Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: Part 2

Time for a little Visa update.

As you can recall from the last update, our list of things to do is this:

  1. Matt will fly back to Australia. Femke will stay in Holland and continue work at her current job.
  2. Matt will need to get a job in Brisbane.
  3. Once I have a job we will finalise all the paperwork required. I will have to send “certified copies” of papers and general copies and forms to Holland.
  4. Fem needs to call the German Australian Embassy in Berlin to arrange an appointment (Netherlands has an Australian Embassy but they don’t have Visa capabilities – sigh)
  5. Fem goes to the appointment with all the papers. If everything is in order, then she will be granted a temporary spouse visa that same day. This is valid for 2 years.
  6. Fem organises and executes her move to Australia!
  7. After 2 years, we supply additional paperwork to immigration for that period to show us still being together etc and the temporary visa is upgraded to a permanent spouse visa.

There has been some developments since then, which I will now attempt to explain.

I have now put together all of my documentation that I need to send to Femke. This was mailed to her 2 weeks ago and she has successfully received them all. Femke has also received the Australian police check in the mail as well. Yes! All good there. So as far as paperwork that we need there is only two items left.

  • New Zealand Police Check
  • China Police Check

New Zealand Police Check

Femke has sent off both the requests for the New Zealand and Australian police checks at the same time, so it was assumed she would get them back at around the same time. A week after she received the Australian police check, she sent an email to the NZ Justice department just checking up on the progress of it. We were informed they had a large backlog to process and we would just have to be patient. We estimate that she should have the NZ police check in about 2 weeks from now. Nothing too major, just need to wait a bit.

Chinese Police Check

This is where the fun starts. We had a few delays with getting Ebe (Femke’s friend in China) to help us. It turns out we have contacted her at one of the worst times possible. She currently has a lot of major work and personal issues she is currently dealing with which take up most of her time. After a few weeks she was able to help us out for which we were very grateful for.

We all followed the process for obtaining a Chinese Police check and she ended up at the local police station. There she was told that they don’t handle those kinds of requests. So we have hit a brick wall. Ebe and her friend Maggie ring around and try to find out another way to get the police check with no luck.

Fem and I are starting to get concerned. Fem then emails both the Chinese and German Aussie embassies asking for how we are to proceed now. They both respond and say that they acknowledge that some documentation required is very hard or impossible to obtain. If we cannot get the police check, if we show proof that we tried then that would be acceptable.

Yes! A way through this we thought! However there was a catch.

Initially step 4 of our master plan involves Femke going to Berlin for the interview while they process the papers. If everything was correct, she would have been issued the Spouse Visa that same day. But now that we are most likely not going to have the Chinese police check, this means that we would not be able to do the same day processing. The German embassy would have to do some additional enquires through their channels. They recommended the best option would be for Femke to mail in her paperwork and wait for them to process it through their standard queue. This means step 4 has gone from taking 1 day to possibly months. sigh.

Yes there is still a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Late last week Ebe and Maggie said they might be able to get the Chinese police check by going to a bigger police station, but they are continuing their enquires and will get back to us when they can. So we are still hopeful that we might still be able to get it.

So that’s where we are right now. Amazing how an entire visa process now hinges on two sub papers from the police check section! Funny how it all is! Well keep your fingers crossed!

Cologne, Germany

On the weekend, Femke and myself travelled to Cologne, Germany. This is a large town in the north west of Germany. We chose to do this as it does look more and more likely that I will be returning to Australia in a week thanks to the bad visa situation. 🙁

I wanted to ensure that I had travelled to several countries. So I have now officially been in Belgium (2 days), Germany (2 days) and Holland (nearly 3 months)! 🙂

Now.. on to Cologne.

We got up reasonably early on Saturday morning and caught the bus to Den Bosch again. We got a huge shock when we realised our return tickets to Cologne was going to be 200 Euros. That’s $400 aussie dollars. WTF? The distance from Den Bosch to Cologne (as the crow flies) is the same from Brisbane to Ballina. Sounds like a huge rip off just because we are crossing into Germany.

Ah well. there was no other options so we paid up and settled in for the ride. We had to detour at Utrecht due to rail works in the south, but for most of the way we were on these high speed trains where it was very smooth and fast (up to 160km an hour).

We arrived at Cologne at about 2pm. We stopped at an info centre to get a map. On our way there we were exiting the train station and were immediately greeted with the sight of the Dom Cathedral. My god. This is one of the largest churches in the world. It is smack in the middle of Cologne and it is truly a stunning sight to see.

We then walked to the hotel and after resting there for a few minutes we were off again on a long walk to the Claudius Thermal spa and sauna.

The Claudius

This was my first time in an European Spa/Sauna. Half of this site is a a collection of pools where you can splash around and relax in your swimming costume. The other half is a collection of sauna rooms around some cooling pools and open showers. And yep everyone in the sauna area is nude. For me it takes a minute or two to get used to it as it is a new experience. Of course everyone is looking at everyone else, but it’s not sexual, and there’s definitely no touching. After a while, you don’t really notice it anymore and you instead just relax and become more focused on the extremely hot air you are breathing and how much you are sweating. Overall I enjoyed it.

