Editorial

Trans-Europe Challenge LIVE BLOG: Join my 1600 mile journey across Europe for charity! | Europe in a Day

I recently posted that I’m taking on the Trans-Europe Virtual Challenge from endtoend.run for 2022 and will be raising money for several charities and good causes as I walk 1,600 miles (2,575km) across the continent. If you’d love to come along for the journey, but faint at the thought of all that walking, then I have the perfect solution!

I’ll be updating this Live Blog over the course of my journey across France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania and finally Bulgaria. As well as keeping you updated with the practical bits like where I am and how far I’ve got to go, I’ll (hopefully!) be keeping you entertained with my thoughts on the challenge, stories from my walks and bits and pieces about the causes I’m supporting and life in general!

You can make a DONATION here if you’d like – thank you in advance!

Remember this blog is LIVE, so it will change over time! So you can keep checking back every couple of days to see how I’m doing. If you’d like to leave a comment or some encouragement on this blog, then please do, it’s very much appreciated!!

In the meantime while you’re waiting for updates, if you’d like to donate, you can do so on GoFundMe – all donations very gratefully received!

LIVE BLOG STARTS HERE (NEWEST POSTS AT TOP!)

Day 266 – September 23rd 2022 – Ghindeni

Another week down! It might have been a shorter working week because of the Queen’s funeral here in the UK, but still feels like it’s been a really busy one!! I’m tired today, but after walking every single day (including 9.15 miles on Friday alone!) on top of a busy work schedule, that’s maybe not surprising! Leaving Bălăcița behind, I’m a further 42.47 miles along my route, which has taken me past Craiova and back onto paved roads. I’m somewhere along Strada Principală near Ghindeni in Romania’s Dolj County.

Day 266 – Bright and cloudy skies over Strada Principală near Ghindeni

I haven’t been able to find out much about Ghindeni online, only that 2,200 or so people live in the county as a whole and it was part of Malu Mare County until 2004 when it became its own unit. Looking at the sky over the fields, I’m immediately put in mind of the flag of Ukraine also of my time in Serbia. On trips to Vojvodina in the north of the country, we would drive across similar vistas of golden fields and open sky. As I’m sure I’ve said before on this blog, living in a big city like London, you appreciate wide open spaces and nature all the more!

See what I mean? Vojvodina in Serbia – Source: James Scanlan

They say 3 is a magic number and with three 3s in the number of miles I have left till the finish line in Bulgaria (331.31 to be precise!), I’m going to take that as a good omen. There are now under 100 days left in 2022, so I’ll have to average at least 3.34 miles a day to finish by the end of December. Yes, I’m incredibly tempted to push myself and see if I can reach the Black Sea by November, but it’s important to remember that the journey is the important part, not racing to the destination. Mind you, if I keep walking more than 40 miles a week… it’s not entirely impossible!

Skirting around the outside of Ghindeni

DAY 266 (23/09/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
42.47 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 1268.69 miles
Distance Left: 331.31 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 259 – September 16th 2022 – Bălăcița

What a week it’s been! Plenty to keep me busy and I’m glad for a bit of a break this weekend. On top of a busy work schedule, I’ve walked at least 6.60 miles every day since last updating this blog – in many cases, over 8 miles a day! This brings my total mileage up to a staggering 1226.22 miles and means I’ve arrived at the very edge of Mehedinți County, not far from Bălăcița – and as you can see below, I seem to have left the road all together!

Day 259 – Home is behind, the world ahead… somewhere near Bălăcița

I must admit I did smile looking at this picture… I’m wandering down a dirt track somewhere in deepest rural Romania, but there’s still Google Maps Street View!! Remember all the trouble I had in Germany finding Street View? Crazy! I remember driving through similar scenery to this in Moldova and Transnistria, my last trip before lockdown… even though these places must be some 400km away to the north east. I enjoy walking along paths like this, feeling like you’re right out in nature and away from it all… not something I experience much of wandering around London clocking up all these miles!

While now I’m over 1200 miles into my trek (which still amazes me!!), I’ve received another postcard from EndToEnd to celebrate reaching 1150 miles. It shows a picture of Bran Castle, a striking 14th century fortress known outside Romania as the home of perhaps the world’s most famous vampire, Count Dracula. This being said, the castle has precious little to do with either the novel or the historical inspiration for Dracula, Vlad III, better known as the Impaler: firstly, the castle looks nothing like the one mentioned in Bram Stoker’s novel. Secondly, Vlad III never set foot here. Historians thought he might have been imprisoned here 15th century by the Hungarians, but this is now largely agreed to have not happened. So Bran’s connection with fictional vampires and real-life monster seems to be purely driven by tourism – which is incredible when you consider how deeply ingrained it is in everyone’s mind! I’ve never been to the castle myself, but a university lecturer who had said it’s a bit like a gothic Disneyland… which sounds interesting, to say the least!!

Everyone thinks vampires are Romanian, the first legends came out of Serbia!

For months now, I’ve been looking at a road that sprawled out across the continent, miles stretching out in front of me and numbering into the hundreds and hundreds… it’s so strange to now look at the miles left and see how they’ve dwindled… so much so, that as of today I’ve now completed over 75% of the Trans Europe Route! When I started this challenge back in January, I wondered if I’d be able to finished it by December. There are still a few months and a few hundred miles to go, but I’m quietly confident…

Those of you waiting for the GoFundMe link to be repaired, I’m still waiting to hear back. Please be patient, hopefully it’ll be back online soon!

La revedere Mehedinți, salut Dolj!

DAY 259 (16/09/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
40.75 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 1226.22 miles
Distance Left: 373.78 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 254 – September 11th 2022 – Jidoștița

Going back to work after the summer is always a bit of a gear-change and this year is no exception… especially considering what a week it’s been! Sitting here this Sunday afternoon, I’m surprised how sleepy I feel! The good thing about being back at work is it makes you more active – walking to and from work, between sessions… it all adds up! Since I last updated the blog, I’ve walked a further 46.30 miles along the Trans Europe Route, which brings me to Jidoștița in Romania’s Mehedinți County – some 1185.47 miles from the starting block in Calais!

Day 254 – A lonely road down through Jidoștița

I wasn’t able to find out much about Jidoștița in English, but according to Romanian Wikipedia it’s a rather small village of just under 900 people. It’s quite old too, with its first recorded mention being in 1374 when it was gifted by Vladislav I to the monastery at Vodița. It’s also only a stone’s through from the border with neighbouring Serbia. Strangely enough, the first time I ever saw Romania was across the border while standing in Serbia in Veliko Gradište – and it wasn’t till a few weeks later when I was back home looking at a map that I realised that the mountains I’d been admiring across the river were in fact in Romania!

Frustrating, GoFundMe is still acting up… I’ve chased it up with them, so hopefully it’ll be back online soon! Fingers crossed!

Heading over another river and down through Romania

DAY 254 (11/09/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
46.30 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 1185.47 miles
Distance Left: 414.53 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 245 – September 2nd 2022 – Domașnea

How on earth is it already September? 2022 is flying past!! Before returning to work next week, I’ve been going out every day to walk around my local area to make sure I walk at least 4 miles everyday – after all, I worked out that I need to do 4 miles a day between now and December 31st to finish the challenge before 2023 starts! Over the course of the last 6 days I’ve walked 37.88 miles (more than 13 miles over what I needed!) and have reached a bend in the road near Domașnea in Caraș-Severin County!

Day 245 – About to be hit by several cars near Domașnea… most of which are on a truck!

The name Domașnea is believed to come from the Latin word ‘domus’ or ‘house’ and roughly means “the place with big houses”… which seems odd as it’s a rather small village in quite a remote corner of Romania! Some historians say Domașnea was first mentioned in 1436, but others argue the village was also named in a military document from 159 BC… making it significantly older! It was also the scene of anti-communist resistance during the 1940s and 1950s. I remember seeing a monument to the anti-communist resistance in Cluj-Napoca back in 2015 and it’s a fascinating, albeit dark period of history. Learning about Eastern Europe at school, you’re left thinking that the region embraced communism wholeheartedly and willing – learning that people resisted, fought and died to try and prevent it reminds you that history is so much more complicated and nuanced!

My GoFundMe page is still down, which is HUGELY frustrating, but the website knows and are looking into it… unfortunately, their email states “there is no timeframe for this” so when it’ll be fixed is anyone’s guess… annoying, but what can you do?!

Weeee… going round the bend… in more ways than one!!

DAY 245 (02/09/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
37.88 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 1139.17 miles
Distance Left: 460.83 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 239 – August 27th 2022 – Sacu

This week has involved a lot of walking – through sun, rain and every other season the British summertime decided to throw at me! Saturday to Saturday inclusive, I walked 52.64 miles – bringing me to just over the border into Caraș-Severin County in Western Romania, not far from the village of Sacu. These more than 50 miles also mean I have now walked more than 1,100 miles across Europe!

Day 239 – Sunny hills in the distance near Sacu

Not even 1,500 people live in Sacu and the surrounding villages of Sălbăgelu Nou and Tincova – or in Hungarian, Szákul, Gyulatelep and Tinkova – and from the picture, it looks quite rural and open! Not a lot of people realise that Romania has a very varied landscape – including mountains, forests, hills, plains and the river delta of the Danube. It’s truly one of the most varied and beautiful countries in that part of the world!

I’ve also received another postcard to celebrate reaching the 1000 mile mark on this journey – Budapest’s Országház or Parliament Building is a truly magnificent building and best viewed from the Danube to get a real sense of scale of it! The postcard also makes a good point about Hungarian pronunciation… yes, it does seem difficult at a first glance, but (mercifully!) it’s very logical and regular once you get the hang of it! Much more so than the spelling of English…

Hogy vagy? Nagyon jól köszönöm és te?

A little info for anyone trying to make a donation via GoFundMe, the website seems to be having issues at the moment and the links to my page there are not working. I’ve contacted GoFundMe and am trying to get this rectified as soon as possible, so if you’ve tried to make a donation in the last few days and haven’t been able to, hopefully you’ll be able to soon!

1,100 miles… two thirds of this journey down, one third left! I’ve got a little under 500 miles left to go through Romania and Bulgaria. As they say in Romania, haide! Let’s go!

Country #8, Romanian county #2

DAY 239 (27/08/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
52.64 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 1101.29 miles
Distance Left: 498.71 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 231 – August 19th 2022 – Timișoara 

Well… what a month it’s been! I won’t bore you with all the details of the last couple of weeks, just suffice to say sometimes life gets busy and despite your best intentions, there isn’t time for everything. Thankfully, while I’ve been too all over the place to update the blog, I made sure I kept up with the walking. Over the last 19 days I’ve clocked up 74.51 miles, which means two things: Firstly, viszontlátásra Magyarország, buna ziua România! – I’ve made it to country #8 on this trek, Romania! And secondly, I’ve now walked OVER ONE THOUSAND MILES since January!!!

Day 231 – Clear summer skies on the outskirts of Timișoara 

To be more precise, I’ve covered 1048.65 miles since the beginning of the year and have arrived in the northern outskirts of Timișoara in western Romania. I remember once waiting at Luton airport and hearing an announcement for a flight to “ti-mi-sor-rah” – and wondering where on earth that was… then realising it was the Romanian “ti-mish-wah-ra”! – sometimes speaking more than one language actually does more to confuse you than clarify communication!

Romania’s 3rd largest city behind Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara’s history goes back to the year 1212 and has long been a multicultural city. As of 2016, 21 different ethnicities and 18 different religions are recorded as living within the city limits. Growing up in London, you sort of take such things for granted and it’s not unusual for me to hear Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Yoruba and many other languages on a daily basis – but when you consider just over 319,000 people live in Timișoara compared to at least 10 million in London, it suddenly dawns on you how significant that is!

As I crossed the Hungarian/Romanian border without noting and celebrating the exact day (suspect it was some point last week, but anyway!) it’s time to share another Eurovision song. As weird as it might be to say, Forogj, Világ! by the Hungarian band NOX really did start my love affair with the Hungarian language. One day as a teenager listening to my CD player (yes, I’m that old!) the batteries were running low and I couldn’t replace them as the shops were closed till the next day. So while reading for exam revision, I couldn’t skip over the songs I didn’t know on my Eurovision 2005 CD without the batteries giving up and so ended up listening to Hungary sort of by accident But I’m so glad I did!

I was instantly captivated by the music and the almost magical sounds of this language I’d never heard before! It sounded like nothing I’d every heard before, but there was a real melody and poetry in its sound. This lead me to learn more about Hungarian, its roots and structure… I searched out more songs by NOX and found I loved their music… it seems strange to say a Eurovision song started all this, but it’s thanks to NOX that I learnt to speak Hungarian. It gave me a window into the complexity and beauty of this language, sat at the heart of Europe and yet completely unrelated to everything around it. Forogj, Világ! still manages to lift my spirits even 17 years later and I’m smiling listening it to it now as I update this blog… so enjoy the magic of NOX below!

1,000 miles.. that is just insane! In some ways it’s a real shame I didn’t log exactly when that point was I crossed over 1,000 miles, but I’m still amazed I’ve walked so much… I’m also incredibly proud and determined to finish the challenge before the end of the year! If you haven’t already done so, please consider donating or sharing with your friends – it will really make a huge difference to people in need!

Approaching the runway!

DAY 231 (19/08/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
74.51 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 1048.65 miles
Distance Left: 551.35 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 212 – July 31st 2022 – Zsombó

Another few quiet days on the blog, but with very good reason! For the first time since 2008, I visited the United States of America on my first long-haul trip for years! Yes, it was amazing and I’m still debating whether to write about a day trip to Portland, Oregon… but we’ll see about that! So over the last few days walking I’ve been taking in the sights of Portland (including 10 miles in a single day exploring Washington Park!) and have clocked up another 33.92 miles – bringing me to the village of Zsombó in Csongrád-Csanád County!

Day 212 – Passing a cyclist on the outskirts of Zsombó

A village of a little over 3,000 people, the name “Zsombó”, according to Wikipedia, means something along the lines of “a water body with reeds and thickets that dries up in the summer” – amazing how an entire sentence in English is one 6-letter word in Hungarian!

Over 200 days into this journey across Europe and almost at the 1000 mile mark… if I manage at least 4.09 miles a day between now and the end of the year, I’ll have walked 1600 miles in a year and complete the challenge by December 31st! Admittedly, I did get this down to 3.9 something a few weeks back, but thanks to COVID, the extreme heat and going on vacation, I’ve lost a fair bit of time… but I’m going to make it all up! After all – tomorrow is the start of a new week!

Southwards through Hungary…

DAY 212 (31/07/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
33.92 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 974.14 miles
Distance Left: 625.86 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 197 – July 16th 2022 – Soltvadkert

Regular readers will have noticed that things have been a bit quiet lately on here. As you might remember, earlier in July I complained of feeling unwell and so walking went off the radar for a while. This eventually turned out to be COVID and so was indoors feeling rough and sorry for myself for quite a few days! The good news is, I’m fully recovered, feeling much better and am back on my route across Europe!

Settling back into a routine after being unwell can be a little odd and what with the busy summer period at work, it feels like a bit of a whirlwind since I recovered. This is perhaps why over the course of the week I walked 27.53 miles without really realising I’d walked so much – the thing is, enjoying this trek so much I have been walking a lot more over the last 6 months and now just do it without realising! In total, I’ve now walked 940.22 miles since January 1st and arrived in Soltvadkert in southern Hungary!

Day 197 – What look like building supplies near Soltvadkert

Known simply as Vadkert before 1900 (which intriguingly, means Wild Garden!) Soltvadkert was founded in 1376 and is a popular tourist destination in Hungary thanks to its nearby lake. It’s also located at the centre of Hungary’s wine producing region and the town is said to produce somewhere between 250 and 300 litres of wine annually! The town is also unusual for Hungary in that it has a Lutheran church despite the country being predominantly Catholic. This is a legacy of a large German-speaking community that settled here in the 18th century. At the time though, religious freedom wasn’t tolerated and the Roman Catholic archbishop of nearby Kalocsa tried to have the church destroyed on several occasions! Prior to the Second World War, Soltkadvert was also home to a sizeable Jewish community. Rather soberingly, today only the Jewish cemetery remains as the community was devastated during the Holocaust.

Such stories are sadly all too common across this part of the continent from those dark days. I remember once someone arguing that children shouldn’t study history because it’s “too heavy and depressing” for them. Yes, history can be brutal. It can be upsetting, shake you to your core and question how such evil things were ever allowed to happen – which is exactly why I think history is important for children, and for everyone. Only by acknowledging the past and understanding why it happened can hope to prevent such terrible things happening again. Some people think this means I advocate wallowing in the past. Not at all. We shouldn’t live in the past, we are no there anymore. But we should acknowledge its place and strive for better.

Some quite heavy thoughts here, but I always try to write what comes to mind. And this journey has brought up some interesting thoughts about so many topics as I’ve virtually made my way along this road. Still astounds me that I’m almost at the 1,000 mile point… part of me is a little disappointed that I took so long to recover from COVID – but at least I am recovered and am well enough to keep going!

Plenty of eating options in the Wild Garden!

DAY 197 (16/07/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
27.53 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 940.22 miles
Distance Left: 659.78 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 182 – July 1st 2022 – Dunaföldvár

Walking has taken a back seat the last few days as I’ve been feeling so exhausted and unwell… but even so, I still managed to walk 31.20 since I last updated this blog – which to be fair, probably has a fair bit to do with why I feel so tired!! This brings my total distance walked up to 912.69 miles and means I have reached Dunaföldvár on the banks of the River Danube!

Day 182 – A view of the bridge in Dunaföldvár

On the border of Tolna County and Bács-Kiskun County in central Hungary, Dunaföldvár has a population of around 9,300 people and was one of the country’s most important settlements during the 14th and 15th century. The town’s name is made up of the Hungarian words “Danube”, “land” and “castle” and is famous for its fortress and several churches. Dunaföldvár is also known for a hoard of Bronze Age gold that was discovered nearby in the 19th century which is currently on display in the British Museum – I’ll have to have a look for it next time I’m in there!

