Exchanging stories

Its fun meeting new people while traveling and hearing their stories. Everyone likes to tell where they come from and are usually excited about where they’re going. All around the world people are flying in and out of airports, crossing the globe and trading places.

I was recently on a flight from Norway to Amsterdam and sat next to a young woman from Geneva. After hearing I was American, she told me told me an incredible story about her first and only trip to the US. She was on her way back from a wedding in Canada and decided to take a twenty-four hour stop over in New York.

She checked out of her midtown hotel early the next morning and set out to explore the Big Apple. She planned on heading down to Battery Park, to see the Statue of Liberty and The World Trade Center first. But due to a mix up, she got on the wrong bus and found herself heading uptown instead. After taking a stroll through Central Park and checking out Time Square, she began making her way back towards downtown Manhattan.

She was suddenly stopped by roadblocks, turmoil and sirens screaming throughout the city. It was September 11, 2001 and she soon found herself stranded in a chaotic city, with no money and no where to stay. She turned to the Swiss Embassy for help and it was five days before she was able to finally leave New York. Sigh.

A few days later, I met a Scottish woman on my flight from Glasgow back to Amsterdam. We got talking and after telling her I live in Norway, she told me she had once rode her bike to Norway.

“From Glasgow?!” I asked.

No – she was an art student living in Denmark at the time. Her and her Danish boyfriend took a ferry to Sweden and then cycled all the way to Oslo. She felt so empowered by the trip that upon her return, she packed her bags, left her boyfriend and moved back to Glasgow to become a rich and famous artist. Ten years down the road and she’s still single and struggling. Her Danish boyfriend however, is married, has two children, lives in a beautiful house and owns a very lucrative art gallery. After telling me her story, she shook her head and said, “You know what the worst of it is Maggie? I felt so guilty after leaving him, that I paid half his bloody rent for a whole year.” Ouch.

Afterwards, while franticly flipping through the pages of my passport, an officer at the passport control counter in Amsterdam asks, “Why are you going to Norway?”

“Because I live there,” I answer.

He then asks if I have a Resident Card, I tell him no. I only have a stamp in my passport, which he points out has expired. (Oops) With a crowed of inpatient travelers grumbling behind me, he calls for another officer to come and take me away!

I’m taken to the Immigration Office, asked to have a seat, and then bombarded with questions… How long have you been living in Norway? Why do you live there? Why have you not renewed your Norwegian Resident Permit? I see you also have an outdated, Dutch Resident Permit in your passport, why? Do you have a Norwegian personal number (Social Security number)? I answer the questions, give him my personal number and he calls the Norwegian Immigration Office, in Oslo.

By now I’m wishing I’d simply told them I was going to Norway on vacation. I was also wondering if he had the power to ship me back to New Jersey. Then as if nothing happened, the officer hangs up the phone and says, “Okay, you’re free to go, have a nice trip.” Phew.

Is it like this when you travel?

About maggiemyklebust

I grew up on the Jersey Shore and now live in Norway. I have also lived in Houston and the Netherlands. I have written a memoir called Fly Away Home.

Posted on August 24, 2012, in all things American, all things Norsk, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Wow, ok amazing first story, Oh My Gosh regarding second story. I would have been shaking in my boots (if I wore boots lol) I am so glad that one ended well for you, Whew! 🙂

  2. Well although I’ve never been outside the country (working on it!), I do enjoy the amazing stories I sometimes come across when meeting other people while traveling. The airport is my favorite, and the plan ride in particular, as I always wonder why at that moment the universe put me next to my seat mate, and if it was meant to be. It boggles my mind how sometimes I’ve been struggling with a personal issue and the person sitting next to me will say something that just totally makes sense for my situation- as if they were sent for to hear it. Or vice versa. I am so afraid of international travel though, and being detained as well. I’m so glad to hear you got back ok. Time to update the passport now. 🙂

  3. Part of the attraction of travel is talking to people from all over the world and learning their stories. When I read your post, Maggie, I understood immediately. Although I have never had the excitement of traveling with an expired passport! I am glad they let you back in. Great post, Maggie.

    • The worst part is, I’m leaving again for Dublin this week and there is no time to get that stamp renewed. I’ll just have to take my chances, what can they do? Keep me in Holland? Send me back to the States? I guess I’ll find out…
      I think I’ll tell them I’m going into Norway on vacation this time, you don’t need a stamp to do that. 🙂
      If I never post again…I’m sitting in a jail somewhere, send help!

  4. Egads Maggie! Now, that’s a lesson learned, eh? I’m in Canada for the summer so that just slipped out 🙂 Never let those stamps expire unless you’re in the country you want to be in for the next little while. I’m about to head back to Thailand and had to do the song and dance at the Thai Embassy in Ottawa or I would have been in the same predicament as you were. I had to relinquish my passport for a few days (as per usual) but was relieved to get it back with the appropriate stamp in place, ready for my travels in a couple of weeks 🙂

    Glad you made it back though. Love your stories… keep ’em coming.
    Anne 🙂

  5. I find that trips overseas are more pleasent than in the US. The service people are more courteous and helpful in other countries. I once had to stand in a airport spread eagle for this gruff woman to search and pat me down? She said, Tell me if I touch a sensitive spot”. I glared at her and said, ” My entire body is sensitive!” It’s a wonder I didn’t get hauled off!

  6. I can’t imagine you in jail for trying to sneak into Norway! Maggie Myklebust: author, blogger, grandma, and felon.

  7. Red tape with immigration can be a nightmare! Glad you were allowed to go home!

  8. Jeannette Wynne

    Loved reading about your adventures in travel! I can’t get into too much trouble on our frequent road trips:)

  9. I love airports for this very reason, you meet some of the most interesting people

  10. OH MY GOODNESS! That sounds like quite an ordeal!!! We often get quite a grilling when we go to visit my brother in Canada and, in my experience, they aren’t always friendly. It doesn’t make for a very happy start to the trip!

    Sounds like you met some really interesting people, I really enjoy talking to strangers (when you’ve made a good connection, that is! 😉 ). Hope you had a wonderful trip. 🙂

    • I had a fantastic trip (you will hear more on that) The weather was even kind, I even felt the sun on my face. But, my visa card was apparently copied in the ATM cash machine in Troon and 8,000 NOK was stolen from my account! It was my bank that realized it and thank God, I’m getting the money back. Now I just have to wait for my new card to come in the mail…

      • THAT’S AWFUL! Oh my goodness. I just don’t understand what makes people do these awful things. Man… At least you didn’t let that sour your trip. And that’s a pretty good bank you have too! 🙂

      • I didn’t know it happened before I got home and yes, its a good thing my bank is on the ball.
        I don’t know why people do things like this either…

  11. Love your “visits” with other folks ~ and then I was stressing for you over being “held”. Oh Ms. Maggie….you have so many more books left to write ~ ♥ paula

  12. That poor woman who paid the rent! Ugh!! Great stories. Thanks

  13. Wow, Maggie. Great stories! I love the way you talk to people instead of just putting your head down and travelling (like many others do). I’ve got a couple of travelling stories, but none that would compare with these! 😀

  14. Love the post – and it’s one of those things I love about traveling and living abroad – around every corner, or around every immigration official is a story!

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