Why I Go Where I Go
Why I Go Where I Go
Of all the reasons that determine why I go somewhere, one comes screaming out to the forefront: Original Experience Factor (OEF). Even if I know I’ll almost certainly enjoy going somewhere, I purposefully won’t due to my aversion of accruing just another stock standard experience and story from it.
Sometimes I feel like some sort of travel hipster – even though I really fucking hate hipsters. But when I hear people talking about Dubrovnik or Barcelona, I instantly think, Too mainstream, bro. Samarkand, Uzbekistan – now that sounds like a fucking party. I know it’s irrational, but it probably stems from my first year of real travelling in 2009, taking in London, Paris and Rome, and finding myself bored. Later that year I visited the relatively obscure Baltic countries of Latvia and Estonia, and the sense of real discovery and adventure I felt in contrast, really etched in my mind that the unbeaten track was the superior one.
First impressions have a way of lingering. I know for sure that I’d love Barcelona. Killer nightlife, cheap Tapas, iconic architecture, and cheap, readily available drugs? Yes, please. Who cares if it’s not original? Not too mention, its gotten nothing less than a 100% positivity rating from anyone who’s ever been (seemingly). I might have some weird set of standards, but even I have my tipping point. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go next summer, along with Ibiza.
In the meantime, I have another mainstream destination looming from mid November: South East Asia (I’m not going to count the lone 6 days I spent there in 2011). In the end, common sense got me across the line here. Extremely low prices, beautiful beaches, amazing nature, great food, wild parties – I mean come on you idiot, why haven’t you gone there sooner for longer? Oh yeah, the whole Too mainstream mantra.
As you can see, I’m slowly addressing a prejudice of mine, but there are other factors beyond the OEF that I like to take into account when deciding whether to visit or revisit a place. Getting a good balance of several is the obvious mitigater, though I would revisit certain places shamelessly on the basis of just one. I’d go to Florence again, just for lunch at a good Trattoria. I’d go to Turku again, just for the girls and nightlife. And I’d revisit Georgia (the country), just for the spectacular natural scenery. But here I’ll lay those factors out in more detail:
The cost of something is always going to be a factor for anybody, excluding the obnoxiously rich. But dirt-cheap is only good when it’s combined with something worthwhile to experience. Transcarpathia may well be the cheapest part of Europe as well as scoring high on its OEF, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that there’s virtually nothing to do or see. The fact is that most of the world is inexpensive, and yet there are large tracts of it that most people have no interest in visiting. As an irrespective plus factor, it means that getting drunk in most places is readily affordable.
I goddamn love good food. Backpackers who are content to kebab their way through the culinary meccas of the world dumbfound me. Just about all the nations of Western Europe, South America and Asia are home to a host of quality cuisine that simply must be sought out. The Emilia Romagna and Tuscan regions of Italy – in my mind – are to die for, but even watching that fat guy from Man vs. Food plow across America gets me excited for visiting there in March.
By this I mean natural and manmade since I enjoy both. As a history geek I love to absorb as much as I can about the past, and being in Europe surrounded by amazing monuments from ancient times through to the Renaissance, really does it for me. Likewise, anywhere with amazing wildlife, geography or coral reefs is going to appeal to the kid in me who grew up obsessing over The Crocodile Hunter and Our World. Not to the mention the current me, who holds David Attenborough in the highest reverence. A place with no aesthetic value is going to have to make up for it in a big way somewhere else.
This one is shameless, but at least I’m being honest. I love being able to go somewhere and easily meet a nice girl to hang out with. Student towns are extremely good for this sort of thing. I also have a preference for Slavic and Scandinavian girls – perhaps not the most amazing revelation given that I’ve spent more time in these regions of Europe than the Western part. Countries and regions that are religiously imposing tend to get little attention from me. Especially the Islamic ones, where a women’s right to basic freedoms is regarded as the gravest of evils.