Theme Week: Top 10 Lists: Countries I've Been To

Welcome to my latest Theme Week:  Top 10 Lists.  As you can probably guess, each Theme Week post will consist of a Top 10 list, but the subject matter will vary widely from list to list.  I hope you enjoy reading the lists as much as I've enjoyed putting them together.

I'm a huge fan of traveling and over the years I've been quite fortunate to have been able to visit a fairly large number of countries.  Before I get too deep into my middle ages and my memory fails me, I thought it'd be fun to look at the Top 10 Countries that I've visited (not counting the United States since that is my home country nor Canada or Mexico because that seemed to go against the spirit of the rest of the list).  Whenever possible, I'll use cards from the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Flags of All Nations insert set to highlight the given country (however, some of the countries I don't yet own the corresponding flag card for while other countries weren't included in the 50 card set).  I hope you enjoy the list.

Top 10 Countries I've Been To:

#10:  England
England gets the "honor" of being the target of my first ever international trip abroad.  It was the summer after I graduated from undergrad and my wife (at that time, girlfriend) and I got to go as chaperones for a middle school gifted camp.  We spent most of our time in London but we did branch out to also see Lincoln (a personal favorite site of mine was the Lincoln Castle and Cathedral) as well as Stonehenge (kind of disappointing to be honest).  I wouldn't be opposed to going back to England (or any other site on my list) but I can't say that I'd necessarily choose England over most other potential travel destinations.

#9:  New Zealand
New Zealand was another country that I got to visit while working as a camp chaperone (you'll quickly see that's basically how I've traveled as much as I have)!  I enjoyed my time in New Zealand a lot, but the length of the flight to get there is reason enough that I may never return!

#8:  Slovakia
Another trip, another visit thanks to being a summer camp counselor.  We actually didn't get to see all that much in Slovakia but the country does get the distinction of being home to what is to this day the best lunch out that I've ever had.  It was a long day of travel in a bus and around lunchtime we stopped in a small town.  When traveling, I like to try and experience authentic foods rather than eat at tourist traps so my wife and I meandered as far away from the town square as we could.  We ended up finding a little place to eat in the basement of a shop - and since the restaurant had no English menus we figured that we were going to get as authentic an experience as we could.  In the end, both she and I simply pointed at a different meal and waited for the food to arrive.  I don't recall exactly what made up either of our meals but I do know that mine was so good I had to grit my teeth and share it with my wife (her meal selection was pretty terrible if I recall).  It's kind of a shame that I don't even know the name of the meal that I ordered...but in a weird way it makes it that much more exotic and that much more of a fun memory that can't really ever be ruined!

#7:  Australia

My visit to Australia was part of the same trip where we went to New Zealand (we also hit Hawaii on our way home).  In Australia, we only were in Sydney (for about a week) but there is so much to do in that city that even a week felt kind of short.  I loved my time there and loved the city a lot.  I'd also love to be able to visit Australia again and see some of the other major cities and sites around the country...but that darn plane ride is so intimidating.  It's so long and there's really no way to be comfortable riding in the back of the plane!

#6:  Hungary
Another country that I'd love to go back to is Hungary, a place that I didn't get to spend nearly enough time in during either of my two visits there.  In my pair of brief stays in the country, I've loved pretty much everything I've encountered, especially the food.  Oh the food, so good!

#5:  Czech Republic
If you are a country with great tasting food, there's a pretty good chance I'll want to visit.  The Czech food was amazing almost every single time I ate and that's reason enough to put them at #5 on my list.  I also found the countryside to be lovely and all of the people I encountered were super nice.

#4:  Italy

Of all the countries on the list, Italy is probably the country that I'm most familiar with having visited on three different occasions (including leading two travel classes full of college students there).  Most of my time in Italy has been spent in Rome (a great city that doesn't feel nearly as big as it is).  However, I've also visited Pompeii (fascinating), the Almalfi Coast (magical), Florence (meh), as well as little towns like Sorrento (a personal favorite).  Of course, I probably don't have to tell you that Italian food is also really, really good!

