Saturday, 4 April 2015

A quick trip to the Netherlands

I knew that my Dutch passport was running out somewhere in January, but that was no problem….., so we thought.
We had it all done before: making an appointment with the consulate in Lyon, find the one photographer there who produces recognised Dutch passport photographs, have our fingerprints taken, do some sightseeing in Lyon and then wait for the passport to arrive by registered mail. Easy peasy…., so we thought.

In five years things can change considerably, we found out. The passport facilities were taken away from the consulates (cost cutting), and a passport could be obtained from the embassy in Paris where the Champs Elysées boasted an authorised photographer as well. The passport had to be collected in person, after at least a week. Price tag attached : 4 trips to and from Paris @ approx. € 100 pp., or 2 trips and an expensive stay in a Parisian hotel, plus the cost of a passport, also over € 100 pp. Quite a costly affair, when one thinks about it.

The centre of the universe
However we found a better solution.
One can also apply for a passport in the Netherlands, in The Hague, but also in a number of Hicksvilles, such as Haarlemmermeer, Enschede, Maastricht, Bergeijk, Echt-Susteren, Oldambt, Bergen op Zoom en Montferland. To find some of these places I had to resort to Google maps…. Now of course a trip to the Netherlands is not free of charge (here the passport has to be collected in person as well), but at least it can be combined with a lightning visit to family that lives not far from Bergeijk and with a shopping expedition to stock up on necessities unobtainable in France, as there are Indonesian sweet soy sauce, Indonesian chilly paste and real Dutch gin.

Townhall, or passport printing office?
We made an appointment at the earliest possible date in Bergeijk on a Monday, drove the Saturday before to Den Bosch, had photographs taken there, and walked into Bergeijk’s townhall at the agreed time. There we were told that the passports could be collected the next Monday. Fortunately the civil servant gave us a phone number we could phone from Thursday onwards. And on Thursday the passport was indeed ready, so on Friday we could drive home, the car filled up to the brim with Indonesian and Dutch goodies, including a Surinamese take-away for two people that lasted us three days, and armed with brand new legal documents.

Old and new
Right after crossing the French border we were overtaken by a French customs car, which summoned us to stop. However, after we had solemnly sworn that we would smoke all the cannabis in the car ourselves, including the 400 cartons of cigarettes and the 12 kg of heroine, we could continue our journey, without having to show our brand new passports!

Arrêter, s'il vous plaît!
The link to the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle can be found here.

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