Tag Archives: usa

USA 2016 – 03 Disneyland Park – Fantasyland (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 NOV 2017

Having now gotten over the initial incredulous feeling of “Oh wow, I’m in the actual Disneyland!” while moving through Main Street, U.S.A., I crossed over the bridge, marveled at the effective forced perspective trick, and then entered through the gates of Sleeping Beauty Castle, thereby entering the grounds of Fantasyland!

One of the original themed lands of Disneyland, Fantasyland is dedicated to the classic stories of Disney, with the initial area clothed in Renaissance and Bavarian Village motifs and sporting attractions dedicated to the likes of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, and even Dumbo of all elephants.

The first part of Fantasyland feature a lot of the older style “dark rides“, which are essentially rail cart rides that have you following a tunneled track with lots of twists and turns while a variety of lights, sounds, and puppets tell you a story.

I went on a couple of these, but of course, I’m far too old to be riding kids rides without bring any actual kids of my own along! (For those of you who missed the previous entries, I was in Anaheim for a business expo).

From there I ambled towards the leisurely Storybook Land Canal Boats ride, which as the name would suggest, takes you on a lazy little boat ride past a lot of miniature locations, many of which are plucked directly from big Disney movie locations.

So not exactly a thrilling ride then, but definitely one where the queue was short enough to make joining it a worthwhile endeavor.

It was also in this area that I got to experience the famous Disneyland Band doing their thing, a classic marching band decked in white uniforms performing some fantastic musical pieces on their assortment of brass instruments.

(Interestingly enough, given that this was during the 60th anniversary celebrations at Disneyland, the version of the marching band that I got to experience featured a lot of young, energetic faces – something which apparently caused a bit of a stir when Disney first announced it was going to be swapping out its old guard members).

The final big set piece I stumbled upon in Fantasyland was of course the classic “It’s a Small World” ride, which for those of you not familiar with it, is essentially a water-based dark ride that features over 300 singing and dancing audio-animatronic children, all in traditional costumes showcasing cultures from around the world, with the theme of global peace running strongly throughout the trip.

With that done and dusted, I next strolled over to the Royal Theatre, but sadly for me (I was hoping to take a video for Jess and Emily), there was no Frozen being performed just then.

Oh well, onward to the next magical land then!

So, in summary: Purportedly Walt Disney’s favourite land in Disneyland Park, Fantasyland is great for the smaller kids with its more gentle rides, as well as for those of you old enough to have grown up with the proper Disney classics of old.

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 02 Disneyland Park – Main Street, U.S.A. (2016-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 NOV 2017

Having arrived in Anaheim a day before the NACUFS expo was due to kick off, I did what any first time visitor to the United States of America who finds themselves in Anaheim, California does – I immediately purchased a (VERY expensive) ticket to the legendary Disneyland, the only theme park to have been designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself!

Disneyland, or rather Disneyland Park as it is known these days (because of all the other attractions on the Disneyland lot nowadays), is of course absurdly massive, and in fact I literally spent the entire day wandering about the theme park – so much so that I have had to split the day’s cache of photos into 10 separate blog posts!

(The fact that Disneyland is naturally split into separate themed lands also kind of facilitates this anyway).

Given that the first area you enter after passing through the gates is good old Main Street, U.S.A., it makes perfect sense then to kick off my Disneyland series here.

Patterned after a typical Midwest town of the early 20th century, Main Street, U.S.A. is reminiscent of the Victorian period of America with the train station, town square, movie theater, city hall, firehouse complete with a steam-powered pump engine, emporium, shops, arcades, double-decker bus, horse-drawn streetcar, jitneys and other bits of memorabilia.

Disneyland is of course always filled with people, but seeing as this is technically the hub of the theme park, there are a LOT more people milling about, shopping at the various specialty stores, grabbing something to eat from the themed eateries or food snack vendors, and generally just resting their feet up for a bit.

Main Street is also home to the Disney Art Gallery and the Opera House which showcases Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, not to mention the important City Hall that has all the answers for any question that you might think of.

Also, pro tip, if you are a first time visitor to Disneyland Park you really should pay a visit to City Hall and lay claim to your special 1st visit badge!

