Passport Saga

We left for Scotland on July 4th and it was a very long day of travel for us – including an overnight flight that left Doha at 2:30 AM, a very long wait at UK customs, and finally another flight over to Aberdeen. After our flight, we had about an hour’s drive ahead of us – on the other side of the road, and the other side of the car!

We got settled in our cottage once we arrived, and then we promptly passed out because we were so exhausted. (We even skipped dinner because even though we were starving, exhaustion took priority.)

At some point the next day, Dave mentioned he was unsure where his passport was. I figured it was around somewhere, and that we’d certainly find it in the cottage or our luggage.

Well we started to search for it, and it wasn’t anywhere to be found. Wee searched our luggage, carry ons, car, and the cottage. It was completely gone. So we began the process of calling the airline, airport, and even the car rental company – anyone we could think of. After two days of trying to call everyone to locate it, we hit a dead end.

The airline said we could go to the Embassy in London to get a new one – but we were NO where near London. After a little research, we discovered a U.S. Consular General in Edinburgh that issues passports. Although 3 and 1/2 hours away, it was still our best bet.

We had no internet or local phone in our cottage, so we were not sure how to proceed. We finally called our friend Scotty, who is a post-doc at Oxford, and had access to the internet. He scheduled an appointment for us online, and sent us the forms we needed to print out. He also called the London Embassy to ask some questions. We would probably not have been able to do all this without Scott, so we are really grateful to him that he could help us!

We started our journey early Tuesday morning at about 5:30 AM. The first hour or so was a pretty easy drive, mostly one lane highways that were practically empty due to the time of day. As we got closer to Edinburgh though, lanes got wider and there was a lot more traffic. We found a rest stop with a Costa Coffee about half an hour outside of Edinburgh, so we stopped in for some caffeine. They also had free wi-fi which was a pleasant surprise. So we checked email and things, and then got back on the road.

We arrived in Edinburgh around 9:30, and Dave navigated me through the city. We found a place to park, and headed off to find one of the picture places listed on the Embassy website. We headed down Elm Row, which is where it said it was located, but we could not find it anywhere.

Luckily I had copied and pasted three other photo sites from their website, so we headed back to the car to drive to another one. We found it pretty quickly, again, thanks to Dave’s great navigation skills and we did not have to wait long for Dave to get his picture taken and developed. We were doing great on time and headed back to find the Embassy.

It was pretty easy to find and the building itself had an American flag out front! We went in, only to be told by the security gentleman that we should wait aside for a bit, since the waiting room was tiny and full at the moment.

We were half an hour early for our appointment, so that was no big deal. It was a lovely day outside so we sat in the sun, and waited for it to be our turn to go inside!

Shortly there after, some people left and they called us in. They took us thru a metal detector and took our phones. Then they gave us a number, and we headed into the waiting room, which was about 8 seats or so, and they were all taken.

We waited a long time (at least it felt like it – maybe half an hour or so?) before they finally called our number. So we went up to the window, told them the story, and that Dave needed an emergency passport. I showed them our itinerary which showed we are staying until July 24. They said their turnaround time is 1-2 weeks, so we could pick it up before we leave. So we said okay, they took the paperwork and credit card, and then we had to wait to see the Consular General who would be checking to verify our story.

He finally called us to the window and he was a very nice guy. He asked us about our trip, Dave’s time in Montana, and recommended some places we should visit while in the UK. Then he asked Dave about previous addresses to prove he was in fact David G. We passed, ha ha, and were told they would call or email us when the passport was ready.

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On Monday, July 12, not even a week later, Dave received an email that his passport was finished! We were pretty shocked that it was such a quick turnaround. We were also relieved and decided to head back to Edinburgh the very next day to get it over with!

Another three and half hours later, we were in Edinburgh again, parking and walking to the American Embassy to pick up Dave’s passport. We weren’t in such a rush this time, so we did not have to get up so early, and we left about 9 or so.

When we got to the Embassy, it looked closed, but we rang the doorbell, and told them what we were doing there. They came out with Dave’s passport and checked to make sure it was him, then gave it to him. Randomly, there was apparently a gentleman waiting who needed a witness to sign some paperwork, so they asked Dave if he wanted to do it. So he did! There was a Scottish man buying property in Florida, and he needed a witness. What cracks me up is that it could have been anyone! But the guy had been waiting a long time, so I am glad we were able to help!

If you’re still reading, thanks! There is probably more to the story, but its all ready too long and exhausting to re-tell! Moral of the story – don’t lose your passport when you’re staying in a remote village in the UK!! 🙂

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