I suppose it was inevitable.  We’ve been in London for nearly a year, dutifully prancing around the continent over weeks and weekends, filling up our passports with ever more elusive stamps.  One day at work, I was bored in a meeting so I casually looked up the list of all recognized European countries.  Then I counted the countries I have been to, versus those I haven’t.  And then before I could stop myself, I had a new Excel file aptly named ‘Europe Travel’ and tentative travel schedules for the next couple years that would result in going to them all.  That’s right.  All of them.

I can joke about going to Moldova all I want with Drew, but it’s time to make it official.  Before moving back to the US, I want to visit all (50) European countries.  And it’s totally possible.  Easy even.

I guess I should be more specific with my use of the word ‘easy.’  By easy I mean that by and large, American tourists are welcome in all European countries.  Other than the conflict in Russia/Ukraine right now, Europe is safe and easy to navigate.  You can really just show up to a new airport with the full expectation of coming in for a look around.  Actually, even Russia and Ukraine are still allowing tourists, though I’m willing to wait awhile before tackling those two countries just in case.  The European continent is also pretty close and convenient.  Even the furthest countries (for example, Georgia), take 6.5 hours to get to and that’s with a layover in Munich.

Financially, it’s not free to undertake this challenge, but it’s not as expensive as visiting all European countries while based in another location.  Just taking a quick look this morning, if I’m able to book well in advance (6 months), I can get to Malta for £60 round trip (about $100), Croatia for £100 (about $160) and Bulgaria for £122 ($185).  It’s also easier and cheaper to combine some countries together for proper vacations spanning a week.  Romania and Bulgaria are an obvious duo that would be a wonderful driving vacation, touring Transylvania and the Black Sea in addition to the capital cities of Bucharest and Sofia.  It would also be easy to combine Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece over the course of a week.

I’m writing about this as a singular personal challenge, but I do think that Drew agrees in spirit with the undertaking.  He doesn’t necessarily care about going to Macedonia specifically but I think that he likes even less the idea of me traipsing off for an adventure without him.  So at least in the short term, this will be a team effort.  If I have a random opportunity to go to a place alone, we’ll discuss at the time if Drew wants to try and join or not.

For the rest of 2014, we have three quick hits planned.  We will be in Luxembourg this coming weekend.  In October we will (finally!) go to Dublin with some friends.  In November, after a solo trip to Barcelona, Drew will meet up with me to spend a day in Andorra (just a two hour drive!).  We should close out 2014 having been to 22 of the 50 countries, just shy of 50%.  Next year I have one tentative plan that will allow us to visit 15 more countries, take at least one trip back to the states and still have vacation days to spare.

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