Had to go to the Portuguese Consulate this morning to get a new passport for my daughter. Though, in itself, this is not a very complex task, it is also not as obvious as one might think.
First issue: address.
Finding a consulate's address cannot be hard in this day and age, can it? I mean, google always knows where anything is. So, fired up Firefox, opened Google and started searching for "Consulado Português Roterdão". Good luck finding it.
Thought about using the official government portal to find this info. Went to "Portal do Governo". Was I really expecting to find anything here? No, not really.
Kept on googling for a while and then I did eventually find out this page which contains all the addresses for all the Portuguese consulates all over the world. Brilliant page, I thought to myself. Must be somehow controlled/built/maintained by the Foreign affairs ministry, right?
Very wrong. It's actually maintained by a Bank. A Bank of all things.
Found the address, hopped into the car and there I went. Of course, got completely lost in Rotterdam (it's only 20 km away but I never go there - I mean who wants to go to Rotterdam?).
As any man knows, when lost the only thing you have to do is keep your cool and keep on driving. Even if you've never been to that city, you know your target can't be too far away, and if you keep on driving you will eventually get there.
And so it happened. After turning right somewhere I saw the Portuguese flag hovering about hanging from a wall. That was it.
Found parking space (did eventually get a ticket, of course - any trip to a dutch town is incomplete without the 47.50 EUR parking ticket), went into the consulate and only had to wait about 15 minutes to have someone speaking to me.
For the first time in my life I had all the required papers and documentation, plus sufficient photos. "It's just a few minutes, you can take a seat here and we'll call you once it's ready."
Great. This was now 10:00, and it would mean that Morgana could be back in school by 10:30 and me in the Amsterdam office by 11:15.
Except that it took them exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes to enter the request into a computer form. "The passport will be ready in about one week, we'll give you a call once it's done." What? "65 Euros please." WTF?
I lose a whole morning to see someone take 75 minutes to fill in a computer-based form and I still have to pay 65 Euros on top of it?
Well, never mind, the weather is great today, Morgana's off for a sleep-over party with a friend, and when the kid's out it's Parent Party time at home (it used to be the other way around, wasn't it?).
Have a great weekend!