After a few hours of nice relaxing, we then showered and got dressed and had a nice dinner at the restaurant that was there as well. It was a nice meal and Fem got one of the largest desserts I have seen!  We then half bussed and half walked back to the hotel that night.

The Dom Cathedral

On the way back, we saw a view of the Dom cathedral at night with it all lit up. It was even more stunning then when we first saw it. We did not take our cameras with us to the Claudius and I still didn’t have a tripod. I decided to return later that night to get some shots of the church. Luckily our hotel is a short walk from it. Femke stays behind to relax leaving me to shoot the Dom by myself. I was really really wanting a tripod at that stage, but I just had to make do with a high ISO and as steady hands as I could manage.

Dom church at nightIMG_2412_resize Dom church at night  

Bottom area of the dom church

Above is the best of a few shots that I took that night. Absolutely stunning.


On Sunday we enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel and then we were off again. Today we wanted a closer look at the Dom Cathedral. We first walked along the river Rhine to get some back shots of the Dom, similar to what we saw the previous night.

Bridge over the Rhine river Us with the Dom in the background  a closeup side view.

Panorama of the side viewFront of the Dom in daylight 

Climbing the tower

We then eventually entered the Church and saw you could climb the southern tower. After paying 5 Euros, up and up the 590 steps we went. No… we didn’t take any water. Hoo boy… we were huffing and puffing a bit as we neared the top.

  The main stairwell  The metal staircase inside the main chamber

There were lots of people coming down the staircase as well, so you really had to hug the walls. At the end of the staircase it opened up into a large chamber. In the middle was another metal staircase to the last part of the climb. After we rested we both then climbed to the top.

Looking up to the top of the tower

Looking up we were then able to to the top of the tower from the inside. It was rather cold and windy up there so it didn’t take long for us to cool down. 🙂

At the top there is a walkway around the outside deck of the tower. It is fully enclosed over with bars and a wire mesh so it was hard to get clear shots of the city as you can see below.

View from the outside walkway  View of CologneView of Cologne

Once we were finished and happy with our shots,  we had to go down a very narrow one way stair case back to the main chamber.

The narrow staircase back down to the chamber

We then had to shimmy down the slightly wider main staircase this time trying to avoid all the people on the way up.

We were ready to go into the main church area, but since it was Sunday, they had mass on at that time. We then decided to go and have some lunch and come back in the afternoon.

An average meal

After having a rather average meal, followed by us being overcharged for the meal. After a slightly heated discussion with the waiter who informed us the English menu was 2006 prices we accepted our free drinks and gave the moron waiter one hell of a frowning. If you ever go to Cologne don’t go to the Chicago Steakhouse. It’s crap.

Inside the Dom

We then returned to the church and I was very impressed. I have now seen a LOT of cathedrals in a few countries and it takes a bit to impress me. It was mid afternoon and the sun was streaming in through the southern windows. The reflections were against the walls and boy did it make a pretty picture! There were a lot of people there, but there was enough space for us all. You certainly felt in awe of the grand size of the architecture and the attention to detail.

Stunning sunlight

Inside the dom church Inside the dom churchInside the dom church 

 Inside the dom church  Inside the dom church Inside the dom church

Stunning sunlight

After spending some time in there and taking lots and lots of photos, we had enough of churches (again).

The Chocolate Museum

We had been told by Nga-chi (one of Femke’s friends) that the Cologne Chocolate Museum was good, so we walked south through the city and then along the Rhine river to get there.

It was reasonably ok. It seemed to focus too much on the history of the cocoa bean and not enough on the actual production of chocolate. One good part was an actual working chocolate factory in the middle. A lot of the machines had glass sections so you could see the automated process of the chocolate mixing, stencilling, cooling and so on. That was pretty interesting to see. We didn’t get to see that much detail in the Cadbury factory in Dunedin, New Zealand. At the end of the hall where the machines were located was a large chocolate fountain. Here the staff would give out wafer sticks that had been dipped into the chocolate. There was also a nice smell emanating from the fountain.

 Worker at the chocolate fountain Close up of the fountain.. mmm

By the end of the museum we were rather tired. We walked back through the city and got our bags from the hotel and waited for the train ride home. To pass the time we both had a German pretzel which were big and very very salty. Hmm don’t think I would have one of them again.

Buildings along the riversedge.

After 3 hours of travelling we were back in Waalwijk late that night.  Another great time in another country!

Immigration Dramas – Part 3

Well the latest news is not very good.

I am still waiting on the two stamped certificates. They are currently somewhere between Brisbane and Holland. But I should have them in a day or two.

After getting the initial bad news about Fem not getting the job last Thursday, she has put in her resume for 6 more jobs. Yesterday we received a knock back for 3 of those 6.  So we have 3 more to wait on.  There is a chance, but it’s getting slimmer with each passing day. Fem could apply for more jobs, but most of them have cut off dates for applications which are beyond next Friday so they are not an option. The IND interview is for Friday of next week, so we reckon that if there are no possible leads by Wednesday of next week that it will be the end of it and I will be returning to Australia.

We will most likely go to Cologne in Germany this weekend to have a nice relaxing weekend and try not to think about all this. This way I can say I have been to Holland, Belgium and Germany! 🙂