There’s been a lot of talk on twitter and in the travel community about counting countries. Personally I like the idea of counting countries. It pushes me to explore places I might not consider otherwise, and gets me out of my comfort zone. I’m a very goal orientated person and as long as I don’t let my counting take over from my travelling experience I see no problem with it.
But I can also see why some people may disagree and dislike the whole concept. They prefer to focus on travelling slower and deeper. Getting to know a place enough to truly call themselves an expert.
I think it’s all about balance. One thing I hope we can definitely all agree on is that neither opinion makes you a ‘better’ traveller. You are not superior because you’ve been to 30 countries as opposed to someone’s 15. But equally spending a month in one country while someone else visits 3 does not make their experience any less valid.
So with all that going on around me, it got me thinking about all the countries on my own list. There are so many places I’ve always wanted to go back to. Places I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of yet and places I would jump at a chance to explore more of. So here’s my bucket list of countries I want to go back to.
Let’s start big shall we?
America is the one place I’m always unsure of whether I can count in my list of countries or not. Yes I know that sounds crazy. You’ve either visited a country or you haven’t right? But hear me out.
When I was 6 years old my parents decide to truly spoil me and my sister and took us on an all-inclusive holiday to Walt Disney World in Florida. So yes, while I did spend 2 magical weeks in America they were confined to the crazy world of Disney. 6-year-old me had the time of her life (despite a serious fear of roller-coasters and my paler than pale skin not coping with the Florida sun) but I’m always left wondering what to tell people. I haven’t exactly travelled America but I have technically visited the country. Is that enough to warrant a tick on my list? I just don’t know?
I have wanted to go back for soooo long. New York has always been top of my list (hello Broadway…) but me and Mark are determined to drive route 66 when we’re older! I’m also a little bit in love with California and would love to go there as well. America has always appeared to be this massive, crazy country, full to bursting with different cultures and amazing people. I’d love nothing more than to go explore and see what all the fuss is really about.
2. Cape Town, South Africa
I was incredibly lucky to visit Cape Town with my school on a Music and Dance tour in 2013. At only 16 years old it was the first time I’d flown anywhere without my parents. And, although I was pretty nervous beforehand, I completely and utterly fell in love with the city. In all honesty I think this trip is what kick started my desire to see the world!
Cape Town exceeded all expectations I had. Because it was a school trip I had no need to do any planning so I went no really knowing what my time was going to be like. In some ways I think that made the experience have an even bigger impact on me.
Everything about the city amazed me. It has some of the most incredible views and scenery, I can’t look back at a picture of table mountain without being in awe. But the people are what make Cape Town. Everywhere we went I felt truly welcome. And to top everything off they even have penguins!
I am determined to head back in the not too distant future and hopefully be reminded of exactly why I fell in love with Cape Town to begin with.
My time in Romania was the most incredible and life changing trip I’ve ever been on. Once again it was a trip I went on with my school. It happened just a few months after Cape Town, when I was 17. We went there to volunteer at an Orphanage called Little John’s House in the small town of Cisnadioara near to Sibiu. I could write a whole post on Little John’s and why it is the most amazing place but for now if you wish to know more please visit their website.
During my two weeks I spent plenty of time exploring both Cisnadioara and Sibiu, as well as spending a weekend in Brasov in the Transylvania region. Once again I fell totally in love with Romania. I’d never heard anything about it before I went so had no real expectations and was maybe a bit apprehensive, but I actually loved how un-touristy it felt. At the same time I never felt unwelcome or unsafe. The people of Romania are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met.
I’d love the chance to be able to go back and explore more on my own terms. When I went before I was so young I didn’t quite have that ‘let’s stroll through this strange city and see what happens’ mentality that I do now. Me and my friends actually went to burger king for lunch in Brasov because we just didn’t have the confidence to try somewhere new!
Romania is definitely somewhere that should be on everyone’s bucket list – or at least I think it should be! It’s a country full of rich culture, incredible sights and really lovely people.
4. Paris, France
France was my first city break and my first time leaving the country without my parents. I was 14 and once again on a school trip. (Definitely a pattern…) We went by ferry and even though it was a really early start I remember being super excited as we crossed the English Channel into France.
Despite that excitement I don’t actually have any recollection of whether I even liked Paris? I remember really enjoying my time away, but I think that I had more to do with the fact I was on holiday with my best friends than the city I was in.
My teacher took us to all the normal sights; the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, but I can’t remember being blown away by any of it. I can’t even remember what my actual feelings were about anything I saw.
Because of this whole feelings of nothingness I have towards Paris I’ve never particularly wanted to go back, but I think that’s really unfair on the so-called City of Love. Maybe I was too young to appreciate it. Maybe the whole regimented structure of a school trip kinda ruined the experience. Maybe Paris is actually just very underwhelming. Either way I should probably re-visit so I know once and for all.
5. Mainland Spain
I’ve actually been on holiday to mainland Spain three times in the last 4 years. Mark’s parents have a villa on the south-east coast near Murcia, so we tend to go for a couple of weeks in the summer to catch some sun and escape the UK for a bit. The only problem is the villa is on a golf resort in practically the middle of nowhere.
Since the whole idea of going to the villa is that it makes the holiday incredibly cheap, we’ve never hired a car while we’ve been out there. So apart from a small amount of time spent in a quite little (and quite touristy) town, I can’t really say I’ve explored Spain, let alone experienced any actual Spanish culture!
For a place that’s quite close to England, is cheap to get to and that I’ve actually been to multiple times, there’s just no good reason for me to say that.
Luckily, both Barcelona and Madrid are on mine and Mark’s inter-rail route for the summer. So it won’t be long before I can tick that box and say I’ve explored properly.
So there it is, 5 places I the world I want to go back to. What about you, is there anywhere you’re dying to go back to? And if you want to find out all the new places that are currently on my bucket list please have a look, it’s right here.
*I didn’t really want to get into the whole counting countries debate but if you’re interested I found both of these really interesting;
For counting countries: Danielle @ While I’m Young
Against counting countries: Emily @ Emily Luxton Travels