The 22 Countries I Have Visited Since COVID-19 Began

“I can see clearly now the rain has gone” – Johnny Cash.

The 21 Countries I Have Visited Since COVID-19 Began

I wrote in September 2021 that Lithuania was my first trip abroad since the first COVID lockdown in March 2020. While that is true, I was actually in a lot more countries than I thought since this COVID crisis all began in December 2019. A whopping 22. True bill.

The 21 Countries I Have Visited Since COVID-19 Began

When I devised a list recently, I was shocked to learn that I have physically been in 23 personally recognised countries since December 2019. It’s actually 22, but I’ve left one deliberately out of this list, and from my blogs, that might see the light of day…sometime. Here is the list of those countries, in order, with a quick overcap of what I did there and when it was.

“You’ve found some better place and I miss you. Like a desert’s missed the rain” – Everything But The Girl.

“You’ve found some better place and I miss you. Like a desert’s missed the rain” – Everything But The Girl.

1.Poland (December 2019)

When COVID-19 all began I was living in Warszawa, Poland. I live here where I run a travel blog, Northern Irishman in Poland and I teach English for a few companies in the capital city. All of that is freelance work. I’ve been self employed since June 2014 and officially in Poland since July 2016. I really like it here in Poland. The country fits to my ideals of paradise. However, personally it has been a completely horrific two years. Believe me when I say that being hospitalised (below photo) for 3 days was NOT my worst moment. Nowhere near it.

In Hospital in Warszawa, Poland

In Hospital in Warszawa, Poland

Since December 2019, I have visited the following places in Poland – Kraków, Warszawa, Modlin, Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, Łódź, Gdańsk, Sopot, Gdynia, Starogard Gdański, Chojnice,Tczew, Bydgoszcz, Poznań, Piotrków Trybunalski, Wałcz, Łowicz Wałecki, Piła, Zakrzewo,Hel, Chałupy, Władysławowo, Łomża, Łomianki. This serves as proof that staying in one country is far from boring.

Not Backpacking Anywhere But Poland: I Broke My Adult Record of Time In ONE Country

Not Backpacking Anywhere But Poland: I Broke My Adult Record of Time In ONE Country

2.Greece (December 2019)

Just before Christmas in 2019, I flew from Warszawa to Athens. It was my second time in Athens and third time in Greece. I stayed at the Dioskouros Hostel in Athens but I was only here on a 24 hour stopover. I still had time for dinner overlooking the Acropolis and a night on the Ouzo.

Greek Salad at GK Attikos Restaurant, Athens

3.Morocco (December 2019)

From Athens, I flew to Casablanca in Morocco. This was my second time in Casablanca and third time in Morocco. It might seem like a weird way to get from Poland to Egypt, but this was my route. Poland to Greece to Morocco to Egypt. I was only in Morocco for about six hours but I love passport stamps so I went through immigration and back in again! I have backpacked in the city of Casablanca before so this time I stayed loyal to the airport.

Good evening Casablanca

4.Egypt (December 2019)

For the first time in my life,I landed in Egypt. I flew into Cairo. Here I stayed at the Australian Backpacker’s Hostel and visited Giza, Memphis and Saqqarah. This of course included the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. I did a Nile River cruise and watched belly dancing. I love textbook tourism too.

Backpacking in Egypt : Touring the Pyramids of Giza and The Sphinx

5.Republic of Ireland (December 2019)

I went from Cairo to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. I was visiting my family for Christmas and this was the best route I found. Part of this visit to Dublin’s faitlr city involved a heavy night on the Guinness rip. Standard. Remember the best writers are Irish, and always will be.

Oscar Wilde Statue, Dublin.

6.Northern Ireland (December 2019)

Sweet home Northern Ireland. I was here for Christmas with my family. Two of my Polish friends, Rafał and Kamil also visited. I watched Glentoran v Ards and toured Milford, the home of the penalty kick.

The Holy Grail Of Football Stadiums: Taking A Guided Tour of The Oval, Glentoran Football Club, East Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Holy Grail Of Football Stadiums: Taking A Guided Tour of The Oval, Glentoran Football Club, East Belfast, Northern Ireland

7.England (December 2019)

Before the 2010s faded out of view, I flew into Bournemouth, my old hunting ground in England. Here I went on the big wheel, visited Dean Court, partied with friends on New Year’s Eve and then watched TWO football matches in London on the same day.

Up the Cherries! Watching Bournemouth at West Ham, London

Up the Cherries! Watching Bournemouth at West Ham, London

Millwall beat Luton Town 3-1 and West Ham United beat AFC Bournemouth 4-0. When I flew out of Stansted airport on 2nd January 2020, I had no idea how long it would be until I’d see my family again.

8.The Netherlands (February 2020)

Officially, I’ve been to The Netherlands three times since COVID started and the entire hattrick were on stopovers to the Dam! Each time I’d get tore intill Dutch cheese and beer at good old Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. That airport has a spooky history with I….

