Douala & Madrid, Never Again

I have a folder of clipped articles that I call “Catch Basin” about places I hope to visit some day.   Today I was looking through it and found an article by Millie Ball of the Newhouse News Service published in 2008 in The Oregonian, Portland’s newspaper.  It’s an interview with Charles Veley “who has actually been just about everywhere,” Ball notes.  At that time there were 673 countries, territories, etc. in the world and Mr. Veley had been to 629 of them.

When asked his favorite travel website, he answered,, his own creation.  I had never been on this so immediately checked it out and became fascinated.   It lists the world’s top travelers 1 through 9.  Charles A Veley is #1.  He has now visited 827 countries, territories, etc with 45 remaining.  I can’t explain this country, territory, etc. inflation but plan to look into it when my migraine goes away. The top 4 travelers are all from the United States.  Robert Bonifas, #4, has been to 800 countries, territories, etc.  I’m way behind.

Getting back to the 2008 interview, Millie Ball asked Mr. Veley how he planned his trips.  His answer began “Web sites, travel agents, but not too often.”  This is true for me too.  Websites help me control costs, and, in my experience, travel agents tend to come up with packages I can’t afford.

When asked if he participated in frequent flier programs, Mr. Veley said that he traveled about 200,000 miles a year and qualified for American Airlines platinum level which meant that  he had over 2 million miles.  He had bought, he wasn’t completely sure, about 30 round-the-world tickets. Imagine that!

Packing advice?  Pack light.  Ruth & I are getting better at this.  We now spend the day before long travel putting back a lot of stuff we used to take. Every item must pass the do I really need this? test.  Also, as Mr. Veley wisely notes, shopping for things you need is a great way to learn about a destination.  Amen.  Almost the first place Ruth & I head anywhere we go is the local grocery store or food market where learning about the culture really begins.

Asked his favorite places, Mr. Veley replied, Lord Howe Island, Australia, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland, and San Francisco.  The first has been on my bucket list for decades and the second I hadn’t heard of but just added to the catch basin.  When I’m asked this question, I usually name cities; Budapest, Hungary, Melbourne, Australia, and Helsinki, Finland, where Ruth and I will be next month.  Yes!

Places Mr. Veley doesn’t plan to revisit?  Lagos, Nigeria, Khartoum, Sudan, and Douala, Cameroon.  All 3 are now officially removed from my catch basin.  I would answer:  Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, Australia, Teller, Alaska, and Madrid, Spain.  Yes, that Madrid.



About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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