On the far end of the street is the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle as well as the famous Partners statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands. (Fun fact, this statue now appears in five different locations, namely Disneyland Park, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios, and Disneyland Paris).

That’s also the location of the Hub, otherwise known as the Central Plaza, which gives you direct access to Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland.

As you can see from all the photos, this is section of Disneyland doesn’t actually feature any theme park rides, but nevertheless there is plenty for the eye to take in.

Also, and rather satisfyingly at that, because there aren’t any rides in Main Street, U.S.A. there aren’t any of those scarily long queues that you will soon encounter (and become VERY familiar with) as you enter the rest of the lands!

I did of course not stay in Main Street, U.S.A. for too long – after all, I had arrived early morning and was on a mission to take in every facet of this iconic theme park that I possibly could given that I only had one day to explore.

(That said, I did return to this area a further three times over the course of the day – the first to tuck into a delicious ice cream snack, the second to experience Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, and then later that evening to experience the Paint the Night Parade and obviously the massive Disneyland Forever fireworks display!)

Going through all these photos a year later – man I wish that I can take my kids here when they are still small enough to properly enjoy the magic of this incredible fantasyland experience!

So, if you have kids or you yourself grew up during the classic feel good period that defined Disney for the early parts of its existence, then a visit to “The Happiest Place on Earth” is definitely a must!

Related Link: Disneyland Park | Wikipedia

Things to See in USA: Muscle Beach Venice in Los Angeles Travel Attractions 16 DEC 2016

The city of Los Angeles’ Venice Beach is certainly a ‘colourful’ area to put it mildly (at least that’s what I thought when I strolled around there earlier this year), but despite its many eccentricities, there is no denying that this cultural hub is a global destination, registering millions of visitors each and every year.

Outside of its popular promenade, multitude of street performers, buskers and hustlers, handball courts, paddle tennis courts, skate dancing plaza, volleyball courts, bike trail and of course interesting businesses on Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach is also home to probably the most famous beachfront gym in the world – Muscle Beach Venice.

The original Muscle Beach that started it all, was established just south of the Santa Monica Pier in 1934 – just 3 km up the beach from where Muscle Beach Venice currently stands, itself having started out when the first Venice Beach “Weight Pen” was installed in 1951 – eight years before the Santa Monica Muscle Beach closed due to administration problems.

While the original Muscle Beach (considered the birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the US during the 20th century) was really an area that became popular with gymnasts, wrestlers and local strength athletes (in fact, it was simply known as Santa Monica Beach Playground for the first couple of years, with the ‘muscle’ term only gaining traction come 1940), Muscle Beach Venice established itself almost from the start as the popular home of bodybuilding, thanks in no small part to the opening the first of an eventual nationwide chain of weightlifting gyms by famed pioneer gym chain operator, Vic Tanny.

Muscle Beach did a lot to popularize and legitimize fitness and bodybuilding competitions, and today functions as both a hub for weightlifting and fitness businesses in the area, as well as a popular tourist attraction.

(A lot of famous people/personalities have been regulars there, so you kind of understand the tourist appeal: e.g. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Trejo, Chet Yorton, Dave Draper, Larry Scott,  and Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams to name but a few!)

The current facility consists of an open playground with a gated area that encloses weight lifting equipment, with a second area which is a sand box with gymnastic, rope climbing, and acrobatic bars.

And yes – if you are brave or ripped enough, you can in fact buy a day pass and work out with the pros if that’s the kind of thing that you are into…

(Naturally, bodybuilding is a lot of work. There are probably easier ways to get a little in shape – the guys behind dietsinreview.com certainly seem to think so.)

I visited this place in July this year, and honestly, it felt a bit weird seeing these people strutting about, pushing weights, and doing their thing – all for the attention of everyone around them! Seriously, posing for photos with random strangers is as much a part of the workout routine as are the actual weights!

