I have spent the past three and a half days in a crazed, super-energized state of being in which I have barely been able to sit still for more than nine seconds at a time. Four hours of sleep became the norm as my mind refused to rest until I had finalized an itinerary for my upcoming trip to Europe. It wasn’t an easy task at all as there are simply too many extraordinary places to visit, but in the end, I did manage to formulate a plan.
Let me begin by saying that I could not have asked for a better collection of comments on my previous post, comments so full of tempting travel suggestions as well as offers to show me around parts of Europe and even to let me crash on your sofa. And there were even more comments that came through on Facebook, Twitter and in the dozens of personal emails that you sent my way. In fact, with every new comment I received, I would become so ecstatic that I would shout out ‘I love my readers!’ for all to hear. (I know, it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.)
And while my friends got used to me shouting this in their apartment every few minutes during the evenings, the other customers at Tillie’s Cafe, where I spend a few hours working on my laptop each day here in Brooklyn, never seemed to enjoy my outbursts, nor did the staff.
Anyway, you get the point. You’re awesome. Yes you.
CREATING THE ITINERARY
I began by listing every single one of your suggestions on a spreadsheet, and upon glancing at the final result, my reaction was simple enough. I just kept thinking to myself, “I need to find a way to go everywhere on this list!”
Of course, a couple of hours later, after desperately trying to map out a route that would allow me to cover Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria and every country in between by rail in less than two months, I was forced to reach an unfortunate conclusion.
If I were to go everywhere that was suggested, I would end up spending approximately 19 minutes and 43 seconds in each destination. After all, while two months might seem like a significant amount of time to travel around Europe, it’s not enough to cover the entire continent.
And so, sadly, I had to start trimming places off the list.
The two countries that received the most mentions were, by far, Slovenia and Romania. Therefore, I figured that my itinerary definitely needed to include those two countries, especially considering that I have never been to either of them. And once those two countries made the final list, it became apparent that Northern and far-Western Europe were just too far away to include on the same trip.
So, after two days of constant (and I mean 20 hours per day constant) itinerary experimentation and re-arranging, as well as the shedding of a few tears when certain favorite destinations of mine such as Prague and Berlin were crossed off the list, I finally created the route that I will take.
And the fact that every time I glance at the names of the countries along this route I feel the urge to break into a happy dance (which for me involves standing straight up, gently swaying my arms and looking incredibly uncomfortable), I’d say that I’m satisfied with the result.
MY EUROPEAN ITINERARY
The route below includes the major destinations that I plan to visit over the next six to eight weeks, most of which I will be traveling to/from on my Eurail Global Pass. Naturally, I’ll also be stopping at and exploring other locations within each country as well, but I’m going to leave such side trips up to last minute decision making. All I wanted with this itinerary was to determine the general route I’ll take from country to country. Apart from that, I don’t even have the slightest idea yet of how long I’ll stick around each destination.
On Monday, September 26th, I shall fly from New York City to Zurich, Switzerland.
And then I shall continue on, by Eurail, from….
Zurich to Vienna, Austria
Vienna to Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana to Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb to Sarajevo, Bosnia
Sarajevo to Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade to Romania (where I will use my Eurail Pass to visit such destinations as Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj, among others)
Romania to Bulgaria (where I will visit destinations along the Black Sea as well as other places such as Polvdiv and of course, the capital city, Sofia)
And that’s the plan!
One thing to note is that the portion of my trip that will take me through Bosnia and Serbia is not fully confirmed. My decision to pass through these two countries will depend on time, and if I choose not to visit them, I will re-route and head to Hungary from Zagreb instead, and then on to Romania. Also, Bosnia and Serbia are not countries that are included on my Eurail Pass (although Serbia is included on InterRail Passes which are for citizens of the European Union).
Clearly, with the above itinerary I will be missing out on such rewarding destinations as Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Spain and Germany to name a few. However, I will be covering approximately 33% of the countries that were recommended, several of which are countries that I have never visited before. My chosen route will also allow me to meet up with several friends, fellow travelers and other bloggers along the way, something that is always a bonus when traveling anywhere.
As I write this post, I feel more than ready to get this trip started, and I’m sure my friends whose sofa I’ve been sleeping on for the past three weeks are more than ready for me to get started as well!
And now that my Eurail Global Pass arrived this morning (via mail) and I shaved my armpits this afternoon in preparation for my travels, all that’s left is to get on that flight to Zurich on Monday evening.
I certainly hope you’ll follow along as I bounce around from country to country and again, I want to thank you all so very much for offering your assistance and ideas and ultimately helping me create such an ideal itinerary for this Eurail adventure.
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