Ten crazy travel challenges from around the world

Do you take a checklist with you when you travel? These people do, ticking off mountain peaks, places beginning with Z and even Nando’s restaurants. We bring you 10 travellers on a mission
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Matt Green is walking every street in New York City. Photograph: Alamy

From swimming the Channel to cycling across the US, people have long been setting themselves self-imposed travel goals. We’ve brought together ten that fall at the more unusual end of the spectrum.

Their motivations are varied: some people wanted to beat a world record, others wanted to get to know a place or a country better … and one guy (see number seven) just simply loves peri-peri chicken.

What they have in common is a checklist, a clear goal and, for the most part, a tight budget. They are also – and this was not intentional – mostly men. Make of this what you will, but it seems there are less women travelling the world with very specific checklists. If you know any other people (women, men, families, couples) who have set themselves such a target, let us know in the comments below.

Walking every street in New York City

The contender Matt Green from Virginia, US (imjustwalkin.com)
Start date: December 2011
Finish date 2015, hopefully

The challenge Matt has already walked across the US, from east to west. This time, “instead of seeing a million places for a minute each”, he is focusing on New York City’s five boroughs, walking every block and covering more than 8,000 miles.

Travel tip “You can walk the same street a hundred times and have a hundred different experiences. If a tourist asked me for a recommendation, I’d tell them to walk down whatever street is nearest, and give it their full attention.”

Future plans “No idea!”

See also Ffyona Campbell covered 32,000km over 11 years, raising £180,000 for charity in the 80s and 90s. Karl Bushby travelled on foot, from the bottom of South America back to the United Kingdom via North America, Siberia, Asia and Europe . The 36,000-mile journey took 15 years.

Visiting every country in the world without flying

Graham in RussiaGraham in RussiaThe contender Graham Hughes from Liverpool (theodysseyexpedition.com)
Started Uruguay, 1 January 2009
Finished Russia, January 30 2013

The challenge Graham’s self-imposed rules included no flights, no driving, no hitchhiking on public roads, crossing at official border points, using public transport where available, and always setting foot on dry land. After covering 201 countries in 1,426 days, he laid claim to a Guinness World Record, but the judges deemed his crossing into Russia illegal. In early 2013, he returned to the country to get another visa and is currently waiting to see if his record is approved. His trip also raised money for Wateraid.

Highlight “Iran. The friendliest people in the world! It’ll be a top tourist destination one day.”

Future plans Currently competing in the SOS Island competition, which involves undergoing survival challenges on a tropical island.

See also James Asquith, 24, who has just become the youngest person to visit every country in the world .

Taking every bus line in Buenos Aires

Buses in Buenos AiresPhotograph: Stephen Simpson/Getty ImagesThe contender Daniel Tunnard, from Sheffield, who has lived in Buenos Aires since 1999 (colectivaizeishon.com)
Started September 2011
Finished April 2012
The challenge Daniel took all 140 bus lines in the City of Buenos Aires, across 202 square kilometres of urban sprawl. He typically travelled three bus routes a day, sometimes sitting for 14 hours at a time, watching the city go by. The whole thing cost him 380 pesos (about £55, at the time). He blogged it all, bilingually, which won him a book contract;Colectivaizeishon was published, in Spanish, by Random House Mondadori in August.

Travel tip “The 46 goes from the Boca Juniors stadium, through two major villas (shanty towns) and leaves you in Liniers. Don’t take a camera and don’t gawp, this isn’t a safari, but it’s well worth the trip for learning that these are not no-go areas, but places where humans live and work.”

Future plans Taking all the trains in Argentina for the next book, out in 2015

Staying on every island in Scotland

Andy StrangewayThe contender Andy Strangeway from Yorkshire (andystrangeway.wordpress.com)
Started September 2003
Finished August 2007

The challenge Andy set out to become the first person not only to land but also sleep on all of Scotland’s 162 islands of 40 hectares or above. After completing the task, he wrote a book about his adventure and has become a campaigner for better access rights around the UK.

Highlight “Soay in the St Kilda archipelago [the UK’s westernmost point]. It had not been landed for five years and there was a 100m landslide at the landing place. It was exciting because it was my final island – and also because it was simply beautiful.”

Future plans In 2012, he slept on the 52 highest points in England and Wales; 49 in his bivy bag. His next project is soon to be revealed.

See also Tracy and Daniel Calder are trying to visit as many British islands as possible.

