Celebrating the publishing of my new travelogue Planes Trains & Sinking Boats I am continuing my countdown of top 100 list of places I want (and wanted) to see when I was a student. If you missed the countdown so far you can click on the links to read 100-91, 90-81 , 80-71 here and 70-61 here. 60 – 51 50-41 here. Finally 40-31 here.
We’re getting down to the business end of the list now. It’s getting more and more heavy in my personal areas of interest though I would day at least a third of the top 30 are probably popular with everyone.
One thing I have listed at all is actual touring journeys. I’m a big believer that getting there is half the fun which is handy since I don’t really fly. Living in Britain, for anyone who lives towards the south-east of England, it is hard to do a car journey of more than 12-15 hours on the main island though visiting far-flung islands or promontories such as Cornwall could certainly take longer depending on where you live. However, I have always really loved overland tours and have seen much of Europe and other areas this way.
There are some epic trips I would very much like to do such as London to Cape Town by road or what passes for road, the Orient Express to Istanbul, Route 66 across America and the pacific highway route from Alaska to the bottom of Argentina.
Increasingly I’ve wanted to do a world cruise, a great way to superficially visit several places that I’d really like to see but my most must-do visit would be a great overland trip either from London to Australia by bus or truck, some of which go via Africa and take over a year. others go more direct and take just half that time. Number one by far though would be to go overland across from London to Beijing. Obviously you could go the easy way on the Trans Siberian Express (which is also an epic journey I’d like to do) but I’d prefer to go through more countries and go by foot, local train, bus or taxi. Off the top of my head the trip goes from England – France – Belgium – Germany – Austria – Hungary – Romania – Bulgaria – Turkey – Iran – Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Kyrgyzstan – Kazakstan – Mongolia – China and is one of many variations of The Silk Road.
It helps that I don’t very easily get bored when travelling or anything else. I always have lots going on in my head and can also enjoy just sitting doing nothing for hour after hour whether in the heat or the rain, after all it is better than being at work.
30 Damascus – Currently Damascus is something of a no-go area to tourists which is a shame for this is one of the worlds oldest continually inhabited cities. There is a wealth of things to see here and I was just a few months from going here before the current war broke out. The Old City has to be the place to be with so much history to see. The Ummayad Mosque said to contain the head of St. John The Baptist. There is also the wonderful old Souq and the Mausoleum of Saladin just for starters. Lets hope that there is something to see when peace returns to this ancient country.
29 Shibam Though visiting Yemen might not be high on most peoples agendas and of those that do many would go to the capital at San’aa. For me though I want to see the Manhattan of the Sands. Not Dubai but a sea-front with tall buildings, almost skyscrapers, made out of sand and mud!
28 Aleppo is the biggest city in Syria and was for centuries the 3rd most largest city in The Ottoman Empire after Istanbul and Cairo. I’ve wanted to go there for about 20 years when learning about The Mongols at University. There is a huge castle there and in the dried up moat are the giant boulders fired from Mongol catapults against the walls… 800 years later.
27 St Petersburg. The first really world-beater place on my list that I haven’t yet visited. The home of imperial Russia with the most magnificent arts and buildings, this is a place I really want to see.
26 Ethiopia – Lots of people are always surprised when I say that one of the places I most want to visit is Ethiopia, a country so often portrayed for droughts and famines. Millenia ago however, Ethiopia saw the counstruction of some of the most amazing monuments and churches. Churches carved out of rock and others perched on top of cliff edges with the most wonderful painted roofs. Also home to an ancient Jewish offshoot which us maybe why it is said that the church in Axium is home of The Ark of The Covenant from Moses fame… and Raiders of The Lost Ark for less religious readers. However, no-one is allowed in to this church to see the ark except for its guardian and going by how quickly these holy men die in its presence, if the Ark is still there, it obviously still possesses its great power.
25 Washington. Great to see all of the famous attractions and monuments that keep getting blown up in the movies by terrorists and aliens. Especially to see The White House, The Washington Memorial and Lincoln Memorial.
24 Macchu Piccu, hidden atop the mountains, this lost city of the Incas is just the main Inca attraction that I’d like to see. Getting to the vicinty is just half of the problem as numbers of people reaching the summit are strictly controlled and with the city often shrouded in mist, heart-stopping views are not guaranteed which is maybe what makes it an even more special place than it would otherwise be.
23 Jerusalem. Another one of those great old cities that I love so much. This one though is obviously very special as half of the world wants to visit here. Get lost in the Old City, see the various old churches and especially The Church of The Holy Sepulchre, The Wailing Wall and The Dome of The Rock.
22 Crac de Chevallier . Built by the Christian Crusaders 1,000 years ago. This is a castle on a massive scale with huge walls and commanding views over the countryside. Recently it has been damaged by the Syrian civil war but having seen off many tyrants in its time, hopefully it will still be there after the war.
21 Oman. Oman is a fascinating place. Next to Saudi Arabia but very open to visitors and with mountains, heavy rains and unique wildlife. Also home to some amazing old Islamic architecture. Whereas Dubai is the must see destination in the area, sorry for me I don’t do modern and I’m happy to put that on Twitter.
Remember, I am running a competition to win a copy of my new travelogue Planes, Trains & Sinking Boats. The book is available on Kindle from all the Amazon UK USA sites and will very shortly be available on the Apple iTunes iBookshelf for use with iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads. A paperback edition is for sale at Lulu and on Amazon USA and Amazon UK and worldwide.
The reader who can guess what is number 1 on my list will receive a free signed paperback copy of Planes, Trains and Sinking Boats. If no-one can guess number 1 then the person whose guess is highest on my list will receive a free e-book. Send me an email with your guess or leave a guess in the comments below. There have been lots of good guesses so far!
For the next 100 days anyone who follows my blog and purchases either Let Me Help or Planes, Trains and Sinking Boats on Amazon Kindle or in E-book format from Lulu or iTunes iBooks then I will send you a free E-book of the other title, just email me a screen dump proof of purchase.
Also, anyone who purchases a paperback copy of Let Me Help in the next 100 days and sends me proof of purchase I will send a free e-book format book to you. I would ask that if you buy Let Me Help, you buy it from either Lulu or the more expensive copy on Amazon as the cheaper copy provides me with no royalties as the Publisher has now closed.