Anyway, here’s the map if you want to place it in the world:

Related Link: Muscle Beach Venice | Wikipedia | Venice Beach

Things to See in USA: Harlem Hospital Center in New York City Travel Attractions 06 DEC 2016

Hospitals don’t often make the list of buildings worth seeing when you are out in the world travelling, but the 286-bed Harlem Hospital Center in the United States of America’s iconic New York City certainly now belongs there – thanks to its striking 2012 addition, The Harlem Hospital Center Mural Pavilion.

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What sets the $325 million healthcare facility expansion apart from the rest is the very clever, block-long glass facade which is adorned with massive (60-foot tall) historically significant Works Progress Administration murals.

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The six-story, 195,000-square foot Pavilion connects two major hospital buildings, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Pavilion and the Ronald H. Brown Ambulatory Care Pavilion, creating one large, integrated campus for the 286-bed Harlem Hospital Center. The Mural Pavilion houses a number of suites to serve the hospital’s 232,353 annual outpatient visits, including the Bariatric Center of Excellence, surgical clinics, women’s imaging department, and pre-admission testing suites.

The Harlem Hospital already has a history with art, and as such the Mural Pavilion is no different, featuring a special public art gallery space to showcase the hospital’s historic Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA) murals.

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Originally created in the 1930s, these powerful artworks were the first major commissions awarded to African-American artists by the U.S. government. These works, by artists such as Vertis Hayes, Alfred Crimi, Georgette Seabrooke, Elba Lightfoot, and Charles Alston, have all now been fully restored and are on permanent display in the hospital’s Mural Gallery.

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The glass facade is of course the most striking feature of this new building, and the panels making this possible are themselves quite a feat of engineering ingenuity – after all, each panel essentially needs to solve six problems in one solution: a long-term UV stability of the image; the option to replace individual components if damaged; the ability to produce image in single glass panels up to 12’-0” long; transparency allowing daylight in, views out, and a glowing image at night; energy conserving assembly; and impact resistance.

The end result?

Something rather special.

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(Note, hospitals are intended for people who are actually sick. If you are just looking to lose weight, don’t bother them and rather just eat less. Something any health guide reviews site should be pointing out.) 

Related Link: Harlem Hospital Center | Wikipedia

USA 2016 – 01 Checking in to Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area (2016-07-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 NOV 2016

So the 11th of July saw me very excitedly hop on to Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER airliner at Cape Town International Airport and tackle the start of the VERY long journey to LAX in Los Angeles.

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As per usual when you fly with Emirates, the trip gets split into two segments, the first being the 9 hour long flight from Cape Town to their massive home base hub at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Apart from the length of the flight, the first leg went well for me. Loads of in-flight entertainment to pick and choose from on Emirates’ ICE system, food as always was decent enough, and thanks to my strategy of picking aisle seats in order to give me the most leg space with my still not 100% leg, I sat pretty comfortably for the most part.

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Happily, I wasn’t completely out of my element once in Dubai International Airport, having learnt a lesson or two from the last time that Ryan and I had found ourselves there.

For starters, I didn’t get lost and successfully navigated my way around the massive complex (Ryan would be amazed), secondly, I didn’t have anything in my luggage that would set off flags during the security check (again, Ryan would be amazed), and most important of all, I was in my designated boarding area with plenty of time to spare!

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Of course though, the real test of the journey was now here. That 16 hour long flight from Dubai to Los Angeles.

Yes, the Airbus A380-800 is certainly a comfortable plane to be flying in, but 16 hours? Now there’s a long time to be stuck in a confined space! (Incidentally, this route is currently the longest distance commercial A380 route in operation).

Nevertheless, similar to the first leg, this second half of the trip went pretty smoothly for me as well, and as an added bonus, the fact that we flew over the North Pole region to get there was a pretty cool thing too!

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Touchdown. I was in the United States of America.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for the first Stars and Stripes flag to make its appearance, and a relatively quick and painless trip through security and customs had me collecting my bag and stepping out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and into Los Angeles.

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Well not really, no.

My SuperShuttle bus arrived right outside the terminal, meaning that I didn’t technically step out into Los Angeles. Still, I got to see the dreary grey concrete that makes up most of Los Angeles from the shuttle’s front seat (I lucked out in getting that), so that counts, right?