Climbing every peak in New England

Allison Nadler, climbing every peak in New EnglandThe contender Allison Nadler from Massachusetts, US (4000-footers.blogspot.com)
Started June 2011
Finished October 2013

The challenge In the past two years, Allison has hiked all 67 mountains in New England that are over 4,000 feet. She hiked some of them multiple times and about a third of them solo. She also runs a MeetUp group to encourage others to join her.

Highlight “One of my most challenging hikes was a one-day presidential traverse, which I did alone. It involves hiking seven of the most rugged mountains in New Hampshire including the tallest peak, Mount Washington. It’s 20 miles long, gaining 9,000 feet of elevation.”

Future plans Currently attempting to hike all New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers in winter (not solo); 22 mountains still to go.

Visiting every metro station in Mexico City

Voy en el METRO | MEXICO CITY from Santiago Arau on Vimeo.

The contender Peter Davies from New South Wales, Australia (mexicocitymetro.wordpress.com)
Started January 2012
Finished July 2012

The challenge Peter’s aim was to visit each station and the surroundings, which he then blogged about. At the time, he found 147 stations instead of the said 175, as some stops are counted more than once when the lines cross.

Highlight “Each station was unique and memorable: I visited a museum set inside a model head of former president Benito Juárez, observed a great array of killer street art, followed street dogs into markets to find the best taco stands, reflected in the room of Trotsky’s assassination and got lost countless times.”

Future plans To get back to Mexico City to complete the new Line 12 of the metro.

See also Geoff Marshall and Anthony Smith, who just broke the record for visiting all 270 London Underground stations, in the shortest possible time – 16 hours, 20 minutes and 27 seconds since you ask.

Visiting every Nando’s in the world

Christopher Poole, Nando'sThe contender Christopher Poole from Greenwich, London (facebook.com/NandosChallenge)
Started February 2013
Finished Ongoing

The challenge Christopher loves the chicken restaurant chain so much that he is on a mission to visit every one in the world. He took up the challenge after reading that the company would give one of the elusiveHigh Five black cards to anyone who completes this feat – meaning unlimited Nando’s for the holder and five friends. He has ticked off 80 so far, but seeing as there are 1,000 outlets in 30 countries on five continents, the rest could take some time. Will he ever finish? Will he still like Nando’s by the end?

Highlight The Nando’s in Ibiza with its unusual sesame buns. “Although, sadly, that branch since closed,” says Christopher. “But the best Nando’s in the world [so far] is the one in Lewisham. I had a whole chicken there and it earned a score of 10 in my write-up.”

Future plans To buy an old car and travel across the world overland, guided by Nando’s locations.

Going “everywhere” in Australia

The contender Peter Harris, originally from Northamptonshire, now living New South Wales (ivebeeneverywhere.com.au)
Started December 2009
Finished September 2011

The challenge Peter took his inspiration from the 1959 Australian song, I’ve Been Everywhere, by Geoff Mack, which lists 94 Australian place names – the only link between them being that they rhyme with each other. He traversed the country to visit them all. There is also a US version of the song and a UK version, which is currently used in the Walkers crisps ad.

Highlight “Venturing into the deep Australian outback to visit Birdsville, Queensland. It’s pretty much as remote a place you can get to. My 86-year old mother travelled all the way from the UK to make the trip with me – over many, many bumps – along with my partner Billy, niece Emily and even the family dog, Amelie.”

Future plans Having caught the travel bug, Peter kept going after he finished his challenge, and still blogs about places in Australia and beyond.

Visiting every Northern Rail station in the UK

Scott Willison, Visiting every Northern Rail station in the UKThe contender Scott Willison, Merseyside (merseytart.com)
Started June 2007
Finished Ongoing, currently half-way through

The challenge Scott started doing all the stations on Merseyside. Once finished, he expanded his odyssey to the whole Northern Rail network, from Newcastle to Crewe. He takes a picture of himself in front of each station sign. His blog was a runner-up in the Blog North Awards 2013.

Highlight “Being alone on a platform at Nethertown station in Cumbria during a storm for three hours, and being perfectly happy. It’s a single platform on a cliff top above the sea, served by only two trains a day. An unused railway station is really sad, and it felt like I was giving it a bit of life by using it.”

Future plans Just to finish it someday – and then go somewhere else!

Visiting all the places in Britain starting with the letter Z

Dixe Wills' bus tour: Zennor, CornwallDixe Wills on an open-top bus from St Ives to ZennorThe contender Dixe Wills (dixewills.com)
Started September 2004
Finished April 2005

The challenge Dixe, who is a regular contributor to Guardian Travel, visited all 41 places in Great Britain that begin with the letter Z, from a rock off the Isles of Scilly (Zantman’s Rock) to a farm up in northern Shetland (Zoar). He wrote about them in his first book, The Z-Z of Great Britain. A travel challenge addict, he also went round the entire coast of Britain using only local buses (196 buses in 6½ weeks).

