I can remember the moment that my obsession with international travel began. I was 13 years year old and riding the Tube at rush hour to go to dinner at an Indian restaurant. I had walked dogs, baby sat screaming children, sold chocolate, and picked every bug off my mothers roses to pay to go on Mr. Van’s week long school trip to London. Standing there, on the rush hour train, I knew London was just the tip of the ice berg. I was hooked.
This passion/obsession has shaped the way I live my life. It colors the way I look at money. “Why buy that $400 pair of Fluevogs when that’s 2/3 a ticket to London?” It has filled my bookshelves with guide books, travel narratives, and atlases. It keeps the hamsters in my mind dreaming up new ways to see far away places.
On Friday, I crossed a river on the back of a motorcycle and crossed into my 30th country, Slovakia. Sadly, there was no passport stamp in it for me this time, the EU has taking that small piece of traveler joy out of the equation. The boarder crossing could have been easily missed.
On one side of the bridge the Hungarian crest bid us farewell, while on the other side the Slovakian crest welcomed us. With semis buzzing by, we pulled over to commemorate the occasion with a few pictures. Thirty countries, I just giggle to myself thinking of the next thirty.
Thirty countries, but how do you count them?
Everyone who plays the country counting game has different rules. About 5 years ago, Annetta and I defined our own rules. Our rules are stricter than the Traveler’s Century Club which calls Hawaii and Alaska their own country, and are looser than those who require a two nights stay in a country.
1) You must spend the night or at least 13 hours in the country.
2) Transit Countries don’t count.
3) Even if an other country “owns” it, it’s still a country.
4) If country boarders change, the same city, during two different years, can be counted as two countries
Ok, those are the rules, now here’s my list:
5) Costa Rica
7) Hong Kong
9) The Netherlands
14) Czech Republic