(Hint, Los Angeles is not particularly pretty. Large swathes of it is in essence a slab of concrete, which you’ll see as you head out down the highways.)

Nevertheless, I was in full on tourist mode, my mouth wide open as I took in all the sights of the area as our bus whizzed on down towards Anaheim, the real destination for the actual business part of my being here in the first place.

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Eventually we turned into South Manchester Avenue in Anaheim (early evening if I remember correctly) where I hopped out the bus, thanked the driver for his wealth of local information, and headed into the Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area , my home base for this first leg of my trip.

(In case you are wondering about the unwieldy name, it’s because we’re in Anaheim which houses both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. In other words, prime hotel estate, and thus multiple Holiday Inn establishments in the area!)

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Greeted by a entrance wall decked out in original Disney artwork, I checked in, unpacked my bag, took a quick peek around the hotel and its amenities (nice pool, small gym, cool adjacent sports bar/restaurant called Burger Theory) and then hit the road, eager to properly stretch my legs and take in some American sights before the darkness descended!

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So I took a leisurely stroll down Katella Avenue, one of the main roads leading up to Disneyland and also the Anaheim Convention Centre (where the expo was to be held), enjoying the beautifully maintained sidewalks and taking in all the interesting… Americanisms around me.

I turned around at the giant Moreton Bay Fig outside the convention centre, and because at this stage I was still walking around blindly (i.e. I hadn’t yet checked out any maps), headed straight back down the same way that I had come.

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For some reason I decided that my first meal in America should be a fast food item, and as things turned out (i.e the restaurant was slap bang at the end of my route), this then would be a burrito from Del Taco – for which I was mercilessly teased for the rest of the trip by Johann and Carl.

Following that, and now eager to sample a selection of commercial beers and snacks in the comfort of my room before turning in for the night, I then hopped into this dodgy little Chinese-run shop (called Satellite Market), which ended up being a place that I would visit more than once whenever my snack supply started running low!

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And of course, as expected following that 5 km walkabout after all those hours upon hours of travelling… I slept like a log. #USA2016

(This is where the hotel is in case you’re interested)

Related Link: Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area

USA 2016: An Expo under the Hot Californian Sun My Life 22 NOV 2016

I lucked out a bit this year. Touchwork does a lot of its business in the United States in the University realm, and as such, tends to be quite visible on the relevant expo circuits. Occasionally the boss sends a team member up to join our American team for at least one of these expo appearances a year – basically whenever we get the funding from the DTI to do so.

Now normally this perk falls to our COO and customer liaison Rory Florence, but this year  (much to his chagrin) he couldn’t go – which then meant that as the next longest standing member of current Touchwork SA team, I got asked if I wanted to go.

Hell yes, USA here I come! :)

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So this all happened in July this year. I left for the USA on the 11th and arrived back in South Africa on the 22nd of July, making for a whirlwind trip of around 10 days.

Of course, technically this was a business trip, but in essence it was only business for about 2 of the days (and even those two days were peppered with touristy things) – the rest were all proper sightseeing days, made all the more enjoyable thanks to my brilliant Touchwork USA hosts Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, who literally went out of their way to show off their part of the magnificent piece of paradise that is California to this USA (and travel for that matter) newbie!

The expo that we were exhibiting at was NACUFS Idea ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS (National Association of College & University Food Services), held at the the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

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Anaheim, other than being the base of the Mighty Ducks, is of course most famous for being the home of Disneyland, Disney’s landmark first ever theme park that opened way back in 1955! Following that, I would then travel with Johann to his home base of San Diego (home of Comic Con and of the world famous San Diego Zoo!), for a couple of tourist days there, before heading back out the same way I came in – i.e. via Emirates through the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, Los Angeles!

So, not a bad destination for only my second ever trip overseas eh? (The first being of course that amazing trip to Japan that my brother Ryan and I embarked on in 2014. At this rate, Chantelle is just about ready to murder me with jealousy! :P)

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Right. I’ve got an amazing 23 or so photo galleries to sort through, post and write about, so plenty of USA 2016 content coming up in the pages of An Exploring South African over the next little while then!

