What is a Schengen visa?

What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen visa allows the visitor to travel between the countries that are part of the Schengen area (also known as the Schengen zone). The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries that have agreed to allow free movement of their citizens within this area as if it were a single country. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the EU and the other 4 are part of the EFTA.

Travellers must apply to the single destination that you travelling to or, if you are visiting more than one Schengen member country, you will need to do one of the following.

The Schengen visa allows the holder to stay a total of up to 90 days within a period of 6 months for tourist or business purposes. If you get a multiple entry Schengen visa, you may leave and return any number of times within the 180-day period, but the combined stay within the region must not total more than 90 days.

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Certain nationalities are eligible for this visa. Find a list of them here.

How was the agreement created?

The Schengen Agreement got its name because the original treaty was signed on a river-boat in the river Moselle near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, where the territories of France, Germany and Luxembourg meet.

It began with 5 countries: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany first signing the agreement.

Where to go and what to do:

With 26 different countries at your disposal, there’s going to be plenty to do – why not visit some of the most iconic cities in the world: Paris, Rome, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Milan, Zurich and more. There is also a plenty of famous landmarks that you can visit like the Roman Colosseum, the Acropolis of Athens, the Sagrada Familia and the Eiffel Tower.

But it doesn’t end there! There is more you can do while travelling through these 26 different countries: why not take your family / friends on a road-trip around Europe, take to the Alps for a ski session, visit local markets and museums, take a relaxing scenic walk or go it alone on a backpacking adventure!

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Visas

*Note: We advise that you apply at least 3 months before travelling.

*Note: It can take up to 4 weeks to obtain this visa.

We are now able to assist with all Schengen Visa Applications for non-UK Passport Holders. Visit our website here: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk/visas/schengen/

“To Travel Is To Live”

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Happy Holidays

December has arrived and the New Year will soon be upon us so here is a run-down of the holiday events that will be closing off 2015!

Hanukkah

What is Hanukkah?

This holiday is celebrated by the Jewish community and lasts for 8 days (December 6 – 14). Back in 165 B.C.E the Greek king of Syria, outlawed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. Most Jews were, understandably, angry and decided to fight back. The Jewish rebel army managed to drive the opposing Syrian army out of Jerusalem and so reclaimed their land. Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory.

How is Hanukkah celebrated?

You can usually find a 9-branched candelabra, called a Hanukkiahlit. The 8 branches are set alight to represent the 8 days of Hanukkah while the 9th is used to light the others.

A common past-time for Jews during Hanukkah is playing the dreidel which is used for gambling with small candies, nuts or fruit!

Treats and gifts are often exchanged everyday during the 8 days. Childeren are given chocolate and money whereas the parents can receive other gifts including: books, oils and cooking recipes.

An important part of Hanukkah is the food. Traditional Jewish foods such as Latkes, doughnuts, and foods fried in oil are eaten by the families in these 8 days.

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Kwanzaa

What is Kwanzaa?

This holiday was created in 1966 and is relatively new as holidays go. Unlike other holidays, it is not tied to any religion – it was created for Africans to celebrate their heritage. It got its name from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which thanks the gods for their harvest.

It lasts from December 2 to the 1st of January.

How is it celebrated?

During Kwanzaa homes are decorated, gifts are exchanged and candles are lit! Each day a different candle is lit to represent a different African principle and each day it is a different candle that is lit.

Commonly, during Kwanzaa, you can find many people taking part in musical gatherings, candle lighting rituals and the feast that takes place on the 6th day (New Years eve).

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Christmas

What is Christmas?

Taking place on the 25th of December each year, this (as well as Easter) is one of the most important days of the year for Christians as it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus!

Often, children are told that Father Christmas (Santa) will squeeze down the chimney and put presents under the Christmas tree for each boy and girl that has been good this year but if you’ve been bad… you can expect to find coal in your stocking!

How is it celebrated?