Another postcard that ended up in my Spam folder… 880 miles is a huge achievement, and I’m already over 900… it’s roughly the same distance as London to Budapest! Nice that the postcard features the Rubik’s Cube, which has been delighting/infuriating people since 1974. I remember seeing someone in a Eurovision Press Centre solve a cube in just a few seconds… don’t think I’ve ever had much luck with one myself!

Resting my body… how relevant!

912 miles seems unreal… especially as the next major milestone on this journey will be 1000 miles!! But for now, I need to rest up and feel better, so I’ll worry about that later. Every step is a step in the right direction, and the remaining 600+ miles can wait a few days while I recover. But don’t you worry, I’ll keep going!!

Crossing over the Danube again… or just about to!

DAY 182 (01/07/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
31.20 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 912.69 miles
Distance Left: 687.31 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 176 – June 25th 2022 – Székesfehérvár

There came a point when I was slumped there on Friday evening, utterly exhausted, that it dawned on me that I’ve walked a lot this week… even by the standards of this challenge! I mean, on Friday alone I walked 12.59 miles!! So after a bit of calculating, I worked out that Monday to Friday inclusive, I walked 49.74 miles… (even if Monday‘s miles have already been counted) Adding Saturday’s miles too, my total has shot up to 881.49 miles, brining me to Székesfehérvár, about 65km south-west of the Hungarian capital Budapest!

Day 176 – Once again in the path of a car near Székesfehérvár

Székesfehérvár (sey-kehsh-feh-heyr-var) is the 9th largest city in Hungary and during the Middle Ages was perhaps the most important Hungarian city. Not only was it the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and the city where the first kings of Hungary were crowned and buried, but it was also a major trading hub on the route between the Balkans, Italy and Austria. Its mouthful of a name means something along the lines of “Chair of the White Castle” – indeed, in a lot of other languages its name is translated as “White Castle”.

Like many places in this part of Europe, Székesfehérvár has several names thanks to the centuries of rising empires and shifting borders. It’s not uncommon for places here to have a individual names in German, Hungarian, Serbian/Croatian, Latin, Slovak, Romanian, Polish, Ukrainian, Rusyn and even some in Turkish and Hebrew too! For a language geek like me, it’s incredible!

881 miles… if I have another good week, I could soon reach 900 miles! That seems utterly unreal!! Let’s go! Or as they say in Hungarian, gyere!

Passing a nature reserve… there’s also a zoo over that way!

DAY 176 (25/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
40.26 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 881.49 miles
Distance Left: 718.51 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 171 – June 20th 2022 – Mezőörs

Another busy couple of days, including a long over-due get together with my colleagues at Eurovision Ireland! Amongst all the fun, I’ve still managed 36.45 miles in the last 6 days… 11.29 miles of which were today! This brings me to the limits of Mezőörs, a village on the very limit of Győr-Moson-Sopron County, a stone’s throw from the border with Komárom-Esztergom County!

Day 171 – Dodging traffic on the road out of Mezőörs

Less than a 1000 people live in Mezőörs, which in case you’re interested sounds a little like meh-zurr-orsh. The slanted umlaut as I always thought it was (apparently it’s actually called a double acute!) features quite heavily in Hungarian spelling, which is one of the reasons I’ve always loved it… I mean, how can you not love orthography that features letters like á, cs, dzs, é, gy, í, ly, ny, ó, ö, ő, sz, ty, ú, ü, ű and zs? Hungarian often gets labelled as one of the most complex languages out there and there’s real beauty in that complexity. Even some of the sounds these letters make are really tricky for non-Hungarian speakers to pronounce perfectly (ő and ű are particularly problematic!) But as my Hungarian teacher used to say, if your mouth hurts then you’re doing it right!

Surrounded by Komárom-Esztergom County!

DAY 171 (20/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
36.45 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 841.23 miles
Distance Left: 758.77 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 165 – June 14th 2022 – Mosonmagyaróvár

I’VE DONE IT! 165 days after setting off and 7 countries later, I’ve reached the halfway point of the Trans Europe Route!! 800 miles across France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary!! To say I’m excited is an understatement!! Today’s 8.69 miles around remotest south London bring my total to 804.78 miles, which is a little way past the Hungarian town of Mosonmagyaróvár!

Day 165 – Told you Hungary was flat… wandering past Mosonmagyaróvár

Located in Győr-Moson-Sopron country in north western Hungary, the town of Mosonmagyaróvár has around 34,000 inhabitants and there have been settlements here since the 5th century BC. Thanks to its mouthful of a name, some people refer to it just as Moson… which is much easier to say! The town’s name means something along the lines of “the ancient Hungarian castle in the marsh” combining elements of both Hungarian and Old Slavic… and most likely referring to the ruined Roman fort – I love this part of the world for such things!!

Moson and Magyaróvár were originally two cities that fused into one in 1939, much like the Hungarian capital Buda and Pest… and Óbuda as well, but that’s another story! Another interesting fact is that Mosonmagyaróvár has around 350 registered dental practises within the town – which is thought to be the highest number in terms of ratio to the town’s population of anywhere in the world!

For the first time ever on this trek, the amount of miles left to go is less than the miles I’ve walked… it’s a strange sight, but a welcome one! I keep smiling every time I think I’ve done half of this journey… it usually takes ages to see any kind of progress on projects like this because of the distance involved, and for weeks and months it just spans out ahead of you. But now… now more of the road to Bulgaria is behind me. Yes, at the moment it’s only about 4 miles in favour of that balance, but still… I’m halfway there!

Seems like the perfect time to share this! 😛

Taking a more direct route than the river!

DAY 165 (14/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
8.69 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 804.78 miles
Distance Left: 795.22 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 164 – June 13th 2022 – Hegyeshalom

Vidašaung Östareich, sziasztok Magyarország! I knew I had 14 miles left till I reached the halfway point on my trek across Europe, which I knew was just over the border in Hungary. So somehow, my mind remembered that as “I have 14 miles or so till I reach the Hungarian border,” – so when I added my 10.16 miles and found I was already in the 7th country on my route across Europe, I was quite surprised! A slight miscalculation, but a happy one! I’m now in the village of Hegyeshalom, just across the Austrian border and just under 4 miles from the halfway mark!

Day 164 – Egy szép napot Hegyeshalmon – A lovely day in Hegyeshalom

Coming from the Hungarian words meaning “mountainous hill”, Hegyeshalom was first mentioned in 1217. For centuries it sat almost at the centre of the vast Austro-Hungarian empire, before becoming a border village in 1918 when Austria and Hungary parted ways and the border went through nearby. It remained an important border crossing point between Hungary and Austria, as well as being just 15km from the border with then Czechoslovakia. That is, until midnight on December 21st 2007 when Hungary joined the Schengen Zone. Anyone who has read this website or Europe in a Day knows I’m a staunch European and honestly think that freedom of movement was one of the best things about the European Union… removing barriers to travel, trade, education… taking down walls, not putting them up… that’s the way forward!

I also received another postcard for reaching the 770 mile part of my journey… that was quite some time ago now, so not sure how it took so long to arrive… especially as I’m just 4 miles give or take off of 800 miles! Just like the real post, I’m guessing! My 8th postcard from EndToEnd features a picture of the glorious Karlskirche, one of my favourite churches in the Austrian capital. I love the columns stood outside it and its green and gold dome, but also have happy memories of seeing it lit up at night as I stumbled out of my first ever Eurovision press party hosted by the delegation of North Macedonia… ah, good times!

Vienna really is a city of cake… I mean dreams, definitely dreams…

Although I’ve technically left Austria, I’m still going to share some Eurovision songs from there. Again, I couldn’t choose between two, so will share them both! First up, it’s Nadine Beiler singing ‘The Secret Is Love’ from 2011. Austria withdrew from Eurovision following the 2007 edition of the contest, stating that neighbourly voting patterns effectively gave Austria no chance of success – so their return in 2011 was big news! A grand show tune-style ballad, Nadine’s song builds beautifully throughout to that final dramatic crescendo… I had it down as a potential winner, but it finished 18th ultimately. Have a see what you think below!

Next is ‘Nur Ein Lied’ (Just A Song) by Thomas Forstner. Placing 5th in the 1989 contest in Lausanne, he gave Austria their best placing at the contest since their 1966 win and would remain their highest placing entry until Austria lifted the trophy again in 2014! A simple ballad with strong male vocals, it also goes to showcase that German can actually sound very lyrical in the right circumstances! It’s also worth mentioning that Thomas Forstner returned to Eurovision in 1991 with ‘Venedig Im Regen’ (Venice In The Rain)… this outing though proved a lot less auspicious, with Forstner finishing dead last without a single point… Eurovision is a fickle game!

So so close to the halfway point… I can’t quite believe, it feels like I’ve got here so quickly, but know it’s been the result of weeks and months of walking… and that there’s still a long way to go, even if I am nearly halfway to Bulgaria! I’ve also made it to Hungary, a place I’ve had a strong connection to for many years… but I’m sure I’ll tell you about that going forward! Onwards!

Approaching a petrol station… but I’m on foot!

DAY 164 (13/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
10.16 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 796.09 miles
Distance Left: 803.91 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 161 – June 10th 2022 – Zurndorf

Knowing that I’m approaching the Hungaro-Austrian border, even though it’s Friday and I’m exhausted, I wanted to add in my miles for the week and see where I’d reached. After a further 23.16 miles, I’ve nearly reached Zurndorf – still about 10km off the point where 3 countries meet and about 23km southwest of Slovakia’s gorgeous capital, Bratislava!

Day 161 – Strolling down a bike lane near Zurndorf

Although I’ve been lucky for the most part in Austria with finding Google Street Views for where I am along the route, that luck appears to have run out. I’m still a few hundred metres outside Zurndorf, but the picture about comes from within the town itself. Looks like a quiet kind of place – and the weather in that photo is glorious!

Below I zoomed out on the map to show you just how close I am to Slovakia. Bratislava was one of the first cities in this part of the world that I visited way back in 2010 and I’ve loved it ever since! I’m still really happy I got to include it in Europe in a Day and can’t wait to go back… even just yesterday, was talking about taking a trip back to Slovakia sometime soon! It’s a beautiful country and although I almost always end up in Bratislava when I visit, I’d like to see more of the country – but this gorgeous little city is difficult to stay away from!!

Within 10km of 3 countries converging on one!

A little over 14 miles till I reach the half way point of the Trans Europe route… still can’t quite believe I’ve walked so far since January! But there’s still a long long way to go!

DAY 161 (10/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
23.16 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 785.93 miles
Distance Left: 814.07 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 158 – June 7th 2022 – Groß-Enzersdorf

It’s a been a bit of a slow few days, not done as much walking as I usually would – but still slowly chipping away at those 1600 miles! 17.80 miles in the last 5 days means I’ve walked through Vienna and find myself in the municipality of Groß-Enzersdorf, just east of the Austrian capital somewhere on the road between the villages of Probstdorf and Matzneusiedl and heading towards Mannsdorf an der Donau.

Day 158 – Following a tractor down towards Slovakia and Hungary in the Groß-Enzersdorf municipality

Groß-Enzersdorf itself (about 8km further back from where I am) is home to around 11,000 people, many of whom commute to Vienna for work as the city centre is only 18km away. Vienna is a glorious city and easily one of my favourite capitals in Europe, so I’m glad my trek took me nearby, even albeit it briefly. From its lavish imperial facades, giant parks and bustling streets, I’m now looking at fields and wide open spaces…

People always associate Austria with the Alps and mountains, so seeing the country look so flat like this might see funny. But having been here before in the real world, this corner of Austria/Slovakia/Hungary is quite open and flat. Indeed, my go-to hotel for stop-overs at Bratislava airport looks out on to a similar expanse of fields and nothing – one evening I was too tired to go into town, so spent the evening watching a pheasant wander around outside my window instead! This part of Europe is the beginning of the Pannonian Steppe, an exclave of the Eurasian Steppe. Sometimes known as the Great Hungarian Plain or Puszta, these grasslands span (with breaks) right the way from Hungary around the globe to Mongolia. Living in a big city like London, it’s easy to forget there are such wide open spaces in the world! And it’s incredible to think of such openness spanning the world, reaching out for thousands of miles… simply incredible!

A little over 37 miles to go till the half way point on the Trans Europe route… a strange thought hit me earlier today as I was walking… I’m almost at the halfway point of this journey, and rapidly coming to end of country #6… meaning the last 3 countries on this trek, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria will make up roughly HALF of the entire journey! It’s a bit of a daunting thought, but looking forward to seeing what else is along the way!

Conveniently located in the middle of nowhere… almost!

DAY 158 (07/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
17.80 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 762.77 miles
Distance Left: 837.23 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 153 – June 2nd 2022 – Langenzersdorf

Can’t believe we’re in June already! Time is flying past! It’s been a bit of a quiet few days in terms on walking – it was my birthday recently and I’ve also been busy with domestic things, but still managed to (rather strangely) walk exactly 10 miles further along the route over the last couple of days thanks to a few walks around the local area. This brings me to the banks of the River Danube in Langenzersdorf, within a stone’s throw of Vienna!

Day 153 – Along the mighty Danube in Langenzersdorf

With a little over 8,000 inhabitants, Langenzersdorf sits about level with Klosterneuburg on opposite side of the Danube. As I’m walking from practically one end of Europe to the other, it seems fitting that part of the journey is along this river, the second longest on the continent and very much its spiritual artery.

I’m incredibly lucky to have looked out across the beautiful Danube in several places… Budapest, Esztergom, Štúrovo, Vienna, Bratislava, Novi Sad, Zemun, Belgrade, Smederevo, Veliko Gradište… many places as you’ll see that became part of Europe in a Day! Veliko Gradište was also the place I first laid eyes on Romania – but didn’t realise till I got home about 2 weeks later!

Looking ahead, I will cross over the Danube 4 times as it winds its way across Europe to the Black Sea, but this stretch before Vienna looks like the longest time I’ll spend walking directly alongside it. Between Eurovision rehearsals back in 2015, I spent a wonderful sunny afternoon down by the river about 8km south of where I am on this walk – 7 years later, thinking I’ve walked the distance from the English Channel to more or less the same place feels insane!

Relaxing by the Danube in Vienna in 2015 – Source: James Scanlan

Going to stop hear and enjoy the sunshine. Might not be on the banks of the Danube, but it’ll do for today!

Flowing the Danube down towards the Black Sea!

DAY 153 (02/06/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
10.00 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 744.97 miles
Distance Left: 855.03 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 148 – May 28th 2022 – Stockerau

It’s been a really busy week here… not least of all because I walked 33.93 miles in just 4 days… even with all the walking I’ve been doing lately, that feels like a lot! Probably explains why I haven’t felt like doing much so far this weekend! My new total is now 734.97 miles and has brought me to the western part of Stockerau, a town of roughly 16,000 people near Vienna.

Day 148 – A quiet street in Stockerau, Austria

The town is also affectionately known as Lenaustadt after Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau whose grandparents lived here and because it was also thought to have inspired some of his most well-known works. Reading up on Mr Lenau, he sounds like quite an interesting fellow… born in what is now Romania, he studied Hungarian law in modern-day Slovakia but was too restless and artistic for such a career so devoted himself to writing poetry. He travelled a lot (even as far as Indiana in the United States) before returning to Europe and died in a asylum after deteriorating mental health and suffering what appears to be a breakdown… all this by the age of 48! Seems like a chaotic and fascinating individual… and someone I’d never had heard of if I wasn’t doing this trek!

Stockerau is also just 40 minutes from Vienna by train – I know my route will pass through a corner of the city before heading out again and on towards the point where Austria, Hungary and Slovakia all meet. I’ve been to Bratislava at least 4 times, so have been near this point… but have yet to actually go and see it myself! As 3 countries I’m rather fond of, it would be interesting to stand at the point where they all meet! Such places fascinate me, yet I’ve never actually visited one… I remember once seeing that the one of the places where Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria all converge is at the top of a mountain – the pictures looked spectacular!

Judging by the map, I’m roughly half way through the Austria section of this journey across Europe. After spending so many weeks in Germany, feels like I’m gone through the Czech Republic quickly and will soon do the same for Austria. Saying that, there’s still a long way to go. Vienna is just on the horizon – and so is the 800 mile and half way point!

Heading towards a hospital and a cinema, before onto Vienna!

DAY 148 (28/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
33.93 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 734.97 miles
Distance Left: 865.03 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 143 – May 23rd 2022 – Horn

Despite trying to take it easy over the weekend, it’s still been a busy few days walking and I’ve managed to trek another 21.19 miles (virtually) across Austria. This has done two things – firstly, it’s brought me to the small town of Horn in northern Austria. Secondly, it means I’ve crossed over the 700 mile mark on my walk across the continent!

Day 143 – Isn’t Austria supposed to be hilly? Looking remarkably flat near Horn

With a population of just over 6,500 people, Horn is about 73km northwest of Vienna in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. I’ve always assumed the name Lower Austria was something to do with the lay of the land like Niedersachsen or Lower Saxony in Germany – and to be far, looking at the photo it seemed to support that idea! According to what I’ve read online though, it comes from the area’s downriver location along the Danube.

Reaching Horn always means I’ve walked more than 700 miles… I knew this milestone was coming up, but didn’t think it would be this early in the week! While 700 miles is an incredible distance, it also brings me tantalizingly close to another landmark point in my journey across Europe – the halfway point! It seems unreal to be talking about the halfway point already, but as things stand I’ve got 98.96 miles to go until the 800 mile point on the route, near Mosonmagyaróvár in Hungary… and that’s an elating thought! But before I get too focused on that, there’s still plenty of Austria to walk through first! Let’s go!

Skirting around the outside of Horn

DAY 143 (23/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
21.19 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 701.04 miles
Distance Left: 898.96 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 139 – May 19th 2022 – Sparbach

Na shledanou Česko, servus Österreich! 24 days after crossing from Germany into the Czech Republic, I’ve now left Czechia behind and am in country number 6 on the Trans Europe route – Austria! You might remember last time that I stopped ridiculously close to the border, so I wanted to make sure I made a good start on my road through this new country. Adding up my miles from today and yesterday I’ve walked 13.05 miles, which brings me to the village of Sparbach in the Zwettl District.

