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Visit Europe — it's your right

The EU believes everyone deserves a European vacation.

She and Natasha Sinkina spent four days recently in Belgium and though their initial urge was to also try to fit in Amsterdam or Paris, both just a couple of hours’ train ride, they decided against what she called the “hurry-scurry” approach.

“Though Europe is small in the matter of distances,” Voytenko said, especially compared to Russia’s vast reaches, “you lose the feeling of a country's personality” if you do it that way.

“Belgium is Belgium and the Netherlands are the Netherlands, they have the architecture of their own, history of their own, cuisine and culture of their own,” she said, adding that she did not want to “mix them up.”

On the other hand, Voytenko and Sinkina’s friends from Khabarovsk, Russia, are the perfect examples of the people Tajani is hoping to reach. Thanks to the Schengen visa, they saw the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria in one trip last winter and Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark this summer.

American Jo Ellis is already pre-sold on the idea. She’ll come to Vienna to visit her daughter’s family this fall, her first trip to continental Europe. Ellis said the conventional American idea of a European vacation “seems to be Paris, London, Rome,” but she’s looking forward to exploring the small countries surrounding Austria, despite not yet being able to fathom driving such relatively short distances and being in an entirely different land.

Ellis wasn't aware of Tajani's designs on her tourist dollar, though with the lowered value of the euro she's pleased it will go further.