Things to See in USA: The AT&T Stadium in Arlington Travel Attractions 12 NOV 2016

Modern sports stadiums are often architectural masterpieces, and are almost all now without fail seen as much tourist attractions as actual sporting event venues! The city of Arlington, a principle city in the U.S. state of Texas is certainly home to one of these modern sporting marvels – the stunningly beautiful AT&T Stadium!

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Owned by the city of Arlington, the massive 80,000 seat stadium was first opened in 2009, following a construction period of 4 years, as the Cowboys Stadium, and carried that name until 2013 when the giant that is AT&T bought out the naming rights.

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Home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys (whose cheerleaders are probably just as famous a franchise as the American football team!), the AT&T Stadium was built to replace the partially covered Texas Stadium, and these days acts as a multi-discipline venue, hosting events such as concerts, basketball games, college and high school football contests, soccer matches, motocross and Spartan races, as well as the odd WWE wrestling spectacle or two!

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The stadium’s current construction cost is estimated to have been around 1.15 billion US dollars, making it one of the most expensive sporting arenas ever built. It’s main party trick is of course its fully retractable roof, which therefore allows play no matter what weather condition Arlington currently finds itself experiencing!

It is also home to one of the worlds largest high definition video screen, which hangs from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

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As you might imagine, and whether your enjoy American football or not, this beautiful example of modern engineering is quite the sight to behold and is definitely worth making a stop at should you ever find yourself anywhere remotely near the area!

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(That said, you may as well fly business cheap and get there in style if you aren’t nearby!)

Oh, and an added bonus. There is a brilliant Stadium Art Programme attached to the venue as well – meaning that you don’t have to be a sport nut to get something out of a trip to this massive Texan landmark!

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Related Link: AT&T StadiumWikipedia | Arlington

Things to See in USA: The USS Midway Museum in San Diego Travel Attractions 28 JUN 2016

If you are down in California, paying a visit to San Diego, and perhaps have just the slightest of interest in all things military, then it would be particularly foolish to skip out on making a trip down to the USS Midway Museum!

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The massive decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway, previously America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier (1945-1992) is now a dedicated museum ship, housing an extensive collection of naval aircraft and over 60 ship exhibits brought to life by a self-guided audio tour.

Exhibits range from the crew’s sleeping quarters to a massive galley, engine room, the ship’s jail, officer’s country, post office, machine shops, and pilots’ ready rooms, as well as primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck.

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Included in the ships restored aircraft inventory is a cornucopia of naval fighters stretching from World War II to Operation Desert Storm. Expect to view planes like the SBD Dauntless dive bomber, the TBM Avenger, F9F Panther, F-4 Phantom, A-6 Intruder and F/A-18 Hornet just to name but a few!

The museum is berthed at Navy Pier which has more than 300 parking spaces. It also is within walking distance of public transportation and other downtown San Diego waterfront attractions.

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Opened on 7 June 2004,d by 2012 the USS Midway Museum’s annual visitation exceeded 1 million visitors. As of 2015, Midway now also boasts the tag of being the most popular naval warship museum in the United States!

In other words, a massively popular attraction.

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Related Link: USS Midway Museum | Wikipedia

Applying for an US B1/B2 Visa from Cape Town My Life 10 JUN 2016

There is a very good chance that I’ll be in the USA in July, first attending an expo in Anaheim, followed by a little sightseeing in San Diego with my work colleague (where Touchwork’s US office is based). As such, I obviously needed to organize a US visa – which as it turns out is not such a hard thing to do… unless of course you make it harder for yourself than what it should be!

So as I mentioned, the process is pretty simple. The first thing to determine is the type of US visa that you require. (Note, these days you do not need to have airline tickets booked yet, which is great because in the past if your visa application was turned down you would be left still sitting with some rather pricey tickets in your possession!)

For my purposes I need a B1/B2 non immigrant visa (business and tourist), and so my instructions are based on that particular visa type. To kick the actual process off, you need to complete a DS-160 online application, but before even that, it is a good idea to get the required visa photo out of the way, because you’ll need to upload a digital copy as part of your DS-160 submission. Be sure to check the photo requirements as advances in digital facial recognition software means that US visa photos now need a different set of requirements to what they did before.