#2T:  Austria
#2T:  Germany


Yeah, coming in tied at #2 in my ranking is Austria and Germany.  As a person of German descent, I think I have a certain connection to Germany but Austria might actually be the better country to visit if I could only visit one place.  I love German food, German beer, and even German music and so any visit to Austria or Germany is sure to be a fun one for me.  I've been to each country twice already but I could easily see myself traveling there each year (or at least every other year) and not getting bored or tired of the culture.  Of course, I'd need a much better paying job than I what I have now to do that much traveling but a guy can dream, right?

#1:  Greece

Finally, we get to the #1 spot in my ranking and without a doubt it has to be Greece.  Now, not everything in Greece is nice (I kind of hate being in Athens actually) but if you leave Athens Greece quickly opens up to be a wonderful country full of people who want to make you feel at home.  Delphi (home of the famous oracle) is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been while the Greek Islands are where I'd live if I could move anywhere in the world.  I find Greek mythology fascinating and obviously there are a lot of sites around Greece that tie into that as well as truly historical sites such as where the first Olympic games were held.  Oh, and one little potential surprise:  I've done two trips now to Italy and Greece with my college students and after the trip is over I always poll them on which country they thought had better food.  You may be shocked to learn that the students actually favor Greece (albeit slightly) over Italy in the food category!

And there you have it, my Top 10 Countries that I've been to.  You may be surprised to see some countries not represented in my list (perhaps a place like France) but that may be because I've never been there.  Other countries I have been to (such as Spain) but visit was so brief that I didn't get to experience enough to definitively put the country in my Top 10.  You'll also notice my list is pretty heavy on European countries which is because that's mostly where I've traveled to.  I have done a couple of Caribbean cruises but on a cruise each stop in a country is only for a day at most and you are basically stuck in the most touristy sections of the country (not usually interesting to me)! 

Now it's your turn to tell me some of the best places you've visited.  I do have a few spots on my bucket list (Portugal, Spain again, Turkey, and Egypt all make the list as does Japan, China, and South Africa for various reasons).  One of my current students is Egyptian so she and I have been talking about her putting together a travel itinerary for my wife and I to do if we go visit her in a few years once she's moved back to her home country.  That'd be a lot of fun (and I'd be sure to get a true authentic experience)! 

With that said, where else might you recommend visiting?  Let me know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Countries I've been to:

    Well, you said Canada doesn't count. And neither does the U.S.

    So that means I've been to zero countries.

    I'm not much of a traveler -- at least not outside the U.S. It doesn't give me the buzz it seems to give traveling fanatics.

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    1. I mean, Canada counts but for the purposes of my Top 10 list my trips to Canada have been (mostly) shorter, either day trips or usually at most a single night stay. I didn't make it this year but in the past couple of years I've taken single night overnight trips up to Toronto to catch a baseball game (Toronto is roughly the same distance from my house as almost any other MLB stadium like Washington, Philly, or Pittsburgh).

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  2. Dang. That's a lot of countries. I've only been to Canada and Mexico... so I guess I'm in the same boat as Night Owl.

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    1. I've been lucky to have a series of jobs (mostly summer gigs) that gave me the opportunity to travel. Now I get to pay that forward a bit when taking college classes abroad. It's so much fun to watch students who have never traveled experience everything for the first time!

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  3. I can get to ten only if I count the US, Canada, and Mexico...AND countries where I’ve had airport layovers on my way to Singapore.

    Spain was good, and I had a wonderful one-day visit to England on a trip to Singapore (the one time I managed to leave the airport!

    Of course if you really like eating local foods, there’s no better place than here in Singapore! If you ever make it here I’ll be happy to take you to the best food hawkers.

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    1. That would be great! Singapore is definitely on my list of places that I think would be kind of amazing to visit.

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  4. I only dream of being able to make a top-ten list like this, but I'd only be able to come up with a couple (so far). Austria is beautiful, though.

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