THE ODYSSEY WORLD VISA GUIDE

One of the things that holds back many people from travelling is the prospect of wasting time and effort attempting to get into countries that would quite prefer it if you didn't bother.  However, it is a false presumption.  In more than 150 countries worldwide you can turn up without shelling out $$$ for an invitation first. So here’s a comprehensive list of the visa requirements for British Passport Holders for every country in the world, although it may come in useful for other nationalities as well. I’ve split the world into four main categories: No Visa Required, Visa On Arrival, Prior Visa Required and Letter of Invitation (LOI) Required. No Visa Required: You beauties!! Note the (very) high prevalence of prosperous, confident and democratic countries in this list. Visa on Arrival: Not quite as good as no visa at all, but much, much less hassle than: Prior…

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Day 440: You’ve GOT To Be Kidding

16.03.10: The day started slowly, with me finally dragging myself out of bed around 11pm. I spent most of the day packing my bag, organising my tapes and doing a bunch of boring stuff that possibly doesn’t warrant a mention in this great big bulging blog of mine. At 4pm, it was time to hit the road again… I had a good two and a half hours to make the train to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan – what could possibly go wrong? Ah yes. What could…? Rati had a couple of things to be getting on with, so he said he’d join Michael and I at the station later. We headed off to town, asking the cabbie to take us to the post office as it was high time for me to send some tapes back to the UK for safe keeping. When we got…

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Day 439: A Turn-Up For The Books

15.03.10: The Azerbaijan Embassy is only open for two hours every morning, but after last night’s little beerathon, Rati and I were in little mood to drag ourselves out of our beds. But somehow we did. Soon enough we were in a taxi which didn’t know where the Azerbaijani Embassy was going around in circles looking for the Azerbaijani Embassy. After asking at least fifty separate passers-by for (wrong) directions, our driver finally got us there ten minutes before closing time. Thank god he wasn’t on the meter. So we joined in the scrum outside the Embassy and Rati got chatting with the guard who gave us an application form and told us it would take three days to get the visa. THREE FRICKIN’ DAYS?!!!? What’s more, it would cost another (wait for it…) ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DOLLARS. I nearly burst into tears there and…

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Day 438: The Valley Of Oh Dears

14.03.10: After yesterday’s glum-fest, I didn’t think things could get any more glum. I WAS WRONG! After leaving my (Overlook) hotel I went over to the train station/bus stand to try to get a bus up the valley to go and explore the old monasteries up there. A guy called Gary offered to take me in his clapped out old Lada taxi around the sites for twelve euro. That’ll do, I thought, and hopped in. Man oh man, I heard the Soviets were awesome at sucking the beauty out of everything like some kind of giant aesthetical vampire, but I was NOT prepared for the devastation they had wrought on the Debed Canyon. If, as it states in the Lonely Planet the Debed Canyon “manages to pack in more history and culture than just about anywhere else in the country” then I didn’t miss much by…

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Day 437: Back In The USSR

13.03.10: I actually woke up at 7am, but Rati was still asleep, so that gave me an excuse to go back to sleep until noon. Rati’s apartment is lovely on the inside, but it is housed within just one of many ugly concrete tenement flats from the closing days of the USSR. There is something tremendously soul crushing about Soviet architecture, maybe that was the idea – to invoke a dab and dreary landscape from which escape seemed impossible. The conspicuous lack of any elegance, refinement, beauty or romance is echoed in many buildings all over the world; not least in the UK, were I implore anyone with even a modicum of interest in architecture to go compare the graceful Liverpool Infirmary (designed by Waterhouse and built in the first decade of the twentieth century) to the painfully dispiriting home for the undead that is the…

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Day 436: Rimming The Black Sea

12.03.10: Dear old Bertie died of a heart attack in the 1920s and - according to his wishes - had been stuffed and kept in the little museum on the grounds of the fabulous manor house that Mand and I were visiting for Pimms and cucumber sandwiches. Bertie looked hilarious in his tartan and tweed and hadn’t aged a day. He was characteristically mounted standing up and holding the very glass of whiskey he was drinking when he passed away. The whiskey had evaporated over time, but one sleuthy sniff revealed to me the tell-tale smell of almonds in his drink – arsenic, old bean: dear old Bertie didn’t die of a heart attack, he was MURDERED, and what’s more… his killer was in this very room… Before I could whip around and reveal whodunit, I woke up and found myself on a bus heading east…

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Day 435: The Getaway

11.03.10: The fact that I got out of bed this morning just goes to show how dedicated to the cause I am. Atheer didn’t get up until well after noon. First up, I needed my passport back. After a quick (but surprising) fingerprint-taking session, the Iranian Embassy gave me my little burgundy booklet of travel, furnished with a brand new visa. I had Iran in the bag. Now I just have to get there before World War III kicks off. I had got in touch with Jamel, a couchsurfer in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to ask if he could write me a new letter of invitation. No probs he said, but it would take him a couple of hours to get it proofed and everything. The Azerbaijan Embassy closed at 1pm and was way way way on the other side of town. I HAD to…

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