Our Bratislava Experience in 1 Day and 1 Night

For our 12th year wedding anniversary, hubby and I took a week-long trip to Europe. Our first stop was Bratislava in Slovakia. Slovakia is a European Union member state surrounded by Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Poland.

After a 6-hour long flight via FlyDubai, we arrived at Bratislava International Airport. I don’t know if it’s just me or anyone else go through this, but every time I go through immigration of any country I visit, I get anxious. I mean, I make up lots of scenarios on my mind of what might go wrong. Is that weird or what? Or is that I’m a Type A person? Anyway, after deplaning a bus took us to the arrivals gate and from there we walked until we reached the immigration gates. It was only our plane that landed at that time, around 1 pm Slovakia time, so it was our plane’s passengers going through immigration. When it was my turn, I said good morning to the immigration officer, gave my passport and he checked my papers. Although he checked my papers for under 2 minutes, it felt like forever. Really, I’m so funny. Then he asked me to place four of my fingers on the scanner and luck was not with me because my hands were sweating which is very rare, so the scanner cannot read my prints. Bummer a million times. So, he had to assist me and said ‘you have to place your fingers tenderly on the scanner plate like this.’ I grimaced at him and when the scanner beeped the green light. He stamped my passport and into the first European country I enter.

Emerald remarked why it took me so long (it was just 5 minutes!) to go through immigration. I embarrassingly told him my experience with the bulked up immigration officer and he laughed. You see, he never ever experiences glitches going through immigration that’s why. Major hmph.

After several more minutes, we were welcomed by a cool breeze outside the airport. And I loved it! Much as I love the Emirates I love cooler climates more it seems. Hehe.






How to Apply for Schengen Visa in the UAE

It has been two months now since hubby and I got back from our week long trip to Central Europe. However, I decided to write our experience in securing the Schengen Visa needed for the trip to be of help to would be travelers to the European Union in some way.

Schengen Visa is a type of document much like a pass if you are hoping to travel to any member states of the European Union. The European Union is an economic and political union of 28 countries mainly located in Europe. The 28 member states consist of the following countries:

Austria                        Italy
Belgium                      Latvia
Bulgaria                      Lithuania
Croatia                        Luxembourg
Cyprus                        Malta
Czech Republic        Netherlands
Denmark                    Poland
Estonia                       Portugal
Finland                       Romania
France                         Slovakia
Germany                    Slovenia
Greece                         Spain
Hungary                     Sweden
Ireland                        United Kingdom (unsure if to include or not after Brexit referendum)

The Schengen Visa is mandatory to non-European Union citizens to be able to visit any of the member states. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it is easy breezy because of VFS Global, a third party organization authorized to facilitate visa applications. Their website details the steps you have to undergo as well as the option of making an appointment for the submission of said applications. As an applicant, you have the option to choose to which embassies of the countries you wish to apply to. There are two options to choose from which can help you: 1) the country that is the first point of entry, or 2) the country where you will spend the longest time in. We were going to three countries namely Slovakia (our first point of entry), Austria, and the Czech Republic. But will be staying the most days in Austria, thus, we applied to the Austrian Embassy for our Schengen Visa.

Well, friends, we come to the part of our visa application experience. I now warn you that this is a very long entry. Hehe. So, I hope you can bear with me.

31 March 2016:  Our week long trip to Bratislava-Vienna-Prague has finally been booked for the 29th of April! Excited much, of course. Now, the legwork begins. I am incharge of collating all requirements, so it was a busy several days for me.

Accordingly, the requirements for Schengen Visa via Austrian Embassy are the following:

  1. Filled up Application Form (can be downloaded from the VFS Global website
    I highly recommend typing your answers to the application form to avoid confusions or misspellings. When we submitted our visa applications, a lot of applicants submitted handwritten applications.
  1. Visa Fee is Aed 246 for each application (based on current exchange rate)
  2. Original Passport and a copy of the passport (must be valid for 3 months more at the time of travel)
  3. 2 pcs. Passport-sized photo (specifications can be found at VFS Global website)
  4. Letter from sponsor in the UAE specifying qualification, salary, starting date of employment
  5. Personal bank account statement for the last 6 months
    I recommend including credit card statements for the same period. Be ready to defend       account balances during interview, if any. There is no official minimum bank balance required for Austria according to my research and personal experience.
  1. Proof of Travel Insurance for the travel period in question
    In this instance, we used Dnata Travel Insurance. Just make sure that the insurance has a minimum coverage of €30,000.- for medical expenses.
  1. Proof of Flight Booking or Flight Reservation which includes return flights
  2. Proof of Hotel Reservation or other Accommodation during travel period
  3. UAE Residence Visa (must be valid for 3 months more at the time of travel)
  4. Copy of active Emirates National ID Card
  5. Valid Contact Information (can be email or street address)

Note that the Austrian Embassy at any time of the application may require for additional documents to help them make their decision so just be ready and always check your email for any correspondence from them.

10 April 2016:  Collating the required documents was a bit tedious but I was motivated so I did not mind it that much. Today, I set up an appointment online for the submission of our documents at VFS Global Visa Centre in Dubai. You can choose the time amenable for your schedule, of course.

