Denied entry into France
Yes, I was denied entry into France. I even had to sign an official piece of paper that stated I was denied entry into their country. This denial resulted in a loss of ticket fare on the Eurostar to Paris, loss of AirBnB cost in Paris (still working on this one), broken reservations and plans in Paris for our 6 month travel-versary, loss of airfare cost for flight from Toulouse to Dublin, broken plans with a workaway in Southern France, and definitely a loss of gusto towards our trip.
It’s hard not to feel like we should just quit, go home, call it off when you lose hundreds of dollars and have your next three weeks totally flipped on their head. We’ve been trying to make lemonade out of this batch of lemons, but it seems that we can’t catch a break and our travel enthusiasm is waning.
Here’s what happened
We finished up our house and dog sit in London (have a blog post coming on what we did in London) and headed to the train station to catch our train to France. We got through the first two lines of security no problem, passport scanned no problem, we then headed to the agents responsible for giving the stamps and final entry into France and they took my passport and told us to “wait here.”
Background: My passport was stolen in Costa Rica along with our camera out of our rental car back in April. Subsequently when I applied for my replacement with plenty of time (5 weeks to the stated requirement of only two), the US had a major problem issuing passports overseas (see this article) – just my luck. So, I received an emergency passport good for a year to get back to the US and apply for a full one. Since we were only in the states for 2 weeks before heading to Europe, it wasn’t enough time to get a full passport so I just headed out with the temporary that was good until 2016. I was able to get into Panama, Costa Rica, USA (and England) without issue, after all.
The agent then came back and stated my passport was not valid for France, and I would need to speak with his officer. Thinking I would just need to explain my situation and we’d be on our way, we entered his office and were told that France is one of the few European countries that doesn’t recognize US emergency (temporary) passports as valid for entry into their country. WTF?! We pleaded, but he said there was nothing he could do, we just couldn’t enter his (stupid) country. No one we could call, no one he could talk to to help us out, it was “just policies” and they didn’t make them, they just enforced them. He also showed me a chart showing US Temporary passports and where they were valid and where they weren’t, and from what I could see on his computer screen, France was the only European country that had a red square next to it instead of a green one. WTF?!
Upset, frustrated, lost, and pissed off we re-purchased Oyster cards and took the tube back to our previous house sit to ask if we could stay a couple more days with them until we figured this shit out. They were more than happy to help and we holed up there to plan our next moves and try not to just fold and quit this whole travel thing all together.
Here’s what happened next
Our previous host, Toby, had a friend who was going to go on vacation this weekend, and she could use someone to watch her cat and water their plants. We thought about just traveling instead and getting out of London, but a weeks worth of free lodging paired up nicely to the hundreds we just lost by France being strict assholes about their entrance requirements. We then hashed out plans to go to the southern coast of England before the next house sit started.
But, it wasn’t just that easy to get to the beaches of Bournemouth, a few more things kicked us in the shins:
- I ordered the wrong hotel online and we almost had to pay a cancellation fee (good thing Jenny is good on the phone and we use Hotels.com a lot and they like us)
- We took the coach bus south because it was cheaper than the train, but the disorganized station made us miss our bus since they “forgot” to change the reading on a bus and we waited in line for the wrong bus for 10 minutes before being ready to board and getting denied saying it was the wrong bus and they made a mistake. We just couldn’t catch a break. We didn’t have to pay for a new bus, they did reschedule us (and the group of 8 or so that had the same thing happen) for the next bus, which of course was subsequently delayed 45 minutes from it’s scheduled departure. So four hours spent at a bus station.
- Once we arrived to the hotel, we had to ask for a change of rooms because they put us in the way back where internet didn’t work and we had to take four different stair cases to get to our creepy-ass hallway to our room. We asked for a change, and they obliged.
- Then we found out that the pool and gym advertised cost an extra 4 pounds per person per day, so we again went to the front desk and said something like “WTF, mate?” and we got a stamp that now gets us in for free.
Things started finally looking up after we relaxed in the pool and jacuzzi, went to the store and bought some picnic stuff to take to the beautiful beach for a relaxing (and cheap) dinner together.
Next up was to find some place to travel instead of (stupid) France, and we settled upon staying fairly close and having direct flights: northern Spain! We’ll be in northern Spain (and if my passport doesn’t work there, I’ll probably explode) before heading to Ireland at the end of the month.
We’re going to post this now before anything else happens to us and we’ll catch you all up on our London adventures in a coming post.
From your lemonade makers,
Will and Jenny