Danielle and I got home, after ten months of travelling, last week. It’s been a busy week. In that time, we have found and moved into a new (rented) flat, bought a (banger of a) car, and attended my cousin’s wedding in Strathpeffer (in the Pavilion). Danielle has secured short-term work, and is looking for something longer term, and has started a part-time Masters. I am waiting for offshore work. The process of settling in has begun. The travels are over.
But the Wonder hunting has not.
As I write, I have visited 66 out of a total of 105 of my candidate World Wonders. Not quite two-thirds, but almost. The majority of these have been visited during two long sessions of travels: eight months in Asia, and ten months in the Americas and Europe. Mathematicians out there might be able to work out that 39 Wonders remain. By very rough location, there are:
Two in Central Asia
Seven in the Far East
One in South Asia
Ten in Middle East
Six in North Africa
Two in Africa
Eleven in Europe
Balancing life and wild Wonder ambitions can be a tricky act. Since I first departed on these travels, in September 2011, I’ve been away for 18 months, and home for 18 months. Except I haven’t been home – I’ve often been away somewhere, working offshore. Travelling is an amazing thing, but like anything, too much can be destructive. I feel that, for myself, I’m teetering on that edge. I’m 35, and now married, and I recognise that personally, professionally, and financially it’s probably best that the long-term travels end. Since 2001, I’ve lived, on average, in a different home every year. For the last year, my possessions have been spread around five different locations in Scotland, thanks to the kindness of friends and family. It’s all a little exhausting sometimes. I’m ready to settle. I’m ready to have a permanent address.
What does all this mean for the Wonder travels, therefore?
It means, simply, that the remaining 39 will be picked off in bursts, rather than one big trip, probably over the next two or three years. I may outline how I intend to do this in a future entry, but suffice to say some places will be easier than others. The European ones can all be visited in easy holiday trips, the Far East ones are probably best in a single month-long chunk. The two Wonders in Syria? I have absolutely no idea. Hopefully, this will improve the quality of the writing – it’s easier to write, sitting back at home, rather than on the move constantly, hammering away on my dying laptop while on a dodgy bus.
In the meantime, this blog should stay pretty active. I have a few reviews still to catch up on, and something like ten previews still to write. Once I’ve got settled in properly, I’d hope to be adding an entry about every week. I also intend to begin writing an actual book on World Wonders and these travels, using some of the material in the blog, and this will keep me pretty busy, I guess.
So, in summary: it was good being away, but it’s nice to be back. I’m two-thirds of the way there, and look forward to tackling the rest once I’ve got back on my feet.