So you’re finally here, the SEC you’ve always wanted to go to. Or the one you accidentally got to. No matter how and why, you are in a small European country and you want to make the most of it.
- Take your time.
Just because a country is small, doesn’t mean you can see and experience all it has to offer in a day or two. You will need at least a week to fully experience even the smallest country or a major city like London or Berlin.
- Get out of the capital city.
Capitals, especially those of small countries, tend to be quite different than the rest of the place. Once you are outside the capital, the prices tend to go down (sometimes severely), people are more relaxed and friendly and the air is cleaner.
- Seek the countryside.
Remember all those picturesque paintings of the European countryside you’ve marvelled about? Well, its still there waiting for you. The advantage of small countries is that the countryside is not too far away – usually within 15 minutes walk.
- Visit the highest point
There are basically two types of highest points of countries, whether small and European or not – 1) deserted and forgotten 2) tourist circus. Either way, its a weird experience to stand on the highest landmark of a country. Sometimes you literally see the whole country. My personal record is 3 highest points in a single day.
The bicycle is the best way to get around a small country. Many SECs have an extensive network of cycling paths, so its easy and safe to get around by bike. You can hire them for cheaps and its the best of both worlds – you get a pedestrian’s 360 degrees view but you’re 3-4 times as fast. For the advanced – go to the countryside by bike!
- Learn the local language
Even if its just a few words. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to say “good morning, how are you today?” to that oh so blond Swedish colleague back home in his/her native language? Or imagine when you want to offer a drink to that amazing guy/girl to your right in a small European bar and you say in your best Albanian “can I offer you a drunk?”- 1)you’ve made a move, 2)you’re making an effort to learn the language and 3)you’re being funny even if you didn’t intend to. Who will be able to resist you? You get my point – (the prospect of) sex is the best motivation to learn a language.
- Take the train
The European train network is amazingly extensive. There are rail passes available, night trains, scenic trains, luxury trains, anything goes. And the best thing is – when you are on a train, you can do all of the above at the same time! Seriously, you can spend weeks and months travelling by train around Europe never setting foot in a capital city, see all the countryside you can handle, get to 3454 meters altitude, take your bicycle with you, learn the language in the meantime by chatting to your fellow passengers (in the train bar if you want to) – what else could you wish for?