Sunday, January 08, 2006

942 left to go...

It's been a grey, rainy and thoroughly stereotypical day in Free Yorkshire (protectorate of the slightly larger United Kingdom of Great Britain). The streets are quiet, the peasants (this one certainly) are restless and time in the afternoon is measured by the frequency of drips from the windowsill.

On such days, if I'm battened down I can't find anything better to do then I'll generally end up indulging in some armchair travel; be it perusing a guidebook, old photos or in today's case sitting down with pen and paper and ticking off things from a great book called '1000 Places To See Before You Die'. Granted we all seem to measure various aspects of our life more and more by lists, charts and things these days, but for me there's something fundamental about a list of Earth's most amazing places. So many people hold their faith dear, and I respect that completely, (I'm merrily agnostic still) but a list like this particular '1000 Best' reminds me why I'm alive.

But let me climb down off my soapbox here, the tome I preach from isn't without it's flaws. For a start it's written by an American author and is thus very much skewed towards that part of the world. Also, though the author states that the list isn't definitive, and is merely the point of view of her and her contributors, glaring omissions can be spotted; for instance, no Auschwitz? But otherwise there's the obvious, and not so obvious on the list - Niagra Falls, Everest, The Great Wall Of China and Pike Place Market in Seattle (which I can vouch for!).

Anyway, I digress. By my last count (er, this afternoon) it seems I have seen 58 off this particular list. So, simple maths means 942 left to go. For a rabid travel junkie that’s a solid start, and I confidently aim to top 100 within this lifetime.

Whilst I’m on the subject, I’m happy to report I do have another trip lined imminently. This time in a fortnight I should be hopefully arriving at a hostel in Prague (Czech Republic). Since I’m going to be embarking on a huge change of career-direction at the end of the season, I decided a while back to book a plane ticket once more, step on a plane and loose myself in the lure of another foreign city. Prague is still one of Europe’s hot destinations, but I’m betting that with visiting in the ‘off’ season and forgoing the weekends, I should hopefully dodge most of the invading ‘stag’ parties that notoriously paint the city centers with vomit. I find there’s nothing more annoying and embarrassing when traveling to find one’s own countrymen inebriated, abroad. January is an ‘off’ month for good reason – it’s bloody freezing by all accounts, daytime temperatures ranging from a balmy 0 deg C to –10. But I’m also told that mid-winter is when Prague is at her most beautiful.

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