So I'm firing on all cylinders workwise, which means two things:
1) I can't get enough sleep
2) I'm busy as fuck
It's times like these I really just want to escape to my default setting: dreaming about travel.
The next trip is with the Brit over the August bank holiday to the delights of France. I haven't been to the south of France since my gap yah. While it's not a Bucket List holiday (trying to get to 50 countries before end of next year), the Brit has never been. And as Provence and the Riviera are as near to perfect as any place could be, it's time we went.
Also, frankly, I could do with a holiday that's more about
We still have the Olympics to get through here, which might even end up killing us all (tube stampede anyone?), before I get to throw my pins out onto the pebbles of Villefranche-sur-Mer and say things like, "Un coq-tail? Bah oui."
In the back of my mind, while being flat out at work, I still think regularly of the following stuff.
I've stayed in enough hostels - good and bad - to start my own
And one day I just might. I would know how to market it, PR it, and create it. It's coming together in a long distance dream - can I own my own business, one I know a few things about (bar the accounting?)
I've stayed in places that function like hotels; and I've stayed in places that smell like waffles and feet. Some have been in busy tourist places like Berlin, others in tiny off-the-map villages in the Czech Republic. I'm pretty sure that one day I could do this. And do it well. When I'm finally done with travelling myself, I can be in a business that still means I get to hear people's stories. I've been thinking about this a lot lately.
I have visited 27 countries out of the 47 there are in Europe
Jesus. I thought I'd ploughed through more than that. There are a whole bunch of pernickity ones in the Balkans still yet to go. And then some.
I have visited 45 countries in total
The 46th will be Japan in September. The trick is to find a long-term strategy involving clusters of small ones you can see at once. Like the Baltics, or central America or one's with relatively open borders that are easy to cross - like Europe (once you're in) or South America, or south east Asia.
It's hard work you'll find. My ultimate goal before I die is 100. It's a stretch goal, if we're talking corporate speak. I won't make 100 countries, this I know. Even with my strategy in place, I have a few fairly large obstacles that are slowing me down.
1) My passport. It's shit.
2) My citizenship in the UK. I can't leave the country for more than 180 days in the five years before I become British.
3) I have a job. Can't just backpack the whole time, my leave is always stretched as it is.
4) I'm getting to that point in my life where at some stage, I may be with child. Who might not fancy hotfooting it across Mongolia in a bus, for example.
At a fair guess, I might make it to 60 countries. Because there are the firm favourites I'm always going to return to - France, the US and Brazil for starters - not to mention my home country, South Africa.
Maybe I should sack off the Christopher Columbus ambition and buy a Mulberry handbag
As much as I try, say, not think about going somewhere new, I just can't. Last night I was tinking about Slovenia. Perhaps the only place I couldn't be less interested in is Australia. So if the world was made up of a whole bunch of Australias, then yes, I'd buy the bag.
"Why do you want to go there?"
Is what I get asked all the time. Because dude. Because it's new. I haven't discovered it or experienced it yet. Because it's fucking [insert random country here] Yemen. Because there's a certain amount of culture shock involved.
A friend made a point the other day that's really rather true. Most of western Europe, or America, or for argument's sake, most of the first world, is kind of similar. They have the same shops, chruches, foods, and we have seen it before. Sometimes over and over again.
I remember the first time I went around Italy with a rucksack, with that sense of awe and excitement when I first saw the Vatican City or heard Italian on the streets.
Not that that isn't great, of course it is. When it's authentic, and it's what you're looking for, then it's wonderful. But when you venture to Eastern Europe, and see other shit that isn't plastered all over travel magazines, you really get that buzz that comes with being a bit shell shocked.
When I drove through Poland I felt it. I remember thinking, Christ - this is really foreign. I am definitely not in the Europe I know right now. Thailand is another well worn example - the smells and craziness of Bangkok makes your eyeballs explode at first. And hence why travelling is a real addiction - you start going for that buzz, the feeling that you're out of your comfort zone and that what you're experiencing is completely different from anything you've ever seen or known before.
This is just another reason I don't take hallucinogens - the travel habit burns enough holes in my pockets and my brain, and the comedown when I get home is pretty similar too.
(I have a bit of a problem, don't I?)