“Traded in my sorrows for the joy that I borrowed. Back in the day” – Kylie Minogue.

1991 – first ever trip abroad alone.
2014 – Iraq to Amsterdam to Belfast in secret.
2016 – my last airport departure before hanging up my backpack to live in Gdańsk, Poland.
2020 – my last airport departure before lockdown
2021 – my first airport arrival after lockdown

Stopover in the Netherlands

9.Angola (February 2020)

I flew from Amsterdam to Luanda. The highlight in Angola was my trip to Panguila, a beach and harbour full of shipwrecks. I also loved backpacking the sights of Luanda. In glory days, I’d have covered how to get an Angola visa online.

Backpacking in Angola: Visiting the Crazy Shipwreck Graveyard in Panguila

10.Namibia (February 2020)

I bunged quite a lot into my short time in Namibia. I stayed in Walvis Bay, where I did a tour to sandwich harbour with Russell and Malina. We toured a pink lake, a salt refinery, jeeped the sand dunes, had seafood sunset and oyster breakfast.

Namibia (February 2020)

I also stayed at the Chameleon Backpacker’s Hostel in Windy Hook and at a glorious lodge in the countryside – Vineyard Country Lodge. At Joe’s Beer house in thon capital, I ate zebra for the first time, whilst also seeing cheetahs face to face at Duesternbrook.

Zebra Steak, Windhoek, Namibia

Zebra Steak, Windhoek, Namibia

Backpacking in Namibia: Staying at Chameleon Backpackers Hostel in Downtown Windhoek

In a three week period, I’d make a whopping 9 separate airport visits in Namibia. Hook Airs? Hoek Airs? Who Cares?!

Malina and I mask loyal, stranded in Windhoek, NAMIBIA

Malina and I mask loyal, stranded in Windhoek, NAMIBIA

11.Zimbabwe (February 2020)

The tricky skills of Zimbabwean footballer Peter Ndlovu came reeling back when we landed in the misty magic of Victoria Falls. Yes, the airport, the city and the waterfall are all called Victoria Falls. It’s nothing short of inspiring. We stayed at the Shoestrings Backpacker’s Hostel. The waterfalls, I never wrote about. Yet…

Great breakfast at Shoestrings Backpackers in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

12.Botswana (February 2020)

I was back in Botswana again, 9 years later. We crossed by land border from Zimbabwe and stayed for two nights in Chobe Crocodile Lodge. I got a tour of the Crocodile Farm, which brung back reminders of Kachikally in The Gambia. Previously in life, I backpacked Gaborone, the capital down by the South Africa border.

Backpacking in Botswana: Touring Chobe Crocodile Farm Near Kasane

13.Zambia (February 2020)

From Kasane in Botswana we got the Kazungula ferry across to Zambia. This was another new country for me. Here we stayed at the brilliant Fawlty Towers Hostel!! Again, blogging went array and I have yet to really cover it.

Friendly staff at Fawlty Towers Backpackers Hostel in Livingstone, Zambia

Friendly staff at Fawlty Towers Backpackers Hostel in Livingstone, Zambia

Backpacking in Zambia: Manuel Loyal – Sleeping at Fawlty Towers in Livingstone

We did a rhino walking safari, coming face to face with the white rhino. Other highlights in Zambia were sunset by the Zambezi, touring Livingstone city, a short hike to a pool and I got naked on this side of the Victoria Falls to complete the brace.

On the path to watch rhinos finally, in Zambia

14.South Africa (February 2020)

In terms of actual visits to South Africa, it would be 5, but I’ve only been there on two trips! 2010 and 2020. How is it possible?? Well because from South Africa, I have crossed the land borders to all of Eswatini (Swaziland), Botswana and Lesotho!

8.I visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on a tour of Robben Island. I had wanted to do that for a long time.

On this trip I was in Bloemfontein, Cape Town and a load of places on the Cape peninsula. We saw penguins at Simon’s town and posed for photos at the Cape of Good Hope, the south westerly tip of Africa. We had a few nights sleeping on the famous Long Street and I did the ferry trip to Robben Island. A former prisoner did my tour and I saw the horrors of the cell where Nelson Mandela was forced to be locked up in. That was really grim and I was sick that day, from food poisoning. Summiting Table Mountain was a pure fire highlight though.

The hike up Table Mountain in Cape Town

“Lonely prison walls” – Fields of Athenry.

8.I visited Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on a tour of Robben Island. I had wanted to do that for a long time.

15.Lesotho (February 2020)

Lofty Lesotho is the Kingdom in the sky and I loved it here. I stayed at the Anne Guesthouse in Maseru, I watched the top of the table local football derby between Bantu FC and Matlama and I backpacked through Thaba Bosiu and Maseru.

