[This is another post for the #Trust30 challenge. More information here.]
If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there? – Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity
It’s a good thing that I can work on this question in the afternoon. I never like to think about travel at night, because usually what follows is several hours of staring at the ceiling, thinking about all the places left in the world to see. I can drink espresso at 10pm and sleep fine, but if someone gets me thinking about adventures abroad, it’s going to be a long night.
Traveling is one of the most enjoyable activities on the face of the earth. When you travel, you get the opportunity to get away from the familiar, the everyday routine. You notice more things. It is like the wonder that a child has as she wanders through a garden. She has to stop and inspect every flower, insect or rock she sees. The world is animated around her and she soaks it all in.
That’s kind of what travel does to me. It refreshes my sense of wonder about the world around me.
You may have experienced something like this too. Walking through an airport or train station, the excitement of adventure starts to creep into your body. You feel as if you are almost floating in a bubble, an unseen force lightening each step as you get closer to the departure area. You are surrounded with thousands of people, all going somewhere, but at the same time you are all alone. Waiting for your departure gives you time to watch the diversity of people around you and create stories in your mind for them. Occasionally, you meet a fellow traveler and find that someone has the same love of travel that you do. Traveling fills you a with a feeling of exhilaration and an inner calm at the same time.
Traveling also helps us remember how big the world is. It reminds us that there are a whole lot more people on this earth than just us. They have hopes and dreams for their futures that are just as real as ours. Traveling helps remind us of our humanity.
Trying to pick a single place to go is a difficult challenge, so I’ll start with a list of places I want to see and try to narrow it down from there. First is South America, a continent I have not yet visited. Brazil and Argentina are at the top of the list. I want to see the beaches of Ipanema and the Amazon and its vast forests. In Argentina, Buenos Aires, the Pampas and the Tierra del Fuego are calling. I would also like to see the Incan ruins in Ecuador, Bolivia or Chile.
Africa is not short of sights to see either. Egypt is my highest priority, for its pyramids and the Nile River. I want to see the savannas of Zambia and Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, then relax on the beaches of Mozambique.
In Europe, well, there are too many to name (I admit to being a Europhile). Greece and Turkey (yes, most of Turkey is in Asia, but it kind of straddles both continents) are high on the list of to see, though if I could go to Italy or Spain again, I would jump at the chance. I also don’t think that any traveler’s adventures are complete without a trip to St. Petersburg or Moscow.
In the Middle East and Asia, just a few places really catch my interest. Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s attempt to build a sustainable city in the desert, is one of them. I would also like to see Beirut and maybe Riyadh. Moving farther east, a stop in India is a high priority, as is a stop (or several) in Thailand. Some good friends live there, and they would be able to show me the non-touristy side of the country. It would be a wonderful reunion to see them.
If I could somehow get into North Korea, I would like to see that country too. Visiting a country that has been so isolated from the rest of the world for the last 50 years would be fascinating. I just read Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick, and the stories were heart-wrenching. A trip there would give me lots to write about.
Completing the round-the-world wishful tour, I hope to visit Newfoundland, Canada and Mexico City. If I could get to Havana that would be great too. I once took a few voice lessons from a man who had defected from Cuba and he told me that the beaches there are unbelievably beautiful. Havana almost has a mythical status as a place trapped in time. I want to see if the myth in my mind matches reality. In the U.S., I have yet to see Washington, D.C., New Orleans and the Grand Canyon.
After dancing around the question for a couple pages, it is time to pick one spot. I am going to pick Turkey. I just finished reading an article in National Geographic about a place called Göbekli Tepe, where for the last couple decades, archaeologists have been excavating a religious site that dates back about 12,000 years, before the development of agriculture. The site is changing our understanding of the rise of civilization, and it would be a great place to see. In addition, I also want to visit the hot springs of Pamukkale, a World Hertiage site of stunning pools on white cliffs. The capital city of Istanbul, formerly Constantinople and before that, Byzantium, straddles the Bosphorous and is where East meets West. Many of the foundations of western civilization were formed there. Some friends of mine just returned from Turkey, and they had a fabulous trip. I’m sure I would too.
To answer the second part of the question (what am I doing to make it happen), I would have to say that I am working toward becoming location independent, so that I can be flexible with traveling dates and take advantage of travel deals. Digital communications technology has made this possible for many people, and someday you might find me working from a hotel room in Rio, or at a café in Venice. You never know. That’s what I’m trying to do. Implementation of the plan is the hard part.
I’ll also have to pick a deadline to see the country. Otherwise, I might keep putting it off. Deadlines are great that way, especially if you make them public. How about this—anyone want to meet up in Istanbul in September 2013? That gives us a couple years to arrange the trip and make sure it happens.
If you have made it through all of this rambling, thank you. Hopefully, you have come up with your own answer to the question. If you have a destination in mind, please, please (yes, I’m groveling a little) share the place that you want to visit. Leaving a comment is pretty painless, and I would love to hear some of your ideas. If you want to wait until tomorrow, though, that’s fine. I don’t want you to lose any sleep.