I've come across this Visited Countries Map on various blogs, a great idea and amazing to see how little I've travelled (when I thought I'd travelled a lot). Ask most people what they would do if they won the lottery, the typical answer would usually be: buy a big house with a gym and pool, buy a new car etc. How boring is that? I can't think of anything better than leaving it all behind to travel the world. I'd love to be able to visit every country in the world before I die but, alas, I guess that's an impossibility unless I win the lottery tomorrow. I love visiting new countries. I can't think of anything more exciting than seeing new places, sampling new food and discovering new cultures.
Here are the countries I've visited:
Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland,Thailand, Australia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Oman, The Vatican (the smallest independent state) and San Marino (the world's second smallest republic). Sixteen countries sounds pretty impressive I must admit, but it amounts to a mere tiny 6% of the world. I won't bore you with the details of every country so I'm going to outline a few trips which really stand out for me:
First trip abroad - Lyon, France
My first trip abroad was actually Italy but at 6 months old I was too young to remember so we'll turn to France's capital of gastronomy where I spent two weeks whilst studying for my A-Level. It was my first time away from my family for a long period and was a fantastic experience (apart from the distinct lack of hygiene from my host family). I worked as a waitress in a Pizzeria for a week which was superb and I'll never forget the chef's Creme Caramel which was to die for. I also experienced my first taste of Kronenbourg - I drank a mini keg on the ferry on the way home and remember feeling distinctly queasy.
By the time I came back I was fluent. Now I've forgotten most of it but can still remember the odd useful phrase like 'Quel pu!' and 'Ou est le sapone?'.
My favourite city - Siena, Italy
I was here on my ERASMUS year abroad for a year with my mate Toni. Two British students with a big appetite for drinking and socialising in the most beautiful city in the world - perfect! I think we attended about two lectures while we were there - most of the time the classrooms were spilling out into the corridors so we couldn't even get in - and all we had to do was a dissitation at the end about our experiences. We made loads of friends - Italians and English, and sampled all the bars, pizzerias and generally anywhere you could socialise. We went back in August for the famous Palio di Siena, the bareback horse race around the piazza which is probably one of the most amazing spectacles in Europe. Siena is even more special to me as my boyfriend Mike was also at the Palio at the same time, and this was before we even knew each other.
Country I most want to return to - Thailand
Maybe it was the culture shock with it being my first visit to a country outside of Europe, but the impact of the heat and humidity when I first went out of the air conditioned airport and the smell of Bangkok is something I'll never forget. I visited the temples of Bangkok, travelled north on the train and saw the bridge on the river Kwai, took a boat to a couple of the islands where I got my divers license. The sea was the most inviting blue I've ever seen, the vegetation luscious and green and in every city, the food was amazing.
Most special holiday - Poland
We went to Krakow and Warsaw for five days and was our first holiday together. Both cities are lovely in different ways. We spent our days walking around, exploring, visiting places including the Salt Mines of Krakow and always began our evenings the same way with a shot of Zubrowka before heading out for dinner to sample some hearty Polish food. Our trip is also memorable as we were there when the Pope died and witnessed a whole nation in mourning.
By the beginning of next year I'll be able to add Portugal to the list (as we are going in September) and hopefully Germany (with a trip to Berlin around Christmas time). Other countries I really want to visit are Japan and Brazil so I'd better start saving.
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