Highlight: “The best find was Zennor, a tiny village in Cornwall. It only has a population of 100, but it is a magnet for history: from its Megalithic burial chamber to the ill-fated commune set up by DH Lawrence, to Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie seeing out some of World War II there, and much more besides.”

Future plans His next book, Tiny Stations, visits the nation’s most interesting railway request stops.

Travelling down memory lane

Travelling down memory lane
is not all black ‘n white.
Travelling down memory lane
is not all lacking light.

Travelling down memory lane
is not eye filled with tears.
Travelling down memory lane
brings fresh and soothing air.

Travelling down memory lane
is love & pain, fun with friends.
Travelling down memory lane
is full of curves and bends.

Travelling down memory lane
is a test of time and mind
Travelling down memory lane
is a joy of it’s kind.

How you can find cheap flights

Andy's Travel Blog

Ahu Tongariri Ahu Tongariri

I take many of my trips using airline miles and points.  Having said that though, I’ve been able to take some really cheap paid flights as well, some examples: $296 to London, $430 to Israel, $440 to Beijing, and $320 to Easter Island.  A friend and I also recently went to Machu Picchu for the relatively cheap price of $376.  All of those prices were for roundtrip tickets and included all taxes.  Domestically, a buddy and I went to Park City this March, in First Class, for $78 apiece!  Am I bragging?  A little.  It’s been really cool to go to so many places for so little money and I want to help you do the same thing.  These tips are for finding epic low fares, not just lower than normal ones, so only proceed if you’re ready to travel big.

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Connection

                      I wear a compass because I inspire to stay on the map.                                North, south, east, west what direction the world is flat.                                 The only fact history lacked is the end of the world is not exact.                       The Pacific meets lands still unknown to humanity.                          While societies collide creating an unrelated family.

The Vanishing Sea ( Chandipur Beach Orissa)

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All of you must be astonished to hear this “ The Vanishing Sea” but yes it is true the sea suddenly vanishes right from the front of your eyes and to observe it returning is a very rare site. It takes time and patience to watch the sea returning back.The hide and seek of water is also mesmerised with Casuarina trees and creeper sand dunes seem to be swaying on a melodious musical note. The beach is also in close proximity to certain other places of tourist interest namely Remuna, Panchalingeswar, Aradi and Chandaneswar.

The Chandipur beach is one of the few beaches in the world which recedes back upto 5km daily with low tide and its really adventurous chasing the waves in a jeep when the sea retreats back.

Some pictures of this mesmerising sea are hereby –

The vanishing sea

Chandipur Beach

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Rare flowers around the world

In spite of fears that the floral industry has been wilting in recent years, there is still hope yet as Santa Monica based online florist BloomNation has just received a whopping $5.5 million funding.                                               In light of these rosey developments in the flower industry, we look at a selection of the world’s most incredible flowers. From the stunning tulips of the Netherlands to the creeping wisteria tunnels of Japan, via the golden daffodils of Wordsworth’s famous poem right here in the UK, wherever you are in the world you’re never likely to be far from some incredible flora.The famous beauty of the red rose runs right through history, and the venus fly trap’s incredible ability to ensnare insects has made it a household name – but what about the other ways in which flowers have evolved to help them stand out from the crowd?

We’ve taken a look at some of the most awe-inspiring flowers from around the world, offering any aficionados a few tips to consider the next time you’re planning a trip abroad.

GhostOrchid

SEAWORLD

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Seaworld is not only an entertaining animal theme park but also an inspiration to conserve our animal heritage across the world. They are located in Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio and there’s one in Australia with a bit of variation in the name as SEA WORLD.

I visited the one in San Diego, and I just didn’t feel like leaving the park. Some people were astonished to know that I liked it more than the Disneyland, but it had an environment so alive and with so much razzmatazz. The first thing we did was to grab a park map without which it’s impossible to go around, as the map contains not only the locations but also the various show timings which one can’t afford to miss.

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They put up amazing shows like One Ocean featuring park’s Whales and their trainers, another one The Shamu story which is an educational presentation of facts about the Whales. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to the SeaWorld and now it’s the stage name for other adult whales.

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This word (SHAMU)  would be engraved in your memory when you are sitting there watching the show and the whale drenches you by splashing water on you. It’s an exquisite feeling and you will keep asking for more.

