At midnight on Monday the 6th of April I caught the Student Agency bus from Florenc. Transit time to Vienna should have been 4.5 hours, but the first bus had issues and we had to return to Prague and switch to another bus. My visa appointment was at 9:30 and I had considered taking the 3:30 am bus but, after my bus broke down, I was happy I had taken the midnight bus. The bus drops you at Stadion bus station on the U2 Bahn line in Vienna. My intention was to walk around all morning (I’ve been to Vienna twice and don’t have any need to see much more) but it was so cold that instead I went to Westbahnhof and hung out eating fresh bread, drinking tea and using the free wifi. Cost: Student Agency bus (return) 976kc plus two Bahn tickets at €2.20 each.
From Westbahnhof it is a pleasant 25 minute walk along Mariahilfer Strasse to the Embassy. There are also trams that will take you most of the way there. There are many nice shops and cafes on the way and you will also pass the Technical Museum. The entrance to the visa section is down the left side of the building.
I arrived a few moments early for my appointment and was greeted by the friendly staff who took all of my documents and my €91 (in cash, exact change required). Moments later I was invited into the office where I was asked a series of questions:
- what do I intend to do in the Czech Republic?
- how long do I intend to stay?
- how much money do I plan to earn every month?
- where do I live in Prague?
- how much is my rent?
- how many people do I share a flat with?
- do I have a Czech bank account?
- when did I first visit the Czech Republic?
- when did I arrive in the Czech Republic this time?
- when did I previously live in the Czech Republic?
At this point I also supplied copies of my previous visa and residence card. I brought up the fact that I am studying Czech and used a few well rehearsed phrases to emphasize this. Interestingly I was NOT asked what I would do if my visa was not ready by the time my 90 day Schengen limit expires on May 19th. The staff translated my statement into Czech, read it all back to me in English and then had me sign the application document. I received a stamp in my passport to show I had applied for a visa and a receipt with a reference number. The staff informed me that the process can take up to three months, but that I would likely hear from someone sooner by email. They were friendly, polite, helpful and even thanked me for being so well organized. The entire visit lasted about one hour.
When I originally booked my ticket I chose the 15:40 return bus that would get me to Prague around 20:00. Out on the street at 10:30 in the morning I was at a loss as to what to do, so I returned to Westbahnhof and used the free internet to look for an earlier bus. Student Agency allows free changes up to one hour before departure so I was able to switch to a 12:40 bus that would get my home by 17:00. This left time for a stroll, lunch at the Stadion shopping centre and then onto the bus with time to spare.
Of course there was construction on the way home and we had to take a rural detour….
…but it was a good trip and I was happy to be back home and into my bed. 10.5 hours bus travel time for a one hour meeting! And now I wait, patiently, for the email to tell me my visa is ready to be picked up. Watch for the final installment sometime soon!