Finally, I’m able to say I can check off another country off the list of all European countries that I’ve visited since starting this blog. Being accepted to speak at a conference in Manchester, which was held this week, meant I finally got the chance to go to the United Kingdom again, for the first time in 12 years. Funny how it has taken me so long to get to the UK, it’s very close to the Netherlands and easily accessible.
Manchester itself isn’t all too interesting, but this has been more than made up for by the incredibly nice people I’ve met and discovering the glory that is steak and ale pie. I think this will be the last country I visit this year, which means I have been able to get to only two new countries instead of the three I planned to visit, but I’m not complaining. I’ll just try harder next year.
Finally, another update.. A week or so ago I had the opportunity to attend and contribute to a work-related conference in Cluj, the second largest city in Romania. Having never before been to this country, it was another excellent experience. The city of Cluj is partly quite modern, with a lot of young people and several universities, and partly quite old (both in the good way, with medieval churches, and less good, with seventies-style brick towers).
I spent three nights in the country, enough to at least get enough of a feeling of the city and the people. Being there for work-related purposes meant I didn’t really get to tour the area around Cluj, but that’s OK. Maybe some other time… But in the meantime there are a lot of other countries awaiting me!
And another visit to a European country is behind me! Last week, I spent a wonderful week together with the wife and kids on Gran Canaria, an island belonging to Spain, even though it’s situated far more south than mainland Spain. The island of Gran Canaria is roughly on the same degree as the southern border of Morocco, but as it belongs to Spain, it surely counts as another country for the list!
We had a wonderful week there, lots of sun and fun, a wonderful break from the cold weather over here in the Netherlands in November. Taking a holiday in November was a first for us, but it surely won’t be the last time!
This has been the final trip for this year, hopefully I’ll be able to add some more countries in 2017. One’s already confirmed, but I’m looking to add at least two more to the list.
Well, riiiighttt.. When I added the item of visiting all fifty European countries to my list, I didn’t dare to think that the third country I’d visit would be Lithuania. Belgium, maybe, France, or Italy. But not Lithuania. Nonetheless, last week I went there for a work-related conference. And it was great.
Granted, I’ve only seen the capital, Vilnius, but I stayed there for two nights, had a walk through the city to get a feel of the place, spent a full day networking (and speaking) at the conference, so it was definitely a Lithuanian experience of some sorts!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling all too well, so I didn’t feel like going out for a nice dinner in a restaurant (something I like to do when abroad) or spend time in a bar, a theater or even outside at all (there was work to be done after all), but still, traveling for work, doing a public speaking gig abroad and visiting a place I’d never been before has been a great experience. I’m definitely going to do more of this work-related travel in the future, so that’ll be a great opportunity to tick off some more countries on the list. But before that, there’s a week of holiday left next month, to yet another European country..
At the beginning of this year I vowed to visit at least two European countries other than my country of residence. Last week, I reached the half way point of this target by visiting Germany for the first time in a couple of years. We’ve spent a nice two weeks close to the German border, and looking for a day trip on a day with not-so-great weather, we decided to cross the border and visit a zoo in the town of Nordhorn, in the Lower Saxony state.
So that’s one under the belt, only 48 more countries to go! Looking forward to the rest of the journey already… As for the end of year goal: I’ve managed to land a public speaking gig in another European country in November, so I’m definitely going to make it. I’ll post another update on that afterwards!
Note: this is very likely to be the final item to be added to my bucket list. Over the last 3,5 years, I have compiled what I think is a great, varied and above all challenging list and I am planning to work hard on completing all of the items on it. Let’s go!
Inspired by rereading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity, I decided to make the one hundredth item on my bucket list a big one as well. Chris is known for having visited all countries in the world, and since I do love to travel I think it would be great to attempt something similar. However, I do not feel the urge to visit remote countries such as Sierra Leone or Bangladesh, so visiting all countries in the world would not make sense to me. However, visiting all countries within my continent of residence would! So, starting today, I will make an attempt to visit all 50 countries in Europe. I have visited quite a few of them in the past, but, as with all items on my list, I’ll start afresh from here with exactly one country visited (the Netherlands, where I live). This is going to be great! You can find the list where I keep track of my progress here.
Some countries will be harder to visit than others, especially some in the former Soviet Union, but hey, everybody needs a challenge right?