Sunday, October 18, 2009

Detained in Switzerland

We have arrived Stateside. We are home. We made it to America. So many ways to say we've made it, I can't decide which to choose, so I'll say them all. And wait till you hear this, you're just not gonna believe it.

Remember when I was saying how long the trip home was going to be? I didn't think it was possible, but it became longer. We were detained in Switzerland.

It all started after airplane ride #1. We had landed in Zurich and were patiently waiting in the passport control line. When we came to the front of the line I handed our 3 passports to the immigration officer and he proceeded to scan and type and look back and forth from the screen to us, to our passports and back again. At first I didn't think anything of it, but then the people waiting behind us in line started to crowd us and had long ago stepped over the clearly marked yellow tape on the ground (of which you are supposed to stay behind until you are summoned by an officer). I then began to wonder, what is the hold up? And as if the officer was reading my mind he said to me, "you overstayed your visa in the Shengen." Knowing full well we had, I replied, "yes." to the question that was never asked. He picked up the phone and and looked at our passports for the one hundredth time and spoke quietly and quickly to the person on the other end of the line. After he hung up the receiver he motioned for us to wait "over there" for the police. THE POLICE?

A few moments later a stern looking man appeared in full uniform. He motioned for us to follow him, and like little sheep, we did. As we walked through high security doors I read "POLIZIA" across his back, and that is when I noticed his weapons. I scanned the area at the other officers and took a quick inventory of their weapons, you know, just in case. I counted pistols and batons, handcuffs and sprays, but most importantly machine guns. That is when I decided, this is serious. I had no prepared defense against machine guns!

And so we sat and waited like good little girls. The room was a glass cage, with no bathroom or water fountain, but no shortage of machine guns, that was for sure. When our officer returned he informed us that we'd have to pay the penalty for overstaying our visa, a mere 410.oo Swiss Franks. When we asked how that translated into US dollars all he had to say was he'd have to check on that, he thought it was equal. He thought, did ya catch that? We had no idea.

Our stern officer continued to ask us if we had enough Swiss Franks to pay the fine, or US dollars, either would do. Oh and he'd provide us with a receipt, as if that was any consolation. I informed him that regardless of whether or not we had the Franks or Dollars I did not feel we needed to pay the fine seeing as how we hold all of the rights of a Greek citizen, through the blood of our father. I thought I sounded quite convincing, that was until he asked for proof in the form of a Greek passport or ID card to corroborate our story. We had neither. Shit.

And so we waited.

After some time another officer came out to speak to us and had us sign some paperwork. I had flashbacks to Brokedown Palace and hoped we had not made a drastic mistake by signing the papers. And then to our great relief we were ushered out of the glass cage and back into the hustle and bustle of the Zurich airport to catch our flight to America. Thanks be to God.

As it turns out our case is going to appear before a Swiss Judge and he will send us his ruling via snail mail. It is possible that there will be a fine greater or equal to the original fine quoted. And it is also possible that we will be denied entry in the future. Entry into where exactly you ask? I'm wondering the same thing.

I'll let you know once I hear from the judge, for now I'm just happy we were welcomed back into the United States. And by a very cute immigration officer may I add ;)


  1. sounds like quite the fiasco :( glad you're home safely... now you can start preparing for your new apartment!

  2. I got a kick out of the story when Mel told me:) Good thing you guys are back safe and sound:)