Man, what a week! Here I have been blithely going along, thinking we were all set to go on our trip, when I realized that I simply had not even thought about the fact that we might have visa issues wanting to be in Europe for 9 months! EEEEK…We did know we had to get a Visa “D” from the Austrian consulate to stay longer than 3 months in Vienna, but it hadn’t occurred to me that we would then still have trouble going to any other countries in the Schengen area (the 26 countries in the EU that have agreed to free travel between them for citizens of those countries). So I panicked. I think I was more upset that I hadn’t been organized enough to think about this problem earlier. So: I wrote to Ulrike Ritzinger, the Austrian Consul General, who we met and became friends with last year when Wolfgang, our famous Austrian friend, was feted at the Consulate. She was kind enough to call me and explain how we can stay for 9 months: we must first jump through lots of hoops to get an Austrian National Visa “D”, which will work for 6 months in Schengen countries. Then–if I understand correctly–we can switch over to our 90-day tourist visa for the rest of the stay. I’m still worried about getting the exact dates right, but I think we’re on the right track. We also have to buy travel insurance that pays directly rather than through reimbursement, because the Austrians will not accept U.S. health insurance because it’s such a mess.
I’m still anxious about all this–until we have all our ducks in a row, I’m not going to make any more travel plans.