Inna and I love Europe. We haven’t been there in a while (our last two trips were to Central and South America) and we are ending our US/Canada roadtrip in New England, which means we will be close. All this adds up to another Eurotrip!
While Europe is amazing, it has some catches. Catch number one: there’s too much to do! Seriously, we could spend all year here, we could probably spend all year in certain individual countries. But that wouldn’t be an around the world adventure, which is what we want to do.
Catch number two: Schengen. For most countries, a tourist visa lets you visit the country for a certain length of time. But not Western Europe. Here a tourist visa lets you visit the entire Schengen area (the EU plus Norway and Switzerland, minus the British Isles, Romania, and Bulgaria) for a certain length of time (90 days per 180 days for US citizens). For travelers, this systems has positives and negatives; the main positive: it allows for easier crossing at borders, the main negative: once your visa expires, you have to leave the entire Schengen area, not just the country you are in.
Catch number three: Europe, Western Europe specifically, is expensive. Some places are moreso than others, but all of Western Europe is expensive compared to the rest of the world. Because of this, and because of the Schengen restriction, we aren’t staying in this area for too long. (Unlike Western Europe, Eastern Europe is cheap. We will take advantage of this at the end of our trip).
And so, without further ado, part two of our one year of travel, our Eurotrip:
How we planned our trip: we tried to avoid the most expensive countries (Switzerland, Norway, the British Isles). That being said, we’re going to Ireland because Inna and I got a taste of it years ago and we want to complete it (we also got a taste of Scotland, but the UK is too expensive for this trip).
We also tried to restrict ourselves to the safer, more stable countries. This moved us away from the Mediterranean, and it is also why we aren’t stopping in Belgium. This is also a big reason why Germany is such a primary focus on this trip. Also, while Paris has had some attacks, they are on lockdown right now, so we think the city will be safe.
This trip involves traveling with our dog (more on that later), which is why we leave Ireland through Rosslare and not Dublin: in Rosslare we can take a ferry to Cherbourg, then travel through northern France. If we don’t travel with our dog, we might elect to fly directly from Ireland to Amsterdam.
Finally, I have family in Bologna, so we are going to Italy to visit them. Italy will also serve as a good jumping off point for the third leg of our trip.
Of all the places we’re going, I’ve been to France, Ireland, Italy, and Poland, but each time I missed the things we’re visiting on this trip. The only cities I am re-visiting are Paris (I missed Versailles last time and I also want to eat more French bread), Florence (I missed Michelangelo’s David), and Dublin (Ireland’s main airport is here, otherwise we’re not doing much in this city). Inna is visiting France for the third time, but her last visit was fifteen years ago. She’ll also be visiting Germany and Austria for the third time, and she’s been to Amsterdam, Prague, and Italy as well. Actually, Inna has pretty much done all of Europe at least once, minus Spain/Portugal (I’ve been to Spain), Scandinavia (too expensive), Russia (saving that for the 2018 World Cup; hopefully it will be safe to travel there then), the rest of Eastern Europe (see the end of our trip), and non-Dublin Ireland (another reason to go here). Also, for some of the places Inna visited, like Amsterdam and Milan, she was there for only one day or less; these places in particular she wants to visit again.
Finally, as I like to do, here are some specs on the trip: ~5000 miles by bus/train/boat/plane through 12 countries (ten stopped in, two traveled through, although if we fly we’ll travel over, not through certain places), and we will visit 17+ UNESCO world heritage sites, one wonder of the middle ages, one wonder of the modern world (ASCE, 1994), two New7Wonders of the World finalists, one (maybe even three) New7Wonders of Nature finalists, countless historic landmarks (dating as far back as 3000 BCE), three of the ten most visited attractions in Europe, seven of the hundred most visited cities in the world, two beaches (and lots more coastline), 5+ castles, at least one palace, one or two friends (hopefully), one family member (definitely), one sporting event (Bundesliga in either Berlin or Munich), and the largest beer festival in the world (Oktoberfest in Munich).
Up next: India!