Thursday, January 26, 2017

Europe Travel Map, Visas and Passport Stamps

We've been to most of the countries in Europe, but much of our travel was before this passport. Further, now that Europe has open borders (I hope that will continue, but it is not looking good these days), passport stamps are harder to come by. The only major countries in Europe I've not visited are Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Moldavia. We did visit Kosovo, which is not marked on the map. We were in Italy the day it converted from the Lira to the Euro and it was fascinating to see them struggle with the currency change. They were used to handling very large numbers in Lira and struggled with the much smaller numbers of the Euro. 
One of our earlier, more adventurous trips, in 2010, was a cruise of the Black Sea, blogged on here. Most of the countries we visited on that trip were not part of the European Union. We flew into Istanbul, Turkey and started our cruise there.
Turkey visa
Turkey entry stamp.


Turkey exit stamp.
Our first cruise stop was Nessebar, Bulgaria. 
Our next stop was Constanta, Romania. I don't know which is the entry and which is the exit stamp. 
The upper right does show that we came in by boat. 
For whatever reason, we were not required to have our passports stamped in Ukraine where we visited three separate ports: Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta. We also did not have to have stamps in other spots of Turkey, including Trabzon, Sinop and Kusadasi (Ephesus). We did have to have a stamp in Sochi, Russia, but no visa, because we stayed with one of our ship's tours. 
Sochi, Russia
Finally, we ended up in Athens, Greece, where we arrived by boat at Pireas and flew out to go home. Greece was a member of the EU and was struggling financially when we arrived, but fortunately we missed any protests that were going on sporadically at the time. 
Pireas, Greece
The next year, in 2011, we took a Baltic cruise, with extensions to Moscow and Berlin. We blogged on that trip here. We flew into Munich, Germany, where we stopped for six hours, before flying on to Moscow, and had to have our passports stamped. 
Munich, Germany
Munich, Germany.
In Moscow we met our cruise leader who spent the night in a secured part of Sheremetyevo Airport because he arrived a day earlier than his visa allowed. This was the same spot where Edward Snowden later spent time when he escaped to Russia from the U.S. Posts related to this trip are here
We avoided a visa to Russia on our first trip, but needed one for our extended visit this time. We visited both Moscow (by flight) and St. Petersburg (by ship). 
This was a stamp in Moscow.
And this is the stamp for St. Petersburg (note the ship). 
From Moscow, we flew to Berlin, spent some time, then were bussed up to northern Germany where we boarded our cruise ship. 
Berlin, Germany
We visited Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Talinn, Estonia; Aarhus, Denmark; and Oslo, Norway. Only Norway stamped our passports. 
Oslo, Norway
We did get an exit stamp in Copenhagen, Denmark when we flew home.
Copenhagen, Denmark 
The next year, 2012, we took a river cruise from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands. But before that, on that same trip, we visited Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria. The blogs of that trip are summarized here. Interestingly, we only got passport stamps on our arrival at the airport in Prague and when we flew home from Amsterdam. I'm assuming that it was because we were in the European Union that we were able to avoid any other stamps.
Czech Republic
Netherlands
Perhaps our most adventurous trip to date was in 2013, when we flew into Zagreb, Croatia and then drove through eight of the Balkan countries by car before flying back home out of Zagreb. Our collective posts for that trip are summarized here
A stamp in Zagreb, Croatia at the airport when we arrived. 
Our first full day we did a day trip into Slovenia and had to get stamps both entering and leaving. We also had to get some kind of special insurance, as I recall. 
Entering Slovenia
Leaving Slovenia.
The next day we drove to Bosnia & Herzegovina but did not get a stamp, although we spent about 20 minutes at the border while they checked on the status of our rental car. When we drove from there to Serbia we did get a stamp.
Serbia
We got stamps entering into Macedonia, then when we visited Kosovo and came back into Macedonia, we got another stamp.
Entering Macedonia
Entering Macedonia again. 
We visited Kosovo for a day trip and got stamped. 
Kosovo
From Macedonia we went to Albania and Montenegro, before going back into Croatia. We got another stamp at the airport in Zagreb when we left. 
Croatia
It will be interesting to watch over the next few years as the EU struggles and various countries become more nationalistic, like the U.S., to see if border controls are stepped up. I suspect they will. 

1 comment:

  1. I hope we get a stamp from Poland in our next passport. That's near the top, if not THE top, of my list. Who knows how the current tension between Russia and Poland might change future travel?

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