Day 139 – Round and round towards Sparbach

Sparbach seems very small, as I can’t find anything out much about it online – other than it’s got the same name as a nature reserve near Vienna. I’ve also re-encountered the same problem I got frequently in Germany: there’s no Google Maps Street View here!! Thankfully, looking at the road ahead there seems to be more much more coverage in Austria than there was in Germany so I it shouldn’t be as much of an issue as it was… but for today, this photo comes from a roundabout near Vitis, some 2.5km away but looking in the general direction of Sparbach!

I’m really excited about having reached Austria on this journey – not only is it the 6th country of the 9 (which seems impossible!) but it’s also a country I love visiting. Vienna is easily one of my favourite capitals in Europe and I’m fascinated by the country’s imperial history (and the Empress Elisabeth, but I’m sure I’ll talk about her at great length another time!) and its breath-taking Alpine scenery. This being said, it’s also the first country on this route so far that is NOT part of Europe in a Day, neither the book nor the website. I would love to include it though and plan to do so. Having spent plenty of time in Vienna, I could easily write about a day’s sightseeing itinerary for the city. There were times in lockdown when I came close to doing so. But as there are other places I want to explore in Austria to include in Europe in a Day, I promised myself once lockdown was over, I’d return to Austria and include it properly. I was looking at flights just earlier this week… so watch this space!

Schacherdorf, Schoberdorf, Sparbach…lots of S’s in this part of Austria!

DAY 139 (19/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
13.05 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 679.85 miles
Distance Left: 920.15 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 137 – May 17th 2022 – Nová Ves nad Lužnicí

Grrr! Would you believe it?! I walked 7.15 miles today and thought that would be enough to take me into Austria… but not quite! I’ve stopped agonisingly close – just over 100 metres from the border at Nová Ves nad Lužnicí!

Day 137 – Through the trees to Austria!

Looking in the picture, I can even see the border checkpoint up ahead… looks like I’ll be spending one more day in the Czech Republic! Border checkpoints in Europe have largely become ceremonial thanks to Schengen, but they’re still interesting to see – and cross over! I walked across the border from Esztergom in Hungary to Štúrovo in Slovakia and it was literally a line painted on the pavement of a bridge!

I’ve also received another postcard from End to End! 650 miles… seeing that written down it hits home just how far it is! I do agree that the Czech Republic is a little confusing, especially in terms of names… lots of accented letters and many towns have names made up of 3 (or more!) words! But this is why I love Slavic languages – complex, yet beautiful!

Told you Hluboká was famous!

Going to keep it brief tonight because it’s been a busy week and I’m tired – next stop, Austria!

Next stop, Neu Nagelberg!

DAY 137 (17/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
7.15 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 666.80 miles
Distance Left: 933.20 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 136 – May 16th 2022 – Suchdol nad Lužnicí

I know I said I wanted to update this blog a little more frequently than I have been recently, but I also knew doing so during Eurovision week was going to be nearly impossible – there’s just so much else going on!! So first things first, congratulations to Ukraine for their 3rd Eurovision win and a big thank you to Italy for hosting an incredible show! Special shout out to Spain and Serbia for achieving their best scoring entries to date – before Saturday, Spain’s highest scoring entry came from way back in 1973!!

While I’ve spent the last few days living, breathing and dreaming (I’m not kidding!) about Eurovision, I’ve also been making time when I can to walk. The last 5 days have seen me clock up a fairly modest 24.29 miles, which brings me to Suchdol nad Lužnicí – a town of 3,500 people just 7 miles from the Czech Republic’s border with Austria!

Day 136 – Standing in the path of a rather large lorry in Suchdol nad Lužnicí…

May is always an incredibly busy time of year for me, but even so I’m surprised to think that I’m almost out of the Czech Republic… feels like I haven’t been here very long at all! Indeed, counting back it’s only been 25 days since I crossed the German/Czech border… still nearly a month ago, but doesn’t feel like it at all! Time clearly flies when you’re having fun/are insanely busy!

As this is likely to be the last entry I write while still in Czechia (which is a strange feeling as there have been so few posts about it on the blog! Sorry again!) and the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 is still fresh in our minds, I think it’s time for another song! As relative-late comers to Eurovision, the Czech Republic have only entered 10 songs to the contest since debuting in 2007 – compare this with countries like Norway (60 songs), Ireland (55) and the Netherlands (62) and you suddenly realise how short their back catalogue is! It’s not without it’s highlights though. And as much as I love Gabriela Gunčíková’s “I Stand”, which was the first Czech song ever to qualify for the final in 2016, I’m going to share their 2015 entry. Sung by Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta, this haunting and dramatic duet was, at the time, the Czech Republic’s best outing at Eurovision after coming 13th in the 2nd Semi Final. The song is called “Hope Never Dies” – a message I think it’s particularly important to hold on to at the moment.

Hope is a strange thing. We’re often so quick to dismiss it or lose it, but I truly believe it’s one of the most important things we can hold on to. And we should do everything we can to keep its flame burning. Eurovision 2022 ended with a song called ‘Hope’ from Estonia and I like to think that wasn’t an accident. The contest, quite literally, ended a note of hope. Ukraine has always been special to me ever since I first visited and it was one several reasons I wanted to raise money for a charity working there. I’m delighted they’ve won Eurovision again and that Europe showed such overwhelming support for them in one of their darkest times. Some have called it a meaningless gesture. I don’t think hope is ever meaningless.

Another day, another Czech town surrounded by lakes…

DAY 136 (16/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
24.29 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 659.65 miles
Distance Left: 940.35 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 131 – May 11th 2022 – Hluboká nad Vltavou

Today has been a bit of an odd day from start to finish… one of those days were a lot happens and you feel like you’re playing catch-up with yourself for most of it! The one upside to all this chaos was I didn’t walk as much as I usually would… now I know, you think that’s a really odd thing to say, so hear me out! Adding the miles from today and yesterday, 7.51 miles further through the Czech Republic – which (more by luck than anything else!) brings me into the place I wanted to write about as I’ve visited it in real life, Hluboká nad Vltavou!

Day 131 – Around the corner outside Hluboká nad Vltavou

With a population of just under 5,500, Hluboká nad Vltavou sits on both banks of the River Vltava, which is the same river that flows through Prague and is poetically known as the Czech National River. The town was first mentioned in the 14th century, shortly after the first Gothic castle was erected here. Remodelled and expanded several times down the centuries, today Hluboká castle is the main draw to the town for tourists:- Not only is it considered the most beautiful castle in the entire country (and there are A LOT to choose from!) but it is also the most visited castle in the Czech Republic. It’s really not hard to see why, with it’s fairy tale turrets and Romantic-style façade, which some argue is based on England’s Windsor Castle… personally I think Hluboká is much nicer!

Hluboká Castle… isn’t it stunning? Source: James Scanlan

I visited the castle back in 2013, and while I don’t remember much about that day (due to a lack of sleep the day before and the fact it was almost a decade ago now!) I do remember this view and being struck by how beautiful the building and its grounds are. Even before posting this photo, I realised I remembered the view in quite a lot of detail, so clearly it left an impression! One thing I do remember from my time here was trying my hand at archery with a man dressed like a medieval peasant… and turned out I have a bit of a knack for it!

Another detail I do recall was that we drove down from Prague and it felt like it took quite a lot of time. Checking now on Google Maps, it reckons it’s a little over 90 minutes between Prague and Hluboká nad Vltavou (which probably means I was really tired that day as it felt like a LOT longer!) But now I’m thinking something else entirely… I’ve WALKED the distance from Calais to Hluboká nad Vltavou!!! A little over 635 miles on foot… that’s just crazy!! I can’t quite believe it… it’s amazing!

I’m glad I managed to judge my miles well enough finish today in Hluboká nad Vltavou… it’s one of the only places along this route I’ve been to in the real world, so wanted to take the time to write a little about it. I think the next place along this route I’ve actually set foot in is Vienna in Austria – and that’s a still a way off! Onwards through Europe!

Flying through Hluboká nad Vltavou and onwards through the Czech Republic!

DAY 131 (11/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
7.51 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 635.36 miles
Distance Left: 964.64 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 129 – May 9th 2022 – Dívčice

Happy Europe Day everyone! As I’m fast approaching a part of the Czech Republic I’ve visited in the real world that I want to tell you all about, I’m being mindful to add my miles more frequently this week. I’m still about 7 miles from Hluboká nad Vltavou, but the 12.53 miles I’ve walked the last few days have brought me to the village of Dívčice in South Bohemia.

Day 129 – The road goes ever on through dark skies over Dívčice

With 600 inhabitants, Dívčice is one of the bigger villages I’ve passed through recently. Looking at the map, it’s almost on an island considering how many lakes surround it! I was expecting quite a view on Google Maps, but looks like there’s a large hedge in the way… ah well!

I want to tell you more about Hluboká nad Vltavou, so will try and update this blog more in the coming days – but considering the live shows are starting for Eurovision, I am likely to be (very!) preoccupied! I’ve also just looked at the map and realised I’m just over 40 miles from Austria… I feel like I haven’t been in Czechia for more than 10 minutes and I’m already approaching the next country? Eeek…

Czechia really seems to be a land of lakes! I thought that was supposed to be Finland?

DAY 129 (09/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
12.53 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 627.85 miles
Distance Left: 972.15 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 127 – May 7th 2022 – Skočice

Can’t quite believe it’s May already! As many of you know, this is a busy time of year for me not only because it’s Europe Day and the anniversary of publishing the extended version of Europe in a Day, but it’s also now just days until the Eurovision Song Contest! So as you can imagine, it’s been a pretty hectic week working my 9 to 5 and also writing over at Eurovision Ireland covering rehearsals for this year’s contest in Italy… which accounts for why I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog, I’ve not had time for much else! But, the good news is, I’ve still been putting in the miles traipsing around London and over the last week added a further 31.83 miles to my total. This brings my total to 615.32 miles and into the village of Skočice in South Bohemia!

Day 127 – Looking down the road in Skočice

With a population of just 200 people, Skočice seems like a sleepy little village in the middle of the rolling hills of the Czech countryside. The village is home to the Church of Visiting of Virgin Mary, a notable early Baroque building that was consecrated in 1678 – Wikipedia says by Polyxena Ludmila and her husband Ignac Karel of Sternberg… I love those names!! You don’t meet many Polyxenas and Ignacs nowadays… don’t know if you ever did to be fair!

With everything else going on this week, I’d completely forgotten I was approaching the 600 mile mark on this trek – seeing it after I entered my miles for the week was a bit of a shock! Over 38% of the entire route through 5 countries… and what’s more, now I have less than 1,000 miles till my finish line in Bulgaria! Yes, it’s still in the high 900s, but seeing it go down from 4 digits to 3 is real boost and a great incentive. There’s still a long way to go till the finish line, but I’m raring to go!!

Another day, another hotel and lake along the road in Czechia!

DAY 127 (07/05/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
31.83 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 615.32 miles
Distance Left: 984.68 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 119 – April 29th 2022 – Zavlekov

Phew!! What a week it’s been! It’s been pretty full on with work, training and Eurovision prep, but also included a lot of walking too – almost 40 miles in fact! (Well, 39.68 to be precise.) The last 5 days of walking brings my total to 583.49 miles and has brought me to the village of Zavlekov, home to around 450 people.

Day 119 – A Gothic looking landscape outside Zavlekov

I’m happy that now I’m in the Czech Republic I can post pictures of exactly where I am along the route again – and this scene of bare trees and grey skies outside Zavlekov is quite atmospheric! Czechia has some gorgeous cities and I’m hoping my route will through at least a few of them. Unfortunately Prague won’t be one of them as it is about 108km away to the north-east and my route won’t take me past there… shame, as it’s easily one of Europe’s most breath-taking cities!

I’m going to keep it short this time, I’m quite sleepy after this week – but, one thing I will say is this: I’ve got a little over 16 miles until I hit 600 miles… which means that it won’t be long till I have under 1,000 miles left on this journey across Europe! Still a long way to go, but seeing three digits instead of four under distance left will certainly be a morale boost!!

Between churches, lakes and next to a hotel!

DAY 119 (29/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
39.68 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 583.49 miles
Distance Left: 1016.51 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 114 – April 24th 2022 – Hostouň

Auf wiedersehen Deutschland, ahoj Česká republika! After over 50 days of walking through Germany, I’ve crossed over the border into the Czech Republic, reaching country #5 on the Trans Europe route! 5 out of 9… over half way there in terms of countries! Over the weekend, I’ve clocked up 15.52 miles, in no small part thanks to walking home on Friday. This has taken me into Czechia and near the town of Hostouň in the Plzeň region.

Day 114 – First glimpse of the Czech Republic near Hostouň

First mentioned as a village in 1238, Hostouň was granted the title of town in 1587 and held on to this for several centuries until 1947 – when it was downgraded to a village after most of its German-speaking population were expelled following the end of the Second World War. Despite having a little over 1200 inhabitants today, there are several grand looking churches located here – and I’m sure I’ll talk more about Czech churches as I progress on my journey, as I’ve visited quite a few of them myself!

I received another postcard from EndtoEnd after crossing the 520 mile mark in my journey (which unhelpfully ended up in my Spam folder!) Reading this one I did roll my eyes a little… it’s a well-known stereotype that Germans are dour and supposedly don’t have a sense of humour. Growing up with German family, I can confirm nothing is further from the truth! The German sense of humour definitely is unique, and admittedly humour doesn’t always translate well between languages and cultures – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there! I remember my cousins (who, I’ll add, I always was laughing with!) once showed me a well-known short film called ‘Der 90. Geburtstag’, more commonly known by its English title ‘Dinner for One’. It’s shown in many countries across the continent during the Christmas and New Year period and if you haven’t seen it, go and have a look – it’s ridiculous, you’ll spend the first 5 minutes sneering at it just like I did… but then you’ll be laughing like a maniac… it’s weirdly brilliant! Seriously, go have a look!

Obligatory dig at Germans being humourless…

The Czech Republic is another country I’ve been to in the real world and I have many memories from my trips here – including a day trip to Prague that featured in the first edition of Europe in a Day! Looking ahead, I know my route will pass through a Czech town I’ve been to on my first trip here – but I’ll save those stories for another time!

Heading towards Štítary past the River Radbuza

DAY 114 (24/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
15.52 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 543.81 miles
Distance Left: 1056.19 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 111 – April 21st 2022 – Moosbach

Knowing that I’m getting closer to the German/Czech border, I want to update this diary more frequently so that I don’t miss the crossing! It’s been a productive few days at work and I’ve added another 15.56 miles since Tuesday, walking to, between and home from schools. This brings me to a rural stretch of the Moosbach municipality, just past the village of Heumaden. True to form, I’m miles from the nearest bubble on Google Maps (hopefully I’ll stop typing this so much when I reach the Czech Republic!), so here’s a view from just down the road overlooking the town of Eslarn – the last town in Germany before the border!

Day 111 – Czechia is over those mountains past Eslarn!

Considering I’ve spent over 50 days in Germany, I haven’t shared nearly as many German Eurovision songs as I thought I would! As I suspect I’ll be out of the country by tomorrow (only 4 miles to go till Czechia!) I’ll share TWO of my favourites from here. The first is their 1999 entry, Reise Nach Jerusalem by the band Sürpriz. Sang in a mixture of English, German, Turkish and Hebrew, (so amazing for a language enthusiast like me!!) it’s a fantastic entry with a real sound of the Levant to it that went down a storm in Jerusalem, placing 3rd that year. It’s definitely one of my favourites from 1999 and possibly one of my favourites overall – just take a listen!

Another song that I love from more recent years is Germany’s 2012 entry Standing Still by Roman Lob. A quiet ballad that builds beautifully, Roman muses on love that’s run its course and reflecting that “what I thought would be the end was just the feeling that you freed me,”… something that struck a chord for me on the first listen. Roman’s stellar performance earned Germany 8th place in Baku, their 3rd consecutive finish in the Top 10. It even featured as Germany’s debut entry for Birthday Eurovision in 2020, where it came 7th! Have a listen below!

Just over 4 miles between me and country #5 on this journey… considering I was worried I’d be crossing Germany for weeks and weeks, they seem to have flown by! Germany has always been a special country for me, and I’ve enjoyed crossing it (virtually!) on foot. Easy to feel nostalgic about parts of a journey coming to a close, but there’s still a lot to see!

Almost in Eslarn – first stop, Netto!

DAY 111 (21/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
15.56 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 528.29 miles
Distance Left: 1071.71 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 109 – April 19th 2022 – Tröglersricht

WOOOOO!! After the last lot of miles I added in here came to 499.98, I knew I was so so close to the big 5-0-0. Of course, I didn’t want to walk 0.3 miles just to scrape over, so I left it a few days to walk further down the road towards Bulgaria and comfortably get over this big milestone on my journey. And I’m ecstatic to say that not only have I crossed over the 500 miles mark in my walk across Europe, but today I’ve reached 512.73 miles!!! This puts me in Tröglersricht, a tiny village of 70 people in eastern Bavaria.

Day 109 – Running up that hill in Tröglersricht

As you can see from the picture (which remarkably for German Google Maps, is under 500 metres from where I’m standing!), Tröglersricht is quite rural. Its major claim to fame is the Turmhügel Tröglersricht or ‘tower hill’, which is an abandoned medieval castle on the western edge of the village. Built in the 11th century, from the sounds of it on German Wikipedia there isn’t much of it left, save for a flat mound of earth and part of a ditch. Might not sound terrible exciting to go and visit, but it’s still fascinating to think about… indeed, we just assume that the things we build and see every day will last. And here we are, 10 centuries later, talking about something that there’s little to no trace of – even if we knew it was there once! Makes you think about how much of history doesn’t get recorded or remembered… reaching 500 miles has obviously made me very philosophical!

