Thirty years ago it was signed, and 20 years ago today it went into effect: The European agreement that wiped out land borders for travelers throughout most of Europe, and also had the side effect of making a tiny town in Luxembourg into a world famous name: Schengen. The Schengen Agreement is, still, far better known than the town.
Originally including only the three Benelux countries, France and Germany, it now includes all of the European Union except Britain, and several non EU countries such as Switzerland as well. The practical effect has meant the end of long lines at border crossings, faster movement in an out of airports, and no train stops in the middle of the night to check passports.
But for some people, I included, it has also signaled a loss. It used to be possible to relive a trip by going through the stamps in your passport, each with its own memory.
Now, for outsiders, we get one on arriving and one on leaving...and sometimes even that can be a bit confusing! In 2009, we spent 3 weeks in Spain, but our only passport stamps were at Munich on the way in and Frankfurt on the way out. Last summer, you'd think we'd been to Barcelona and Zurich for the summer, but we were only in Barcelona for an hour on the way to France, and in Switzerland for a day on the way out.
So, whether you're nostalgic for the good old days, or curious what it looks like now, click HERE for a view from the Telegraph (UK)
Border crossing into Germany, then and now.
Photos: Wikimiedia (Doco, right and BrokenSphere below).