Adieu. Ciao. Auf wiedersehen. Adios. Ta ta.

My traveling companion of the last 10 years has made its last journey.

In these days of electronic tickets and pocket computers, the passport seems like a throwback to a century ago. A time when steamer trunks were pasted with colorful stickers from the owner’s grand tour. Today our travels are documented by poorly inked stamps that you have to squint to read. Except for Japan–I have an actual sticker from Japan.

There are a couple countries that I  have no record of at all. We rode a train from Lake Como, Italy, into the Swiss Alps. Armed Swiss Guards walked through the train and checked our passports once we crossed the border, but there was no stamp. We drove from Brussels to Paris once and crossed through Luxembourg. As I recall, the border  guards were in a little turreted house. They checked our passports, but offered no stamp. I was too intimidated by the surroundings to ask for one. Why is it I always hold my breath in such situations, even when I’m innocent of any malfeasance?  Too many viewings of the Von Trapp family hiding in the convent? Or maybe Midnight Express?

Each page is divided into quadrants–perfect little squares that are meant to be filled with precise stamps. But as you can see, the stamping is pretty haphazard. Looks like Ireland and Belgium have the most trouble with the system.

But now my little blue book is about to expire, so I’m sending it off for a replacement tomorrow. I know I’ll get it back, but I’ll miss it on my next trip. The new passport will be all stiff and shiny. It won’t know the ropes of international travel. It might wander off instead of sitting quietly in my pocket, always there when I need it. I’ll keep it in a drawer next to the old one, hoping that some of its experience will rub off on the new one.

8 Comments

Filed under Travel

8 responses to “Adieu. Ciao. Auf wiedersehen. Adios. Ta ta.

  1. your new one will have embedded electronics. we have to be a little more careful with them – as in not putting it at the bottom of a wet backpack. grrr… i wish we could keep the same ones forever. i like my visas…

  2. SHIT! Your title made me think that you’d decided to stop writing. Nasty adrenalin moment later… I did once ask at a European border for a stamp (I was young and wanted souvenirs of my exploits). What I got was an hour’s delay as they rifled through my backpack.

  3. Sigh. Hello. I know what you mean.

    Just last week I discovered that 5/07/2010 is when my little blue book expires. But the depressing part is it doesn’t even have so many stamps on it. We call them ‘thappas’ in Hindi (to sound like ‘cuppas’). I have just one thappa.

    And unmotivated me couldn’t be bothered to get off my plump behind and stand in a queue to get a new shiny booklet — even if that means forsaking a Europe trip.

    P.S: Been reading Franklin for a while. And I too got a bit of a start reading the bye-bye title. Stay, OK? Good.

  4. My previous passport required two sets of extra pages because of all the stamping that was happening to it.

    When I applied for my British passport, thinking the pages were just as likely to fill up, I asked for (and paid for) the extra pages. Doh! I didn’t think that having the little red (maroon) book would mean free passage through Europe. No stamps required.

    Maybe you can de-virginise the new passport with a trip to Spain. We could have a girlie blogger meet up. 😉

  5. DF–I sent off for it today. I know they don’t slide through the self-check-in kiosks as well either.
    PG–That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me in ages. 🙂 I wonder why your request for a stamp was cause for a search?
    Nimpipi–Hello and thanks for reading. I tend to put off small tasks for too long as well, but the lure of travel is too great for me to mess this one up.
    Ellie–Husband has had to get the extra pages as well. A girlie blogger meet up is definitely enticing. Although with PG’s recent post about the food, I’m not so sure.

  6. We all wish we could use our passports more frequently. But I work with investment banking road warriors who have had to have additional pages added. They’ve assured me that a lot of travel is NOT what it’s cracked up to be.

    When I got married I took Mrs. Wife’s name and had to get an addendum added to my passport. That took some ‘slplanin.

  7. UB–Husband has had to get the additional pages as well. He still enjoys his travel, although the looong stretches in China are taxing.

  8. Not surprised by Ireland, they’re fairly erratic in general. But Belgium is the birthplace of bureaucracy. You’d think they could get it in the lines. Maybe it’s just a general disdain for Americans?

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