If I were still practising, I might be tempted now to check these four points of the male catholic compass, because today we put our money where our mouth is. Just a hundred Euro deposit mind, but money has now changed hands and that is a secular sacrament if ever there was one. There's another (tenuous) connection with the sign of the cross - it calls to mind the traveller's equivalent : that of groping at one's many pockets to check for tickets, passport, money (or the minimalist's version: toothbrush and visa card) on the way out the door. Today we are ticking all those boxes:
As well as booking the Beijing leg of the round-the-world ticket, we also began the hopefully straightforward process of getting the kids' passports. Biometric-ready photos and all.
The tickets are of the World Discovery Plus variety, and come in at €2.5k each (incl. taxes) but with a 25% discount for the girls (under 11's). This is more or less what we had budgeted for. Unfortunately we had to drop Tahiti as a stopoff due to the extra mileage. It would have required us to return to New Zealand in order to get from Tahiti to Santiago in Chile, so it really wasn't on. As an alternative we are looking at Fiji, but we won't go there just for the sake of it. More research required. The travel agents (Foreign A Fares in Carrigaline - are travel agencies as corny as hairdressers when it comes to names? Answers on the back of a postcard please...) have been very helpful and very contactable all along, including today.
The passports, even for Nina who was born in Germany (and whose birth therefore cannot be registered in Ireland) should be by-the-book. We did have to make sure that the photos were suitable for biometric purposes, and this means, amongst other things, no smiling! The two girls were hilarious standing up on a stool in the pharmacy in Carrigaline trying to keep straight faces for the camera. They managed it in the end, despite my best efforts, but the result was two very serious faces indeed. They'll have to live with those scowls for the next 5 years.
It feels good to have got to this point. Not scary. Not even particularly exciting. Just good.