I have a confession to make… I have never in my life left the UK. This usually is greeted with shock and pity whenever I admit it, but that’s the tragic truth. In my and my family’s defence, I’ve seen an awful lot of the UK: I’ve at least passed through most major cities, seen a massive amount of the Scottish highlands and made a few ventures into Wales – though I’ve yet to tackle Northern Ireland. (I suppose that would be another benefit to Scotland becoming independent – these places would suddenly count as ‘abroad’!) But with respect to all the individual cultures within our country,and I know personally how far these can differ, what I really want is to explore the cultures, landscapes, wildlife and history of other countries.
So I’ve compiled a list of the countries in the world I would like to visit, presented in map form:
Okay, I appreciate there are problems here… North Korea and Iran would be challenging to get into, and since I don’t have a death wish countries like Syria, Mali and Afghanistan may have to wait. I may voluntarily miss out the Vatican.
Joking aside, I really would like the opportunity to visit as many foreign countries as I can, but I have narrowed them down to places which I shall focus on first:
- Canada. Similar culture, same language, less insane than various elements of the USA – should feel fairly at home here! I’ve been told Vancouver would be a great place to start, and I would also love to explore some of the more far flung northern provinces.
- France. I speak basic French, though would need to seriously brush up on it. There are so many parts of France worth visiting, from the typical tourist spots in Paris to the cornfields and castles of Provence, from visiting the fields of the First World War to the Alps.
- South Africa. I still can’t put my finger on why, but I have a slight obsession with this country. I think I’m in awe of the astounding progress which has been made since Apartheid, despite failings the government may currently have. Feels like an accessible country to start my explorations of Africa with, due to the use of English and my knowledge of the country. My only concern is that the country could potentially, in a worst case scenario, slide further and further into corruption and intolerance and may not become the safest place for a European to visit.
- Egypt. There’s so much! The history angle would dominate, obviously, with the pyramids and tombs and ancient cities. But also more recent history; how fascinating it would be to walk across Tahrir Square and know the victories which had been won there – a symbol for the ongoing battle for freedom.
- Japan. This would be the most difficult by far. Completely alien language and script, alien culture, alien social norms, alien technology! These factors make Japan all the more appealing, but I know I would struggle and definitely could not go alone; the culture shock would be enormous. Yet Japan seems such a beautifully rich and diverse country, I have to visit it at least once in my lifetime.
One other significant plan I have is to look into the various railway deals offered in Europe which travel through a variety of countries, offering a chance to experience a multitude of cultures and scenery without having to plan each journey individually. I’m not sure these still exist – I hope so!
If – no, when – I travel to these countries, I hope to update this blog accordingly with my experiences.