I’m a Ramblin’ Man
My June 2021 journey was special for many reasons. First, it was the first itinerary cancelled due to Corona Virus. Originally booked in 2019 for travel in March 2020, I was really, really excited to hit the Lebanon–Cyprus–Malta circuit. But we all remember, it was March 2020 when all the Corona ish first hit the fan. I vividly remember every one of these flights being abruptly cancelled due to this new pandemic and every single country on the planet slamming their doors shut tight – something that I’d never experienced in my entire life. I was so incredibly bummed. My wings were clipped.
So, here we are, over a year later – and these countries (and flights) were finally back open for business. It almost seemed too good to be true, and I wouldn’t believe it until the Lebanese falafel was in my mouth. I couldn’t be more excited.
Here are the eight countries I was lucky enough to see – three of them counting towards my U.N. 193 goal, and the others, as you’ll soon read, include sovereign military bases, a (very) disputed territory, one country with no land (try and figure that one out), an “Extreme” layover and a do-over of country #71.
My highlight and sole focus of visiting Beirut was eating. In all of my travel history, I’ve never been so excited about, nor planned a visit so closely around food. It was the reason I was so crushed this trip got axed in the first place: I’d not only watched Mark Wiens’ Ultimate Beirut Street Food vlog multiple times on YouTube, but I’d taken notes of every single restaurant, food cart and kiosk – all the way down to each individual item. I was on a gastronomic mission and I would not be stopped. SEE MY FULL LEBANON STORY HERE.
Cyprus was everything I thought it would be – sun, sand, clear water and tasty food. It was the one country on this trip where I’d need a rental car. Driving on the other side of the road was nerve-wracking – thankfully I managed not to kill any animals or humans. SEE MY FULL CYPRUS STORY HERE.
Akrotiri & Dhekelia
Though these two enclaves (or is it exclaves?) aren’t UN officially-recognized countries–and therefore don’t count as part of my “193“–they are territories on a few other “lists.” These two British sovereign base areas didn’t offer a ton to do and see, but it was fun rolling through them both. SEE MY FULL AKROTIRI AND DHEKELIA STORY HERE.
The Republic of Northern Cyprus
Long story here, and a very polarizing subject – but today, Cyprus is divided: The Turkish Cypriots in the north, and the Greek Cypriots in the south. It’s all incredibly intriguing to a foreigner like me and not very simple to dissect…but I will try my best! SEE MY FULL REPUBLIC OF NORTHER CYPRUS STORY HERE.
Ahh, the do-over! Tunisia was one of the few countries I’d visited already, that I felt I just could not “count.” I’ll recap that first visit, and why I felt the obligation to return. This time, I was bound and determined to get deep into Tunisian “trouble” and really do some authentic local “stuff.” Well you know what they say: Be careful what you wish for! SEE MY FULL TUNISIA STORY HERE.
Ahhh, the final stop and what a special treat! I saved one of the best places for last. Malta is nothing short but a fairy tale fantasy-land and I used every second of my two days here to soak up everything I could. What an adventure! SEE MY FULL MALTA STORY HERE.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Oh yeah, can’t forget about this place: a country within a country. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is the only country in the world that owns no land. So how does that work???!!! I’ll explain. SEE MY FULL SOVEREIGN MILITARY ORDER OF MALTA STORY HERE.
Turkey (Extreme Layover)
My third time in good ‘ol Turkey. A normal person would’ve stayed put at the airport, especially at the end of such a long and tiring journey – I was pooped! But I’m not a normal person – I just had to get out and into that beautiful city – even if it was just for a traditional (and very quick) Turkish breakfast on the Bosphorus. SEE MY FULL TURKEY STORY HERE.
And finally…the itinerary!