I'm just back from a whistle-stop tour of Norway. A couple of days in Oslo and then a hairy train ride to a boat that whisked me through the fjords to Bergen and then home. I've definitely got the wanderlust bad.
I do love coming home and hanging around with the family but, after a couple of weeks, I start to get the itch. Then I find myself in my gym. Sadly, exercise is far from my mind. I have a huge map of the world on one of the walls in there and I start to look around for my next destination. At the moment, South America is the big gap in my map: the problem is that I can't make up my mind where to go.
Peru is the obvious choice, but it seems to be so packed with travellers at the moment that they've probably built a Starbucks at Machu Picchu. Argentina is another option – great steaks, fabulous women – but I've just read Naomi Klein's wonderful book The Shock Doctrine (if you haven't read it, then do so) and it reminded me just how unpleasant they were to each other – and I hate the tango.
Uruguay has always fascinated me: Montevideo – what a great name for a capital. I'd visit the place on that alone. The problem is that I know nothing about Uruguay, apart from the fact that the rugby team which crashed in the Andes and started to eat each other were from there. Might leave it this time.
What about Brazil? Too big to do in one quick trip unless I want to risk a divorce. How about Ecuador? They eat deep-fried guinea pig, so no thank you. Venezuela appeals to me, but I don't want to run into that awful Sloane from Channel 4 who was making the 100 per cent chocolate out there. He's very annoying.
It's bloody difficult making your mind up. Maybe I should do the wearing-a-blindfold-and-throwing-a-dart-at-the-map trick? That quite appeals actually, but I'd probably cheat.
Years ago I did a "comedy" radio show in which I pretended to be an inmate in Wormwood Scrubs who had just won the Lottery. He was about to be released and was going to treat himself to a trip round the world. The thing is, he didn't want to waste his time in too many "silly" countries. So he/I decided to phone countries and ask them to "sell" themselves as potential destinations. Weirdly, it is possible to actually phone a country. If you look up Iceland or Greenland, there is a number for each of them that puts you through to some tourist office somewhere over there.
I told the Icelandic woman that Greenland had said that Iceland was "rubbish" and not worth visiting. She went mental and started to slag off Greenland: "It's just basically a lump of ice with a little town at each end. It is very backwards."
Later, I had a fabulous conversation with a representative from Suriname. "Tell me why I should visit your country," I asked. "What attractions so you have?" "Vee hav [they're of Dutch origin]," he replied, "shwamps, lotsh of shwamps and very big shnakes." The representative showed quite some enthusiasm. I asked him why I should visit him and not neighbouring Guyana?
"Vey do not have shnakes as big as us," he replied earnestly. I really like the guy from Suriname (as opposed to the guy from Guyana who kept telling me how many KFC outlets there were in his country).
Thinking about it, I might make Suriname my next destination. The capital is called Paramaribo and is one of the few that my daughter Parker doesn't know yet. I'm teaching her all the capitals in the world, but she can never remember this one. Maybe my going there for a week will help her? Now that's what I call good parenting.Reuse content