Tonight is my boss’s retirement party at age 83. The host of the party asked me to check in with him and see how many countries he has visited as a fun trivia question to ask at the party. He is well travelled giving talks around the world and has a passion for travel as well. He’s just lucky that often his travel is paid for. His response to the question was 43 countries. Wow, no I have not been to 43 countries, but it has prompted me to reflect and see how many countries I have actually been to being almost half of his age.
Here we go:
United States of America: This is where I was born and live. My life started in Indiana and more than half my life has been in California. The only other state that I have called home is New York.
Canada: I first visited here as a kid and later lived just 15 minutes from the Canadian border.
Mexico: I visited the border town of Tijuana from age 18 to go dancing and visit the bars. I also traveled here to do volunteer work painting and fixing up a Mexican orphanage.
England: I was super excited to travel across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time to the British Isles for my organized tour of Europe with AESU (American European Services Unlimited). I have been to London numerous times and really enjoy the English countryside.
France: I loved France from the first time I visited here. It still remains one of my favorite countries. I spent a brief time living here as well. Favorite city: Paris – favorite place: le Jardin du Luxembourg (the Luxembourg Gardens) – favorite landmark: la Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower).
Belgium: My visit here was brief, but nice. I loved their framboise beer!!!
The Netherlands: I have visited the Netherlands twice visiting both the countryside and the city (that of Amsterdam). Nice people, beautiful countryside, and home to my favorite museum- the Van Gogh Museum. I would return here in a minute to visit this museum again and bike ride around the country roads with my family (that is once the kids can ride a bike).
Germany: I have a good friend who lives in Stuttgart and I had the chance to visit him when I lived in Switzerland. He invited me to go to a Whitney Houston concert that his company had rented a bus and a block of tickets to attend. It was so much fun travelling across Germany to Berlin to watch the show. I have been in Germany 3 times (one of which was the time I overslept on a train and accidently ended up here).
Switzerland: I lived in Switzerland when I was 25 years old and worked as an ‘au pair’. It was an amazing experience. Being a city person it was challenging to live in the country in the town of Saint Maurice, approximately 4,000 people, but since no one spoke English there my French was the best ever during that period of my life. I still remain friends with the family I worked for and have been back once to visit them since those carefree days. I still want to return here to visit Zermatt (home of the Matterhorn) one day- definitely on my to do list.
Liechtenstein: This tiny country surrounded by the Swiss Alps was a two hour stop on my AESU tour. Highlight of the visit here was buying a stamp from the post office.
Austria: My time in Austria has been limited to the one visit with the AESU tour group. When I think of Austria I think of the movie “The Sound of Music” and the Austrian Alps. Visiting Salzburg was amazing, especially when we went to the same cemetery that was in the movie. It would be nice to revisit and really see this country.
Italy: Little did I know when I first visited this country that one day I would marry an Italian and have an Italian family in addition to my own family here in the states. I love Italians, their passion is amazing. The country is amazing. There is still so much to see here and I hope one day (much later in life) to settle here so Max can be closer to his family.
Greece: The Greek Isles are amazing and all the monuments here are incredible. People were super friendly and I ate the best gyro ever here!
Spain: My favorite city in Spain would have to be Barcelona. I really want to visit San Sebastian. I love to eat paella.
Scotland: Working as tour guide myself I trained in Scotland. I like the Scottish accent, but found it somewhat challenging to understand those Scots sometimes. I admired Mary Queen of Scots and am glad that Andy Murray (born in Scotland) has given Great Britain a Wimbledon champion.
Wales: My visit to Wales was also during my tour guiding days- we stayed overnight here and had a nice Welsh feast. I learned more about this country in my early 20’s from a pen pal who was originally from this small country.
Portugal: Tour guiding has its’ benefits – it lead me to Portugal. I love this country by the Atlantic Ocean. From what I viewed the people who lived by the water had a less complicated life without as many stresses as city people. The towns I saw were amazing. I have wanted to return after that one visit and could see vacationing here with my own family- beachside of course.
Morocco: I had only a day trip to this country and it was to the border city of Tangier. The mazes of the kasbah, the rugs and the delicious mint tea still are familiar memories, as well as the children.
Jamaica: My only visit to the Caribean was to Jamaica. I recently posted on this island paradise. The sea is credible, the beach is beautiful and it is a nice place to relax.
I am missing so many places still, but feel blessed that I have seen what I have thus far. I am a true traveler at heart, as is Max, and look forward to being able to explore other continents and countries as our children become older. I better start saving for those plane tickets!
Final country count: 19