The Slovenia Times

Sunshine and bureaucracy



The sun is shining and it's surely time to stop driving 1 Km to the town and get out the bicycle. One of the things I like about Maribor is the fact that tracks are marked around the town so that those who wish to ride do not spend all the time worrying about being squashed by passing cars. Mind you it is not quite as simple as at first it might seem. To start with here there are several places where many who drive cars see this clearly marked lane as a useful place to park. In one area near my home so many cars park on this part of the pavement that I am forever juggling with prams and old ladies for the remaining half metre of space. Worse, I feel guilty for getting in their way when it's not really my fault! The second complication, for that's how I see it, is that these cycle lanes are marked with direction arrows. Does that mean that I have to go back to juggling with the cars twice to ride from one end of the street to the other when I am already on the side of the road that I want to be? And, if I do ride the wrong way down the lane who gives way to who when I meet another bicycle? I mustn't complain, it's really a great idea and I enjoy that fact that I get to the town much quicker than going by car and having to find a parking space. A recent visit to the small town of Lenart made me smile. They too are installing large numbers of bright red cycle lanes. In a very British style six men seemed to be watching whilst two carefully painted the lines and glued the red grit to the tracks. The whole town looks really bright and jolly now, they certainly "painted the town red". Funny thing is in all the visits I have made there I have yet to see a bicycle; still it's not that warm yet I suppose. Actually many more people drive tractors than bicycles, and they slow this very busy route terribly, perhaps they should really install tractor lanes! I mentioned, in the last issue that I was making my application for temporary residency, well I am trying to assemble all the documents I need to do so. To start with my wife and I complicated things by getting married in the Caribbean. That meant that our marriage certificate had to have an attached Apostille to verify its authenticity. It took three months of communications with our sleepy little Caribbean island to get the form issued in the correct manner. Now with that hurdle out of the way we felt we could get the application sorted easily. I needed a certified copy of my passport (simple), proof of reason to stay in Slovenia (marriage), confirmation of financial means (marriage - a kept man!), confirmation of accommodation (marriage) - it's all going really well so far, no, not the marriage - well that's OK too - I meant all the right bits of paper. Now for the tricky bits; proof of health insurance. I tried asking the Health Department in the UK and they didn't know what I was talking about. So I asked the Embassy and they said the Health office here would issue a form to say I was covered. So the residency application office don't know this? Anyway off to the office with wife to translate, oh no a special form has to be issued from England. More questions to embassy, who said the Health Office is wrong. Oh yes, whose going to tell them that then! Eventually a call to the Ljubljana Health Office and we discovered the local one would issue the form if we returned, I like that solution, no one loses face! And indeed they did issue it. One more hurdle to go - conviction history - I've never been convicted so I don't have one. Would it be easier if I were a criminal? I asked the embassy about this too and they told me to write to the London Metropolitan Police, seemed a bit odd, as I've never lived in London. London told me to talk to the region in which I lived, who told me to talk to the Data Protection Office, who were really helpful. They e-mailed me a form, which I posted back. One week later and they confirmed that all was well, they had sent it to New Scotland Yard in London and in 40 days I would get a response. Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do (Flanders and Swann) Never mind, at least the sun is shining; I'm going for a bike ride.


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