As it turned out, although I did eventually go to a nearby Kodak Express for some printed photos to take along to the interview, a simple selfie on my phone against a white(ish) background, followed by some cropping in PhotoShop was good enough for the Americans.

The online DS-160 form takes a reasonable amount of time to fill in as a lot of questions qet asked, including information about school attendance, family etc. You can save and resume from any point, so taking your time to collect this information while you work on the DS-160 is possible. (Just be sure to remember your App ID as this is critical for this process!)

Once you have completed and submitted your DS-160 you will be asked to pay your non refundable visa processing fee online, which is currently $160 USD (and therefore cost me R2,480 at the time). With that done, you now move on to the next stage which is printing out the DS0-160 confirmation page (red document) and then scheduling your visa interview at the nearest US consulate.

For me the nearest consulate is the Cape Town site, situated in Reddam Avenue a few streets away from Touchwork’s offices in Westlake.

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It’s a good idea to take with some proof of strong ties to South Africa for your interview (e.g. proof of address, marriage certificate, bank statement, holiday itinerary), and so following a lovely weekend away in Stanford with Chantelle, I came into work nice and early on the Monday morning to print all of these documents.

However, as I printed the last file and glanced over the sheet telling me what I needed to bring with for my interview in an hour and a half’s time, I had a small heart attack when I realized that I had somehow completely forgotten my passport back home in Gordon’s Bay!

After a brief, to the point phone call to Chantelle, I stormed out of the office and raced back towards Somerset West, meeting Chantelle halfway at the Engen garage on the N2. She handed me my passport and I was off again, completing a very stressful journey as fast as I could!

Now I knew that there wouldn’t be any parking at the consulate building because understandably Americans aren’t fond of cars near government buildings as they tend to blow up every now and then, so I drove up Reddam Avenue nice and slowly, looking for an alternative place to park. However, I didn’t realise that Reddam school is of course at the top the the road, and at busy times, the route turns into a one-way. Yes, I was that despised twat that was riding up against the flow of parents in their super smart cars with my little black Getz.

Embarrassing.

Pro tip: If you have a trip to the consulate in Westlake organised, park instead at the bottom of the road at the Steenberg Village shopping centre and then just walk up.

Anyway, amazingly I managed to make my way back down without being killed or causing an accidents (though I was hooted at a lot), and walked up to the consulate with about 15 minutes to spare before my interview slot.

However you first need to clear security, so the suggestion is to leave all electronic devices at home. Whatever is not left at home is locked into small pigeon hole lockers, so keys, cellphones, etc. At this point you are also ticked off of the list and your required documents checked – which is the exact point my heart once again dropped when the lady manning the counter inquired as to where my printed DS-160 confirmation page was. As it turned out, I had printed the completely wrong thing! (Luckily for me though, what I had printed did at least have my App ID on it, so she sent me through with my passport, that and a photo neatly bundled together, suggesting that perhaps they might let me get away with that).

From there you step through some very thick steel doors and make your way across to the actual consulate building, where you wait for the first queue that checks your papers. The first thing that was pointed out to me was of course that I didn’t have the correct form (but they’ll use what I have) and that my digital photo was good enough, i.e. my paid for photos were unnecessary, and that had I not been able to get my passport on the day, I could just mail it in to them instead. Doh!

With that stage now passed, I was next called up for my interview, which takes place with a to the point American man asking me questions from behind a glass window using a telephone system – similar to what you see in prison setups on television. I was asked a small handful of questions relating to who I was, why I was going and for how long, and I guess because I have such a trusting face, was not asked for any supporting documentation at all. In total, my interview probably took little more than a minute to complete! (And not nearly as stressful as what I had imagined it might be!)

A couple of days later I received an e-mail telling me that my visa application was approved and my passport ready for delivery/pick up.

So that’s the process then, not particularly difficult or challenging unless you make it hard for yourself by forgetting things all over the place! Oh, and just to sweeten the deal, the US visa is valid for 10 years!