I would also like to stress out that you should not bring any electronic devices inside the Visa Centre. They are quite strict with this policy. To make sure which devices are permitted inside the Visa Centre do refer to the VFS Global on said restrictions policy.

13 April 2016:  Hubby and I were two hours early for our appointment. We didn’t want to be late for any reasons that may jeopardize our getting a Schengen Visa. Talk about over excitement, right? Well, we can’t afford not to go on this trip as everything has been paid for in advance already and leave from work has been filed. Luckily, we were promptly assisted in the Visa Centre that it only took thirty minutes to check our visa applications and accompanying documents.

We opted to have our passports delivered at home to avoid the long travel time since we are staying two hours from Dubai, hence, we paid an additional of Aed 30. Feeling positive that everything was alright, I went shopping after.

14 April 2016:  You know that adage about not counting the chicks before the eggs are hatched? Well, it was spot on for us. The Austrian Embassy in Abu Dhabi after receiving our applications emailed my husband to come for a personal interview in Abu Dhabi and bring credit card statements for the last six months. You see, we only submitted bank statements. That’s why I recommended earlier to include credit card statements as part of your proof of funds.

When hubby received the email, both of us thought it was hilarious that he had to go to Abu Dhabi for a personal appearance. You see, we chose Austria over Slovakia in applying for our Schengen Visa because it has VFS Global in Dubai while Slovakia’s embassy is in Abu Dhabi. Our residence is about 3-4 hours travel time to Abu Dhabi. Anyway, we said there’s nothing more we can do but to appear in person. Although, it was only my husband who was supposed to go to the Austrian Embassy, I opted to accompany him during the long drive to and fro.

17 April 2016:  Armed with the copies of bank statements the Austrian Embassy required, we were ready for the interview. In fact, we were three hours early. They didn’t give any appointment schedule just so we have to be there between 12 noon and 1pm. A very slim window, don’t you think?

Plenty of people were queuing to the two customer service windows. We were not bothered since our papers were with the embassy staff already. When it was my husband’s turn, I seated myself near the window in case he needed to ask me something. What an experience I tell you it turned out to be! They had these pages of questions for which my husband had to answer to. Every minute detail of our trip such as travel dates, flight details, hotel reservations, itineraries, family tree (yes!), bank balances i.e. deposits and withdrawals, employment history in U.A.E., travel plans in future, among others were scrutinized during the interview. Good thing I brought all the papers but the submitted application form. After about 45 minutes into the interview, we were told to wait for their email on what will be the results for us. So we went home slightly dejected and pessimistic that we will get our Schengen Visa. What else is there to do but wait?

On this very same day, though, hubby and I received a correspondence from the Austrian Embassy in Deutsch. What?! Anyway, I used free language translators via Google and was able to get the gist of the letter. Mainly, they cannot issue us a Schengen Visa unless we write back to them in Deutsch (mind you) stating 1) how we can prove that our funds were enough for the trip, and 2) how we can prove that we have all intention of coming back to the U.A.E. after our trip. And we had one week to send our reply.

Talk about anxiety! Ha! Hubby and I were in a quandary as to what we will do. Using Google again, I tried to formulate our letters. But who will proofread them was the big question. Luckily for us, hubby’s immediate boss is Austrian and he could ask him a favor of correcting the letters I prepared. Overcoming geographical hindrances (hubby’s boss was at that time in Saudi Arabia) and slow internet connection, the boss was able to correct my pitiful, winding letter in Deutsch and create a short, succinct one. So, on the 21st of April, we sent out our replies to the Austrian Embassy; crossing our fingers that we will get our visas in time for our scheduled flight on the 29th. At this time, we already sent out our request to our travel agency to cancel our trip thinking if we get our visas later on we can just rebook. At least by cancelling early, we could still get back 80% of what we paid for the trip.

27 April 2016:  Two more days left before our supposed flight. Due to hubby’s insistence, I phoned the Austrian Embassy to inquire on our visa status since in our VFS Global inquiry online said “passport on the way to Visa Centre”, and the Visa Centre cannot confirm whether a visa has been issued or not. Thankfully, I was able to talk to an embassy staff and she confirmed that we have been issued visas for our trip. Because of excitement, after thanking her I just put the phone down and shrieked with joy. Then I phoned my husband to inform him about the good news, but both of us were still skeptical up to this point since we reasoned out that maybe my hearing was impaired. Lol. Good thing, we rescinded our request to cancel our trip with our travel agency a day after we emailed our cancellation request. Hello Europe, we’re coming! Hehe.

28 April 2016:  True to form we received our passports with our Schengen Visa via courier.



What an experience, right? But as they say, the rest is, well, history.

I hope I was able to share some valuable points to you all. Thanks for reading.

Orphaned Postcard Project by PostMuse

Greetings everyone!

In 2013, I joined postmuse’s Orphaned Postcard Project in my personal quest of reigniting my love for snail mails. 🙂

Hence today I thought of sharing with you the links for the postcards I chose to ‘adopt’ for this project of hers. And maybe, just maybe, you might want to join her project too. Who knows, right?

