Category: Listables

Archie Travels
Archie SpecialListables

22 Countries Visited: Been There, Done That!

 

No no, not showing off at all; because trust me, after counting the number of countries I have traveled to already, I’ve only realized what a minuscule part of this Planet I have witnessed and there is so much more to do, so much more to see, so many places to experience and so much to observe, enjoy and errr… blog about 🙂

22 countries I have visited so far! #Globetrotter #TravelwithArchie @archanackapoor Click To Tweet

As usual I was browsing through the internet. I wanted to get a list of the exact number of countries that I had traveled to and to make a bucket list of those that are on my ‘immediate and important’ bucket list; when I stumbled upon an interesting quiz which gave me my number – 22/200 (assuming 200 is correct). Sigh… that’s hardly a number to boast about but nevertheless, it puts me somewhere on somebody’s list of the most traveled people in the world. Guess what, I also have a rank!!! I am in the top 59% bracket having completed 11% of traveling the globe and the rank is…  #80,642 of 137,148 users who have taken this quiz!! Ofcourse I am way below the average score of 15%, but I am happy nonetheless. Especially when I hear about people who have never stepped out of their hometowns!

Here’s my list of countries and a little something about what I liked about each one:

Austria – I call this this the virgin country. There is so much to Austria – the vistas, the beauty and my favorite – the mountains. My most loved place in Austria was Salzburg, where I witnessed human chess for the first time and my aspiration is to visit Innsbruck someday. Pretty and how!

Human chess in Salzburg

Belgium – Though I was very excited to visit Antwerp – the diamond capital of the world (what with being a solitaire digger and dreaming of pink diamonds all day), time did not permit it in that visit. So Brussels it was, and it was undoubtedly an amazing place to be in. Quaint, modern, yet had the old-town look and feel. My aspirations here are Bruges (have heard about it from so many friends and seen it in pictures) and Charleroi.

Bruges

Canada – People say that Canadians are much better and warmer folks than the Americans. Though I have never felt the difference, yes Canadians are nice people. I have frequently visited Toronto, Niagara and Montreal. Montreal being my all-time favorite, what with the French connection. I am looking forward to visiting Vancouver and Edmonton because a dear friend lives there.

City of Vancouver

City of Vancouver

China – I really never thought I may end up visiting China someday. To be honest it sounded very far-fetched to me. But the fascination of experiencing the Wonders of the World took me there. Joy knew no bounds for me when I visited the Great Wall. More coming up on it soon. So Beijing it was and I did enjoy being in the city. Though it is very concrete it still has some bits of its old world charm and walking the streets was fun. Hongkong and Macau ofcourse – that was my honeymoon trip and you could read more about it here: Hopping on and off the HoHo Bus while Honeymooning in Hong Kong

Shanghai from an amazing angle

Shanghai from an amazing angle

My bucket list? Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Zhangjiajie in Hunan for it houses the absolutely wonder – the Floating Mountains. You could read more about it here.

England – During childhood days, visiting England was a crazy fascination which I am very sure is true for a lot of Indians, thanks to the 200 year-long British raj. So when I did get an opportunity to visit Great Britain I was really overwhelmed. Seeing London was almost like a dream come true that time. Though it was fossil years back and I don’t remember much of what I saw, my joie-de-vivre of that trip was going to Stonehenge. Now that is an inexplicable feeling my friends!

Stonehenge

France – My first trip abroad was to the United States (again – fossil years back) via Paris. So I can proudly claim that I set footprints in France the first time I ever stepped out of my country. I can go on and on about France because I eventually also ended up studying at the INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau (an hour’s drive from Paris). But my favorites here are Paris obviously and Avignon – an old city that used to be the seat of the Pope long time back. There’s much to do in France despite having done a lot and naming cities would be a futile exercise because I want to do it all (did I hear someone say ‘Travel Greed?’ Oh well).  As for my love of the Eiffel Tower, well read it here.

Louvre museum in Paris

Louvre museum in Paris

Germany – Munich was a lovely place to be in and so was Frankfurt. Though I didn’t find Germany to be the most amazing place I have visited in terms of being picturesque, it does have a charm of its own. Munich was fun. It has some lovely places and I especially liked the road-side cafes and the festive atmosphere there. On my bucket list are Berlin, Dusseldorf and Hanover.

