The idea is…if I work very very hard at writing interesting blogs and take many strange and wonderful photos for your viewing pleasure, surely someone among you will find a way to come and rescue me when I run out of money in Podgorica! …That was a trick question to make you check and see whether such a place even exists.
Here is the itinerary for a trip that will either prove I can do this every-country-in-the-world thing—YES I CAN—or that I started this project a bit late in life and might have to settle for every country in…say…Europe.
It all began when my friend, Andreya, told me he was performing his new dance in Zurich in August. I said ‘I’ll be there’ because I like both Andreya and his work very much and would like to bring this new dance piece to Albuquerque. And besides I had enough frequent flyer miles.
Next I said to myself…well Switzerland is the one country I have not been to in Western Europe but flying all that way to add one new country to my list is simply not good enough.
Then it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time to get those pesky principalities/kingdoms/little tiny countries out of the way. I had managed Luxembourg and Monaco back when I was a princess but there are three more: Andorra, Liechtenstein and San Marino. Okay. Done.
I peruse my new National Geographic Atlas of the World just in case I’ve overlooked some small place that could bring me up to five countries on this jaunt. Well, look at that, San Marino is just up the coast and across the Adriatic from Albania (Croatia too but I’ve already been there) so maybe that could be an inexpensive way to add a fifth country. I check and a one way crossing is about $75 and all night in a deck chair. I can do that.
I’m sure you can guess where this is going. I feel like one of the TV hoarders…only it’s all about countries instead of Tupperware or teddy bears. I think about money, about how much vacation time I have coming, about stamina, and about loneliness. Usually when I travel there is eventually a meeting up of friends at a far-flung festival. This time, after Switzerland I will not know a soul. But I am not deterred by these few conundrums and I continue planning.
From Albania to Macedonia to Bulgaria to Kosovo to Montenegro to Bosnia & Herzegovina to Serbia to Romania to Moldova. Or to use the stranger and more romantic sounding city names: Tirana-Skopje-Sofia-Pristina-Podgornica-Sarajevo-Belgrade-Timisoara-Chisinau-Bucharest (two cities in Romania). Guess the tiny countries and Switzerland have slipped off my route. Next time.
The basic itinerary is done. Three and one-half weeks. Cheap hotels. Bread and coffee and a bit of wine or the local plum brandy along the way. Many hours on buses and trains. I’m furiously reading history (very bloody) and Lonely Planets (very picturesque).
I am excited and challenged and eating pancakes right now to gather strength for the journey.