“I’m your biggest fan, I’ll follow you until you love me. Pepper, pepperoni.” – Lady Gaga orders a pizza.
While I continue to write about Poland and work hard here promoting it, I once had a love for global travel and wrote daily on a different website called “Don’t Stop Living“. This project seems so disconnected from my previous life and that was the point. It feels so odd but I couldn’t stop writing. I’m addicted to writing every day – poems, football stories, lists, travel articles etc.
“The shortest pencil is mightier than the longest memory” – William Baekeland.
Almost like from 1980 – 2016, I told my entire story to people and then suddenly when lied to and stalked by a Guru, I quit that lifestyle for an easier one to try and stay happy. I didn’t reinvent myself with Northern Irishman in Poland, it was a natural progression. Circumstances led to me living in Poland, when I felt that I was destined to live in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan in July 2016 – I was within minutes of booking my flight to Bishkek when the liar lied and the rest is history. But I do feel like I rebranded myself a bit like Townsend Thoresen into P & O in the aftermath of the 1987 “Herald of Free Enterprise” disaster. I wanted everything separate. I wanted to forget about DSL. I didn’t want followers from Don’t Stop Living to follow this story – I didn’t want them to know, unless they love Poland and hate liars. However, I am OK with my Polish followers wanting to follow my global journey, the reason is, I want more Polish people to travel the world now. That’s my next quest – to get more of you travelling, and maybe even travelling with me again. So please, Poland, follow a Northern Irishman who lives here in your country and wants to show you the world. My world.
Down the years I visited more places than I can remember and despite posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, sometimes my blogs are my only memories. When I cracked country 99 in 2015, I was so busy doing Sweden and Norway tours that I didn’t really write about those times, or reflect on them.
“It’s a small world after all. Sai gai dun sai shui gat shui” – Disney.
When you have visited 158 countries, you sometimes need a base and want to quit the full time travel. At that point in your life, you need a base and a home. In 2016, I was sure my base and home would be Brzezno in Gdańsk. It was, I rented a flat by the beach and loved it!
“Bo bez ciebie nie ma nic. Z tobą jedną mogę być.” – Paweł Kukiz Jan Borysewicz
And from July 2016, I had quit my days as a long term backpacker and perpetual tourist. I used to backpack 20 new countries a year, had worked my way up to over 150 countries and then after Kaliningrad in 2016, that was it. I was done with travel. I didn’t care anymore. Australian Road trips, backpacking in Iraq, Italy tours, nights out in unknown countries were now a thing of the past.
It took a love for Polish towns and villages to perk my travel mind back up again. For the first time in my travel blogging career, I took a backstep from travel and tourist interviews completely. BUT recently, I decided to become part of the Counting Countries Podcast as I begin a quest to visit 200 countries by the age of 40. I only have 41 left to go, and 3 years and 2 months left. So I am interviewed about this quest and challenge on Ric Gazarian’s Global Gaz – Counting Countries Podcast.
And now you can read and download my interview from January 2018 with Ric Gazarian AKA Global Gaz here:
Background to the interview and country quest
I was in touch with Ric over the years and knew I wanted to be on the show but I didn’t agree with the UN thing, and then the depression kicked in. I wasn’t sure if the niche suited me as I prefer my own counts rather than the entity I strongly disagree with – the United Nations (Yuk!). The UN still refuse to recognise three of the countries I have lived in! Neither Northern Ireland, nor England nor Hong Kong appears on their list. But when I counted, I realised that IF I was to use their list, I would have just 80 of their “countries” left, and I am stronger than the liars so I will visit them all.
Ric is a great guy with a real passion for travel and a superb presenter and interviewer so I just had to do the Podcast whether I am a fan of the UN or not. I am the first Podcast of 2018 on there – new start, new lease of life and it is the first Podcast I have done for almost three years when I was on Nathaniel Boyle’s show. My previous radio and Podcasts may be still online:
January 2014 – Travel Interview with Ian Robinson – Podcast on Love Affair Travel
June 2014 – Travel Interview with Brian Collins Podcast on Brian Tells Stories
February 2015 – Travel Interview with Danny Flood Podcast for Open World Mag
February 2015 – Travel Interview with Nathaniel Boyle for Daily Travel Podcast
January 2018 – I am interviewed for Ric Gazarian’s Counting Countries Series on Globaz Gaz
1997 – 1998 – Radio DJ on College Show “Jonny Blair on the Air: Radio Belvoir”, Belfast, Northern Ireland (over 50 shows)
2003 – 2008 – Radio DJ on Nerve Radio, FM and online, Bournemouth, England (over 200 shows)
2004 – Appeared as the voiceover on an Irish Radio Drama in Association with Birst Radio, Bournemouth, England
September 2013 – Interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster for being a travelling Northern Irishman
August 2015 – I am featured on HK Radio 3 on a travel radio show with Noreen Mir on the 1,2,3 show
August 2016 – I am interviewed on Belfast 89 FM about my travels and hanging up of my backpack in Gdansk, Poland.
January 2017 – I am interviewed on International Radio Poznań with Maciej about my travels and coming to live in Poland. The interview can also be downloaded here.
Also as a strong Northern Irish Nationalist, here is my personal list of Countries, Wacaday Republics, Separate States, Disputed Regions, Micronations, Unusual territories and Self Claimed Territories that I have backpacked through in my tourist career, only 113 of them are recognised by the United Nations, those UN numbers are listed in brackets after:
2.Republic of Ireland
19.New Zealand (14)
23.Czech Republic (17)
32.San Marino (26)
53.Trinidad and Tobago (41)
55.South Africa (43)
60.South Korea (47)
61.North Korea (48)
64.United Arab Emirates (51)
71.Sri Lanka (57)
87.East Timor (69)
92.El Salvador (73)
96.Costa Rica (77)
103.FYR Macedonia (82)
128.Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
138.Don’t Stop Living
141.The Gambia (101)
149. International Waters
150. Mongolia (106)
151. Krolestwo Dreamlandu
152. San Escobar
154. Malta (107)
155. Sovereign Military Order of Malta
156. Kingdom of Romkerhall
157. Morocco (108)
158. Western Sahara
159. Hungary (109)
160. Cyprus (110)
161. Northern Cyprus
162. Ivory Coast (111)
163. Saudi Arabia (112)
164. Oman (113)
165. Turkmenistan (114)
166. Togo (115)
167. Benin (116)
168. Lebanon (117)
- I didn’t include United Kingdom, Ireland or China in this list as I don’t recognise them the way the UN does. And I forgot about Hungary (which was in my first 40, not 159) and Kurdistan, which overlapped with Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
Countries I am not going to count yet but I have officially stepped in:
(airport – Kenya)
(airport – Mauritania)
(region – Republic of Srpska)
(region – Cornwall)
(region – Kashubia)
(I am their general but I have never stepped foot in – Nedland)
(TV – Donkey Kong Country)
My target is to visit 200 countries (as defined by me) by the age of 40, from this list:
The Ultimate List of Every Country (all 627 of them)
“If God spares us” – Mary Blair (my Grandma)