Top Of The Table Clash, Maseru, LESOTHO

Top Of The Table Clash, Maseru, LESOTHO

Backpacking in Lesotho: Top 10 Sights in Maseru, The Capital

Sadly when I had my train accident in June 2020, I lost my phone and all photos. My city photos from Maseru are lost forever.

Lesotho

//17 month gap!!//

Yep, I stayed in POLSKA!!

tourism starogard gdanski

I stayed in Poland all that time

16.Lithuania (September 2021)

From L to L! After Lesotho happened, I flew back to Poland and that was February 2020. I didn’t leave Poland again until September 2021.

Lithuania Away: My First Trip Abroad in 19 Months

I crossed the land border from Poland by Flixbus and stayed in Kaunas. I slept in The Monk’s Bunk Hostel again! As well as Kaunas,I visited Vilnius (again) and Trakai for the first time.

But the main reason I was here was GAWA. Green and white army. Northern Ireland beat Lithuania 4-1 away and the TNIF was on TV again. Glory days loyal.

17.Uzupis (September 2021)

My return to Vilnius of course meant heading back to the quirky real country known as Uzupis. Here in this wacaday republic, I got my passport stamped for the first time in 19 months.

I also did a nude photo shoot for my book series, Backpacking Centurion. Art gallery ladies were unshy to get a glimpse of my lower sausage on a calm morning. However, disaster was just around the chimney corner and I was miles from smiles.

18.Austria (2021)

I flew to Vienna at some point after that, and from here I left the EU for a new country. I’ve nothing more to note on that. I’ve been to Vienna a few times and also to Salzburg, Grodig and Branau Am Inn.

A stopover in Vienna

A stopover in Vienna

19.Albania (2021)

Albania was the last UEFA country on my list. I’ve now been to all 55 of the 55 UEFA listed countries (as of December 2021).

Albania was the last UEFA country on my list. I've now been to all 55 of the 55 UEFA listed countries (as of December 2021).

Albania was the last UEFA country on my list. I’ve now been to all 55 of the 55 UEFA listed countries (as of December 2021).

This trip was kind of secret and not promoted. I had some major problems around this time. I was in deep depression and worse.

Shkoder, Albania

In Albania,I stayed at the Tirana Backpacker’s Hostel in the capital and the City Central Hostel in Shköder. Whilst in Albania, I also visited Paskuqan, met my old flatmate Shpetim and watched live basketball.

Eating out in Shkoder, Albania

Eating out in Shkoder, Albania

In fact,I even partied with the basketball team, Vllaznia Shkodra that night. Albania is nice but there were horrors and demons in my mind.

Watching Vllaznia Shkodra with my Albanian friend Shpetim in Shkoder

Watching Vllaznia Shkodra with my Albanian friend Shpetim in Shkoder

Watching Vllaznia Shkodra with my Albanian friend Shpetim in Shkoder

Watching Vllaznia Shkodra with my Albanian friend Shpetim in Shkoder

20.Russia (November 2021)

All my trips to Russia to date have been short and sharp! I backpacked properly through Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Krasnodar. On this visit I was in transit only at the famous Sheremetyevo Airport.

21.The Seychelles (November 2021)

My mission was usually to visit new countries. Repeats can become banal and mundane. In November 2021, I finally visited The Seychelles. This country of islands is one of many that were unbackpacked.

In fact of the countries,I have yet to visit in life, most of them are islands. (Palau,Cuba,Bermuda,Barbados,Sao Tome I Principe,Cape Verde Islands, Mauritius,The Maldives, Vanuatu,Tonga,Niue and so on).

Relaxing at Anse Royale, Mahe Island, The Seychelles

Relaxing at Anse Royale, Mahe Island, The Seychelles

22.Qatar (November 2021)

I have been to Qatar loads of times now, and mostly as airport stopovers. However on two of those stop overs I spent a few days in the city of Doha, backpacking the sights, visiting the football stadiums pre-World Cup 2022, enjoying the Souks, a dhow cruise and sleeping in a male only hostel for the first time. On this ocassion in 2021, I had a stopover on route to Poland.

Posing by the Qatar flag in Doha

doha dhow qatar

Cruising on our dhow in Doha.

23.There Is A Number 23

There is actually another personally recognised country that I have been in since December 2019. But I don’t want to mention it just yet. At some point, the whole thing might become clear. It would appear that I’ve officially been in 192 countries now. 193 if I count Mauritania (which I don’t, as it is currently the only country I have been to for an hour without leaving the plane. I did that on my Lost Luggage challenge in 2016). You might not have heard the end of this but from 0 countries in 17 months, I pulled out 23 countries in 24 months. This is fact. My passport proves it. But it ain’t a backpacker’s paradise.

“Been spending most our lives living in a gangsta’s paradise” – Coolio.

Reality Reflection: Glory Days Loyal

So there you have it. I have officially been in 23 countries since COVID-19 began and nine of them are NEW to me.

(Egypt, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Albania, The Seychelles, Number 22).

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