Time for another song! I’ll share another German Eurovision entry before I cross the border, but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate song for this milestone… I’m sure you’ll forgive me…

I remember months ago when I started across Germany that I was nervous at the enormity of the country – especially after I crossed the French and Dutch part of my routes in a matter of days! In total, I’ve spent well over 50 days walking across Germany, but the end is in sight. The Czech Republic is a little over 20 miles down the road. If I have a good week walking (and I plan to!) I could be in country #5 by Friday!

A Vierlingsturm appears to be a stone observation tower

DAY 109 (19/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
12.75 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 512.73 miles
Distance Left: 1087.27 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 104 – April 14th 2022 – Pressath

Apologies for the delay in updating this – I had hoped to make a big thing of celebrating 100 days on the Trans European route, but my laptop had other ideas! It’s working again now (touch wood) so can finally update you all! I’ve been noting down my miles over the last week and managed another 29.26 miles in the last week – this brings me to the Pressath district, just up the road from Schwarzenbach – from where this rather lovely lakeside view comes from!

Day 104 – Hoping my route doesn’t take me through this lake…

Rather frustratingly, this also brings me to a total of 499.98 miles… arrghh!! So so close! I can see the 500 mile marker along the route directly in front of me on the map (have a look below!)… talk about so close, yet so far! Ah well, tomorrow I’ll pass it and it’ll be another big milestone crossed off this journey!

It’s strange to think I’ve been doing all this walking over the last 100 days… in some ways, it feels like it’s been a lot longer! I’m proud I’ve kept the momentum going so far and hope I can keep it going – the next 500 miles will take me through the rest of Germany, into the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary, which just happen to be some of my favourite places in Europe! Better get going!

Told you I was ridiculously close to 500 miles!

DAY 104 (14/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
29.26 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 499.98 miles
Distance Left: 1100.02 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 97 – April 7th 2022 – Frankenhaag

A lot’s been going on during the last week, almost to the point I felt like I didn’t walk nearly as much as I have been recently. But adding up my miles on my VeryFitPro has given 25.61 miles in the last 6 days – which feels a little light compared to the last couple of weeks, but every step is a step along the route! This brings me to the Bavarian village of Frakenhaag – but of course, no Google Maps Street View, so here’s 3km away in a forest near Obernsees!

Day 97 – Wondering if Sasquatch has been sighted near Obernsees…

Writing this diary has not only helped me keep track of where I’ve been, but also how many days I’ve been doing it – because let’s face it, past January 31st, nobody really knows when the 83rd or 115th day of the year is off the top of their heads! And I realise I’m coming up to 100 days of virtually trekking across Europe. I wouldn’t like to guess how many miles I’ll make by Day 100 (especially after feeling like this week wasn’t as productive as I would have liked!) but I’m loving this challenge and always looking forward to the next part of the journey!

Skirting Frankenhaag on my way through Bavaria

DAY 97 (07/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
25.61 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 470.72 miles
Distance Left: 1129.28 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 91 – April 1st 2022 – Unterzettlitz

Another busy work week and another week making my way across Europe! I’ve clocked up 30.61 miles over the last few days, which brings me to Unterzettlitz on the outskirts of Bad Staffelstein… possibly the most German sounding place name ever! As always in Germany, I’m a way off from the nearest Street View so here’s a view off a bridge about 0.6km away!

Day 91 – Over the bridge towards Unterzettlitz

I’ve also received another postcard from EndToEnd, to celebrate the 400 mile mark on my trek across the continent! Of course, being a German postcard it features Neuschwanstein Castle, possibly the most famous building in Germany. I’ve never been myself (yet!), but I’ve been assured by people that have seen it that it’s really as spectacular as it looks. Where I am in Bavaria at the moment though, the castle is at least another 310km further south…

Neuschwanstein and Oktoberfest… quintessentially Bavarian/German!

As today’s picture features a bridge, now seems like the perfect time to share one of my all-time favourite German Eurovision songs – Ein Lied Kann Eine Brücke Sein by the irrepressible Joy Fleming, which entered the contest in 1975. Joy gave a belter of a performance in Stockholm and seemed to be having the time of her life on that stage… but Europe’s juries were largely unimpressed and Germany placed 17th out of 19 countries with just 15 points… which at the time, was their worst ever placing at the contest. Some have argued this song was a little ahead of it’s time, but it’s attained cult-like status among Eurovision fans. Take a listen and enjoy!

Strange to think that I’m coming up to the 100 day mark in my Trans Europe journey… I’d love to get to the 500 mile point for then (two nice round numbers!) but we’ll have to wait and see… I’m loving the journey and am starting to notice lots of changes in myself from all this walking. I’m just hoping, as insincere as it sounds, I can make a difference for other people too with the money I’m raising. Any time I feel tired, or like it might be easier to take a bus, I remember who I’m walking for. And that keeps me going ❤

Lots of very German sounding names… and one that sounds a lot more Balkan!

DAY 91 (01/04/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
30.61 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 445.11 miles
Distance Left: 1154.89 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 87 – March 28th 2022 – Bad Königshofen

Despite taking the weekend off to rest, last Thursday, Friday and today were still good walking days – Thursday alone was very productive, accounting for almost half of all the mileage! Overall, I’ve moved a further 27.04 miles along my route through Europe and have reached Bad Königshofen in Bavaria.

Day 87 – Gruesse aus Bad Königshofen!

Situated just 7 miles from the border with Thuringia, Bad Königshofen is a small spa town whose history reaches right back to at least the early 6th century. Once again, I’m a little way off from where this picture is taken, but with such a gorgeous town hall, who minds?! Another sweet fact is that Bad Königshofen is twinned with the Texan city of Arlington and both towns have recreational parks named for the other city – so Bad Königshofen has Arlington Park, while Arlington has the Bad Königshofen Family Aquatic Center… rolls right of the tongue, doesn’t it(!)

At some point on Friday, I crossed the 400 mile mark in this journey… 400 miles… that’s the equivalent of walking from London to Scotland!! Writing that down, it suddenly dawns on me how crazy that actually is… the good thing is that being over the 400 mile mark towards the end of March puts me on schedule to finish by the end of the year, which is what I originally planned. After all, it’s over 25% of the whole route from France to Bulgaria!

Never heard of NORMA, but ALDI, yes!

DAY 87 (28/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
27.04 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 414.50 miles
Distance Left: 1185.50 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 82 – March 23rd 2022 – Mosbach

Another busy week getting back into the rhythms of work… but I’ve made a point of walking whenever I can, be it between schools, to and from stations, to the local shops… I’ve been wearing my VeryFitPro and noting down the results, but hadn’t added them up till tonight… and I almost fainted when I did… in the last 5 days, I’ve walked 31.78 miles!! 10.37 of those were on Monday alone! I’m actually stunned… if I keep this pace up, I might reach 50 miles by the end of the week! Incredible!

All this walking over the last few days has nearly taken me out of Hesse entirely as I’m roughly just over a kilometre from Bavaria. I’ve reached Mosbach, a small village in the shadows of the Rhön Mountains near Gersfeld. For once in Germany, I’m actually really close to a view point on Google Maps… and I think you’ll agree, it’s a rather spectacular one!

Day 82 – Coming round the mountains near Mosbach

As often as I’ve been to Germany over the years, I’ve actually only ever passed through Bavaria three times, and all these visits lasted less than a few hours. My first time was during a family holiday to Austria, we landed in Salzburg and our bus took us from the airport to our resort via Bavaria, as it was faster than going through Austria. Thanks to a hideously early flight, I dozed off and only woke up to our tour operator announcing we were now back in Austria… my second flying trip to Bavaria was driving across it to reach the Czech Republic. I saw more of Bavaria this time, but remember thinking it was a lot flatter and more traffic jams than I imagined. Motorways are never the nicest part off anywhere! My most recent brief glimpse of Bavaria was enroute to Skopje to cover their Eurovision National Selection for Eurovision Ireland (my first gig with them!), so I spent a couple of fun hours in Memmingen before heading off to North Macedonia. Writing all this out, I’ve realised just how little I’ve seen of Bavaria… and if that photo is anything to go by, I should definitely go back!

Am I half way through Germany? I think so!

It’s still so strange to think how much further I’ve moved in the last few days… pulling back to look at the larger map, it now looks like I’ve walked through more of Germany than I have left to go… I was so worried about tackling Germany, it’s one of the biggest single sections of the route. But I must admit, it’s kind of flown past! It’s also amazing how much I’ve done overall across France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany combined – I’m now so close to having walked 400 miles since the beginning of the year… that’s a quarter of this epic journey near done!

Nice choice of hotels for the night!

DAY 82 (23/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
31.78 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 387.46 miles
Distance Left: 1212.54 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 77 – March 18th 2022 – Lautertal

It might have been a really busy week and not left me with much time to update this diary, but I’ve still been walking as much as I can! Since Monday, I’ve walked 28.66 miles, (averaging out at roughly 5.73 miles a day) and have arrived in the Lautertal area of Hesse.

Day 77 – Taking in nature at Schalksbachteiche, near Lautertal

Today’s picture comes from Schalksbachteiche, a nature reserve due south of where I’ve stopped. I love walking around in parks and forests, especially near water and this view reminds me a lot of the pathways around the lake in my family’s village… even though it’s been nearly a decade since my last visit! Reading up on Lautertal, it turns out it’s a popular place for day trips from the densely-populated nearby cities in the Frankfurt Rhine Main and Rhine Neckar areas. I can see why – living in a vast city like London, you really do appreciate the peace and quiet of nature when you can go and lose yourself in it.

More than 350 miles… I can’t quite believe it! It’s funny now when I zoom out on the map and can see how much of Germany I’ve crossed already… doesn’t feel like that long ago that I crossed over the border from the Netherlands… another 150 miles and I’ll almost be in the Czech Republic! Country 5/9… more than half of the countries on this trek down… doesn’t seem real that it’s come around so quickly! Still, there’s a long way to go before then, so will keep going!!

Not far from the nature reserve at Schalksbachteiche

DAY 77 (18/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
28.66 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 355.68 miles
Distance Left: 1244.32 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 71 – March 12th 2022 – Giessen

Another week over with plenty of walking! Although I didn’t get to update the blog much this week, over the last few days I’ve covered 11.75 miles – not bad at all considering the cold I’ve been fighting! This brings me to the entrance off Hohe Warte bei Gießen, a nature reserve on the edge of Giessen.

Day 71 – About to cross Hohe Warte bei Gießen

This picture comes from inside the nature reserve itself, which covers some 168 acres between Giessen and Annerod. There’s also a small herd of Przewalski’s horses living here, which is a lovely thought!

While adding this week’s miles to my total, I realised that with 327 miles covered, I’ve now done over 20% of the entire route from France to Bulgaria! One fifth of the route in just under 3 months… incredible! I can’t quite believe that I’ve done so much walking this year… but there’s still the other 80% to go!

At the gates of Hohe Warte

DAY 71 (12/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
11.75 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 327.02 miles
Distance Left: 1272.98 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 68 – March 9th 2022 – Wetzlar

Just a short entry tonight because I’m exhausted! I’ve walked a further 5.08 miles along the Trans Europe route and have arrived in the Hermannstein area of the city of Wetzlar.

Day 68 – Typical German street scene in Wetzlar

Over 55,000 people live in Wetzlar, which makes it the largest place I’ve walked through in quite some time in Germany! As well as an attractive Old Town, Wetzlar is known for its cathedral, Wetzlarer Dom. Construction began in 1230 and even today, it’s still not finished! I know some people are perfectionists, but 800 years…

Past McDonalds and continuing my road east

DAY 68 (09/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.08 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 315.27 miles
Distance Left: 1284.73 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 67 – March 8th 2022 – Ehringshausen

A busy Tuesday getting used to being back in the office, but still found time during my lunch break and after work to get in some walking. The weather was lovely, just freezing! Still, I’m a further 6.46 miles through Hesse and right smack-bang in the middle of the small town of Ehringshausen.

Day 67 – A lonely path on the edge of Ehringshausen

Despite being almost in the centre of a town of over 9,000 people, Ehringshausen still has barely any Google Maps points to look at. This one comes from almost half a kilometre away at the very southern tip of the village near the River Dill. Reading up on Ehringshausen, the first thing that sprang up was that for several years it was a strong hold of hard far-right politics… perhaps it is best I’m only visiting virtually… in less harrowing terms, Ehringshausen’s first written mention comes from 802 AD!

Couldn’t have stopped closer to the centre of town if I tried!

DAY 67 (08/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.46 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 310.19 miles
Distance Left: 1289.81 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 66 – March 7th 2022 – Greifenstein

A weekend spent filming, blogging and general Eurovision-ing (we now have 28/40 songs that will be heading to Italy in May!) didn’t leave much time for walking – in fact, it left none! So I made sure today that before work and during my lunch break to wander around the park near the office to get in some extra miles. It worked, and 6.17 miles further down my route brings me near to the village of Greifenstein in Hesse.

Day 66 – The parapets of Burg Greifenstein

I’ve finished today about 1.5km from the edge of the village, but without a nearby Google Maps view I thought this view from the top of Greifenstein Castle was quite spectacular instead. Supposedly the highest castle in the county, the earliest recorded mention comes from 1160 but had largely fallen into ruins by the late 17th century. I always love exploring castles when I travel and Germany is famous for its fortresses and fairytale palaces. I’ve never been to Neuschwanstein, but I’d love to go some day!

As of today, I’ve always officially cross the 300 mile point in my trek!! That means I’ve done just under 19% of the entire route since the beginning of the year! And now with just over £300 raised, that means all 3 of the charities I’m supporting (including ChildAid, who work with vulnerable children in Ukraine and Belarus) will each have £100 – which a is fantastic start! A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far, your love and support really mean the world to me! ❤ A special thank you as well to 9 year old Jack, who donated out of his own money because he wanted to help others – such a wonderful and mature thing to do – really restores your faith in mankind!

What is a Wander Car Park exactly?!

DAY 66 (07/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.17 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 303.73 miles
Distance Left: 1296.27 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 63 – March 4th 2022 – Hohenroth

Well, what a week it’s been! I took my first day trip since the pandemic started 2 years ago to Jersey and then ended up staying the night after my flight home was cancelled! It’s all an adventure and being out on the road again was such a wonderful feeling… I’ve really really missed it. And yes, I’m still counting Jersey as a day trip, even with the unscheduled stop-over!!

Although I didn’t have time to update this diary much this week, I’ve been keeping note of how many miles I walked around London, Gatwick airport and St. Helier over the last few days – and it adds up to 18.56 miles since Tuesday! This leaves me right in the middle of the village of Hohenroth, just across the border from the Rhineland Palatinate in Hesse – my 3rd German federal state so far on this trek!

Day 63 – I’m somewhere over this hill in Hesse!

Hohenroth isn’t covered by Google Maps Street View and I can see why – it’s tiny! It’s literally a few streets clustered of off a main road and is barely 200 metres across at its widest point. This hillside view is about 0.6km away back in Rhineland Palatinate, but I loved the picture. Reminds me of walking in the Lueneburger Heide in northern Germany with my family: the dirt track, the tree lines on the horizon, the gentle rolling landscape – even though Niedersachsen is famous for being flat!

After this week’s miles, I’m just under two and a half miles away from the 300 mile mark… the last 100 miles have flown past, I keep looking at the numbers to make sure I haven’t added it up wrong, but no – nearly 300 miles since January. That’s almost 20% of the entire route done… yes, that still means there’s another 80% to go, but 20% feels like a good solid chunk! Coincidently, I’m also not far off having raised £300 for my chosen charities, meaning they each have nearly £100. That’s definitely a positive thought to end the week on!

I seem to have stopped a street away from a DJ club… perfect for Friday night!

DAY 63 (04/03/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
18.56 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 297.56 miles
Distance Left: 1302.44 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 59 – February 28th 2022 – Kroppach

With other things coming up later this week, I decided to go for my long walk along the Thames today. I’m finding walking very therapeutic at the moment and a good way of not dwelling too much on the news and what’s happening in Ukraine… partly because of this, and partly because I am trying to raise money for Ukraine, I pushed myself today – probably more than I should have given how I was a few weeks ago. I walked a total of 12.93 miles, which means that as of today, I have walked exactly 279 miles in total. This is roughly the same distance from London to Sunderland, or from Tallinn in Estonia to Šiauliai in Lithuania!

Day 59 – Lush German forests in the Rhineland Palatinate

This brings me to a stretch of road between Kroppach, Ingelbach and Marzhausen in the Rhineland Palatinate area of Germany. One of the closest Google Maps bubbles I could find was this rather lovely scene of an old bridge in the forest, not far from Müschenbach – roughly 5km further down the road. It’s fascinating that Germany’s privacy laws inhibit Google Maps from having street view everywhere, but it is making sharing pictures of where I am nearly impossible!

According to the map, this section of the road is still Kroppach!

DAY 59 (28/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
12.93 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 279.00 miles
Distance Left: 1321.00 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 56 – February 25th 2022 – Kircheib

What a busy Friday it’s been! Between errands I managed to do some walking, meaning I’m a further 3.52 miles along my route through Germany. This brings me to Kircheib in the Rhineland Palatinate. I’m actually about a 2 kilometres further along this road than this picture, but outside this tyre fitters was the closest I could get with Google Maps!

Day 56 – Getting my tyres changed in Kircheib

With a little over 500 inhabitants, Kircheib seems fairly small and quiet. Back in 1796, the village was the site of a battle between France and Austria during the War of the First Coalition. Admittedly it’s a period of history I’m not very familiar with, and having a quick read it seems to be quite complicated. Best I can tell to summarise, the monarchies of Europe were horrified by the French Revolution – both in terms of the fates of their relatives in the French nobility and also what such radical ideology would mean for their own crowns – so the King of Prussia openly denounced what was happening in France. The French revolutionaries saw this as a direct threat and as often happens, dominoes toppled and this lead to France eventually declared war. I always enjoy learning more about history – and the best thing is, if you don’t understand why something is the way it is, you just go back a little further and find out!

