Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Settle down you FOMO suffering ADD chipmunk...or how I ended up inTrakai

Before landing in Vilnius, I was going highlighter happy on the discount Lithuania book I had managed to find in a second hand book store. After seeing every single thing in the capital city, I was going to visit a hill with roughly a bajillion crosses on it in the north. I was going to hit up a communist theme park in the south. I was going to take a selfie in the geographic center of Europe. Since all this running around might be a bit tiring, a spa town was definitely in order.

Trying to figure out how to do all this in only three days was proving a bit challenging but I was undaunted.  I would ask the locals, who were sure to know a shortcut or two.  To this end, I presented Lina, the owner of Vilnius' coolest hostel, with my wish list.  She briefly got the "Oh no, not one of these.." looks that I am pretty familiar with but gamely continued.  "You will go to Trakai" she said. Sure, if it's worth a visit, I'll add it to my list.  "No, you will only go to Trakai. You do not have enough time for all these other places."  But, the crosses...  "You would have to spend your entire holiday on buses. You will go to Trakai." The commie park?  "Trakai!"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Country #98: Lithuania. Getting closer.

98 countries!! I am now two countries away from hitting triple digits! What began as a game with a friend has become, if not exactly an obsession, at least an active quest. And what do I get for my efforts? In theory, I could join the Travelers' Century Club, made up of members who have all been to 100+ "countries" but they are way too liberal with their classifications and time requirements. A fuel stop in Puerto Rico counts as a visit to a new country in their eyes. Amateurs.

There is, of course, bragging rights but after a while, introducing myself as "Hi, I'm Berti and I have been to 100 countries" might get kind of tiresome.  Not to mention the murmurs of "Dude, don't even make eye contact with that girl.  Yeah, the one carrying around the atlas.  Trust me on this.."

As I close in on my goal, I am realizing what the real prize of all this is.  It is the motivation that it has given me to visit places that I might not have otherwise considered.  A perfect example of this was my recent city to Lithuania's capital city.