The skyline in Frankfurt

The skyline in Frankfurt

India – Much that I have seen of my country and proudly so, there is so much that I haven’t. So to be honest, I have barely scratched the surface. India as a geography has so much to offer. Every state is different, every city has its own stellar history, importance and beautiful places to see; and the culture and cuisine of each one is so much to write home about. My favorites here are Mumbai (I am from Mumbai folks so this one was an obvious choice), Delhi (my husband hails from here, do I want to get killed by not mentioning this one?), Ranthambore – the tiger city, Kochi – God’s won country, Kanha – oh the tiger calls out again, Kulpahar (my hometown), Patiala (the shopping!!!!), Goa (beaches and party!!!!) and Allahabad (I recently learnt that there is so much more to this city than just the Ganges). Do read this one about Ranthambore too.

Ganga aarti in Varanasi

Ganga aarti in Varanasi

My bucket list?! Well, I’d be silly to draw up one for India. I want to do every nook and corner of my country if God, time, money and energy permit.

Iran – So there was this one time when I was flying back from the US to India. I knew there were about 2 – 3 hours more to go. I was drowsy yet was trying to keep a track of time, when suddenly I felt that the aircraft started descending. I thought I was just too sleepy, but I checked the map on my video screen and indeed we were about to land in Zahedan meaning pious, a city in Iran. Well, that was my brush with Iran. But atleast I set footprints there and that’s how it figures on my list. While I was scared to death wondering if we were facing a hostage situation, but it was a medical emergency and we took off in about 45 minutes.

Iran's Holy City

Iran’s Holy City

Indonesia – The beautiful Bintan Island – part of Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago in the South China Sea is an amazing place to relax and enjoy tranquility and serenity. It’s a cool and short boat ride away from Singapore and that’s how I reached there. It is an amazing resort destination meant to have fun and nothing else, what with such gorgeous beaches. I also had the opportunity of making a quick day trip to Tanjung Pinang which is to the south of Bintan. It has Dutch colonial architecture and a rich history as a trade port.

Sunset in Bali

Sunset in Bali

On my wish list in Indonesia?? Bali!!!!!! Now, isn’t that an obvious choice?

Italy – Had been on my mind for years and when I visited it I left no stone un-turned in doing as much as time, money and energy could allow me. My top favorites in Italy are Rome, Venice, Pisa and Milan. This is one country which is going to keep calling me again and again for years to come what with my love for beautiful structures – The Colosseum and the Leaning Tower.

Brescia Italy

Brescia Italy

There is a lot more to Italy than what I have already seen and I hope someday I will be able to visit every little nook and corner of this amazing country. No point just naming a few places. A word of caution – people here drive like crazy, so if you are in a car be careful. I’ve stood on bridges and observed this and it made me go, “whoaaaa, slow down buddy!!”

Luxembourg – To be honest I haven’t seen much of this place other than stopping by for lunch enroute Frankfurt from Calais in France. The place has an incredibly artistic and diverse history and I would love to revisit it to see some of the attractions like the famous markets there and the Grand Ducal Palace. Driving is best in this country as 90 minutes is all it takes to drive from one corner to the other.

Luxembourg at night

Luxembourg at night

Malaysia – Another country that will keep calling me back because of the imposing Petronas. My love for brilliant architecture is known for and this is something that will keep coming up everywhere. I had seen Entrapment and was dying to see the Petronas Towers in person. Luckily my hotel was just at a stone’s throw from the towers and I saw it morning and evening from my hotel window. What a breath-taking view it was. Ofcourse there’s a lot more to Kuala Lumpur and what I enjoyed most was shopping at the local Malaysian markets. I could never have imagined bargaining down to less than 50% of what the sellers quoted there. Blame it on my Indian genes, but I got away with it. Ofcourse, Genting Highlands was super for doing a day’s trip!

Batu Caves Temple, Kuala Lumpur

Batu Caves Temple, Kuala Lumpur

I want to travel to Malaysia again with lots of time on hand because there isn’t a single place I want to miss out on. Places that feature on top of my list though are Malacca, Kota Kinabalu and Petaling Jaya.

Netherlands – Amsterdam – one of the best places that I have visited. The city has some charm that will want to make you go back whenever you can make time. Love the transport system – whether it is the trains or the canal boats and the beautiful parks. They are amazing. What I enjoyed thoroughly was going to Madurodam – the miniature park and tourist attraction in the Scheveningen district of The Hague in the Netherlands which is home to a range of 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch landmarks, historical cities and large developments. It is a sight you cannot afford to miss. Places on my bucket list? Oh let’s not go there for I may give out the list of all cities in Netherlands.

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Singapore – There was a time when Singapore used to be a weekend shopping destination for me. I loved it to bits and I still do. Shoes in India hardly ever fit me and I used to find some or the other excuse to go back to Singy (as we used to popularly call the place when studying at INSEAD in the Singapore campus) and shop till I could literally drop. This is one place where I really understood the meaning of feeling safe. It is a clean, green and beautiful country which has a lot to offer. I have lost count of my Singapore visits but all I can say is that there are so many places that I still have to experience in this amazing country.

