With so many destinations to choose and a wide-open schedule, how do you decide where to go?
It took a while to think about where to start, where to go and how ambitious the trip should be. So, the starting point assumed unlimited funds and time, with the added constraints of moving across every time zone without doubling back and only visiting places I’ve not yet been. Not that I actually have unlimited time or funds, but I had to figure out what drew my interest the most.
Starting from New York, I thought to first stop in San Francisco to visit friends Josh and Helene, on to Fiji, the Philippines to visit Jenny, down to Sydney to visit my Aussie pals, up to the Great Barrier Reef and then overland to Darwin, from where I would catch a ferry to Indonesia so I could visit Bali and catch up with my old buddy, Josh. Here, in my imaginary itinerary, I encountered an obstacle. If I didn’t double back, I couldn’t very well visit an old high-school buddy in Singapore, as well as hit Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Ah, well.
I am fascinated by the idea of getting off the beaten track, to see non-Western cultures, to move out of my comfort zone and, most of all, to gain a greater understanding of the world at large. Naturally, I am intrigued by Burma and thought it might be interesting to travel through it if the military junta would allow it.
Then, I came across the out-of-print Lonely Planet guide, “Istanbul to Katmandhu,” which sparked the imagination anew. Reversing that overland journey, I imagined winding my way to Nepal and down to India, where I might spend a month. If I could make it into Pakistan and Iran — both of them cultures I find to be warm and welcoming — I’d likely have an easier time getting through Turkey. From there, I could stay at my uncle’s home in Kineta Beach, about an hour outside of Athens, and plan a Cairo jaunt.
Since I’ve never been to Italy, that would be next on the way north through Innsbruck, Munich, Prague, Berlin and on to Copenhagen to visit my cousin, her husband and their baby, who I haven’t met. I’d make my way to Edinburg, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin, where I would see another high-school friend. Finally, I’d see Iceland before heading back to New York.
Of course, this is an absolute best-case scenario.
Next, reality intrudes.