Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm not sure I've even seen 1,000 places total

I stopped into the local coffee shop today, which has a pretty sizeable library in one of the sitting areas. The fare ranges from Dan Brown to surfing magazines to Lord of the Rings. I came across 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and was surprised to find that it's about as heavy as a brick. I first came across the book at Heathrow International Airport in London, having visited a handful of sites listed in England. I probably haven't seen many more sites since then.

I have somewhat mixed opinions about this book. On the one hand, it's probably the most comprehensive travel guide ever made, covering the planet as it does. It probably leaves a fair amount out, considering a follow-up book lists 1,000 places in the United States and Canada alone. One thousand places and events out of the roughly 510 million kilometers of planetary surface might seem a little scant, but most of that is probably just ocean anyway. But at the very least, reading through the brick of the book is sure to be educational and help you decide on a few vacation destinations.

On the other hand, the very title of the book almost seems to mock you. It might be possible to see all of these places before you die...just. The owner of said coffee shop has managed to get around to four continents over the course of his life for work and play, and has probably seen a good chunk of the listed sites. Aside from that, you'd probably have to hit something like 15 places per year over the course of your vacations. And most people probably get a later start or don't exactly have the resources to go bumming around Tunisia at age 83.

Flipping through the book, I was a little amused that some places simply don't show up. You don't need to see anything in the state of Kansas before you die, including a museum that includes the command capsule of Apollo 13 and a huge range of other space race artifacts.

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which you don't need to see before you die.

I found out about this interesting-sounding location in the flats of tornado land via Wikipedia, after checking to see if the rumor really was true and there's nothing interesting in Kansas. The book also contends that there's nothing worth seeing in the area of Maine where I've lived for the past two years. Some days that seems true, but some of the hikes around here certainly seem worthwhile.

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