Friday, 19 December 2014

The Longlist: Kuthodaw Pagoda

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, Kuthodaw Pagoda, in Mandalay, Burma.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Country Review: Bolivia

Dates there: 4th January to 8th January 2014: 5 days

Bolivia's Wonders: none

On the Longlist: Tiwanaku

We were warned about La Paz before we went: it's crowded, it's squalid, it's chaotic, it's dangerous. Left to my own devices, I would probably have given it a miss and skipped straight from Peru to Chile. But Danielle was intrigued. Despite the above reports, a few others filtered through, saying that yes, sure, it's all these things, but it's also fun. So we went. And yes, it was fun.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Old Pictures: Borobudur

Borobudur, in central Java, is a 9th Century Buddhist temple kind of thing. It doesn't really know what it is, because it's also a bit like a pyramid, and a bit like a hill. It's a one-off. Our guide described it as a book made out of stone. Whatever it is, these days it looks like this:

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Country Review: Peru

Dates there: 6th December 2013 to 4th January 2014, 20th to 24th February 2014: 35 days

Peru's Wonders: Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines

Also visited: Winay Wayna, Saksayhuaman, Arequipa Cathedral

On the Longlist: Ollantaytambo, Kuelap, Moray, Choquequirao, Chan Chan

Danielle was very impressed. Usually, she is regarded as more petite than most, but in Peru she became a giant. The average height of a Peruvian woman is 4 foot 11½ inches (151cm) but remember, this is just the average. Many are much less. If you're short in stature and are fed up of feeling that way, go to Peru.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Longlist: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge aka the Pearl Bridge

If you look closely, you might notice a new tab in the horizontal green bar at the top of this page. It says "Longlist". If you click on it, it explains a little more about my Longlist, but basically it's for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, also known as the Pearl Bridge, in Kobe, Japan.

Take a look at the Golden Gate Bridge, the classic mighty suspension bridge, and once the biggest one on earth. I visited it in August of this year.

Uh-huh. Pretty impressive. The towers are 227 metres from top to water, and the main suspension span in the middle is 1280 metres. Now, let's take a look at the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, which from now on I'm going to call by its supposed nickname of the Pearl Bridge, because it's a lot easier to write.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Old Pictures: Sydney Opera House

I have 39 Wonders still to visit, and 14 previews still to write. They will begin next year. In the meantime, I'm going to allow this blog to ramble around like a slightly senile geriatric. The very observant among you may have noticed The Longlist tab, which has appeared on the green bar above. Clicking on that will explain its purpose. I will be writing about each of the places there, in time. Also, in full rambling mode, I'm going to write about the countries I've been to on these travels, from the perspective of a budget traveller looking for World Wonders (that is, my perspective). And I'm also going to be digging up some old pictures and photos of Wonders, either in construction or from ye olde times. Likely, there will be a few others bits and pieces too. Anyway, for today, let's begin at the beginning (in terms of the order I've visited things at least) and take a look at some old pictures of the Sydney Opera House.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Model Wonders: Part 6 (Europe Edition)

Despite the many, many requests I get, on a daily basis, from big-name magazines and academic journals, offering big money to enquire after and photograph my collection of miniature World Wonders, I always refuse. "No," I tell them, gently but firmly, "I don't want to tarnish the purity of my collection. It would be like a celebrity mother selling pictures of her baby. There are some things which should not be exploited for commercial gain. This is one."

However, for my dear reader, I am more than happy to show you the European collection of models from my recent travels. Here they are.

(please note: I would also be more than happy to exploit this for commercial gain if any big-money magazines really are interested. Likewise, a baby, should I acquire one.)

Palace of Versailles

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Burness Corner: The Forbidden City

My erstwhile travel companion from September 2011 to April 2012 gives his views upon the Wonders we visited. Today, Beijing's Forbidden City.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Unofficial Wonders Part 3: Europe

There's more to life than just official Wonders - there are unofficial ones too. I encountered a load of them on my recent travels, as recently highlighted, and so here are some more. Unscheduled and unresearched, they all stopped in me in my tracks in the way that a busy father, possibly with a freshly-made gin-and-tonic in hand, might stop suddenly upon seeing his children playing happily in the garden and think, "Yeah, things are pretty good." Does that imply that I secretly regard myself as the father of all monumental construction and that the world is my garden? Hmm, no, I didn't mean that. I'll take the gin-and-tonic, though.