Christmas is celebrated with popular festive carols, the most popular being ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. Due to its popularity Christmas is also very embedded into pop culture. Best selling artists and songs include: ‘Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, Michael Bublé and soundtracks to films such as Home Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Each year families will decorate a fir tree with tinsel, wooden ornaments, baubles, sweets and then decoratively wrap presents to then be set under the tree for opening in morning. Treats and snacks are also prepared by families which include sausage rolls, mince pies, pigs in blankets and many others!

Then comes the feast! Traditionally a roast Turkey or Goose will be cooked, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and lots of gravy!

When the day draws to an end it is likely that the family settle down to watch some festive television, movies or to keep themselves busy with the gifts they have just received.

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From everyone here at The Travel Visa Company we would like to wish you all Happy Holidays!

Holiday Season in Europe

Why Europe?

If you’re looking for a lovely little winter get-away, then look no further… Europe is the place to be.

Europe plays host to charming small villages, world famous landmarks and some stunning cities such as Prague, Athens, Stockholm, Rome, Zurich and many, many more. With such a wide range of diverse and cultural places to go and see, travelling around Europe is a bucket list essential!

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What to do whilst visiting Europe

Europe contains a great deal of different things to do and see. Here are just a few of our favourites:

Winter Sports

One of the most popular activities has to be Skiing. This is an adventurous pursuit that the whole family can get involved in. There’s a whole load of different ski resorts that can cater to your needs, budgets and skill level. It is said that Val Thorens (France) is rated one of the best ski resorts in the world – possibly due to the fact that it is the highest altitude resort in Europe!

But the fun doesn’t stop at skiing. Some ski resorts also offers downhill mountain biking, paragliding, ice-water scuba diving, sledding with huskies and you can even spend an evening in a Yurt. Other popular resorts include: La Plagne (France), Westondorf (Austria) and Alagna (Italy).

Another popular activity would be Mountain climbing. Now this isn’t for the faint hearted. Mountain climbs can be hard work and require a lot of training, dedication and commitment. Having said that, they are an incredible achievement and give you something to brag about for years to come! Popular mountain climbing destinations include: Fontainebleau (France), Västervik (Sweden) and San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily.

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Christmas Markets

For those of you who would rather relax into the festive season, Europe is the best place to find some of the most amazing Christmas markets around the world!

When you think of the Christmas markets, your first thought is probably of Berlin and their world renowned Christmas markets, however other cities such as Brussels, Cologne, Stockholm and Vienna are becoming more and more popular to travel to each year.

The markets are usually packed with shoppers out to experience everything the city has to offer. From the stalls to stores you can expect to find traditional hand-made gifts, an array of locally sourced foods accompanied with the classic: Mulled Wine, providing everything you need to get in to the Christmas spirit! But we must warn you that it is the middle of the winter and you will need to take this into account as temperatures drop and the chance of snow and ice increases.

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Lapland

Why not take the family out to Finland to meet Santa himself! Lapland is Finland’s most northern region and borders Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. Flights from the UK usually take around 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Lapland is also known for its vast wilderness, ski resorts and (if you’re lucky enough) you may get a chance to see the famous Northern Lights! You can also get a ride in Santa’s sleigh, go for a winter safari by dog sled, visit local museums or even just relax in the sauna… and it is said that there are more saunas than personal vehicles in Finland!

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Roadtrips

Just you, your family and the open road. The beauty of going on a road trip is that you can choose where you go, what you do, when you want. There are many pre-planned routes that you can follow which will take you to some of Europe’s most popular attractions – here’s a useful link for an incredible route featuring some stunning scenery: lifehacker.com

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Thinking of visiting?

If you are a non-UK passport holder visiting Europe you may need what is called a ‘Schengen Visa’. This grants you access to 22 different European countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For more information about the requirements and to see if you are eligible for a Schengen Visa, go to our website: thetravelvisacompany.co.uk/visas/schengen/

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