I don’t take many vacations — two per decade has traditionally been my norm. So in 2015, when I inexplicably indulged in two such adventures (Iceland in March; Tokyo in November), I assumed that would suffice for another ten years. But a strange thing happened — after spending all of 2016 nestled snuggly in my Vancouver condo, I’ve suddenly developed another hankering to journey abroad.
Truth be told, Japan is always calling me — wooing me ever since my first visit in 1995. So, not surprisingly, my initial thought upon the hanker’s return was to simply organize another trip to Japan. But somewhere deep inside there’s a tiny voice that whispers, “try something new.”
If I were the sort of person who kept a “bucket list,” I’d have a ready-made catalog of places I’d like to explore. But since I’m well-practiced in the art of mortality denial, I never bothered to create such a list. As such, my travel inclinations are rather vague. Northern countries seem to exert the greatest pull — Sweden; Finland; Norway; maybe hop across the water to Estonia and Latvia. And there’s something about Eastern Europe that beckons me — I think it’s the architecture and the history, but I can’t say for certain.
So I decided to look at it from another angle. Why not choose a destination where I, ruler of the ULTRA empire, am the most revered? Maybe bask in a little idolatry; check out my statue in the town square; accept some big ol’ key to the city from the town’s mayor and see what it unlocks?
I cracked open Google Analytics to learn which countries sent me the most readers over the past couple of years. Not surprisingly, the top four countries were (in order): USA; UK; Germany; Canada. Hmm. With the exception of Canada (where I live, and thus likely exert a tiny bit of disproportionate influence), these are countries with rather large populations. I’m not sure this is telling me anything useful.
A more accurate representation of a country’s love and adulation would be found in a per-capita analysis. So I set up a spreadsheet listing the top-15 countries in terms of gross number of visitors to the ULTRAsomething site. I then looked up and entered the population of each country, and let Excel crunch the “per capita” numbers.
The results were somewhat surprising. None of the top four countries from the “gross number of readers” list made it into the “per-capita” top-4 list.
My first thought was, “well, Luxembourg gave us Edward Steichen, so maybe it’s only natural they like me.” But what’s not natural is the gap by which Luxembourg won. It wasn’t just first on the per-capita list of ULTRAsomething readers — it was first by a whopping 1,000%! So popular is this site amongst Luxembourgers, that I actually checked to make sure I wasn’t Prime Minister. Turns out I’m not. Xavier Bettel must be one heck of a photographer, composer and blogger because he currently has that distinction. I have yet to parse through the registry to see if, instead, I’m associated in some way with the Grand Duchy.
Switzerland, Singapore and Norway are all in a virtual tie with one another — far behind Luxembourg, but also substantially ahead of fifth place finisher, Australia.
I find it curious that only one of the top-4 countries (Singapore) lists English as one of its official languages. Apparently I’m more popular when no one can actually read what I have to say.
So I’m torn. Should I follow the data and make Luxembourg my next vacation destination? Or is there some weird statistical anomaly at play here? Maybe one of the runner-up countries wants to put together a bid? I’m looking at you Switzerland, Singapore and Norway. Make me an offer…
Sadly, the one country I dearly love to visit — Japan — does not appear anywhere on the list of top-15 ULTRAsomething worshiping countries. Cleary, my love of Japan is not reciprocated.
Ultimately, I’m not sure whether I’ve solved my vacation dilemma or merely complicated it. But at least I now know a little something about Luxembourg — handy should the web stats prove authentic, and the capital city key forthcoming.
©2017 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
“Travel Essentials” was shot with a Ricoh GR.
“Full Travel Coverage” was shot with a Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) and a lens I forgot to document — though I’m guessing it might have been an old v4 35mm Summicron.
“Unencumbered Travels” was shot with a Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) with a Super-Elmar-M f3.4 21mm ASPH lens.
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