Yesterday was our third and final trip to the American Embassy in the centre of London. We're committed to three years in Ohio and have annual visas that need to be renewed back 'home'.
It was an exciting day for Abigail as for the last 6 months, she has been looking forward to going into London, riding a train and seeing the 'red decker buses', as she calls them. Whenever we've watched movies like 'Flushed Away' or 'The Great Muppet Caper', Abigail has been jumping up and down, pointing at the screen saying 'That's London, I'm going to London'!
Each trip to the Embassy has got progressively quicker for us and it seems to be more organised too ... either that or we now know exactly what to expect. The first year we waited three hours, the second year, two and yesterday we were in and out in just one hour!
I suspect this speedy experience was partly due to it being a renewal and partly because when you take a little person in with you, they will write 'baby' on your form and then fast-track you through. It made me consider loaning Naomi out to other applicants to speed up the process for them as well ... earning some spending money at the same time! She could go in with anyone as being an American citizen doesn't need an appointment like the rest of the family.
As the visit to the Embassy is a fairly mundane experience, I found a few things to have a chuckle about in the process. In particular, the 'Please ensure your mobile phone is switched off' sign at the interview window. This only sounds slightly ridiculous until you know that no mobile phones are actually allowed in the building and you and your belongings are scanned as you go through security in the entry building on arrival to ensure that!
Each year I have also found it really amusing that the American Embassy does not accept American Express when paying for courier delivery of the passports that they process with visas. If there was anywhere in London that you would expect to be able to use it, it would be there ... but apparently not!
Once again, we got our stamp of approval and are good to return to the States ... only God knows which country's visa we will need to apply for next year!