I’m reading Simon Winchester’s biography of the Atlantic at the moment ("Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories"), and thoroughly enjoying it. His enthusiasm for some of the undersea place-names has made me think back to a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago in praise of the inflight information system on Air Canada.
One of Winchester’s throw away lines at the start of the book alludes to the fact that he ‘must have transversed this particular body of water five hundred times’. Aside from the fact that this is just bragging, and I’m going to forgive him that he has also crossed ‘this particular body of water’ by boat, a journey that is still on my must-do-sometime list, this did start me thinking about how many times I’ve crossed the Atlantic.
I started by digging back through old passports. We Brits don’t get stamps when we come into the UK, but I’ve got a fairly substantial collection of US entry stamps – 21 that I can see, plus three for Canada and one for Chile – that 25 trips – 50 crossings. Easy so far.
Then we come the more difficult trips – how far across the Atlantic do you need to go to have really crossed it? The Falkland Islands are pretty close to South America (at least so certain Argentine lobby groups would have you believe). For the sake of this argument we’ll include flying from the Falkland Islands via Ascension as a valid transatlantic crossing (and coming back again). That gets me to 52 crossings.
Greenland might technically be part of Denmark (and therefore of Europe) but it’s awfully close to Ellesmere Island (definitely Canada), and only separated from Baffin Island (also Canada) by Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait. So I think I need to class my trip to Greenland in 2007 as having included another couple of transatlantic crossings. We’ve got to 54 now.
However, if we’re classing Greenland as having included a transatlantic crossing, what about Iceland? When I went to Greenland I went via Reykjavik, so when did I cross the Atlantic? My map of the Atlantic clearly shows the water between Iceland and Greenland as the Denmark Strait, and the water between Scotland and Iceland as ‘Atlantic Ocean’, so do I get to count my trip to Iceland in 2006 as an transatlantic crossing? Seems too easy. That’s 56.
But it doesn’t seem quite right. The Faroe Islands are on my wish list too – are they far enough away to count as a transatlantic crossing? Confusing business this travel lark.