Over the years I’ve come across a few people who have the objective of ‘seeing all the countries in the world’ or ‘seeing all the countries in Europe’.
Not only on its own, without a more unique desire, do I think this is vain, an exercise of ticking boxes, these few people I’ve met seemed rather uninspired by their own target, as though they were missing something.
One of these was an American I met at a hostel in Sarajevo.
He had just come from Albania. I thought Albania was an unusual and potentially interesting place to visit, so I asked him what took him to Albania and what he thought of it.
He replied rather listlessly saying there was not much there but his objective was to visit all the countries in Europe and that Albania was the only one he had not been to before, hence he had decided to go there.
Later he asked about my journey.
I told him I had purchased a flight from London to Croatia, and a return ticket from Thessaloniki to London, and I was improvising my journey between these two places. I had spent a couple of days in Mostar, where I had seen the scars of the war in the ’90s. This had sparked my interest. Also there I had met another traveller Elisabeth who was similarly impressed. So I was next likely to visit another politically interesting place, Kosovo, with her.
‘Besides,’ I added casually, ‘Kosovo is Europe’s newest country. It declared its independence in 2008.’
At that, all colour from his face drained!
He realised he had one more country to visit if he were to fulfill his objective of seeing all the countries in Europe.
Shaken, ‘Why would you go to Kosovo?’ he muttered.
Perhaps because, in my humble opinion, travel should be full of unquantifiable, incomparable, unplanned adventures and stories.