These are all from Europe and are just the examples I happened to jump into a photograph with. There could have been many more - Italy alone is so stuffed with castles and cathedrals and medieval towers that if it were a pepper, then it would be, well, really too stuffed for its own good. Yet, what a tasty pepper.

Temple of Olympian Zeus, Greece

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Burness Corner: Ellora Caves/Kailasanathar Temple in Ellora

It has been over a year since my last Guest Corner, and over 18 months since my erstwhile travel companion, Burness, gave any of his views. Burness travelled with me through Asia, from September 2011 to April 2012, visiting 14 countries and 22 candidate Wonders. He initially showed some enthusiasm for writing up his own opinions and submitting to my short interviews, but this eventually waned. However, after numerous gentle reminders, I have managed to get a few more interviews from him. Today we have the Ellora Caves of India, with particular focus on its main temple, Kailash Temple, also called Kailasanathar.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Model Wonders: Part 5 (Americas Edition)

It may have been a dream (I can never quite tell), but just the other day I was ambling down the street when a group of youth stopped me. "Nev," they said as one, "It goes without saying that we closely follow your visits to prospective World Wonders, and have enjoyed your recent visits to the Americas and Europe. However, we recall you used to buy models of your Wonders, as we saw originally here, then here, then here, and finally (but still over two years ago) here. Do you still do such a thing, and if so, will you be making an update on your purchases over the last year?"

"Thank-you for your kind words and enquiries," I responded, after a moment's consideration. "I have indeed been buying models of all my Wonders, plus a few other ones too. Look, here they are:"

Machu Picchu

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Unofficial Wonders Part 2: The Americas

There are 105 candidate Wonders on my list, but they are not the be-all and end-all: I don't think they are the best 105 structures and sites out there. They just constitute my shortlist to filter down to an eventual top Seven. It's not uncommon when I'm Wonder hunting to encounter something off-list. Some of these I already know about, some are a surprise, but I feel they deserve at least an honorary mention.

I call these Unofficial Wonders and there surely hundreds, if not a lot more, out there.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

New Additions To The List: Part 6

It has been around 18 months since I made any changes to my list of candidate World Wonders, and rather a lot has happened since then. As time has gone on, my list has become more and more fixed; now two-thirds of the way through, it's possible that this could be my final amendment. But probably not.

Anyway, let's cut the waffle. The following are the new additions to the list, or the ones I have considered but rejected. It should be said that rather a lot has been considered in the last 18 months, and the below ones represent only the most heavily pondered, i.e. if they didn't make it, they came pretty damn close to being given the thumbs up.

1. The Baha'i Gardens in Haifa, Israel: ACCEPTED.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Home For Good - And Future Plans

Danielle and I got home, after ten months of travelling, last week. It’s been a busy week. In that time, we have found and moved into a new (rented) flat, bought a (banger of a) car, and attended my cousin’s wedding in Strathpeffer (in the Pavilion). Danielle has secured short-term work, and is looking for something longer term, and has started a part-time Masters. I am waiting for offshore work. The process of settling in has begun. The travels are over.

But the Wonder hunting has not.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Days 537 to 539: Cancun finale

Cancun is a ghastly place, that I'd usually avoid at all costs. Except at these costs - £419.90 for two people to fly from Cancun to London Gatwick. Just over £200 each to fly around ten hours. Not bad, hence Cancun is the setting for the end of our travels.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Days 533 and 534: Tulum and Merida

Perhaps as we roll into the last week of our travels after ten months we've become jaded. But both Tulum and Merida, highly rated by the Lonely Planet, failed to excite us at all. Both seemed shabby and nondescript. They weren't awful by any measures, just with a sense of "Is this it?"