Whether we like it or not, Brexit is coming. Soon no-one will be able to tell us how curly our bananas need to be or what protection we need to give to the most vulnerable in our society, we can make those mistakes all on our own: Lucky us. Here at TwoMenAboutTown we’ve always liked Country Clubs so the thought of leaving one makes us a little bit sad, even if the membership was getting a touch too expensive. Therefore, before the possible glory or potential horror that awaits us arrives once the principle of freedom of movement is removed, we thought we would say goodbye to our European Cousins in our own special way; as it is already well known, the boys have criss-crossed the globe from Canada to Dubai and are not afraid of a bit of long haul travel, so RobsRibs has only gone and decided to visit all 28 EU member states* to give them a damn good cheerio before the fateful day itself as only he knows how.
Yep, 28 countries in 2 years. That’s more miles than we’ve ever done before and if you see this as the worst idea we’ve ever had, just think about this; once it’s gone, it’s gone and you’ll never get the chance to do it again. Doing some amazing things and getting some amazing memories while you are doing those amazing things when you have the chance, is a joy that we wish everyone could have, so the question isn’t really why are we doing it, it’s why aren’t you?
And with this once in a lifetime memory making plan burning a hole in the trouser pocket of his psyche, it’s over to Robsribs who will take you step-by-step along with him in this journey. We guarantee that if it turns out good or bad, and believe us when we say this really could go either way, he’ll let you know. Regardless, what we do know, is that it’s going to be epic.
Step One; planning
First of all, a few points to clarify:
- Have I done anything like this before? No. I do travel a lot for work but airport to industrial estate to airport doesn’t really count as anything like this.
- Is this within my comfort zone? Not even close. I have actually refused to go on holiday to countries that I think probably don’t have a Starbucks. And I don’t even like coffee that much. I operate the classic English translation technique of loud and slow.
- Are you taking Mrs P and kids? Yes, absolutely. These opportunities to make memories don’t come round too often and if there is one thing that Mrs P has taught me, it’s to grab them with both hands when they do. They’ll thank me for it eventually. Probably.
- My friend Steve says he comes from Europe, if you say goodbye to him, does that count? No. The rules are very simple, one full night in each country (minimum) and the picture of the person we say goodbye to. #picsoritdidnthappen
Right, to kick things off I immediately started worrying about how in the name of the Almighty And All His Wonderful Disguises, could I get the time to do all this? It would have been wonderful to get a paid sabbatical but that’s even more ridiculous than Boris Johnstons hair. And it’s not just about the time, it’s going to be pretty expensive too; flights were out for a start, there was no way I’ve got the ready cash to spring for family tickets for that and on this many international trips the credit card would buckle under the strain as it is. I was going to have to get canny and find another way.
So, let’s see if anyone had ever done this before. Answer: apparently not. Well, that’s cool in a ‘we’re doing something that no-one has ever done and will ever be able do again’ kind of a way, but also daunting in a ‘holy crap, how the hell are we actually supposed to do this?’ kind of a way. The solution was found in an unlikely place; the Americans, it seems, love a European tour. They come over here in their student gap years, wander around to Italy, Paris and London before going back home and talking about how wonderfully quaint Europe is with our multiple party political system, reasonable holiday entitlement and non-deep fried food stuffs. And how do they know where to go? Well, they use websites like www.routeperfect.com is how. You enter your start and end destinations as well as a few places you want to see along the way and it gives you a day-by-day suggestion and hotels for your trip. It’s genius.
You can adjust the suggestions to include more beaches, nightlife or culture among other options and the site throws up different alternatives accordingly which all seemed just the ticket for us. But speaking of tickets, we still had to work out the logistics of such a mammoth task. Clearly we would have to split things into sections and then www.interrail.eu came thundering to the rescue. A single train ticket that works across all the EU and for those of you who aren’t already members of EU Club Tropicana (drinks are free**) just hop along to www.eurail.com and get yourself the same deal. Perfect – let’s get cracking!
Step Two; maps
Right, we’ve got the ideas, we’ve got the tools and we’ve got the will. Now we just have to decide how we’re going to hit up this bad boy. I had to figure out which countries are currently fully paid up members of the European Union and a quick Google search gave me a list and a map, awesome.
Then I started to think about logical connections between the countries, Portugal to Spain then France, Germany and Demark? Or Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech, Germany, Netherlands and Brussels maybe? This was probably one of the more difficult parts of the initial stage, where do you start? Is it cheaper to go to Spain or Hungary this time of year? Ooh the questions!
After many hours of deliberation, Mrs P and I have divided Europe into various routes and for the purpose of this blog we’ll talk about them separately as follows:
- Spring 2017 – Scotland (booked), Ireland, Croatia and Slovenia (booked)
- Summer 2017 – Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, Italy (all booked)
- Autumn 2017 – Spain, Portugal
- Winter 2017 – France (booked)
- Spring 2018 – Denmark, Sweden, Finland
- Summer 2018 – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece
- Undecided – Malta, Cyprus
In an act of possible lunacy, you can see that I’ve already committed the family to a few of these, not everything has been planned out yet so there is still a massive amount of room for flexibility. But next year is clearly going to be pretty heavy. I’ll update everything as we go through and blog each trip with our cross-border experiences. The truth is, I have absolutely no idea what will happen, but I do know it’s not going to be boring!
Happy travelling everyone!
If you’ve got any hints or tips you can share, please get in touch, we think Rob’s going to need all the help he can get!
*Don’t worry, we know that we don’t need to say goodbye to the UK because we’re the ones that are going but we are including Scotland because we figure that they want to bugger off anyway and we’ve never been to Edinburgh before so it was a win/win.