I finally made it. I landed in Malta and have travelled all countries in Europe. Time for a resumee of this time and those trips.
The story of the idea to travel all European countries
It is the same like it is with most of the great ideas of all times – they developed out of a beer drinking evening. It was back during my Erasmus year in Lithuania when I had discussed this with my friend Lennart from the Netherlands. while watching the Euro 2008. We made a bet that I would gather signatures from famous football players from all European countries until the World Cup 2010. If I’d make it I would get a case of beer. If not, I would have to go on a bicycle to Holland. The Dutch are still mad at the Germans because in WWII the German soldiers scraped all Dutch bicycles for the war. So I found it a cool idea to take a bicycle back to my friend Lennart.
However as it is with most great idea…
… it did not work out. Although I made a substantial amount of countries in 2008 and 2009 the bet was called off and I also still had to go to school. Also it’s tough to find football players as the famous ones all play in foreign countries. But I kinda got stuck on the idea to travel all of Europe. And because I liked the idea I still want to visit my friend Lennart and give a bike to him. Maybe I will still get my case of beer from him. Classical win-win situation
How much did I actually see of the countries visited?
Well I am not quite as bad as my friend Andras from Budapest, who travelled more than 100 countries and over 550 airports. I rather stay for a bit in each of the countries – usually at leat 3 days, most of the times more than a week, in some over a month in one for more than a year (Lithuania <3). But I had more than 11 years and wanted to see the countries under regular conditions, while Couchsurfing or staying locally, many times while hitchhiking. Many countries I visited by themselves although some I visited on longer tours.
Those countries in Europe I liked the most
There are a couple of countries that I love talking about, because they actually made a lasting impression on me. Europe is such a heterogenic continent, you wouldn’t believe it. I love to start with the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia). I lived a year in Lithuania, was in Latvia and Estonia quite often, for visiting friends or for using the airports. But not many other people actually know a lot about those countries. But the landscape is so beautiful and people are friendly. Then there is Italy that I can always recommend for a trip. At my first visit on a class trip in 2002 I hated it. When I came back a couple years ago, I started really enjoying it for the great food and wine, the diverse landscape and the lovely people. The Greek Islands are wonderful too and great even from the airplane. In Denmark it is great to spend your winter on the coast, renting a holiday home with a sauna and listen to the wind hitting the huts. Just for the air I can recommend Ireland though. It just looks so delicious you wanna go and eat the grass while starring at the coastline for hours.
My absolute favorite country in Europe
I am really happy that I finally got to travel there only this year, because who knows if I would have spend my time travelling to all the other countries in Europe after having seen Iceland. But where else can you see volcanoes, glaciers, moss fields, lovely lakes, geysirs, can watch whales and puffins, arctic foxes and swim in hot springs in the middle of nowhere? Where else can you see a plane wreck and see icebergs swimming in a lagoon? I can’t come up with a country like that. Iceland has simply exceeded any expectations I had – and I had quite a few. Unfortunately the number of tourists is rapidly increasing and Iceland is struggling with that. But I will go back anyways as I don’t have the feeling to have seen everything yet.
The well-kept secret of all countries in Europe
Have you ever heard anything about Albania? Besides it being a corrupt country with lots of crime and mafia? Well it is not untrue but it also happens to be a country with a stunning landscape and really friendly people who are quite happy and curious to meet foreigners. In the East you have really cool mountains with crystal clear rivers, great for rafting. In the North I took a ferry all the way up to almost the Kosovo, with mountains on the side, feeling almost like in a Fjord just to end up literally nowhere. Tirana is a great city with colourfull houses and a great nightlife. The beaches in Albania were another well-kept secret – when I was visiting I had the most stunning beach all to myself. Then there is the impressive Ottoman architecture – I can definitely recommend it.
So what’s this thing with Germany?
All those of you wondering why I travel Europe and assuming Germany must be horrible then I have to cut the thought right away. I love Germany. It is a beautiful country and there are so many regions where I never meet any foreigners. It’s a pity! I think my fellow countrymen are actually not half as grumpy as many people think, in fact they can be quite lovely, especially with foreign tourists. With east Germany you have this well-kept secret with beautiful lakes, picturesque castles and a lovely coast. I lived in Leipzig for a couple of years and it’s one of the best cities you can imagine. Then there is beautiful Dresden and the Sächsische Schweiz. But my favorites are still Sachsen-Anhalt, where I am from. Charming towns like Quedlinburg and Wernigerode in the mountains or Naumburg and Freyburg on the river Saale and my home region – the Mansfelder Land – where Martin Luther was born, with many lakes, forests, castles and a couple cool traditional fests that I can recommend to anyone. And well Thüringen is also great – don’t miss out on Weimar, Erfurt and Eisenach . You will fall in love!
That’s why I like the East
You might have noticed that I named quite a few places in the East. It’s the thing with Germany and Europe. I am from East Germany and I like places that are still in development, where you have rapid changes of short periods. It’s exciting. And also people in the East are a bit cold in the beginning, but once they heat up with you, better run! They will love you to death! I still have some of my dearest friends in the world from the East. Love them all!
Plans for further travels
So you might wonder if I am finished with Europe now, since I have seen all countries. But hell no. I love it and there is so much more that I haven’t seen and still want to. Also I have so many friends all over the place, so I will have to travel more and more. On my list are currently Belarus, as I haven’t seen it really when I was there. Shortest visit I had in a country apart from Liechtenstein. And I am still in love with Poland and the Baltics. Albania derserves another visit too, maybe also Serbia. And in Slovakia I wanna see the Slovakian Paradise, one of Europe’s most beautiful nature reserves. Ukraine is on my list too. It’s quite big but it might be Lviv that I will visit. Then there is Spanish Galicia that I wanna see. And it’s about time for another visit to the Bretagne and France to freshen up my French. Well and I have to bring the bike to the Netherlands. Good time to visit again after such a long time.
And conquering the world
I have just been to the USA again. I just love it. I have explored Ghana as my first real African country. It inspired me to go to more African countries. But for now I also developed the plan to visit all continents – still missing a few. So South America is on my list but I have not found a partner for a bet yet. But who knows… Prepare for a visit in the next years!