Countries of the World

If we base our calculations on the UN list of member states, we might conclude that there are 193 countries in the World. But at least three are not taken into consideration by UN – Taiwan, State of Vatican, Kosovo – as this traveller points out. So overall countries should be at least 196.

Others base calculations on places, not on countries. USA is made of several places (its States). Italy of at least 20 places (its Regions). And so on. Which is also reasonable: if I visit Moscow I just visit the capital, not Russia. This makes the list of places to visit much longer: there are 874 places to visit on Earth.

Based on the regular country list and the (less regular) list of places on Earth, I have visited 35 countries and 89 places, which makes me sadly hopeless in trying to reach the ultimate goal of visiting all countries of the planet.

Hope is the last to die, we say in Italy. So let’s start planning to visit missing places (only 785). It’s never too late for vagabonding, after all.

Airworld

A couple of more days. And I will be back to Airworld (from Up in the Air). London, Paris next week. London and Milan in two weeks. This is the plan. For now.

To know me, you have to fly with me. Sit down. I’m the aisle, you’re the window. Trapped.

Planes and airports are where I feel at home. Everything fellows like you dislike about them – the dry, recycled air alive with viruses; the salty food that seems drizzled with warm mineral oil; the aura-sapping artificial lighting – has grown dear to me over the years, familiar, sweet.

I call it Airworld; the scene, the place, the style. My hometown papers are USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. The big-screen Panasonics in the club rooms broadcast all news I need, with an emphasis on the markets and the weather. My literature is the bestseller or the near bestseller, heavy on themes of espionage, high finance, and the goodness of common people in small towns.

Airworld is a nation within a nation, with its own language, architecture, mood, and even its own currency – the token economy of airline bonus miles that I’ve come to value more than dollars. Inflation doesn’t degrade them. They’re not taxed. They’re private property in its purest form.