Last weekend, I went to Bratislava. “Why?” you ask. “You couldn’t be arsed to go there when you interrailed right though it. You thought, ‘Sod that,’ when you went from Krakow to Budapest.” Yeah, well, I’ve regretted it ever since. Luckily, my long-time schoolfriend Soff is now working in Bratislava as a diplomat. What better excuse to see a friend for the first time in a few years than visiting her in a country you’ve never been to before? (It surpassed expectations. More to come in due course.)
It was European Country #32, meaning I only have 15 left to visit: Andorra, Belarus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine. I can name them all in my sleep. Planning interrails and backpacking trips to these 15 countries is my favourite form of procrastination.
How easy will it be for me to finish the list if the UK votes Leave on Thursday? I find it very unlikely that a #Brexit this week will result in visas being necessary for European travel, but who knows? It may well make it harder to visit non-EU countries, of which I have 11 still to do. This makes me sad. A trivial reason to feel sad among many, many more important reasons (economic, political, social…).
I thought about writing a referendum blog, but I can’t find the words to describe how furious I am about the utter lack of regard for facts in this whole debacle, the whole-hearted embrace of ignorance (oh the irony, given that the Right is forever accusing young people – the generation overwhelmingly voting Remain – of dumbing down), trusting biased press moguls over actual experts in, uh, pretty much every field. I no longer have the energy to waste my breath explaining that YOU CAN’T ENLARGE THE EU OR CREATE AN EU ARMY WITHOUT EVERY SINGLE MEMBER STATE AGREEING TO IT and FORMER SOVIET COUNTRIES ELECTING PRO-EU GOVERNMENTS DOES NOT MEAN THE EU IS PUSHING THEM INTO IT AND THREATENING RUSSIA and, give me strength, just about anything involving the major institutions within the EU.
Instead: some pictures of the continent I love and find endlessly fascinating. Here are pictures from each of the 24 European capital cities I’ve visited. They may not be the most attractive pictures of those cities, but they’re the ones I feel best sum them up, with a one-word descriptor. I don’t like all of them, but I have at least some happy memories in all of them.
I’m sometimes British. I’m sometimes English. But I’m always European.
24: Bratislava – laid-back.