Singapore Night Safari

Singapore Night Safari

Spain – Spain equated joy for me. My first and only visit to Spain was when I was awarded to go on a scientific expedition with research scientists to do research on Spanish Dolphins which are becoming an extinct species. We were on sailing along the Mediterranean Coast from Malaga to Almeria. It was nearly 13 years back so I don’t remember too much from that trip, but what I distinctly remember is the beauty, the warmth and the stunning seas.

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

You can read about my Mediterranean experience here!

Switzerland – The less said the better and I mean that in a good way. I don’t think I or any other person can really put into words the stunning beauty of the Swiss Alps and Switzerland as a whole. I am simply speechless and awestruck when it comes to the charm of this alluring beauty. I have been to Geneva, Zurich, Bern, Lausanne, Lucerne, Grindelwald, Interlaken and a few other small towns. What I want to see other than the ones I named? Everything!

Grindelwald

Thailand – Just like Singapore, Thailand has been my weekend shopping destination. Don’t be too surprised because it is that was for a lot of people. Though Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket were places that I went to, Thailand is another place I want to see in entirety, especially its drop dead gorgeous beaches. Though I am more of a mountains person, I love beaches too. And those with white sands and green and blue waters simply take my breath away!

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Turkey – It’s been my stop-over country many times thanks to Turkish airlines and their great prices. I have flown via Istanbul many times. So just like Zahedan I have merely set footprints here and want to see the whole country before it becomes impossible and unsafe to travel there.

Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul at sunset

Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul at sunset

UAE – Well well, a place which I never really aspired to travel too, but the love for one of my besties made me to go to Dubai and trust me I loved every bit of it. The malls, attractions, desserts, dune-bashing, partying, meeting friends – all of it was superb. Dubai is such a wonderful place and I happy that I did not leave it out of my radar. I’ve done Abu Dhabi too thanks to my dear friend who drove us all the way. You could read about it here.

Panoramic view of Dubai

Panoramic view of Dubai

USA – What can I say about the country which I call home now. Having seen so much here there is always a lot more to explore in the United States. Just like India, every geography here is different and so much to offer. This is the best country for road trips as public transport isn’t very great. But it is so worth it. One can do 10 – 12 hour drives without batting an eyelid. And I am not exaggerating at all. The United States is a place which no one on this planet can afford to miss. Did I need to say that at all?

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Vatican City – The holy city, is it just a coincidence that my list ends with the Vatican? The Vatican holds so much of prominence that you wouldn’t want to miss it for anything. I don’t think I need to advocate about it. But yes, one thing apart from the amazing cathedral that I cannot forget is that I was appalled when I was asked to cover my legs there. I was wearing shorts and apparently they were a wee bit too short for getting into the Vatican. So I had to purchase a long scarf to wrap it around me like a wrap-around skirt. It’s only then that I was allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum.

St. Peter's Square - Vatican City

St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City

So, that was my list and some tid-bits about each country that I have visited. Which countries have you visited and what are some of the things that you loved about them? I’s love to hear!

P.S. – Do make time to do this quiz. It’s fun!

Sharing some of my own pictures in these wonderful places!

With the imposing Petronas Towers

With the imposing Petronas Towers

With my amazing friend - The Eiffel Tower

With my amazing friend – The Eiffel Tower

Holding the Burj-Al-Arab with two fingers

Holding the Burj-Al-Arab with two fingers

With Italian Military in Rome

With Italian Military in Rome

Shopping at Orchard Road, Singapore

Shopping at Orchard Road, Singapore

That's the Great Wall of China right behind me

That’s the Great Wall of China right behind me

Aha, need I introduce the gentleman?

Aha, need I introduce the gentleman?

On the ship with a fellow researcher and crew member on the Mediterranean

On the ship with a fellow researcher and crew member on the Mediterranean

With the Hong Kong skyline

With the Hong Kong skyline

Posing in the clear waters in Maya Bay, Phuket

Posing in the clear waters in Maya Bay, Phuket

On the ship on Grand Canal, Venice

On the ship on Grand Canal, Venice

Love, Archie

Image Credits: Human Chess, Bruges, Grindelwald, Stonehenge, Frankfurt Skyline, Bali sunset, Süleymaniye Mosque – Istanbul, Luxembourg, Iran, Vancouver, Shanghai, Louvre, Ganga aarti in VaranasiBrescia Italy, Batu Caves – Kuala LumpurRotterdam in NetherlandsSingapore Night SafariBarcelona Cathedral, Bangkok, Dubai, Grand Canyon – ArizonaSt. Peter’s Square – Vatican City

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