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Then the Dolphin show, being a kid I have always imagined the Dolphins dancing in the Sea but witnessing it was another thing totally, I was mesmerized with various colourful birds and aerialists along with the Bottlenose Dolphins everywhere.                                                                                                                               sea-world-sea-lion-show

They have more breathtaking shows like Sea Lions Live, Pets Rule featuring many animals together putting up a show, Madagascar Live (a live musical show) and Cirque de La Mer which is a journey to the island of Amphibians.  Besides, they have some great rides and roller-coasters. They also have huge aquariums with a variety of Turtles, fishes and other creatures. Also, one can witness Walruses, beautiful Penguins with seven different species, Polar Bears, Sea Otters and Sea Lions of California.                                                                                                  C9OA_Explorer_s_Reef_shark_pool

One can also touch Guitarfish, white sturgeons and bat rays. It’s an amazing world of various animals, which is quite enchanting. For me it was a kind of meditation for I could look at the animals for hours exploring their movement.

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Aquarium

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Adorable Polar Bear

seaworld-san-diego Beautiful Penguins

POLAND – THE LONELY PLANET

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Yes, it’s the same country we have read about in history, with its huge involvement in World War 2 or rather “just destruction” of its people and resources. Poland pronounced as POLSKA, is a country in Central Europe. Its  Capital  being  WARSAW  and  currency  ZLOTY. Language is definitely a limitation, for mostly they speak Polish.

Most Popular cities of Poland are: Krakow, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Warsaw, Poznan, Lublin and Torun.

KRAKOWKrakow-Wawel-Castle

Krakow, Poland’s second largest city is culturally grand and a fine city located on the Vistula River. Former Polish royal capital is known for its cultural, artistic, economic activities. The old city of Krakow (Stare Miasto in Polish) consists of a Wawel Castle; a royal castle depicting the Polish royalty along with a Cathedral is situated on a hill. The striking 14th century St Mary’s Basilica, Main market Square (being the largest Medieval town in Europe) and Kazimierz’s streets in the Jewish district are known for its café’s, galleries, nightlife and restaurants.                                                            

Enjoy open air flea markets, take a river cruise, ride in horse carriages and check out the royal way for amazing shopping experience. Located on the outskirts of Krakow is a Wieliczka Salt mine which features an underground city, all carved out of the rock salt is mesmerizing.                                  

Alcohol is easy to get, but Krakow is known for its various Vodka drinks like Tatanka a delicious polish drink made of vodka called Zubrowka and apple juice, Sliwowica- a plum brandy and many more. Food Specialty being  Bagel and Cheese.

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WROCLAW

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Wroclaw,  also known by its English or German name Breslau, Polish pronunciation as Vrots- swaf.  Mainly it’s an Industrial, manufacturing, banking and a cultural hub. Centre point of Wroclaw is Rynek or Cultural square is an architectural attraction. Salt Square, flower market (former Salt market), Town Hall (turned museum of city art), the Wroclaw fountain, and various gardens, churches are some other attractions.         

61509028Do try Music theatre Capitol and Opera Wroclawska. Along with Polish cuisine Wroclaw has many Italian dining options and Korean Barbecue, Sushi apart from the long list of eateries. For Couples, a romantic evening at Ostrow Tumski (a group of islands on the Oder River with many churches and old buildings) with exotic oil lamps everywhere would be a sight to behold.

GDANSK

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Gdansk is on the Baltic Coast with two other cities Gdynia, Sopot and some suburban communities, together forming a metropolitan area called Tricity. Gdansk is the Poland’s principal seaport. They have magnificent churches but one must enjoy the view from the top of St Mary’s church, do have a look at some of their best museums and famous gates.                                                  

Sail Gdansk, swim in the sea, take tours like walking tours, Gdansk city tour or Solidarity tour to know more about their local culture and lifestyle, else Canoe tour through the canals would be  the right choice. Try a Polish meal on Motlawa River bank, else fresh oysters with a bottle of Chardonnay would be a perfect combination.  

The Gdansk specialty is the creamy Vodka with small flakes of 22 or 23 karat Gold in it. It’s known as the Danziger Goldwasser, herbal and root liqueur. 

IMG_8128-1024x768Gdynia is one of the modern cities in Poland; Beaches in Gdynia are very beautiful and best for leisure. They also have a Heineken open ‘er festival which is an open air music festival best in Europe, one should plan their trip in early summer to enjoy this festival.        Sopot known as the Spa town is famous for its resorts, beaches, the mid- woods forest Opera and Monte Cassino street.

