had walked by this place three times today and debated coming in…. I am sure glad I did.
I stayed at an airbnb in Emeryville located in the East Bay across the bay from downtown. This turned out to be an interesting experience as the metro line turned out to be a 25min walk from the house and only ran until midnight. I knew there may be nights when I was out later than midnight and the neighborhood was not so safe for late night walks. On the plus side, Uber was only $8 for a ride into the city and I was close to an upcoming area with locally owned cafes and pubs. I frequented Lanesplitter Pub which had a nice selection of local beers on tap. They also cooked up some tasty pizza which I sampled some slices and was impressed.
This trip was not a trip of leisure but I had to do some exploring as I hadn’t been here in 13 years. When I return to apply for the Spanish visa, I will spend more time at the local sites and try other new food and drink choices. Next time – Chinatown, Trader Vics, Hangar One distillery, St George Spirits, the beach, USS Hornet museum, Anchor Steam brewery and some other spots I missed. The people of San Francisco are some of the nicest I have met in California and I look forward to visiting soon!