Postcard 1 – Austria via U.A.E. with a Stop in Korea” 


Postcard 2 – Tall Buildings Getting Taller


And yeah, you guessed it, I’m thinking of adopting a couple of postcards this year.

Thanks for reading.

Off Duty Sewing

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing great. 🙂

As for me, I’ve been quite tired from rejoining the workforce after my annual vacation. All I do after coming from duty is to get my much needed rest and sleep. And by rest I mean browsing the net and watching my fave tv series online. Hehe. Yesterday I’ve finished my quota of tv series so today I managed to do some sewing aside from the baking I’ve recently done. I haven’t really shared with you about my newfound love of baking, eh? Well, I’ll post something about it next time. Today, I will just share what I created with my Singer.

I used to be assigned in the gynecology outpatient department in our hospital and there I made my first few friends in this land of desert and sand. Sister Sheela (we call the nurses here, sister, fyi) is one friend who is originally from India recently celebrated her birthday. One of my goals this year is to give handmade gifts so I made her a pleated pouch from the current fabrics I have. I just slipped in some beauty products which I knew she uses as extras.


I was quite happy with how it turned out that I made another one using two coordinating fabrics of Aviary 2 by Joel Dewberry which I ordered from Amazon. This second pouch I intend to give as a parting gift to Mary Jane, one of my closest friend in the hospital. You see she has decided not to renew her work contract and will be going back to the Philippines in one of these coming days.


I think both pouches are really cute even if I say so myself. With these two projects I feel I have become more familiar with my Singer. I can’t wait for another off to do more sewing projects.

By the way, I got the free pattern and tutorial from Skip to My LouSo head over there now and try it. 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Outgoing Wednesday II

Hello everybody! I just want to share some postcards I sent out today. I am still so behind in my correspondence but will try to catch up soonest.

So, here goes the three postcards I sent out for Postcrossing.

To Ruru in Taiwan… featuring several of the things one might see in the U.A.E. The upper three photos feature some traditional architecture of the country while the third row of photos show the men and women in their traditional dress.

10365To Katya in Russia… she loves cats so I am assuming she would like a postcard featuring animals especially camels. I find these creatures quite adorable. I haven’t had the chance to ride one yet but it is in my bucket list. Surely.

10366Finally, to Ellen in Germany… similar to my first postcard highlighting the cultures and sights in U.A.E.

10369Well, I hope everybody’s week is going just grand. Until the next post. Thanks for reading!

My First Zipper Pouch

Sewing my first ever Reversible Tote Bag got me inspired to try to get more confident by sewing more easy projects. However, I didn’t want to use the same fabrics I had on hand. Thus, I tried to search for textile stores around Dubai. I was trying to avoid shipping costs with ordering online, you see. After much browsing, I was directed to Naif Market. Actually, the site said “Naif Mall” which was technically incorrect as there was no mall per se in that area of Dubai but a smorgasbord of shops from electronics to textiles to housewares to furniture, etc. With my husband tagging along, I scoured the shops for the fabric I wanted but all they got are light cotton, linen, and more silk. So I got myself some pretty light cottons to use for the meantime.


Pretty, aren’t they? But the catch is they’re very light and thin and wobbly. What’s a girl got to do but make the most of what she got right? Hehe. Also, in the insert photo I showed the fusible interface and fusible fleece I managed to buy online over the holidays which came yesterday in the mail. Therefore, I got myself the fabric and interface necessary for my next project.


As you can see above, I was able to finish a zipper pouch following the free tutorial at Craftsy by Kristin Link from Sew Mama Sew. The free class was easy to follow with important tips from an expert craftster. I was hesitant when I came to the part where I had to attach the zipper. Good thing my new Singer Promise had come with a zipper presser foot that allowed me to sew on the zipper. It was tricky what with me having a wobbly lining fabric but manageable for a beginner sewer like me. 🙂 I am so happy I finished the project! Although there were some imperfections like having the incorrect sized zipper for the project. Overall my sewing experience was satisfying and it made me eager to have another off day (since I am starting work again) to sew more zipper pouches.

From the experience, I learned to sew on a zipper and use a zipper presser foot on my machine. I also learned that it would be best to have a lining that is a bit heavy next time to make the sewing easier. Lastly, I learned that with practice one gets more confident to take on creating new things.

Anyway, gotta go for now. Work awaits in four hours. Thanks for reading.

Outgoing Wednesday

A lovely day everyone! Just wanted to share with you some postcards I sent out today. 🙂 Hope the recipients will love what I chose to send them.

To Savannah in USA.. the biggest mosque in the U.A.E. (if I’m not mistaken). I saw it in the daytime but it sure looks majestic in twilight.


To Rainer in Germany… my favorite color of the desert sand.


To my wonderful penpal, Usi in Germany… how I wish to sit on a camel someday. I have seen it up close and personal but to travel by it. Nah.

usiLast but not the least, to another awesome penpal, Kalliopi in Greece… another type of water transportation used to cross the Dubai Creek. If you’re seasick, well, I don’t advise you to ride on one of these as you can really feel the flow of the water. 🙂

kalliopiWell, that’s about it for today. Thanks for reading.