Before I die

One of my favorite books of all time is Patricia Schultz' 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Not because it's great literature, but because it helps me keep track of the places I've been, and the little vicarious thrills I get just thinking about traveling to new places.

My high school friend Dawn gave it to me way back at Christmas 2006, when I visited her in Chicago. She had a copy too, and we agreed that we'd both flick through our respective copies and come up with somewhere to travel together by the same time next year. 

We were in our early 20s, both living in expensive cities (I was in New York City), with little income to spare. And yet, that following September, we spent two weeks roaming around China. We strolled the Great Wall, sailed the Li river, marveled at the Terracotta Army, and gaped at the Potala Palace in Tibet. It was my first time in Asia, and I'll never forget it.

Since then I have been faithfully folding over the pages of the places I've visited, and jotting down when I've been. The most recent were The Book of Kells in Dublin, and Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland: March 2016. Flipping back through, it conjures up so many memories: The Acropolis in Athens in November 2013; the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in July 2013; Savannah's Historic District in January 2008; the Great Pyramids of Giza in December 2009. And so on. Each folded page brings back an "oh, yeah" moment, and a reminder that I've been unbelievably lucky to see so many places already -- and yet have so many left to go.

A lot of places are missing from my first edition of the book. There is no Dubrovnik, no Burano, no Bagan. So it's by no means exhaustive. Still, it helps me get a good sense of the major areas I'd still love to go. There are two main parts of the world I have yet to set foot in: South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. I'm hoping to check one of them off my bucket list this year.

Or there's always next year. What a big world it is out there. I don't think I'll be able to die for quite some time--there's just too much to see.