During my trip back from the States in March, I noticed that my passport was due to expire in June. Immediately I panicked and imagined an endless wait in some embassy lounge. When I arrived home, I jumped on the Internet to research my options.
For expats living in Germany, there are two options for passport renewal. You can either go to the embassy in person and apply or you can apply by mail. I quickly discovered that the embassy responsible for me is located in Hamburg. In April I rang them up. On my first try, I got an actual person . . . an actual person who could even answer my questions. For renewal by mail all I needed to send in was my old passport, the application form, 2 passport photos and a payment form. That all seemed easy enough.
Two weeks ago, I realized that my passport expiration date was at the end of the month. Crap! What happened to April and May? I downloaded the ridiculous passport photo requirements (50cm X 50cm, white background, ears visible, head must be a certain percent of the picture, etc., etc.) and set out to have my picture taken. I had to go to 3 shops before I found a place that could take them!
On June 4 I put my application in the mail and crossed my fingers. Yesterday I got a note from my postman that I had to go to the post office and sign for a letter. I walked up there this morning, and there it was, my new passport!!! I could hardly believe my eyes.
I have to tip my hat to the people at the U.S. Consulate General in Hamburg. They answered all my questions and processed my application in a speed not often associated with American bureaucracy. Unfortunately, I discovered on their website that as of July, U.S. citizen services is being moved to Berlin.
My day took an unexpected turn as I was walking to the post office. My afternoon English lesson called to cancel. So, after the post office I walked into town and discovered that it is farmer's market day. The main street was blocked off and lined with wagons and people selling their wares. There was the cheese guy, and the honey guy, and the potato lady, and the Dutch flower guy prattling away in his clipped German accent.
The market was buzzing with activity. I enjoyed my stroll and discovered a woman who makes her own fresh ravioli. I picked up some parma ham and ricotta cheese ravioli, fresh bread, feta cheese and flowers. I am now very stuffed after an excellent lunch. Time for a nap.
I love it when a good day will sneak up on you when you least expect it.
PS Expats in Germany needing to renew their passports can find information here.