Once again I’m left feeling like I haven’t walked much this week. But I’ve enjoyed it when I have, so I’ll focus on that. And getting into a new routine of being active after feeling so unwell is always hard. I’m enjoying the journey and want to take a moment to thank everyone who has donated, especially in the last few days – your love and support really means a lot to me, so thank you! ❤

Still sticking close to the border enroute to Rettersen

DAY 56 (25/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
3.52 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 266.07 miles
Distance Left: 1333.93 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 55 – February 24th 2022 – near Eichholz

Such a strange day… so sad to wake up to the news in Ukraine… as many of you know, I’ve always had a soft spot for the country since visiting for Eurovision in 2017 and had friends there I was very close to… I’m genuinely saddened it’s come to this… violence is never an answer and we can only hope that peace and diplomacy prevail. Today is a sad day for Ukraine and for us all.

Not wanting to sit at home with the news on, I decided to head off for the afternoon. Continuing the general bizarreness of today, it even started to snow for a few minutes! So while wandering around, calling on friends to check they’re OK (many of us have close ties with Ukraine), I clocked up 8.07 miles. This brings me to a rather unusual point on my route – I’m near the village of Eichholz, but not in it. And near a line of shops that all have the address of Buchholz, even though the town seems to be at least 2km south. And, I’m about 60 metres over the border between the Bundesrepublik of North Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland Palatinate… so talk about being between lots of places!!

Day 55 – A country lane outside Eichholz

Once again, this Google Maps screengrab doesn’t come from my exact position on the route. It’s about 400 metres due north, but it once again reminds me very much of my family’s village. Looking at the map, I’ve only visited Rhineland-Palatinate once to fly in and out of Frankfurt-Hahn airport before driving to the Czech Republic. As you can probably guess, the airport no where near the city of Frankfurt! It’s in Lautzenhausen, about halfway between Frankfurt and Luxembourg… I don’t even remember that much about the airport as it was so long ago now…

I also got another postcard for passing the the 250 miles mark on my journey earlier this week! They’re definitely right about Germany’s love affair with bread – it’s one of the best things about going into a supermarket in Germany, the freshly baked bread!

I didn’t know about the putting lost items in trees!

Going to keep it short today. Take care, be safe. Spread love and understanding. And if you can do something to help those in Ukraine, please do. The whole world needs more of that tonight.

Just over the border in Rhineland-Palatinate!

DAY 55 (24/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
8.07 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 262.55 miles
Distance Left: 1337.45 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 53 – February 22nd 2022 – Bockeroth

All the twos today, 22/02/2022 – what an auspicious day! While I’ve been trying to take it easy this last week, I still wanted to do my usual long Tuesday walk along the river. I look forward to it and enjoy it every week, so didn’t want to miss it a second week running. Grabbing a bottle of Lucozade and making a few adaptations to the route to not make it as long as I have been seemed like sensible precautions, as did taking my time with plenty of stops along the way. I still walked 11.05 miles, which has taken me across and beyond Bonn and into the tiny village of Bockeroth.

Day 53 – Along the road going from Bockeroth to Freckwinkel

Today’s photo comes about 200 metres up the road from where I actually am, but given how patchy Google Maps Street View is in Germany, that’s actually quite close! This view reminds me a lot of my family’s village in the north of Germany – except no hills off in the distance because it’s so flat. Other than that, the fields, the trees lining the roads, the style of houses… all feels very familiar! According to German Wikipedia, Bockeroth has a little over 500 residents, the name is thought to come from “beech clearing” and in 1848 was was the location of a cabbage factory… obviously a rock n’ roll kind of place!

Today also marks me walking over the 250 mile point in this journey… that still amazes me! Just shows how little by little, it all adds up! 250 miles is like the distance from London to Maastricht… all on foot!!There’s still a lot of Germany to go though, so best keep going!

Heading towards Freckwinkel

DAY 53 (22/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
11.05 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 254.48 miles
Distance Left: 1345.52 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 51 – February 20th 2022 – Roisdorf

Sorry about the lack of updates this week everyone! I’ve still been taking it easy after last week’s funny (but not funny) turn and only doing a few short walks to keep the rhythm going. As such, didn’t want to post “I’ve walked half a mile today!” and crawl along the map, so decided to save things up and publish them in one go. Over the last couple of days I’ve walked 6.89 miles, which brings me to the Roisdorf area of Bornheim – not far past the train station and conveniently, almost right next to this kebab shop!

Day 51 – Wondering if I should stop for a kebab in Roisdorf

Nestled between hills to the west and the Rhine to the east, German Wikipedia says that Roisdorf is known for its wine, farming and also for its mineral springs which helped make the town a well-known health resort in the late 18th century. This being said, archaeologists think the area’s springs have been visited since at least the year 100 AD judging by coins found in the area! Roisdorf’s other claim to fame is that the Ethiopian ambassador to West Germany used to live here!

I’m hoping to resume a more steady pace next week and do some more walking. Yes, don’t worry, I’ll still take it easy and not push myself so hard. I just really don’t want to let anyone down, especially as I’m trying to raise money for charity. I must admit as much as I’ve enjoyed resting this week, I’ve really missed walking too. Can’t quite believe I’ll soon be at the 250 mile mark – let’s go!!

Next stop, Bonn!

DAY 51 (20/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.89 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 243.43 miles
Distance Left: 1356.57 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 47 – February 16th 2022 – Rösberg

OK, so first things first, the elephant in the room: you’ll notice I haven’t posted for a few days. After quite a busy week when I walked over 30 miles in 4 days, I woke up on Saturday feeling very ill… dizzy, nauseous, unable to stand… no fun at all! After checking it’s not COVID and spending the vast majority of Saturday barely able to sit up, it was noted by family that a lot of my symptoms that are concurrent with low blood pressure, most likely caused by over-exertion. This seemed to be supported by the fact that after a day resting with plenty of fluids, I was noticeably better.

As a precaution, I’m going to take the next couple of weeks a bit more easy than I have been and adjusting my lifestyle to cope with all this walking. Let me be very clear:- I’m not giving up. I refuse to. I just have to approach this differently SO I can finish what I’ve started!

I’ve had a few small walks over the last few days, but no where on the scale I’ve been doing recently – averaging maybe 2 miles a day. According to my VeryFitPro, I’ve walked 8.07 miles since Sunday (today is Wednesday). Yes, I’m frustrated it’s not more. But it’s still something. And it puts me near Rösberg in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Day 47 – Gorgeous sunrise over fields near Rösberg

Rösberg is a tiny village near Bornheim and about 20km / 12 miles from Bonn. While I’ve been complaining about Google Maps and its coverage in Germany, the picture I found closest to my position on the map is rather spectacular: such vivid colours and sense of space! Whoever took this photo, thank you, it’s really beautiful!

Seeing this sunrise has left me feeling energised. While I’m disappointed I haven’t gotten further these last few days, the sunrise reminds me it’s a new beginning. And clearly what I was doing wasn’t sustainable long term. I want to help people by doing this challenge, which is why I’m raising money for them. But I can’t help anyone if I don’t look after myself first. It’s easy just to be frustrated, but doing something about it to make it better is the real trick and what I’ll devote my energy to. One step at a time.

So much space!

DAY 47 (16/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
8.07 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 236.54 miles
Distance Left: 1363.46 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 42 – February 11th 2022 – Herrig

Well, what an afternoon! I set out for a route I usually take on Friday afternoon, with the plan to add a at least an extra mile or so by wandering around the park once I got there, rather than just across it. I’d left in a bit of a hurry and was about a mile into my walk when I realised I’d left my VeryFitPro at home… oops! Thankfully, I know my miles thanks to a website I’ve been using to verify the distance given by my pedometer – a total of 7.79 miles! That brings me to the small village of Herrig.

Day 42 – St. Clemens church in Herrig

Herrig seems to be a small collection of streets on the outskirts of Erftstadt, about 20km south west of Cologne. The nearest Street View bubble is nearly 3km away, but thankfully someone posted this rather sweet picture of the village church, which I’m just a few hundred metres down the road from – love the old stone walls!

Zooming out I can see the small villages giving way to larger towns, with Bonn just on the horizon. I remember one of my first maps as a child had Bonn listed as the capital of West Germany (I was born just months before reunification!) but have no idea what it’s like as a city. I once flew out of Cologne-Bonn airport – but of course, it’s not located in either of these places! Germany’s history, especially recent, played a huge part in our family’s life… I became very emotional visiting Berlin because of this. I’d be curious to visit Bonn as well some day. But I guess it’ll be a virtual for now!

Conveniently located in the middle of nowhere…

DAY 42 (11/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
7.79 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 228.47 miles
Distance Left: 1371.53 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 41 – February 10th 2022 – Binsfeld

Today I walked 5.64 miles, following a similar route to the one I took yesterday. Part of me wanted to go further, but I must admit I’ve been tired this week. Wondering if all these miles every day are starting to catch up with me! Today’s distance has brought me to Binsfeld in the Nörvenich municipality. Once again I’m beyond the reach of Google Maps, but I did manage to find a picture of the local train station. I’m just over a kilometre further down the road, but it’s better than nothing!

Day 41 – Binsfeld station, as seen on Google Maps

According to Wikipedia, Binsfeld is tiny. Not even 1,000 people live here, easily making it one of the smallest places I’ve stopped in on this route. But despite its size, archaeological evidence suggests that Binsfeld has been inhabited since prehistoric times, which is amazing! The Romans were also here and fought a decisive battle against the invading Franks near the village in 400 AD – some even suggesting the name Binsfeld is corrupted from ‘Beinsfeld’, the field of bones… others have argued a less bloody explanation for the name is that it comes from ‘Feld in den Binsen’ or ‘the field of rushes’

Binsfeld is so small that even the train station featured in the photo is a fairly recent development. The first trains started coming here in July 2006 – with the waiting room and platform only dating from the end of 2019! As a Londoner who grew up with buses, trains, the underground, trams and even boats as public transport, it’s almost inconceivable to think of places only getting their first train station in the 21st century! Just shows how lucky/spoilt we are – say what you will about public transport in London, but at least we do have options! The village my family live in further north in Germany has several buses and its own station, though thinking back now I’ve never seen a train stop there… seen plenty go through though, it was nice to stop at the level crossing and watch them go past. I used to go walking around the village most evenings while I was out there: watching the sunset over the fields, listening to the low buzz of nature… was so peaceful. Walking around London is a very different feeling!

Almost at the River Ellebach

DAY 41 (10/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.64 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 220.68 miles
Distance Left: 1379.32 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 40 – February 9th 2022 – Derichsweiler

Day 40 already! Today I managed 5.58 miles via parks and the river. This brings me to Derichsweiler, near Düren in North Rhine-Westphalia. Düren is roughly half way between Aachen and Cologne, with Derichsweiler being on the very edge of the city. Once again patchy Google Maps Street View means there’s no view of where I’ve ended up today – the nearest picture comes from above the nearby Dürener Badesee and I think you’ll agree, it’s a nice change from tarmac and road signs!

Day 40 – Beyond the treeline near Dürener Badesee

Somewhere behind those trees is a road, and I’m towards the right-hand side of the picture heading left along it (I know, it’s confusing! Perhaps look at the map below, it might make more sense then!). Reading up there’s nothing on Derichsweiler in English, so have to try German. This area appears to have been settled since the Roman era, while Dürener Badesee is a lake in a former opencast mine that is a now a popular spot for swimming, fishing and water sports. Must say from the picture, it looks very relaxing! I do love being by water…

The photo comes from the orange Strandwerk on Dürener Badesee!

DAY 40 (09/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.58 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 215.04 miles
Distance Left: 1384.96 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 39 – February 8th 2022 – Weisweiler

It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means! A long route along the river! I started doing these longer walks in June last year, long before I knew about the Trans Europe Virtual Challenge… I think that’s what’s saved me (so far!) from getting blisters and feeling like my legs are on fire from all this walking, I was training for nearly 6 months without realising! Today’s extended route was 12.4 miles through my usual places, with some new additions here and there. This brings me to the town of Weisweiler, near Eschweiler.

Day 39 – Wondering if those are nuclear cooling towers near Weisweiler

After saying yesterday that Germany seems to be largely unavailable on Google Maps Street View outside major cities, I was curious if I’d be able to get a picture today. As luck would have it, there are a few Street View bubbles in Weisweiler and one is roughly where I’ve ended up (give or take 10 metres). When I Googled Weisweiler, a lot of people with that name turned up and also pictures of a big power station with cooling towers – a bit like the ones you see in The Simpsons at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant! I’m wondering if that’s them in the picture, off to the left hand side further down the road? After a bit of research, turns out Weisweiler Power Station isn’t nuclear, but lignite fired.

The other big news today is that I’ve passed another landmark on this journey – 200 miles!! That’s almost the same distance as walking from London to Brussels… and all on foot!! Can’t get too comfortable though, the finish line in Bulgaria is still over 1300 miles away!!

Looping around Weiswiler towards the station and a pizzeria

DAY 39 (08/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
12.40 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 209.46 miles
Distance Left: 1390.54 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 38 – February 7th 2022 – Richterich

Tot ziens Nederland, Guten Tag Deutschland! I might have only walked 2.92 miles today, but it was enough distance to get me over the border and into Germany, the 4th country on my Trans Europe journey! Usually when crossing a virtual border I make a point of finding a landmark to pass so that I know when I’ve covered the right distance – but today I was a bit distracted with thoughts of filming for Eurovision Ireland about Israel and Italy, so didn’t realise I’d forgotten to do this till long after I go back… oops! But no matter! I’m in Germany and have arrived in Richterich, a satellite town of Aachen.

Day 38 – Willkommen in Deutschland! Fields near Richterich

Rather bizarrely, when taking a look on Google Maps it seems that vast swathes of Germany are not covered by Street View… the cities are, but anything outside major towns seems very sporadic. Which may make posting photos for the next 300 or so miles quite tricky… we’ll have to wait and see!! This picture is roughly 150 metres away from where I’m actually stopped, but was still the closest I could get! Still, think you’ll agree, it’s a lovely picture and reminds me very much of the rural Germany I know and love. Reminds me quite a lot of where my German family live, even though that’s at least 200 miles from here!

I was also wondering recently if I’d get a postcard from my whistle-stop tour of the Netherlands – turns out I did, it just unhelpfully ended up in my spam folder! Of course it mentions clogs, but I’ll admit the thing about chocolate sprinkles I have never heard of in relation to the Netherlands… when it comes to stereotypically Dutch things, you think of tulips and windmills – both on the card! – and cheese, but chocolate sprinkles… guess that’s the fun thing about travel, you learn new things!

Shouldn’t the ‘d’ be capitalised for Dutch?

Looking over the number of miles covered and left to go, several things surprise me. Firstly, the fact that I’ve walked the equivalent distance of crossing through 4 countries in under 40 days – that’s just amazing! Secondly, that distance amounts to almost 200 miles… that hardly seems possible!! Looking ahead along my route, it’s at least 340 miles from one side of Germany – more than I’ve done so far through France, Belgium and the Netherlands combined… that alone makes me wonder if I’ll be spending the most amount of time on this trek in Germany as it forms such a big part of the route. Heading towards the German border, I must admit I was nervous about that. Now I’m here and those initial first steps have been taken, it instantly feels more manageable. I’m determined to tackle each and every one of those 340 miles – bring it on!!

How comes I keep ending up next to ALDI?!

DAY 38 (07/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
2.92 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 197.06 miles
Distance Left: 1402.94 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 37 – February 6th 2022 – Bocholtz

I must admit, I was tempted to walk as much as I could today to reach Germany – but then I remembered something about very important: You don’t travel just to race on to the next place, you travel to enjoy where you are. And the same applies to walking – slow down, enjoy it! Still, a respectable 5.44 miles around central London. Even bumped into a former colleague I haven’t seen for years who told me she’s enjoying reading along with this blog! So yay! Adding today’s miles to my total, I’m ending this week in Bocholtz.

Day 37 – Leafy pathway enroute to Bocholtz

Located in the Simpelveld municipality, Bocholtz is the last town in the Netherlands before Germany – in fact the border almost surrounds it along its southern and eastern limits. Its history stretches all the way back to the Roman period and many things from that time have been unearthed in Bocholtz including the remains of a Roman villa and a sarcophagus.

As this will probably be the last chance I get to talk about the Netherlands and Eurovision, I’ll share one of my favourite songs from there now! There are many Dutch Eurovision songs I love… Calm After The Storm (2014), Hemel En Aarde (1998), De Troubadour (1969)… but the one I want to share today is their 1984 entry Ik Hou Van Jou by Maribelle. Despite being a pre-contest favourite, the song finished joint 13th with just 34 points – something I’ve never been able to explain. A soft ballad in Dutch, Maribelle talks about the person she loves and how she can’t live without them. As the song progresses however, it becomes clear Maribelle’s lover has left her, leaving her to simply state “I love you“… Maribelle’s performance is so understated and exquisite, I still can’t believe it only came 13th! Take a listen and see for yourself!

Adding today’s miles, I’ve also spotted I’m nearly 200 miles into my journey… doesn’t seem possible!! The last 100 miles have just flown past. True what they say, time (or distance!) flies when you’re having fun! Tomorrow I’ll reach Germany. Then it’s no more short hops through countries, it’ll be over 300 miles till I reach my next border and country #5. I must admit, that seems quite daunting… but we’ll start that journey tomorrow!

So so close to Germany!

DAY 37 (06/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.44 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 194.14 miles
Distance Left: 1405.86 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 36 – February 5th 2022 – Gulpen

Phew! 7.59 miles walking around in central London this afternoon and evening. Considering I used to spend a lot of time in this part of the city, I haven’t been up this way since the pandemic started. It’s strange being here again and seeing places I know very well looking slightly different to how I remember them… after all, new buildings and shops spring up all the time in London! Also don’t remember it ever being this crowded… anyway, I’ve left Maastricht behind and have finished today on the road leading to the Dutch village of Gulpen.

