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Traveler's funny twist on 'bucket lists'

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
Catherine Price is surrounded by baby goats at a dairy farm in France. The avid traveler spoofs "bucket lists" in her book.
Catherine Price is surrounded by baby goats at a dairy farm in France. The avid traveler spoofs "bucket lists" in her book.
  • Annoyed with "bucket list" books, traveler assembles list of places not to see before you die
  • The book is definitely tongue in cheek, Catherine Price says
  • She includes Times Square on New Year's Eve, Beijing Museum of Tap Water
  • Price: List meant to "liberate people from the feeling there are all these things they have to do"

(CNN) -- Catherine Price is in Lithuania, but her luggage is in Latvia -- maybe.

She's hoping the lost bags in the middle of a long journey across Europe and Asia will be one of those bad travel experiences that make for good stories once you get home.

Or it might inspire yet another entry on Price's offbeat list of itineraries to avoid.

Annoyed by a growing selection of books advising people what to see and do before they kick the proverbial bucket, she decided to write a spoof of the bucket list genre: "101 Places Not to See Before You Die."

Never mind that Price has already worked her way down anyone's idea of an impressive things-to-do-before-meeting-your-maker list.

The New York native has traveled all her life, including going on a three-week "self-guided" tour of China with her parents when she was 12, biking across the United States after college and honeymooning in Croatia. She'll soon be taking the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Still, Price is determined to find places travelers can skip without much regret. (You can submit your suggestions at her website,

Some of Price's picks
• Mount Rushmore
• The Annual Poison Oak Show
• The Seattle Gum Wall
• The Testicle Festival
• Stonehenge
• Your boss' bedroom
• Pamplona, from the perspective of a bull
• The Gloucester Cheese Rolling Competition
• Euro Disney
• Ibiza on a family vacation

Source: "101 Places Not to See Before You Die" by Catherine Price

Price, 31, recently spoke with from Vilnius, Lithuania, where she was hoping to be reunited with her lost luggage and preparing to bike to Estonia.

The following is an edited version of that interview.

CNN: What annoyed you about the genre of books that recommended places you had to see before you die?

Catherine Price: It doesn't leave much room for creativity. I think they're fun to browse through, but I think the trend has gotten a little bit out of hand.

I wanted to give myself and other people like me the freedom to just break free from the lists and have your own adventures.

But the book is definitely tongue in cheek and that's something that seems to get lost sometimes.

People shouldn't take it too seriously -- it wasn't my intention to say all of these places are actually horrible. Some of them are pretty interesting.

CNN: You write that if people spend their vacations armed with too many checklists, they're missing the point of leaving home. How so?

Price: That kind of summarizes the motivation behind the project. It was just to liberate people from the feeling there are all these things they have to do. I'm guilty of this myself, but if you're just going through things checking off lists then you're not really experiencing them. You're just doing it like an assignment.

CNN: So let's talk about some of the places you included in your book. One of them was the Beijing Museum of Tap Water.

Price: I'm fascinated by very mundane-seeming museums and that has to be at the top of the list. It's just a pump station that commemorates the history of tap water in Beijing.

I think that would be one of the ones that straddles the line between too boring to be worth visiting and kind of so odd that it is worth visiting.

CNN: Your list includes "an overnight stay at a Korean temple" based on an experience you had at a meditation center on Ganghwa Island, South Korea. What went wrong?

Price: That one was the quintessential, "It sounds good in the abstract, and the reality was bad, but it was funny to remember afterwards" [scenario].

It was a chance to live like a monk for 24 hours... it kind of has that peaceful, pleasant connotation to it.

What you don't realize is that monks sleep on the floor, they wear really itchy outfits, they do a lot of community work time and they get up at 3:30 in the morning.

CNN: "Rush hour on a Samoan bus" sounds interesting. You write that passengers just sit on each other's laps when things get crowded?

Price: That was from a friend of mine who spent a semester in Samoa. That was one of the things that I think would just be very funny to experience firsthand but you have to know it's coming, you have to be ready for it.

I'm from New York originally and I love the idea of taking a bus in Manhattan and when it gets crowded, people just sitting on one another. It's a really funny, kind of sweet cultural tradition.

CNN: Why do you include "Times Square on New Year's Eve" on your list of places not to see before you die?

Price: I've seen Times Square on New Year's Eve from a distance and I have a friend from high school who is a cop who had to work on New Year's Eve in Times Square.

What I think not everyone understands is that it's totally freezing, you have to get there really early if you want to get a good spot because they separate you into different holding pens.

They don't let food vendors in, you are not allowed to bring alcohol in and there are no bathrooms. For me the combination of crowds, hunger, thirst, the need to [go to the bathroom] and freezing cold temperatures is not the way I need to spend my New Year's Eve.

I would recommend instead -- there's a New Year's run in Central Park... where you run around the park starting at midnight and it's right next to the fireworks display.

It's a really fun way to ring in the New Year that does not involve the craziness of Times Square. You can kind of gaze down 7th Avenue and get a hint of it, but you don't have to be a part of it.

CNN: You also list the town of F***ing, Austria, whose name makes English-speakers giggle and where you write that "immature tourists" have been stealing the road signs.

Price: That is one of the ones where probably the entire amusement value is right there in its name. So I just kind of enjoy the idea that there are some places in the world that have these names that in other languages are completely ridiculous.

I like the fact that they bolted down the sign because people kept stealing it.

I would say if you're someone who really seeks out novelty T-shirts or postcards from places, maybe you should go but otherwise you can just read about it.

CNN: You've gotten some attention from a couple of the places you mentioned. A Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist humorously bristled at why Nevada -- which came in at No. 84 in your book -- didn't claim the top spot. And the owner of Blarney Castle in Ireland said that including the Blarney Stone on your list was "a load of Blarney," according to The Irish Times. Do you think people are taking your book too seriously?

Price: I actually think those two places took it really well.

The Blarney Stone is very funny because I got a very sweet note from the marketing director saying "Why did you include the Blarney Castle? ... Were you aware that it has all of these other attractions?"

We actually had a very pleasant e-mail exchange where I explained to her that my problem with it was the germs of the rock.

She told me that you actually can ask them to clean it before you kiss it.

The next time I'm in Ireland, maybe I'll try to get in touch with her and take a tour of the castle to have her prove me wrong.