Saturday, December 11, 2010

Where should I go?

Me relaxing on ferry
Me, relaxing on the
ferry to Dublin
I had taken the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin and I was relaxing in a pub with a Guinness. An Irish gentleman I was talking to asked what I thought and I told him that while I loved how friendly everyone was, Dublin itself wasn't doing much for me. He replied "Dublin isn't Ireland."

It's a lesson more people should learn. You'd be astonished at how many people can't name a single UK city other than London.
I've heard many British people gripe over that and having lived in the UK for years, I can certainly understand why. There's the beautiful area of Cumbria to the North. Other friends live up in Leeds. Manchester and Liverpool have great nightlife. Wales gives you a chance to get away from it all. In short, there's much to see and do in the UK, but many people just think "London." My first job in the UK was in Nottingham, the home of Robin Hood and certainly not London. I'm grateful I had a chance to live there first.

Jesus Incognito
Friends at Roman ruins in Cumbria
The gentleman I met in Ireland was right. Dublin isn't Ireland. London is not the UK. Paris is not France. I've met plenty of warm, wonderful people in Calais, Corsica, Nice and other areas in France, but like many large cities, Parisians are less friendly to strangers. There are plenty of wonderful places out there that people don't consider because they don't know much about them. Idstein, in Germany, is a lovely town where my father lives, but even Germans often have never heard of it.

Asmara mosque
Asmara mosque
Photo by John Brantley
When you're trying to figure out where in the world you want to go, you're making a huge mistake if you simply name off "world cities." But why do people name off the world cities? Because those are the ones they know. In fact, many people would simply name a few well-known countries as destinations and completely forget about alternatives. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy sitting at a cafe in Asmara enjoying a bowl of kitcha fit-fit, but how would you know? Most have never heard of Asmara and thus could never know if it has any appeal to them. This is a serious problem because there's a big difference between wanting to leave a particular country and wanting to go to a particular country. That's why I made my first "country specific"post about Uruguay: I wanted people to start thinking about the world, rather than just Europe. And as an expat, I have a lot of admiration for expats who really travel to exotic locations and take risks. There are so many lovely places in the world out there and when you're planning your escape, start looking at places you've never heard of. You might be amazed.