Day 36 – Dutch countryside near Gulpen

Known as Gullepe in Limburgish, the village of Gulpen is considered to be the midway point between Maastricht and Aachen in Germany… I was a little surprised to read that, especially as I only crossed over into the Netherlands yesterday afternoon!! So within 24 hours, I’m already roughly halfway through the Dutch portion of my trip… that’s insane!!

So if I have another good day tomorrow, I could easily reach Germany… it’s just 7 miles… hmm…

Plenty of campsites and an ALDI…what more can you want on a Saturday?

DAY 36 (05/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
7.59 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 188.70 miles
Distance Left: 1411.30 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 35 – February 4th 2022 – Maastricht

Vaarwel België, hallo Nederland! Today I walked 4.39 miles and crossed over into country #3 on my Trans Europe tour, the Netherlands! Since my first visit in 2011, I fell in love with the Netherlands – so much so that within 10 minutes of arriving in Amsterdam, I said I could quite happily live there! Subsequent visits to Den Haag, Delft and Rotterdam only proved this and I was looking forward to returning in 2020… more about that further down! With today’s miles, I’m currently in the Dutch city Maastricht, apparently right next to the city hospital!

Day 35 – Just passing the hospital in Maastricht

Knowing that an international border was coming up on my route, I planned today’s walk carefully so that the mile distance I needed to cover between my last stop in Belgium and the Dutch border was marked by something. Thanks to the website I’ve been using to plan my walks (and double check my mileage of my VeryFitPro), I knew that this park gate is roughly 1 mile from my house, so figured that was the perfect landmark to head towards and mark my virtual crossing over into the Netherlands!

Through this gate into the (virtual) Netherlands! – February 2022 – Source: James Scanlan

The largest city in the Limburg province of the Netherlands, Maastricht is famous for the being the place where the Treaty on European Union was signed, which laid the ground work for greater European integration and the eventual formation of the Euro currency. It was also one of the places that was considered as host city for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020, but ultimately lost out to Rotterdam. I was quietly disappointed about that as I’ve always wanted to go to Maastricht and Eurovision is a great excuse to spend two weeks somewhere! Perhaps it was all those Andre Rieu concerts I’ve seen on TV, but the city always looked like a lot of fun!

As we know, Eurovision 2020 was cancelled as our world fell into the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic and all our plans to go to Rotterdam to cover the contest were scrapped. With the enormity of everything going on, I didn’t really process that feeling at the time. After all, it was just one of many, many things that changed so suddenly that year. Rotterdam had to wait an entire extra year to welcome the continent back to the city for the contest in 2021 and although the contest has moved on to Italy for 2022, I’m confident I’ll be back in the Netherlands before long – just you try and stop me!

Not far from the River Meuse

DAY 35 (04/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.39 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 181.11 miles
Distance Left: 1418.89 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 34 – February 3rd 2022 – Vroenhoven

Today I walked 4.23 miles around my local area. While I usually like to walk as much as possibly, today I didn’t want to over-do it. Purely because I knew I was coming up to the Dutch border and wanted to make an occasion of it, rather than just fly over it. I judged the distance fairly well – I’ve stopped 1.6km, or almost exactly 1 mile from the border in a place called Vroenhoven.

Day 34 – Bye bye Belgium! Heading down towards the Brug van Vroenhoven and the Netherlands!

Googling Vroenhoven, the thing that keeps coming up is the Vroenhoven Bridge, or Brug van Vroenhoven. It’s a red bridge that spans 195 metres over the Albert Canal, which was dug out in the 1930s. At over 80 miles long, the canal connects Antwerp with Liège and is a particularly busy waterway – according to Wikipedia, in 2002 some 43 million tons of goods were transported along the Albert Canal, making up more than half of all cargo traffic on all of Belgium’s waterways!

I must admit, until studying the map more closely I thought once I crossed the bridge I would be in the Netherlands – but turns out both ends of the bridge are in Belgium, the border is around 450 metres beyond its eastern side. In real life, I’ve crossed over two bridges that connected two countries, the Øresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden and the Mária Valéria Bridge between Hungary and Slovakia. Would you believe the latter was on a date that crossed an international border? Walked from Esztergom over to Štúrovo, for dinner and came back… sure many people can’t claim to have done that! I also didn’t realise at the time, but Mária Valéria was the daughter of Empress Elisabeth of Austria!

I still find it strange to think that I’ve walked from one end of Belgium to the other in a little under a month. I’m excited to be heading on into country #3 on this epic trek, but I’ve enjoyed learning more about Belgium as I’ve crossed it virtually and it’s made me want to return when I can. This is something I find again and again with travel – you’re always finding new places you want to go and explore, but you also find yourself missing places you’ve been to and want to go back and revisit old favourites. Really is true what they say… so much to see, so little time!

Where Belgium ends and the Netherlands begins!

DAY 34 (03/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.23 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 176.72 miles
Distance Left: 1423.28 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 33 – February 2nd 2022 – Riemst

All the 2s today! 02/02/2022! I set off in this afternoon and wanted to go somewhere different… after all, a lot of my walks follow the same routes. So I decided to just go where my feet would take me, following some familiar paths, some I haven’t taken for years and down some entirely new parts. Before I knew it, I’d clocked up 6.25 miles which puts me out of Tongeren and heading towards Riemst.

Day 33 – In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow… on the road towards Riemst

The first thing I noticed about this picture was the flecks of red off to the left of the road – poppies. Of course, Belgian poppies were immortalised in the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae during the First World War. I visited the spot in near Ypres were the Canadian physician is said to have composed the poem, which is arguably one of the most well-known wartime pieces ever written. Not only is it deeply poignant and moving, but it’s also synonymous with how we remember and honour those who fell.

While out and about this afternoon, I was treated to some fantastic cloud formations over London’s skyline with very vivid colours – take a look for yourself!

Spectacular wintry sunset over London – February 2022 – Source: James Scanlan

After today’s walk, I’m just over 5 miles away from Belgium’s border with the Netherlands… I can’t quite believe I’ve walked from one end of Belgium to the other since the beginning of the year… all this walking is definitely giving me a different perspective on distance! Goodness knows what I’ll be like by the end of the year (all going well!) when I’ve walked from Calais to Bulgaria!!!

DAY 33 (02/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.25 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 172.49 miles
Distance Left: 1427.51 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 32 – February 1st 2022 – Tongeren

Pinch-punch, Happy 1st day of the month! Can’t believe it’s already been my first full month on the Trans Europe Challenge down – or that I’ve covered over 152 miles in the last 31 days! Will February prove even more productive? Guess we’ll find out!

I was filming for Eurovision Ireland most of yesterday, so didn’t have time to go for a walk like usual. On Tuesdays I usually go for a longer walk, and decided that as I’d missed the start of the week, it would have to be longer than usual to make up for it!! So a quick re-route here and there, and my usual 10 mile circuit ended up covering a massive 13.58 along the river in London – easily the most miles I’ve done in a single day! Well, why not start the month as you mean to go on! This brings me to the leafy outskirts of the city of Tongeren.

Day 32 – Sunlight and shade on the outskirts of Tongeren

Known as Tongres in French and Tongern in German, Tongeren is not only reputedly the oldest city in Belgium, but also the only city within Belgium’s borders that served as a Roman Administrative capital. Even today, visitors can see this legacy with an over 1,500 metres section of wall that dates from the 2nd century. Other sights include the Tongeren Basilica that was built in a Gothic style in the 13th century – but recent archaeological excavations suggest there was a building here as early as the 4th century! The basilica’s bell tower is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is listed among the Belfries of Belgium and France – this must easily be the 4th or 5th I’ve encountered on this trek! Wonder if anyone has seen them all?

Looking at my virtual route, Tongeren also appears to be the last major settlement in Belgium I’ll pass through before reaching the Dutch border. I’m excited that it’s so close (about 10 miles now I reckon!) but it’ll be strange saying a virtual goodbye to Belgium after over 3 weeks here. I was talking to a friend last night and we both agreed there’s a lot more to explore in Belgium than people give it credit for – let’s be honest, it doesn’t grab many people as a holiday destination! After studying the map and finding so many places along it that I’d like to see for myself, I think once travel is more settled and opened I’ll definitely be returning to Belgium – especially as the Eurostar goes there too!

About 50 metres into the city limits of Tongeren!

DAY 32 (01/02/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
13.58 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 166.24 miles
Distance Left: 1433.76 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 30 – January 30th 2022 – Halle-Booienhoven

I only managed a rather meagre 1.87 miles today. I’ve had chores I’ve been neglecting all week, combined with being tired, so just went for a short walk around the neighbourhood after dinner to make sure I at least did something towards the challenge. At least it means that I’ve gone for a walk every day this week, which I didn’t last week, or the week before! Tonight I’ve arrived in the village of Halle-Booienhoven.

Day 30 – Finishing the week in Halle-Booienhoven

Located in the Zoutleeuw municipality, Halle-Booienhoven is at least the third village I’ve passed through in Belgium with a double-barrelled names. Many of these places seem to have once been separate villages that were merged at some point – wonder why that happened so frequently in this part of Belgium?

It’s been a long and rather trying week. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t walk very far today, but still happy I managed to walk every day at least. At some point over the course of the next week, I should reach country #3 on the Trans Europe route – The Netherlands! And considering it’s such a small corner of the country I have to cross, I may even reach country #4, Germany! That’s something that’ll keep me going, even when I’m so tired… so let’s see what the next week brings!

I do love Bolero!

DAY 30 (30/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
1.87 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 152.66 miles
Distance Left: 1447.34 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 29 – January 29th 2022 – Orsmaal-Gussenhoven

I didn’t really want to do much at all today but being just over 2 miles off of 150 miles, I couldn’t let today pass without reaching that mile stone! So a quick wonder around the local area this afternoon gave me 2.83 miles – measly compared to most of the other days this week, but enough to get me to Orsmaal-Gussenhoven and over 150 miles into my Trans Europe journey!

Day 29 – Pretty sunshine in leafy Orsmaal-Gussenhoven

Orsmaal-Gussenhoven sits in the Linter municipality, which seems to be a largely rural community with agriculture being at the forefront of its economy. Interestingly though for animal lovers, it’s just up the road from Neerhespen, which is where the canine school of the Belgian police force is located. The area is also known for being home to speakers of Dutch and also the endangered language Getelands, a transitional dialect that is a between Brabantian Dutch and Limburgish – things like this fascinate me, especially as people love to try and classify languages in neat little boxes. As in, this is this, not this – but languages are a lot more fluid than people give them credit for!

I’m happy I got to 150 miles today, despite not really feeling it. It’s a good boost for a day when you’d rather do nothing and shows that every step counts towards bigger goals. I’ve almost been doing this challenge for a full month now – how time flies! Let’s hope the coming months are as productive!

Making my way across the Brabantic countryside

DAY 29 (29/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
2.83 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 150.79 miles
Distance Left: 1449.21 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 28 – January 28th 2022 – Hakendover

It’s Friday again! Having only a half day at work today, I’d planned to go for a longer walk in the afternoon to get my miles up. The problem being, it’s been such a tough week that when the time came, I was exhausted and decided to go home and rest instead. Still, I managed to clock up a respectable 6.13 miles, which brings me to the village of Hakendover near Tienen!

Day 28 – Fields around Hakendover

Over the course of today I crossed Tienen, which makes me giggle every time I see it on a map. In Spanish, it means “they have”, so strikes me as a strange name for a city! In French the town is known as Tirlemont, so of course it wasn’t named by Spanish speakers. But it’s always amusing when places have names that mean something completely different in another language… like that town in Austria that recently changed its name to Fugging!!

I haven’t been able to find out much about Hakendover online, so have had a look at Tienen instead. According to Wikipedia, there’s an uncited claim that Tienen has the oldest still-in-use train station in Belgium. It’s also the birthplace of 13th century mystic Beatrijs van Nazareth. As well her having visions of Jesus Christ, some argue she was one of the first prose writers to write in Dutch – quite a unique story for sure!

It also seems to be becoming a tradition that each Friday I finish within sight of a bar of restaurant… well, plenty of people I know migrate towards a pub on Friday afternoon! Today’s venue is Het Smullertje in Hakendover, which seems very highly recommended from its reviews – and the food looks amazing too!

Lucky there’s a hotel just up ahead!

DAY 28 (28/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.13 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 147.96 miles
Distance Left: 1452.04 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 27 – January 27th 2022 – Boutersem

Goodness! Another busy day in the exam hall, and with walking before and after work I’ve clock up another 6.76 miles – which surprises me, maybe I will hit 40 miles by the end of the week! Right now I’m passing through Boutersem, roughly halfway between Leuven and Tienen.

Day 27 – Plenty of cars parked up in Boutersem

Looking at the map of the area around Boutersem, I’m loving the names of the towns and villages in this part of Belgium… Kwabeek, Hoogbutsel, Vissenaken, Kumtich… brilliant!

Over the years I’ve had many Dutch-speaking friends who have all suggested at one time or another that I took up learning their language. I can read a little thanks to my knowledge of English and German though… ah, the interconnection of languages! As strange as it sounds, the one thing that’s put me off learning Dutch is knowing it’ll be hard to practise it. Anyone I’ve met who is learning Dutch has always said that as most Dutch-speakers can communicate flawlessly in English, they will instinctively switch to English to make the conversation flow faster – meaning you don’t get to practise your Dutch! This being said, spending the last few weeks working my way across a map of Flanders I must admit I’m tempted!

If you want to win Scrabble, try playing some of these town names!

DAY 27 (27/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.76 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 141.83 miles
Distance Left: 1458.17 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 26 – January 26th 2022 – Leuven

Amazed I got 5.33 miles today – must be walking around exam halls much more than I realised! Although judging by today, that might have just been me pacing around desperate to get out… whatever the cause, I’ve arrived in the eastern part of the eastern Belgian city of Leuven!

Day 26 – Stopping for petrol in Leuven

I remember my dad telling me he visited Leuven many years ago and liked it. Reading up on it myself, the sights of Leuven include the Gothic Sint-Pieterskerk, with its painting of The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts, a towering and statue-covered 15th century town hall and also its numerous breweries. I must admit, the more I’ve read about Belgium and its cities these last few weeks, the more I want to go back there and explore!

Looking at the map, it seems I’m already over half way through Belgium with just 40 miles (give or take!) to the Netherlands. All the places I’ve been to in Belgium are in the west of the country, so eastern Belgium will be full of new places to explore – and no doubt new places I want to visit IRL too!

Leaving Leuven… try saying that 10 times fast!!

DAY 26 (26/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.33 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 135.07 miles
Distance Left: 1464.93 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 25 – January 25th 2022 – Beisem-Veltem

A walk around the local area via some grocery shopping today gives me 5.26 miles to add to my total and brings me to the village of Beisem-Veltem (or Veltem-Beisem according to some sources) Indeed, these 2 villages are only 1km apart but according to Wikipedia have maintained their distinct identities and separate histories for centuries. They were merged into one under Dutch rule in 1826, which appears to have gone down well as 6 years later the council tried to dissolve the united municipality, but the higher government refused!

Day 25 – Passing through Beisem-Veltem or Veltem-Beisem

Remember yesterday I mentioned I thought I was due another postcard? I really should check my emails before I write these entries, as it was already there waiting for me! Curious that they’ve summed up all of Belgium with a picture of Manneken Pis… yes, I know it’s iconic and the unlikely symbol of Brussels, but it’s also TINY! It’s the kind of thing when you do find it (the postcard is right there, you’ll walk past it at least twice!) you look at it and go “Is that it? I thought it would be bigger!” – the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen has much the same reaction, except she isn’t piddling into the Baltic…

Not sure I’d call Manneken Pis “so worth it” to hunt down…

The accompanying email with the postcard warned me not to blink or I might miss the next country. The part of the Netherlands the route passes through is incredibly narrow at barely 18 miles… it’s crazy that it’s only coming up to the end of January and I’m already talking about the 3rd country on this trek! While it might seem like I’m clocking up countries fast, after the Netherlands comes Germany… which takes up at least 350 miles of the route by itself… more than I’ve walked combined so far across France and Belgium! I won’t lie, that’s a daunting prospect, but still: one step at a time!

Just passed a garden centre – who doesn’t love a good garden centre?

DAY 25 (25/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.27 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 129.74 miles
Distance Left: 1470.26 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 24 – January 24th 2022 – Zaventem

After a lazy Sunday with no additional walking (I know, how terrible of me!), I decided to attack the week head-on and start as I mean to continue! With no work today, I tackled my usual long route along the Thames but also veered off the path in a few places to extend it further, giving me a grand total of 10.89 miles today – I feel like that makes up at least a little for yesterday’s sloth! This means along my virtual route I have cleared the Belgian capital and am now in Zaventem.

Day 24 – Bye bye Brussels! Heading through Zaventem, near the airport

Zaventem is another place I’ve visited in the real world, but only because it’s home to Brussels International Airport. I saw admittedly very little of the town itself on my way in and out, but the terminal buildings are in Zaventem and wondering around them still counts as being in town. Double checking I’d remembered where the terminal was correctly, I’ve just seen that the airport styles itself as “Brussels Airport – The Heart of Europe”… not sure how I feel about that… yes, it’s one of the Top 30 busiest airports in Europe and de-facto capital of the European Union… but still! Funny how many places claim to be the heart or the centre of Europe!

Time for another Eurovision song! As I’ve just gone through the largest city in Belgium, now seems like a fitting time to share the 2017 Belgian entry City Lights by Blanche. Admittedly, when I first heard this song I was less than impressed and dismissed it as dirge. But there is something about this song that draws you in. A colleague of mine once said that he imagined this song is what Berlin sounds like at 2AM and I think that sums it up so well! Along with the hypnotic synth-pop beat, there’s a melancholy there that was brought to life by a very intense and emotional performance from Blanche in the final. Clearly I wasn’t the only one to think so, as the song placed 4th in Kyiv and received 12 points from the juries of Latvia, Estonia, Sweden and Poland. Take a listen below…

Almost at 125 miles into my journey… still a bit in shock I’ve come so far in January alone! I think judging by what I’ve seen on the Facebook group for EndtoEnd, I’ll be getting another postcard very soon, which is exciting! I’m also about 50 miles away from the Belgian-Dutch border and country #3… but there’s still plenty of Belgium to cover first before I reach the Netherlands! Leuven seems to be the next major stop on my route – better get going!

