Visa Processing in Paradise

Trip Start May 04, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
CouchSurfed with Miguel in Juan Les Pins then moved into a room above a yoga studio in the middle of Antibes

Flag of France  , Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur,
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

With my STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) qualification in hand and some advice from friends at home familiar with the Superyacht Industry, I headed for Antibes, known as the hub for white boats in the Mediterranean, intent on landing a job as a stewardess that would take me to the Caribbean for the summer season.

It's true to say that I didn't know exactly how I was going to get a job with no hospitality experience. Indeed, I was bluntly told my one agent that I had absolutely nothing to offer. Undiscouraged by that bitch, I knew that if other people could do it then so could I...and I did!

Registering with some agents a few days in advance paid off with an email waiting in my inbox upon arrival inviting me for an interview first thing the very next morning. Scrambling around town with all my luggage, I had just enough time to make myself presentable, buying a new outfit and getting a much needed haircut and manicure. All scrubbed up, I arrived with my game face on only for that agent to have been delayed due to a train incident, which I later found out to be a bona fide track suicide!

On I went to the next agency on my list for a "meet & greet." It was as a result of this that I received a call that very same afternoon from the very friendly voice of a Senior Stewardess by the name of Romola who was to later become my boss.

The next thing I knew, I'd booked an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Paris to apply for a B1/B2 visa and had formally accepted the job on the basis of successful visa application.

So that was that! Arrived Tuesday, phone call Wednesday, job secured Thursday - HA! I couldn't believe my luck!!! Now it was just a matter of waiting for my visa interview, processing and receipt, which meant that I was "stuck" in the south of France for the next 12 days - TRAGEDY!

Fortunately, I had some great company in Miguel, an awesome Mexican guy who was on the Cote d Azur completing his masters dissertation. I'd CouchSurfed with Miguel for the first few days while I was finding my feet in Antibes, but we continued to hang out going salsa dancing, bike riding up to Cagnes-sur-Mer, driving all the way down to St Tropez, training it up to Monaco, walking across into Italy...absolutely living the life on the Riviera! What Miguel failed to mention until much later on was that his thesis was actually due that month!

Having originally been ditched for some better offer, I also had the pleasure of Seano "bludging" with me for a few days en route to Oktoberfest fresh from his jaunt across Spain. By that stage I had established roots setting up house in a one bedroom apartment above a yoga studio in the middle of town. The national rail strike meant that I was running out of the door to Paris for my visa interview earlier than planned just as Sean arrived. I was feeling quite bad until I realised that he had my nice place all to himself (on me) while I was sleeping in some shitty hostel (also on me).

My one night whirlwind trip to Paris was just enough to re-visit all my favourite places; sunset on the steps of the Sacre Coeur basilica in Montmartre, walk up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe and, of course, the obligatory walk under the Eiffel Tower. The difference in the weather was incredible, the auburn leaves, cloud cover and occasional drizzle clearly marking the change to autumn in the capital. With wet shoes and blisters, I was happy to return to the sun and beach of the Riveria. I had just a few more days before I was due to fly to New York to join my new crewmates and home aboard what came to be affectionately known as the Lady Loveboat...
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