Welcome to Düsseldorf

I've arrived in Hamburg without incident. New Year's on a plane was frightfully uneventful. I can't decide whether the highlight was when they gave us champagne and people arbitrarily clinked glasses (even more arbitrarily than normal, since it was 11:37 somewhere and 12:37 somewhere else), or when midnight EST passed and no one blinked. But my personal highlight was going through immigration in Düsseldorf.

"What is the purpose of your visit?" the stone-faced officer asked.

"To visit friends and to see Europe," I answered.

"How long would you like to stay?"

"89 days."

He looked up from my brand-new empty passport, then back down at my passport and leafed through it disdainfully. It felt like five minutes before he spoke again.

"So you've never been here before?"

"No, well, not since I was three."

"I see...and how many dollars do you have with you?"

Now, if this was New York, I'd assume it was a mugging attempt. But this is a common immigration question and I was prepared.

"Two thousand in cash, and another ten thousand in the bank." Hopefully not too much and not too little.

"And you can take a long vacation from work like this?"

"I'm a writer, so I don't have to be at home to get work done."

He nodded his approval and turbo-stamped my passport.

"Enjoy your stay."

So I think I found the magic answer to getting approved for a 90-day visa. Have money and be a writer.

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