Zipping past the airport as I leave Brussels behind!

DAY 24 (24/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
10.89 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 124.47 miles
Distance Left: 1475.53 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 22 – January 22nd 2022 – Zellik

Catching up on all the stuff around the house this Saturday, I didn’t go out walking until the late afternoon. It was uncharacteristically quiet out for a weekend – but freezing! Following one of my usual routes put me a further 4.28 miles along the road in Belgium, in Zellik.

Day 22 – Behind a grassy verge along the road in Zellik

Once again, Google Maps doesn’t go down the foot path I’m on (feel like I’ve written that a lot this week!) but it’s not far off – I’m on the path below the grassy verge to the left of the photo. Zellik sits on the very edge of Brussels, separated from the rest of the capital by the ring road that goes around the city. Looking at the map I’m about 5km from some of my favourite places in Brussels, namely the Atomium monument, Mini Europe and Osseghem Park. I spent a whole day here when I came to Brussels in 2014 and loved it so much that after checking out of my hotel, I came back to the park to spend my last hours in Belgium there before my flight!

The futuristic Atomium – May 2014 – Source: James Scanlan

It was in this part of the city I did a lot of soul-searching and made some decisions about my life (remember the thoughts I was considering in Ghent?). It was in the park here that I decided I was going to change direction and leave university. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and for a while, 2014 was a very difficult and unsettled year. But it was also the year when I learnt one of my favourite sayings. I also realised how true it was and it’s something I still tell people:

“Sometimes everything falling apart is everything falling into place,”

Periods of unrest in our lives are doubtlessly stressful. But sometimes they’re the groundwork being laid for better things and for the right things. After leaving university, I found a better direction and was much happier. Among so many things, I started writing for Eurovision Ireland and also had time to finish and publish the first edition of Europe in a Day – and I feel like were it not for that time wandering in a park in Belgium, I would never have gone down this path!

Coming up to Zellik station – but I’ll be staying on foot!

DAY 22 (22/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.28 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 113.58 miles
Distance Left: 1486.42 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 21 – January 21st 2022 – Asse

It’s going to be a short entry tonight – it’s Friday, it’s been a long week and I’m exhausted!! On Fridays I try to walk a good chunk of the way home as I can take my time and combined with all the moving around at work I’ve walked 8.86 miles. So after a lovely stroll along the Thames at dusk and seeing Tower Bridge all lit up, I’m in Asse… sentence you’d never thought you’d write on the internet…

Day 21 – Asse-end of no where…

Once again I’m ended up on a path that Google Maps doesn’t show and this was the closest I could get. I’m about 200 metres up from this spot, heading towards Asse *teehee* and under the village of Krokegem. Asse is commuter town near Brussels and is located on a crossroads of old trade routes across Belgium and has apparently been burned down several times during various conflicts.

Popping into Lidl for the weekend

DAY 21 (21/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
8.86 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 109.30 miles
Distance Left: 1490.70 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 20 – January 20th 2022 – Aalst

This morning I woke up determined to walk further than I did yesterday. There’s a milestone within reach and I knew if I pushed I could get there. So a longer walk towards work in the morning, a new route along the river at lunch time… I’d done over 10,000 steps by midday! Crossing London Bridge this evening, my VeryFitPro buzzed to announce I’d walked 6 miles today – I punched the air (must to the bemusement of everyone else on the bridge!) because I knew I’d done it! I’ve completed the first 100 miles on my Trans Europe journey!

Day 20 – Over 100 miles! Street view between Vijfhuizen and Aalst

Still having a way to go over the bridge and home, the final tally for today is 6.86 miles, which means I’ve walked 100.44 miles in the last 20 days – which I still can’t quite believe! On my virtual route, this puts me somewhere along the road between Vijfhuizen and Aalst, fast approaching the Belgian capital. Aalst is famous for a long-standing feud with nearby Dendermonde and an annual carnival that has courted controversy and caused international upset on more than one occasion… so safe to say, sounds like a tenacious little place!

It might seem silly to be so excited by having reached the 100 miles stage of the route – especially as it’s only 1/16th of the entire journey! – but I am very happy I’ve made it here. I keep smiling when I see that the number of miles I have left has dropped to 1499… obviously there’s still such a long way to go, but it’s all adding up and I’m loving it!

A huge thank you to everyone who continues to support me with your messages, your encouragement and donations – it really means the world to me and I won’t let you down!! ❤

First 100 miles – CHECK!

DAY 20 (20/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.86 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 100.44 miles
Distance Left: 1499.56 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 19 – January 19th 2022 – Wetterstraat

One of those days were a lot of things happen and your plans don’t quite work out! Didn’t do nearly as much walking today as I hoped what with train delays and other tasks that needed my attention, but still managed to fit in 4 miles. Of course, I would have loved to do more, but will rectify that tomorrow. That’s the thing with walking, you get used to it and your body starts to want it!!

Day 19 – Wandering down Brusselsesteenweg in Wetterstraat

Today’s view comes from along Brusselsesteenweg, a road that stretches all the way down to Aalst but changes names at least 3 times along the way. Wetterstraat, near the town of Wetteren, seems like a fairly ordinary little place. Houses and business flank the road throughout the village. It’s curious that those style of terrace houses seem to be found everywhere in Europe!

Although today hasn’t been too exciting, I’ve got to view it as every mile counts and that I’m laying the groundwork for bigger milestones all the time. Indeed, if all goes according to plan tomorrow, I’ll finish the first 100 miles of this mammoth journey – and that will be exciting! And something to celebrate! 😀 ❤

Going diagonally through Belgium…

DAY 19 (19/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.00 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 93.58 miles
Distance Left: 1506.42 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 18 – January 18th 2022 – Merelbeke

Today has been quite busy at work… up and down stairs, around the exam hall countless times, taking things back upstairs… although I managed a couple of short walks throughout the day, I didn’t set aside as much time aside as I usually would and so thought I’d maybe make it to 3 miles if I was lucky… I couldn’t quite believe when I checked my VeryFitPro to find it amounted to 5.19 miles!

Day 18 – Over the bridge to Ghent – or take a right and on through Europe!

I’ve now arrived in Merelbeke, a town and municipality on the edge of Ghent. In fact, this section of road I’m along now is probably the closest I’ll get to Ghent on the entire route – at the crossing just a few meters ahead, I’ll veer to the right onto a footpath along the River Ringvaartand before turning south-east and heading away from the city and onward through Belgium. As this is the closest I’ll get, feels like a good time to talk about my visit to Ghent!

I went to Belgium in May 2014 and spent a couple of days in and around Brussels. Now, while that might sound fairly ordinary for someone who loves to travel, this trip was significant as it was my first-ever solo trip: no parents, no friends, no partners, just me! A lot of people are reluctant to travel alone and admittedly I was too. But even though it was strange and even at times stressful, it was an experience I ultimately loved – and it’s one I encourage everyone to try at least once!

While in Belgium, I spent most of my time in the capital, exploring places like Grote Markt, Atomium and of course, the European Parliament. But as you can imagine, being an avid day tripper I was keen to see somewhere else in the country too. I investigated Waterloo as an option – both as a history lover and for its (tenuous) Eurovision connection – but given that the bicentenary of the battle was not far off, I read online that most of the site was closed and being refurbished. So I decided to head west to Ghent instead.

I took a rather crowded train from Brussels out towards Ghent. Looking at the map now, I’m fairly sure that train must have gone through Merelbeke to get there! I remember the train station in Ghent being rather palatial and pretty (unlike 95% of English train stations) and after walking into the city’s old core I saw why so many people love it here… everything is just so grand and ornate! I wandered around taking hundreds of pictures, before going for a spin around the city’s waterways in a tour boat. I even spent a good hour or so just sat on a small flight of steps leading into the canal opposite Gravensteen, just admiring the massive medieval fortress and thinking about life, the universe and everything. There was a lot to think about, and even though some life-changing decisions were made in Brussels, the thoughts started in Ghent 😉

Thinking about it all – my view of Gravensteen, Ghent – May 2014 – Source: James Scanlan

So my day trip to Ghent was a success, and laid the groundwork for some other important things – but I’ve written enough tonight, so will save those stories for when I reach Brussels. Speaking of important things, in just under 11 miles I will have completed the first 100 miles of the Tran Europe route!! I can’t believe it’s come around so quickly! I’m so excited to see the number of miles left tick down to 1499… really can’t wait!!

DAY 18 (18/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.19 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 89.58 miles
Distance Left: 1510.42 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 17 – January 17th 2022 – De Pinte

Last night I calculated how many miles I’ve done each week so far this year – and since Week 2 was a little behind Week 1 (37.38 miles to 40.75 respectively), I wanted to get this Monday off to a good start!! So as well as a longer walk during my lunch break, I also got off the train a stop early and walked the rest of the way home. This means I’ve walked 6.26 miles today, which I feel like is a good start for the week!

Day 17 – A not at all sinister looking pathway at the edge of De Pinte

Today’s miles puts me at the eastern limits of the town of De Pinte and for the second time so far on this journey I’ve come to a road where Google Maps fears to tread (or more likely they just couldn’t fit the van down there as it seems like a footpath cutting across the countryside!) I’m actually quite a bit further down the pathway seen in the picture, but this was the closest I could get to it with Street View. Quite at atmospheric picture, no? Kinda looks like the sort of path they tell you not to stray from just before the sun goes down and the werewolves start chomping on people…

Having a look around De Pinte with Google Maps, the town is one of the first I’ve ever come across in Belgium to have a rather modern (don’t want to go as far as to say ugly, but it’s rather austere) town hall. Usually Belgian townhalls are grand medieval affairs, with turrets and ornate stonework, looking like palaces. Each one more spectacular than the last, all vying to be the most prestigious… De Pinte’s town hall looks a little more Soviet in its aesthetic, which isn’t a bad thing! Just not what I expected from Belgium!

De Pinte also sits very close to Ghent, which after Calais is the second place on this journey that I’ve been to in real life, not just virtually. In fact it’s so close that according to the internet it’s only 6 minutes by bus from De Pinte to Ghent – or just under two hours walk. Sadly, my route will only skirt the southern edge of the city before heading away again. My trip to Ghent was very memorable, but I’ll save those stories for tomorrow when I’m virtually there!

Street View can’t see me, but I’m over there!

DAY 17 (17/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.26 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 84.39 miles
Distance Left: 1515.61 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 16 – January 16th 2022 – Deinze

Took a day off from walking yesterday. It’s been a busy week and it was nice to have a bit of a break. But didn’t want one day of not walking to turn into two or three (or worse, several weeks!) so was back out there today and did one of my usual routes along the river, but in reverse – well, you know what they say, a change is as good as a rest! So those 4.42 miles from today brings me to Deinze in East Flanders.

Day 16 – Along Gentsesteenweg in Deinze

After almost a week of stopping in small Belgian villages dotted throughout the Flemish countryside, being on a busy road in what seems to be a sizeable town (some 48,580 according to Wikipedia) is a bit of a change of scenery. From the photos I’ve looked at, Deinze seems very typical of many towns in Belgium: canals and a river flowing through it, parks, a grand looking townhall and cathedrals… all postcard picture-perfect! According to the internet the must-sees when visiting here are the Museum van Deinze en de Leiestreek, a museum dedicated to regional folk objects and art, as well as a 16th century castle – sounds like my kind of town to explore!

Having been focused on other things for most of the week, I’m surprised how much walking I’ve managed to fit in… I can’t quite believe that I’ve almost done 80 miles already! 100 miles doesn’t seem so far off now, which it did back at the beginning of the year… let’s hope I can keep the momentum going next week too!

Between the River Leie and the railway tracks

DAY 16 (16/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.42 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 78.13 miles
Distance Left: 1521.87 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 14 – January 14th 2022 – Wontergem

It’s Friday! And what a day it’s been! I did several shorter walks over the course of my day to fit them in around work – including walking around the park a few times before work started, a stroll along the river at lunch time, and perhaps most ambitiously, walking home from central London at the end of the day. It all payed off though, a whooping 9.5 miles all together – didn’t expect to do nearly that much today!

Day 14 –  Countryside and a restaurant – what more could you want from a Friday?

Over the course of today I’ve walked through Tielt and into the next municipality of Deinze, ending the week outside a roadside restaurant near the village of Wontergem. I’m loving all these village names in Flanders! I also love the perspective in this picture, with the road stretching out into the distance – just what a traveller likes to see!

The weather was lovely this afternoon walking back, and it was nice to be back in central London. I used to walk home from college/uni/work fairly often, but of course with everything going on these last few years I haven’t had the chance. It was nice to see some of London’s landmarks again and for things to feel a little more normal.

Just a short entry tonight… it’s been a long week! But rapidly approaching 75 miles – that’s an exciting thought!

Ending the week outside the ‘t Stramien Restaurant

DAY 14 (14/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
9.50 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 73.71 miles
Distance Left: 1526.29 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 13 – January 13th 2022 – Hurselhoek

A bit a of strange day today, as I was back at work. The good news is, even though there was a lot to think about while doing that, I still managed to get some walking in during my lunch break! A new part of London to explore and wandering around a very misty park means I finished today a further 4.29 miles along my route – which took me through Koolskamp (another awesome name for somewhere!!) and now puts me near the crossroads at Hurselhoek!

Day 13 – A short history of tractors in Belgian

Hurselhoek seems to be another one of these rather small villages that gets lumped into its nearer big settlement (in this case, Pittem). From the looks of the wider map, it’s about halfway between Lichtervelde and Tielt, and also approaching the halfway point between the Belgian border and the next major town on the Trans Europe route – Ghent! I have a lot to say about Ghent, but will save that for when I get closer. The tractor in the Street View was a nice touch too – living in London you almost never see such things on the road, but while spending summers with my family in their village in northern Germany they were a regular sight.

Every time when I log my miles for the day, I’m excited to see the number of miles left fall and the number of miles I’ve passed grows. Little by little I’m getting there. Another 112 miles and I’ll already be in country #3! But after a long day, I’ll think about that later. As many Eurovision songs suggest, one step at a time!

Heading over the crossroads and towards Pittem

DAY 13 (13/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.29 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 64.21 miles
Distance Left: 1535.79 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 12 – January 12th 2022 – Lichtervelde

I delayed my usual long Tuesday walk to today in hopes of better weather and thankfully that paid off – not always guaranteed in London in January! The rain held off today, but was still quite chilly!

My usual route had some roadworks along the way, which meant re-routing slightly. I could have sworn it made my walk longer, but according to my VeryFitPro, it was actually a tad shorter… mind you, this is the same machine that started buzzing frantically telling me to “please calm down” at one point along the route… perhaps I’ve worn it out with all the walking these last couple of weeks! Still, another 10.04 miles and I’m now skirting around the edge of the Belgian town of Lichtervelde!

Day 12 – Strolling under the trees outside Lichtervelde

The name ‘Lichtervelde’ means ‘Lighter Fields’ in Flemish/Dutch, which is curious as this feels like this is the first time I’ve seen so many trees in a while! The Wikipedia entry for Lichtervelde is a bit sparse, stating it has a population of 8,793, a 64-metre high brown church and a picture of its (rather ordinary) railway station. It does, however, mention that inventor Charles Joseph Van Depoele was born here in 1846. Admittedly, I’d never heard of him, but turns out he was a pioneer in the technology for electric railways and a rather prolific inventor with some 243 US patents to his name. It’s also thought the majority of the first cities in the United States that had electric railways were using systems developed by Van Depoele – this is why I love travelling and learning new things! He did all this and I’d never heard of him, and probably never would have if I hadn’t wandered past Lichtervelde (even virtually!)

So aside from learning about Mr Van Depoele, today also marks my first 50 miles along the Trans Europe road. I must admit, I smiled soon after setting off from home for my walk as I knew I must have made up the 0.12 miles to reach 50 – it was a nice feeling! Such a long walk today that having almost reached 50 yesterday, I’m now almost up to 60… let’s see what the next ten miles hold!

Apparently Ontspanninghuis is Flemish for Relaxation House, or spa!

DAY 12 (12/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
10.04 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 59.92 miles
Distance Left: 1540.08 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 11 – January 11th 2022 – Hoogland

Going grocery shopping today, I took a long route home in order to get some extra steps and mileage in. As a result, I’ve wandered another 4.73 miles through the Flemish countryside!

Day 11 – A blurry house in Hoogland, near Diksmuide

Judging by the view at the end of today’s walk, it looks like I’ve overshot the centre of Diksmuid. This being said, the town sits at the centre of a municipality of the same name which covers quite a large area, so according to Google Maps I’m still in Diksmuide. But the other name I can see on the map, which appears to be the village I’m in, is Hoogland, which I think is a brilliant name!! Not sure why the house in the picture is so blurry… somehow doubt it’s that pixelated in real life!

Reading up on Diksmuide, it’s had quite an eventful history… founded in the 9th century, devastated over the course of World War 1 and completely rebuilt in the 1920s… I remember reading a similar account of Ypres after WWI: it was said if you stood on a horse, you could from one end of the town to the other as it had been utterly razed by artillery fire. I imagine many Belgian and other European cities can state similarly dubious things about them from that time… back in the modern day, Diksmuide’s other claims to fame include that it is surrounded by polders, renowned for dairy farming and similarly to Gravelines and Dunkirk is also home to belfry listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The map also says I just passed a shop specialising in fire places – and quite nice ones too, according to their website! Curiously, someone asked me recently if I had a fire place, which I don’t – but I’ve always liked the idea of one! Think it would be a really lovely way to relax in the evenings, especially after a long day of sightseeing or walking!

