So, I had decided to go to Europe. Now I just needed to figure out when and where.
The when part was kind of easy. At the time, back in August, I just wanted to go right then and there but I knew this trip would take some planning and who wants to travel Europe in the fall and winter – ick. So, I thought around March would be a good time to go.
The where part – well, that was an every changing work of progress.
I started as a novice would – I checked out a map on Eurail’s website. Yup, I was gonna get a rail pass for two months and just go where the rail went. Start in Spain, do the south of France, go up to Paris, London, Brussels and Amsterdam, then go down through Germany and end in Italy. Boom! Done! Piece of Cake!
Then I started doing google searches. ALOT of them. The advice that stood out the most was “Don’t race though the cities, take time to enjoy the trip”. A quick look over my itinerary and I could see that I definitely needed to adjust it.
So my trip expanded – from 2 months, to 3, then 4, 5, 6 and finally 7 months.
My itinerary changed too. First, I realized that the Eurail pass, while good for some people, was not going to work for me at all, and second, I discovered the world of cheap discount airlines. I was no longer bound by a ridiculous route based on where the rail on the Eurail map went.
I carved out a new route – Scandinavia, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland and Greece. Ta da! All done!
And then, on a whim, I did a google search for what visas I would need travelling in Europe. I was pretty sure I didn’t need any – but, hey, better check and make sure…
I soon found out about the lovely city of Schengen in Luxembourg and an agreement that was signed there back in 1985 between several of the EU states. In a nutshell, it says “Hey, we’ll let you travel between our countries with open borders, BUT, you can only visit for 90 days out of every 180 days”
What to do with the other 90 days, you may ask? Well, you have to spend them outside of the area and you can’t just loophole it by going out and coming back in. Nope, you have to spend a full 90 days of every 180 days outside of the Schengen Area. Luckily, the UK, Ireland and most of the Balkins are outside the area, so I just had to tinker a little.
Onto the itinerary went Morocco, Croatia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Off came Scandinavia, Germany and Greece.
After a few more tweaks, I ended up with my final itinerary.