Europe here we come!

So we’ve been intending to head to Europe for quite a while now and have just never really either had the time or inclination to pursue a Schengen visa for Susan which is via a horrendous application process. Well, the good news is that we submitted the application and it got approved!

We applied for a 3 month multiple re-entry visa which for Indonesians is a rare beast to obtain. Usually they grant a visa between fixed dates and it’s rarely re-entry. And during the application process you usually have to prove that you have accommodation booked, have a letter from your employer confirming you have a job, have onward flights and all that guff. We fulfilled some of those requirements, but by and large we just couldn’t fulfill most of the visa requirements. Susan doesn’t have a job. It’s not practical for us to book 3 months worth of accommodation. We don’t know anyone that can sponsor us. In the end, we thought we would just submit the application and see what happens. Well, as it turns out the agency who accepts applications on behalf of the Spanish Embassy didn’t believe we were submitting a valid application and we spent 3 hours arguing with them to accept it. After what seemed like forever, we managed to bust through what is typical bureaucracy and get the application submitted.

Four days later and the visa had been approved without an interview which we are led to believe is often required. So here we are — sitting in the boarding lounge in Singapore waiting for a flight to Riyadh and then on to Paris!

The plan is a bit of a fast one without spending a lot of time in any one place except for Spain and Turkey. The main reason for this is that Susan has never been to Europe and I’ve only been once so we want see a few different countries. It’ll be a quick itinerary without being too burdensome. We plan to visit France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece with a side trip to Morocco which falls outside of the 3 months. On top of that, we plan a month in Turkey, a week in Bulgaria and a week in Jordan making for a total of 4 and a half months! Pumped!

Even though we have three months in Europe, much of that time will be spent in Spain. Probably about half of it. Why? Because we plan to walk 750km from St Jean Pied-de-Port in France, across the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain and then right across to the other side of the country to the town of Santiago de Compostela. It’s an old pilgrimage route which is now popular as a walking trail for crazy souls like us. We hope to average 25km of walking per day over about 5 weeks making for a total of about 750km. Of course we’ll try and have a few rest days, but irrespective, it is going to be a tough tough journey. Adding to that is the fact that we are unfit. Depressingly so.

So we’ve started walking. In the past few weeks we’ve walked about 120km. To be honest, we’re really feeling the pain, but I guess it’s good that we’re moving our bodies from sloth-like to slow loris-like. Soon we’ll be in tarsier territory.

What am I looking forward to most from this trip? The food. Mainly the food in Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. I have no idea about Jordanian food, but I’m sure it’ll be nice too. I’m also looking forward to just hitting the road again. We’ve had a bit of a break since our last big trip to Laos and it’s now time for us to get moving. I haven’t been this excited about a trip for some time — perhaps even off the beaten track southeast Asia is easy now. Oh well, let’s see how it pans out… cannot wait!

 

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