Time for the final verdict on my 2008 resolution: I did it, kind of.
The short version is that I have now visited all 27 EU countries, but not really all of them in 2008. Germany and the Czech Republic only got a few hours each and in Ireland I only made it as far as standing outside Dublin airport. However I’d been to those three before and everywhere else got at a few days or so. I’m going to call that done, I’m not one for pedantry.
You might have noticed a new link on the right-hand side on the front page, the EU 2008 contains links to all the write-ups that are done and I’ll update it as I do more. It’s also got some other stuff that about my trips. The pictures tend to appear on my Flickr photostream before I get round to the write-up so keep an eye on that too.
So how was it?
Surprisingly stressful, two years would have been a far more reasonable time frame to do 27 countries and would have allowed me time to take longer trips and travel by train more. I also screwed up my early trips badly and left an odd set of countries later on, much more forward planning would have helped.
But I’m glad I did it, there are some places I’d never have discovered otherwise althought there were times when I was very glad that I was moving on after a few days.
In general there’s a whole set of cities where I now have a fair idea of my way around. Plus, if I hadn’t been doing this I’m not sure how seriously I’d have considered moving to Manila, in total I’ve spent a lot more time this year getting myself around the world than I ever have before.
I’m still stunned I’ve managed not to cock anything up and miss a flight, or lose something important, or get seriously lost, or worse. It’s a matter of time I guess.
There were a few highlights, go to:
Bruges, if you want proper European old-town style and great beer.
Barcelona, if you want somewhere to take a bunch of people safe in the knowledge that they will all find something to do.
Krakow, if you want another old city with some must-see stops just a few hours away.
Ljubjlana, if you want somewhere nice, friendly and well organised stuck in some spectacular countryside.
Luxembourg, if you just want to escape from everything for a few days on your own.
Vilnius, if you want the most un-touristed city I visited, go there before everyone else does.
and a couple of downsides, avoid:
Bratislava, unless you want somewhere grey, dull and populated by the most aggressive pickpockets I’ve met.
Bucharest, unless … actually just avoid it, it’s truly the worst city I visited. Sorry.
I’m actually fighting the temptation to just book a quick break somewhere for a weekend in January. It’s a pity the Bruges ferry has been cancelled or I could nip over to the Ice Festival, what’s worse is the replacement service in the spring doesn’t take foot passengers, boo!