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Timeline in Europe

Passport stamped in Brussels and free to roam the Continent

May 2000 —

I got my passport stamped in Brussels and did not have to produce it at any of the other borders I crossed on the Continent. The European Union serves an American traveler well in this way.

Technically, an American is allowed to remain within the European union for 90 out of any 180 days.

As an American, I need only a passport to enter a European country. This allows me to stay there for 90 days. But, since there is no dating of my movements, there is no record of how long Iíve spent in any one country—and Iíve stayed longer, in several countries.

Border guards will stamp the passport when one travels from the Continent to the UK or Ireland, (but not between the two.) I entered Ireland easily, after having been in Spain — but I didnít tell them I was going to look for a job. Three weeks, I said. Holiday? Yes. I had been surprised, itís worth noting, by the degree of questioning I got when I flew from the States into the UK. I can recommend, generally, that a person answer questions simply and with confidence. No dithering about wanting to travel without plans.

In Brussels, en route from London to Bad Breisig with friends Ian and Christina, we passed through a turnstyle at the glassed security booth, where the guard had stamped our passports. Turning back, Ian and Christina hooted with laughter. The guard was playing a game of solitaire on his computer.