Travel out among the glaciers and to the outlines of those original Viking farms, hiking among mountains, sheer walls of ice, not a Starbucks in sight.
Out onto to the steppes, ride a camel, spend a night in a ger, walkabout among the mountains and Mongolian ponies and a sheep or thousand. No Starbucks here either.
A stopover in Latvia for the stamp.
TOO MUCH YOU SAY.
It has become obvious over the last week of planning that Greenland, Lapland, Norway, through Europe over to St. Petersburg and Moscow, on the Trans-Siberian Train to Ulan Bator, a few days out on the steppes, back on the train, into Beijing, ferry over to Seoul and finally back home—is too much. Too much time. Too much money.
So pieces are dropping by the wayside. First to go was Seoul. I’ll wait until I can go to one united Korea. Many years ago, in Berlin, I went to some trouble to take the train from West Germany into East Germany. Visiting two countries in one short train ride. Then look what happened—I can only count one Germany. Don’t want to make that mistake with Korea (s).
Flying from Greenland to Copenhagen and then training to the far north Lapland of Norway, Sweden and Finland is a too time-consuming and expensive proposition. Must go also.
Sidestepping into Latvia for a passport stamp isn’t worth the effort since I’ve given up the every-country-in-the-world quest. No offense Latvia but you’re sort of near the bottom of the-countries-I-really-really-want-to-go-to list. When I visit Belarus I’ll definitely stop by though.
Since Norway and the Trans-Siberian Railroad are at the heart of this northern odyssey, they are the only destinations that cannot go away. So given reality…darn reality…something more has got to go. The problem isn’t just getting into the countries; it’s the essential side trips so that you’ve actually been there. Greenland out among the ice caps, Mongolia out among the yurts and the ponies. What to do?
In fact Lapland and Greenland go together: the harshness and cold; the aboriginal people of the far north—Greenlanders and Sami; the general out-of-the-wayness and the very high costs. Together then they go to the top of my 2016 travel agenda. And I’ll maybe throw in Switzerland to get those scenic mountains and cool temperatures out of the way while I’m still in the north.
Big Trip UP NORTH 2016 now looks like this. A week in Norway. Train and ferry to St. Petersburg, then Moscow. Trans-Siberian Railway to Ulan Bator, a few days out on the steppes, train to Beijing, some days there. DONE.
I am just hoping my friend Beth wants to do some version of this. In fact she’s the one that started the scuttling by eliminating South Korea right up front. She was still excited a few days ago. Yay. Hopefully we’ll still be great friends when we’ve spent a week together in a railway compartment. I think we will. Maybe we will. I hope we will. Yes, We Will.