WARSAW

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Warsaw is the capital of Poland with its major attractions being Centrum (which is the old town comprising of six districts) mainly in Srodmiescie, Wola and Mokotow .  Your Itinerary should consist some museums, Royal Castle, Kabaty forest and multimedia fountain park. Concerts, festivals, contemporary music concerts, club- hopping are some fun stuff to do. You would get many unique eateries, many kabab shops and a huge variety of fast food and Milk bars. There are separate student clubs at moderate prices and Alcohol is prohibited in the public areas.

POZNAN

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Poznan was the capital of Poland, known for its various museums, Cathedral and Old market square. See the billy goats at Noon; a clock with mechanical billy goats has been installed in the Town Hall since 1551. Every day, as the clock strikes 12pm, on the tower above the clock a door opens and two billy goats appear and they butt their heads 12 times. There’s a legend behind this on punctuality.                                                                                                          Do visit and take a stroll in the former Imperial Castle, check out the beer gardens at the Old Brewery 50 50 and try a St Martins Croissant.

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SLOWINSKI SAND DUNES

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Part of the Slowinski  National  Park, located in Northern Poland on the Baltic Coast. The Sand Dunes are formed as waves and wind carry them onshore, they can reach up as high as 30 meters. They are known as the moving dunes, with varying forms of dunes according to the season.

MASURIAN LAKE DISTRICT

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One of the most popular lake districts as it contains more than 2,000 lakes connected by canals and rivers. It also has many amazing forests, meadows and pastures around.

TATRA  MOUNTAINS                                                                                                                                    View-of-Great-Pond-in-Five-Ponds-Valley_Tatra-Mountains_Poland

Highest  mountains in Poland with five climatic vegetation belts. The mountains occupy an area of 785 kilometers. They are shared between Poland and Slovakia. You will find rocky peaks covered with snow all year round, along with spectacular lakes, waterfalls and valleys.

Sleigh rides and hiking adds a memorable experience to life.

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One must visit Poland in summers or early winters for the winters can be very frosty with the temperature going down to -20 degree Celsius with heavy snowfall.

Why not explore it yourself……   

PART 3: Chopta – so, this is how heaven feels! (April 23, 2012)

The Escapades

(Odyssey continues from Part 2)

Ukhimath to Chopta – The Drive

At 8:00 AM we started to drive for Chopta which is ~20 km of curving roads from the Ukhimath rest house where we are stationed. The road passes through a dense forest of oaks, pines, ferns, algae and mosses and is in good condition. It seems as if some artist has scraped through mushy mushy greens using charcoal. We were totally taken with the tranquil beauty of the place.

Canopy of trees on the road to Chopta (Uttarakhand, April 2012)

In addition to the pristine beauty we are also blessed with Solitude. I had selected this place as an escape from crowds and it is delivering remarkably on that.

Mayadeep Resort at Dugalbitta - On way to Chopta Mayadeep Resort at Dugalbitta – On way to Chopta

Chopta 

We reached Chopta by 10:00 AM. It is a very small village where there is no electricity and other amenities that we are used…

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Ladakh Expedition on a Rickshaw

This Rickshaw Puller Pedaled all the way from kolkata to Leh to fulfil his dream

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Everyone has dreams. Few have the courage to follow them. But when you do, you achieve the impossible. This 40-year-old rickshaw puller from Kolkata is a living proof of that.

Satyen Das makes a living ferrying commuters around the Gitanjali Metro in Naktala. His dream was to visit Ladakh, and he didn’t let anyone or anything hold him back. With his personal savings and donations from locals, he has set out on a valiant 3000 km voyage to the Khardung La pass in Ladakh. This means battling mountainous terrain, snow-covered tracks and sub zero temperatures on a rickshaw.

Satyen has modified his rickshaw with additional brakes and a new body made of light steel. He covers 40-50 kms every day and stays for free at religious places during the nights. Every morning, he goes to Police Stations to seek permission to move ahead. His journey continues, armed with maps and a camera to chronicle the great adventure.

He says it’s a great learning experience. But he also has valuable things to teach: “I want to spread the message of world peace with this journey and also I want to promote rickshaw as a cheap and eco-friendly mode of transport,” he said.

He expects to complete this expedition in 5 months and earn a place in the Guinness Book Of World Records. Earlier on, Satyen has also taken his family on trips to Puri and Rohtang Pass on his rickshaw.

A salute to the indomitable spirit of this man!