Adding today’s miles to my total, I’m just steps away from completing the first 50 miles of this mammoth trek. 50 miles out of 1600 seems so small (there are 32 lots of 50 in 1600 after all!) but it’s still an achievement. And on such a long route, I think it’s definitely important to celebrate all forms of milestones along the way – after all, it could be another couple of weeks before I hit triple digits… and goodness knows how long before I reach 4 digits and over 1000 miles!

Anyone want a Belgian fire place?

DAY 11 (11/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.73 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 49.88 miles
Distance Left: 1550.12 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 10 – January 10th 2022 – Oostkerke

Seems strange to think I’ve been doing this virtual challenge for 10 days already! In some ways, it feels much shorter. In others, it feels like I’ve been calculating my miles and watching that yellow dot move along the road for much longer!

A bit chilly today in London today, but 4.4 miles up towards the river, along it and back home means I’ve continued through the Belgian countryside past the villages of Rousdamme and Schewege, and have found myself in Oostkerke, approaching Diksmuide. It’s quite grey and wintery in London today, but at least on Google Maps it’s a rather pleasant day in Flanders!

Day 10 – Clouds over Kaaskerkestraat, Oostkerke

Looking at the wider map of the area, it seems I’ve gone past an Orthodox church in Schewege (which interests me, as I wouldn’t have thought there would be many such churches in Belgium!) and am about level with Dodengang, or the Trench of Death. Having a read online, Dodengang is a section of preserved trenches from the First World War that were defended by the Belgian army throughout the conflict. Thousands lost their lives preventing further German incursion, even right up until the end of 1918.

Interestingly, according to what I’ve read online Dodengang became one of the first memorial sites in Belgium to open for visitors as a tourist attraction. While I think the term memorial probably suits it better than ‘tourist attraction’, my first-ever visit to Belgium in 2003 was on a school trip to the trenches at Sanctuary Wood near Ypres, around 30km south of Oostkerke. A lot of people, especially school students get the idea that history is really stuffy and boring, just remembering dead people and dates. But it’s so much more interesting and exciting than that! Alongside travel, history is another great passion of mine and it’s something that can often be combined with travel easily. Indeed, I can still recall the memories of that day in Belgium today, nearly 20 years later!!

While exploring the site at Sanctuary Wood, I stood in the entrance of a tunnel through the mounds of earth forming the trenches and my history teacher took a photo (which then spent the next several years on a display board outside the school’s history department). Moments after the photo was taken, I turned around and went into the tunnel to have a look. I couldn’t tell you if that tunnel was 20 meters long or 200 – it was pitch black, ominously quiet and very narrow and confined. I still don’t know how I managed to go all the way through it, practically crawling along in the dark like Gollum, unable to see my hand in front of my face. I remember thinking at least once that I really didn’t like it in there – but in that same moment also wondering what it must have been like for those that had to run through here in the dark, weighed down by equipment, artillery raining down… certainly made history seem a bit more real in that moment. Still, was relieved when I saw daylight at the end of the tunnel!

Exploring Ypres and its experience of the war was a fascinating and humbling experience and I’ve often thought about going back as a adult. Dodengang also sounds like it’s well worth a visit, and I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of such sites scattered across Belgium and Europe as a whole… so much history, so little time!

Heading past Dodengang and towards Diksmuide

DAY 10 (10/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.40 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 45.15 miles
Distance Left: 1554.85 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 9 – January 9th 2022 – Avekapelle

A brisk 2.86 miles around the park brings me to an unusual point on the virtual map – a path way without any Google Maps Street View on it!

I’ve arrived in Avekapelle, which looks like a village made up of only a few streets. But everything I’ve read online says Avekapelle, Veurne… so maybe I’m still in a suburb of Veurne? Either way, I’ve finished today along a concrete walkway that cuts along next to a railway track. Funnily enough, some of my IRL walks go along very similar such places!

It’s so narrow that there’s no street view down it, but luckily I’m near it’s end. So much so, that a few steps more today and I’d have probably cleared it! As things stand, I’m roughly level with the bushes to the righthand side of the path way.

Day 9 – Alongside a railway line in Avekapelle

Looking ahead along the map, I suspect the next few days will be walking between small villages and hamlets in rural Belgium. The next biggest town, Diksmuide, is about 10km away, but I’m looking forward to finding out more about the places on the way. As of today, I’ve also done 40 miles on this route, which I’m really please about! Still a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the journey and the new places I’m finding on the way!

Almost back on the main road!

DAY 9 (09/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
2.86 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 40.75 miles
Distance Left: 1559.25 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 8 – January 8th 2022 – Veurne

Only a short walk today. I’ve had things to get on with around the house and wanted a bit of a slow day after all the walking during in the week. Still, I wanted to do something towards the challenge, so managed to clock up just under a mile walking around the block.

Another reason I wanted to do a relatively short walk was because I planned to end the day in the historic core of Veurne. After all, Belgium is famous for its many beautiful cities and their historic cores, filled with grand stone façades, towering belfries and impressive town halls… turns out though, Veurne is much smaller than I imagined and I’ve over-shot the city centre! Oops…

Day 8 – Browsing the shops on Ooststraat, Veurne

I might have passed it already, but I still skipped back through Google Maps to have a look at the centre of Veurne – looks like a gorgeous little place! Everywhere I’ve looked at so far along this route I’ve thought “I’d love to come back here!” and Veurne is no different! I wonder how many more times I’ll been saying that over the next few weeks and months…

The scene I’ve stopped at looks like one you could find in any number of European cities. In fact, other than the Dutch street names and Belgian license plates on the cars, it could be most anywhere on the continent. There’s something quite reassuring in that. It’s one of the things I noticed very quickly when I started travelling… you see the same scenes playing out again and again all around the world: people going to the shops, young people on their phones, grandparents spending time with their grandchildren… only the context is different. They say travel is fatal to prejudice and it really is. It shows us that wherever we are in the world, in so many ways we are the same.

Rather philosophical thought to end tonight on… thanks for that reflection Veurne! Onwards through Flanders!

About to cross Canal de Furnes one last time and towards the station

DAY 8 (08/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
0.92 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 37.89 miles
Distance Left: 1562.11 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 7 – January 7th 2022 – Veurne

YEEEES!! Today I made it to Belgium! Can’t quite believe I’ve crossed one country off the route already, what a first week it’s been! Today’s 6.66 miles (thunderclap) through South London along a route I take most Fridays to unwind has put me quite comfortably over the border and within the city limits of Veurne – specifically, according to Google Maps, outside 88 Duinkerkestraat, about half a kilometre from the city centre. I’m also still following Canal de Furnes – but think you’ll agree, it’s a rather pretty view!

Day 7 – Bright fields along Duinkerkestraat, Veurne

I knew while out and about today that I had roughly 3 miles to the border, and that the point on my walk where I’d turn around to start coming back was also roughly 3 miles from home – and as luck would have it, there was a line in the pavement around this point that had been made by retarmacking and repairs – which made a perfect ceremonial border to step over!

Crossing the virtual French-Belgian border!

Admittedly, I didn’t expect to cross France so quickly. But I’m going to mark the moment with a French song I absolutely love. While there are many French language songs I love from Eurovision, if I had to pick just one song from France itself, it would have to be Et S’il Fallait Le Faire, sung by the incomparable Patricia Kaas. Her rich smoky voice conjures up images of a faded Parisian jazz club in the rain, a sense of time past and loss and longing… it’s hauntingly beautiful and a true masterpiece of a performance! It finished 8th in Moscow, but I suspect in a weaker year (2009 was incredibly strong for Eurovision after all!) it could have easily topped the scoreboard. Take a listen and see what you think!

What a way to end my first week on this virtual challenge: I’ve walked over 36 miles, crossed from France into Belgium and have raised more than £200 for charity – long may it continue! Thank you so much for all your support so far! ❤ All that’s left to say for now is au revoir France, and goedendag België!

First glimpe of Belgium – free parking in Veurne!

DAY 7 (07/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
6.66 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 36.97 miles
Distance Left: 1563.03 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 6 – January 6th 2022 – Ghyvelde

Today I’ve been working on some Eurovision related projects, but still made time for a walk in the afternoon. At 3.45 miles, it’s one of the shorter ones I’ve taken on this week but they all count! Adding these miles to my overall total, I’ve finished today in the middle of what seems to be quite a large (but thankfully empty!) road near Ghyvelde. Love the feeling of space from this picture, wide open sky and fields… how I miss vistas like these living in London!

Day 6 – A wide sky and fields outside Ghyvelde

Tucked only a few kilometres inland from the North Sea, judging by the map Ghyvelde is the last settlement in France before the border with Belgium. Its claim to fame according to Wikipedia is that it’s the second most-northern commune in France. The northern-most is Bray-Dunes, which is on the other side of road (to the left in the picture) between here and the North Sea.

Once you reach different intervals along the Trans-Europe route, EndtoEnd send you virtual postcards as a kind of reward and morale boost. The first one is unlocked after reaching the 25 mile point, but as I often forget to check my emails I didn’t see it until today! Oops… here it is below – it’s a sweet idea, and as someone who loves travel souvenirs I’m curious to see more cards as I progress!

I mean, they got the “love to explore different customs and cuisines” part right!

I’ve been doing this challenge for almost a week now… in some ways it feels longer, but I’m amazed at how much I’ve managed to fit into the last 7 days! Right now, I’m really enjoying the challenge and hope that I can keep the momentum going in the coming weeks and months. And, just moments before I published today’s entry, another donation was made on GoFundMe which brings the total raised to over £200 – thank you all so much, your generosity is so greatly apricated and you’re going to help so many people! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! ❤

I’m still following the canal!

DAY 6 (06/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
3.45 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 30.31 miles
Distance Left: 1569.69 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 5 – January 5th 2022 – Téteghem-Coudekerque-Village

Another day, another few miles across France! Today’s walk followed a route I took earlier in the week, 4.41 miles around my local area – the good news is, the weather was better today and I did it faster than I did on Monday!

I’ve now reached Téteghem-Coudekerque-Village, a commune on the eastern border of Dunkirk. Back in 1940, Téteghem formed part of the perimeter defences during the Battle of Dunkirk, which I remember studying at school as a teenager. Looking at it today through Google Maps, it amazes me that these sleepy field and ordinary roads saw such pivotal moments of history forged on them…

Day 5 – Next to Canal de Furnes in Téteghem-Coudekerque-Village

Right now I’m alongside Canal de Furnes, which judging from the map I’ll be following for at least the next couple of days! It flows all the way into Belgium and into the city of Veurne, about 11 miles away. Still, I always enjoy walking by rivers and canals and many of my IRL walks are by water – I find it so relaxing and a great place to think!

Not much else to report today… since starting the challenge on Saturday, I’ve now covered more distance than a marathon, which surprises me! Mind you, the distance from Calais to Rezovo is roughly equal to 61 marathons… but for now, my goal is to get to Belgium, which I think I should be able to do by the end of the week no problem. Fingers crossed!

Why did I stop next to a cemetery?!

DAY 5 (05/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
4.41 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 26.86 miles
Distance Left: 1573.14 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 4 – January 4th 2022Dunkirk

Yuck… what awful weather today! Grey, cold, wet… typical January fair for London! But not going to let that stop me! Today is Tuesday, and that’s usually the day I do a circuit along the river which I always thought was about 9 or 10 miles (turns out it’s more!) And though the weather might be abysmal, I still wrap up and hit the road!

Today’s route along the Thames in London is one I know very well and have been doing on a weekly basis for months now – but I’m more interested in where these miles are putting me on my European map! For the first time so far on this trip, the point where I stop my route for the day lands me in the middle of a town – more specifically, the Petite-Synthe area of Dunkirk!

Day 4 – Street scene in Dunkirk/Dunkerque/Duunkerke

As most of you know, I’m fascinated by languages and I find the fact that this town spells its name in 3 ways depending on which language you speak (Dunkirk in English, Dunkerque in French and Duunkerke in Flemish) brilliant! According to Wikipedia, Flemish/Dutch was commonly spoken here in Dunkirk until the middle of the 20th century – which is but the blink of an eye in terms of history!

I’ve also learnt that Dunkirk is the 3rd largest harbour in all of France (after Le Havre and Marseilles), it’s the largest city in Europe with completely free public transport (a novel idea for a Londoner!) and, perhaps most tantalizingly, the city centre is only about 6 miles (10km) from the Belgian border… I’ve almost finished the first country on the route!! Another day like today and I’ll be in Belgium – though as tempting as that is, my tiredness levels after a busy week is reminding me Belgium will still be there in a day or two!! 😉

I always thought my Tuesday Route following the Thames was roughly 10 miles – turns out I wasn’t far off, as according to my VeryFitPro, it’s 10.25 miles! Adding this to my total means I’ve walked over 22 miles (a little over 36km) since Saturday – which is crazy! A final treat for today, as I put in my miles on endtoend I found out I’m currently ranked at #21 out all everyone walking/running/cycling the Trans-Europe route! I know I won’t hold on to this spot all the way to Bulgaria (especially when the cyclists start on their 30 miles in one day rides!!) but for today, I’ll take it!

Took the wrong turn for KFC in Dunkirk…

DAY 4 (04/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
10.25 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 22.45 miles
Distance Left: 1577.55 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 3 – January 3rd 2022Gravelines

Exciting start to today – my VeryFitPro arrived! This will help keep track of distance while out walking, my heart rate and also record how many steps I’m taking – but more on that later!

Other models are available

Today’s walking came in two parts, a 4.41 mile loop along the river in the morning along, followed by a little over a mile in the afternoon around the local area. It’s funny to think as I’m walking around sights and places I know very well that I’m also moving further along my route through the north of France – and I must admit, every time I log on to the website to submit my mileage I’m excited that to take a peak and see where I’ve ended up! Today’s view comes from outside Gravelines – think you’ll agree the weather looks quite nice for early January!

Day 3 – Approaching Gravelines, northern France

Reading up on Gravelines, I’ve found out this small town was fought over by the French and Spanish in the 17th century and was once heavily fortified. While only some of these fortifications are still standing, Gravelines is also home to one of the 56 Belfries of France and Belgium that are included UNESCO World Heritage List. This is one of the things I love most about travel, finding ordinary little out-of-the-way places and finding out what makes them special. After all, it’s how the whole Europe in a Day idea started! Perhaps once things settle, I’ll have to pop over to Gravelines and have a look!

According to my VeryFitPro, I’ve walked over 11,000 steps today and covered 5.49 miles – which means I’m now into double-digits! It might seem like a small thing, especially as there’s still a long way to go, but all milestones count – and I imagine this trek will have quite a few of them!

Coming up to Lidl in Gravelines…

DAY 3 (03/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
5.49 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 12.20 miles
Distance Left: 1587.80 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 2 – January 2nd 2022 – Oye-Plage

Still raring to go! Today’s walk of 3.66 miles looping around the park twice took me from the outskirts of Calais into the Oye-Plage commune in northern France, not far from a selection of camping sites according to the map. Thanks to some of the posts in the Endtoend Facebook group, I’ve worked out I can actually use street view to see where along the route I am! So this is where I finished my walking for today: – somewhere near a field in the north of France!

Day 2 – Somewhere in Oye-Plage commune, northern France

Not all that different from what I was actually looking at in the park really! Even down to the weather – though to be fair, was still quite warm and bright for January. Our local South London park was also noticeably busier than this French field, with plenty of people out walking – even rather randomly bumped into an old colleague of mine I haven’t seen since 2017! There were also lots of people out walking their dogs, which I always enjoy seeing. I love dogs and some are hilarious to watch! A special shout out to the very clumsy Bullmastiff puppy and particularly naughty Black Labrador I saw on today’s trip!

Also, several new donations have come in today and almost 10% of the amount I’m hoping to raise has already been donated!! Thank you so much to everyone who has given, I’m really touched by your generosity and kindness ❤

So with Day 2 over, I’m up to almost 7 miles… in the coming days I’m planning a few longer walks to push this higher, really want to start as I mean to go on!! For now Bulgaria still seems a long way away, but feeling very optimistic about it!

Near Les Argousiers campsite

DAY 2 (02/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
3.66 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 6.71 miles
Distance Left: 1593.29 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

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Day 1 – January 1st 2022 – Calais

Happy New Year! My first day on the Trans-Europe Virtual Challenge! Woo! I really couldn’t wait to get going with this challenge, it’s literally all I’ve been thinking about for the last few days!

Starting such a long journey felt like a bit of an occasion, so I made sure to take a photo before setting off – I’m not sure what that expression is… definitely excitement, also possible last night’s New Year celebrations and still being awake at 3AM…

Day 1 – Calais, France (via South London)

Today’s walk was around a local park in South London, but in terms of the challenge I’m leaving the starting block in the French port of Calais. Strangely enough, visiting Calais was the first time I ever went abroad and I still remember parts of the trip quite vividly, despite being only 4 or 5 at the time! Details I can still recall include sitting around on the ferry with my family during the crossing, the fact it was raining a lot when we arrived and shopping in the massive hypermarkets – I can still remember my grandmother showing me the small clay donkey she’d picked out for her Nativity scene at home, down to the bizarre painted expression on its face! (As I write this, I’m now wondering whatever happened to that donkey…)

Today’s walk was 3.05 miles, which as you can see thanks to the map on endtoend.run puts me roughly on the outskirts of Calais. Might not seem like much, but every journey of a thousand miles (or 1,600 in this case!) begins with a single step. And I must admit, seeing that I was ranked 51st out of all competitors when I logged my miles this evening was a great boost! It’s only the first day, so we’ll see how long I can hold on to my ranking but I’m really excited about this challenge and can’t wait to keep going – I’ve already planned my route for tomorrow and told at least 3 people I wish I was going right now!! Maybe everyone on the Facebook group was right… these challenges get addictive!

Look for the little yellow ball!

DAY 1 (01/01/22) SUMMARY
Distance Travelled Today:
3.05 miles
Total Distance Travelled: 3.05 miles
Distance Left: 1596.95 miles
If you’d like to make a donation, please visit my page on GoFundMe.com

Author: James Scanlan
Banner Image Source: Edited from i.guim.co.uk – all heart logos belong to the Eurovision Song Contest, no copyright infringement intended

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