Friday, 16 April 2010

100 days to go.

I've just realised - 100 days to go. Seems like for ever, but I'm sure it will fly by in many ways. Everything seems to be in hand at the moment. Even though I haven't actually bought the bike yet!

I've researched travel insurance and will get that with Navigator Travel. I've arranged for Rabies and yellow fever jabs and am looking into Malaria. As soon as I've arranged to buy the bike I can start in the Carnet (for which there is no rush as I don't need one until January next year.

I've confimed with HUBB that I'm doing a talk at the June UK meeting (and one in Canada in August)

I've pretty much bought all the "stuff" I'm going to buy before I leave (assuming I can get everything else I need in Anchorage). Yesterday I ordered a Snugfit Merlin 3 sleeping bag and Coleman 533 duel fuel stove both of which I will try out on a camping weekend next week.

I'm writing this in Scotland, having just riden my Triumph Tiger 1050 up here. My next task is to sell this bike. I really like it but it doesn't make sense to keep it for a year and not use it. So next week I'll be putting it in bike trader.

I also need to work out how to add pictures to my blog...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

It's been a busy (and expensive) week.

It's not fun spending money but I've been doing a lot of it this week. I bought a Hein Gericke motorbiking jacket, a pair of BMW "zippy" biking trousers, and Tracy has been buying some bike gear too. Although she has to get childrens gear as her head and feet ar so small!

Tomorrow I have an appointment at Alt-berg to have a pair of biking/hiking boots made. Expensive but I hope very comfy. It's a little weird shopping for stuff. I've spend a lot on trousers, jacket and boots, but as I expect to live in them for a year they need to be good quality.

I've also, almost bought a bike. Nicole at Motoquest, Anchorage, has emaield me pictures of a BMW 1200GS which looks good to me. I've just tried emailing her back to say I will buy it. But my email bounced back. Should I be worried?

I've also bought a netbook (ASUS 1080) which should arrive this week. And, most importnatly, yesterday ay 9:45 a.m. my passport arrived with my US Visa.

Straight away I got onto the net and tried to book my flight to Alaksa. Annoyingly, the cheaper flight (£620) had gone, so I had to spend £100 more booking two seperate flights. First I booked on the Condor flight from Frankfurt to Anchorage. Then I booked the early morning flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt. I then had a panick as I realised I hadn't left enough time to get from one flight to the other (As I'm going to the US I'll need at least two hours to check in) So I had to phone Lufthansa up and cancel the flight. I then booked a flight from Birmingham to Frankfurt on the saturday and a hotel at Frankfurt airport for the saturday night. Much more sensibe.

So I leave the UK at 18:20 on saturday 24th July.

Today I started to arrnage vaccinations. I've had all the regular ones, but now need Yellow Fever and Rabies. Yellow Fever (certificate) may be necessay for certain places. Rabies I was in two minds about. It costs £100 but i decided I'd rather have it than need it. (I must be getting old - I used tot ravel without even thinking about vaccinations or even insurance.)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I got my US Visa!

Well, I went to the US Embassy today......

I got there at 10 a.m. The letter said DO NOT arrive more than half an hour before your appointment (mine was for 10:30) so I didn't. When I got there there was a massive queue just to get in the building. I counted 50 people in front of me. When I got half way round a lady was asking if we had any electronic equipment and the correct papers. I was astonished that 3 of the 4 people in front of me had either a phone, car keys (electronic!) or they didn't have the right papers photocopied. They ALL had to go to a local shop to either leave theur stuff or get on the internet and get the right stuff.

I had the right papers - three in total. A letter of confirmation, receipt for paying the $131 fee for applying and a page (which has my photo on it) which is the page you print off as you finish the DS 160 online application.

I got into the building just after 10:30. I was given a number (354) and told to sit down. The TV display called number 271 to desk 3. I was in for a long wait....

45 minutes later I was called for the first interview. Well, they call it an interview but really you just hand your forms over and have your fingerprints taken, then return to the seats to wait for the real interview. I waited 1 hour. Eventually I was called for my interview. I stood at a window whilst an Embassy employer read my application and asked my why I was applying for a visa. I told her I was only going to fly one way into the US, and might want to stay for more than 90 days (I also told her that I would be riding a bike from Alaska to Central America.)

She asked if I had any documentation to support my application - aletter from my employer? Details of the trip? or proof that I would have funds to cover my trip. Worryingly I said I didn't. It didn't really occur to me that I might need this. I told her I had enough money and anyway, it wasn't that expensive once you've paid for the bike. It was touch and go for a few minutes and she was NOT IMPRESSED that I didn't have anything to back up my application. So my advice to anyone doing this is TAKE SOMETHING WITH YOU. Something that shows you have funds. I was really worried for a few minutes that she would refuse me my visa and my dream that I have been planning for 15 years would fall apart.

Fortunately she approved my application and now it's all systems go....
After having paid £25 to get my passport delivered next week (what a rip off)

I did laugh, though, when she looked at my passport and saw a visa for Iran. The conversation went something like:
" Why did you go to Iran"
"On holiday"
"Yes, it's got some wonderful Persian ruins"