I've been staring at my well-worn copy of the Scholastic New Headline World Atlas a lot lately, trying to decide where to go for the long Easter weekend at the end of March (most Europeans get Friday and Monday off--thank you, Easter Bunny!)
I have the 2005 edition. I've had it for so long I'm pretty sure I bought it at Borders, which no longer exists. There are four new countries that aren't even in here: South Sudan, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Montenegro was actually one of the options I considered for the long weekend. There's a certain art to picking a four-day destination, after all. In my mind, it needs to be far enough away that you couldn't just go for a regular weekend (which is why I won't be going to Bristol, or Brighton). But it can't be SO far that I'll spend half the four days getting there and back (So, Asia and South America are out). It can't be somewhere I've been too recently (Geneva, Venice, Madrid). And, realities being what they are, it can't be too expensive, which on a holiday weekend rules out...a lot.
My sister and I were on the phone a few days ago, looking at possibilities to travel to together. "Let me consult the atlas," I must have said 50,000 times.
Malta? Not warm enough in March.
Munich? I've been fairly recently.
Malaga? She's been fairly recently.
Finally, I've had to laugh it off. This is pretty much an exemplification of a first-world problem. No matter where I go, even if it ends up being a staycation here in London, I'm pretty damn lucky. There are just so many places to see and visit, and I've got plenty of the best ones left to chip away at. Just on the one European page, there are 16 countries I've never been to:
Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
That's a lot! That's probably more than the ones I HAVE been to! And even if I go somewhere I have been before, there's still so much to be seen and done. One of the best months of my life was July 2014, when I spent four weeks traveling around Switzerland, to places I'd never been to before, despite growing up in the same country. Another one of my favorite trips was in May 2009, when I drove across the U.S. by myself, through places like Oklahoma and Arkansas that I've never seen before or since. There's just SO MUCH out there.
So I reckon my trusty atlas and I still have some work to do, no matter what. Off we go.