So it turns out sometimes border police really take their part in the Schengen Agreement seriously, as I experience first hand one cloudy Sunday morning.
I leave Budapest at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to catch my bus to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I need to be prepared to hand my passport over at the border. We stop. Bleary eyed with tousled hair, we pile out. We give them our precious passports for scrutiny. For some reason they hold on to them as we get back on the bus. Minutes later, the driver stands at the front holding up my passport. Yeesh how embarrassing. My passport photo is whack to say the least.
I shrink off the bus. “Can I see your resident visa?” My what. I don’t have one obvs. “How long have you been in the Schengen?” Since the start of March. Please refer to exit stamp from Morocco. Spain didn’t give me an entry stamp when I came across on the ferry. I initiallly thought this was going to be a blessing, not a need new pants instigator. Free Schengen ride woooooo. Apparently noooooo.
Luckily I’m still within my three months (or 90 days) and I’ve actually done the right thing being out of the Schengen area for actually nearly four months. Two in Bucharest. Two in Morocco. So I’m not freakin’ out too badly. But we would like our passports back now please. I feel like I’m something out of The Hunger Games. Punish the masses for one’s treason. Apparently they had also started interrogating an Argentinian girl because they thought my passport was hers.
My passport is returned with entry and exit stamps added. I live to travel another day.
So what is this Schengen? It’s a word most Australian, US and Canada travellers to Europe have heard of. It sounds Chinese but it’s basically a bitch, killing the dreams of gap year-ers. The Schengen area is a group of European countries that have grouped together abolishing passport and immigration controls at their common borders, essentially making them one big country, with a singular visa policy. What this visa policy is you can spend 90 days visa free in this area within an 180 day period.
So what if you want more than 90 days in this area? There are plenty of forum posts dealing with this but one option is to leave the area for 90 days to head back in for another crack. So where to spend your 90 days of Schengen purgatory?
The list isn’t too unappealing at all. Consider Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Turkey, Morocco, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belarus, Russia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Latvia.