The agent sighed: I need to check yiur visa status. He made a quick call to his supervisor: American…European residency…traveling to Hungary. Complications in the era of Brexit and Trump. There are rumors of tit-for-tat fees and permissions springing up, but I’d thought that they were not yet applicable within the EU.
No problem, he smiled, putting the phone down. The rules are always changing, though.
It’s been snowing across the UK today, slowing travel even as I needed to rely on public transport to get to the airport. I’d made a stupid move as I merged onto the queue getting onto the M25 from the M11 last night, a truck stopped suddenly just as I looked in my rear mirror. The unfortunate result was a mashed hood where the builder’s bumper hit my leading edge. Nobody hurt, the car still drivable, but I won’t take a chance on the highways with it.
So, it’s a long route into London by train, around on the Tube, then up to West Hempstead for the change to the airport. I worked on emails and reports along the way, we’ve got our final dates for regulatory submission and everyone is pushing to make the deadlines.
This trip is a one-day run to Hungary to collect validation data in surgery. Work in any EU country serves the requirements of all of them, a beauty of the Medical Device Directive. The University is able to accelerate reviews that are required for patient safety, so we can get the data without compromising on quality.
The snow started to swirl in a cold wind down the tracks. Most folks huddled under the stairs; I tried fiddling with some street photography.
Luton Airport may be improving in the future, but today it is all shuttle bus links, muddy construction, and limited services in the terminal. The flight was delayed an hour and a half, pushing arrival in Debrecen towards two in the morning. I wondered how my peers were spending their Saturday nights, processed my photos, and read a trashy spy novel.
We bumped onto the ground in foggy Debrecen at 0230, snowy runways and darkened buildings. My spotless new passport, devoid of visa stamps, didn’t fit with having a residence permit, so a supervisor was called and copious notes taken. I blocked half the available customs booths for an embarrassingly long time as the line flowing around me, glaring.
The Boutique Hotel recommended by booking.com turned out to be warm and welcoming, though. They had waited up, held a nice room, and promised a late breakfast (fried eggs and bread with paprika).
The small individual kindnesses more than make up for the natural and institutional indifferences of a long day traveling.