Most continental European countries are signatories to the Schengen Convention that abolished the need for visas for short stay visitors. BUT
If you want to stay for more than a cumulative 90 days in any six month period then you need to apply for a long stay visa - or do you? The German Consulate in Sydney told Michael we didn't need to - but I have found an application on their website! So we will make application as I would rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
God knows, with Switzerland the only continental western European country that is not a signatory, we don't want to be denied access to other countries! And as much as we want to see eastern Europe, we want to be in control of the 'when'.
Say, did anyone see Feast Bazaar on SBS last night? They were in Palmyra in Syria. This place has to be seen to believed - check it out here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmyra. We just might make a quick detour from Turkey if there are easy transport options!
Oh the joy of "I feel like going to .... today"!