In the classical world there were seven wonders, which were looked upon as the ultimate human achievement. Join me while I unfold seven destinations which I consider to be the seven wonders of my travel experience.
Which of the statements below describe why you like to travel the best?
- When you travel you invest in life.
- When you travel you nourish your senses.
- When you travel you change as a person.
- Maybe you have other reasons for traveling, if so which are they?
- Can you think of good reasons for not traveling?
- Sit in twos or threes and share at least one story each from your travel experiences.
glimpse, awesome, riddle, nourish, curiosity, devotion, agriculture, immacualte, perceive, vulnerable, decade, armistice, grief, despair, surveillance, generosity
THE GREAT PYRAMID
There are many man-made pyramids in the world, but there is only one called the Great Pyramid, the pyramid of Pharaoh Cheops at the Giza plateau outside Cairo. Constructed around 4500 years ago, this pyramid is the only remaining of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Rising 146 meters above the granite ground, the Great Pyramid’s awesome dimensions and blocks of stone from 2.5 to 80 tons are breathtaking. Constructed as a tomb for Pharaoh Cheops, it still contains unsolved riddles and secrets. When I walked up the Grand Gallery for the first time, up to the burial chamber more than 60 meters above ground level, I could not stop wondering: how could they construct something so perfect at that time? Traveling nourishes our curiosity and amazement.
In Agra in India, millions of visitors come to the Taj Mahal, by many considered the most beautiful mausoleum in the world. Constructed as a burial chamber for Queen Mumtaz Mahal, the construction was completed in 1653. I stood there in the early morning, watching the sun spreading its first rays on the white marble and the decorations of stone inlays and carvings. Every angel, every curve and magnificent shape convey its message to every visitor: eternal love. The Emperor Shah Jahan built this memorial to his Queen, as a symbol of his great love and devotion. Traveling gives us the opportunity to meet the greatest love stories of the world.
Far into the Andes Mountains in Peru, at an altitude of 2430 meters, I came to Machu Picchu one morning in October. Millions of people had moved along the old Inca trails before me, but for me it was the first time. Nothing is like a first time experience! In the 15th century the Incas built their city to live in, and constructed stone terraces for agriculture. With immaculate precision and skill they constructed stone walls, and when the Incas left Machu Picchu after the Spanish conquest, its location remained hidden until 1911, when the American historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered it. During my second day in the Machu Picchu area I climbed Huayna Picchu, the steep mountain giving a fabulous outlook over Machu Picchu. Traveling teaches us about human efforts and skills.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
Diving has never been my kind of thing, but the lighter version, snorkeling, is for everybody. On the boat “Passions of Paradise” we set off from Cairns, heading for the most extensive coral areas in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches for 2600 kilometers outside north-eastern Australia. Seen from over water the corals seem grey and dull. But what a change once the mask is under the water surface, and your eyes perceive colors, fish and creatures that go far beyond your imagination. The corals, living, vulnerable organisms, greet visitors in turquoise, pink and shades of blue. Fish in the colors of the rainbow face us as if nothing has happened.
Traveling gives us the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature.
The world’s largest island had been on my list of wanted destinations for many years, and a couple of years ago I got the opportunity to experience Inuit culture in Greenland on a two weeks journey. The first impressions were awesome. Right after landing in Narsarsuaq, we saw the first icebergs floating almost motionless in the green water. There are no roads linking the cities in Greenland, so much of the traffic is based on boats, helicopters and planes. After a boat ride we arrived at the little village Igaliku, with around 60 inhabitants. In only a couple of days we learned how this little society had organized their everyday life, and how proud they are of every little achievement in the village. Traveling gives us the opportunity to meet people in their everyday environment.
This city has been the scene of a lot of trouble these last decades. Protestants and Catholics were continually fighting, armistices were broken, and all the while the media made sure we heard about the tragedies. Full of the opinions and attitudes based on what I knew from the media, I came to Belfast. Nothing, however, is more interesting than meeting people, and I will never forget a night at a concert in Belfast. We were in a crowded football ground, filled with people, bands, and music. My neighbor started talking to me. Out of pure curiosity I asked him about the situation in Northern Ireland, and to my surprise he did not mention conflicts, battles and grief. Instead he talked about friendship, hope, courage, and opportunities. He talked about the next generation and his faith in them. Traveling gives us the opportunity to meet people who can change our attitudes and views.
On this island, only a few miles from Cape Town in South Africa, thousands of political prisoners sat for decades, serving sentences only because they had protested against an unjust and selfish regime. The most well-known prisoner on Robben Island was Nelson Mandela. When I visited Robben Island, one of Mandela’s co-prisoners was our guide. He shared moments of hope, moments of despair and disease. The prisoners were kept under strict surveillance, and only after years of protest and request, were simple shower facilities established. Our guide started with the sentence: “Robben Island took 20 years of my life”. After the tour I asked him: “How is it possible to forgive”. I will always remember his answer: “What is the alternative?” Traveling teaches us about human generosity and greatness.
- Sum up what the author learned about humanity by traveling and experiencing the 7 wonders.
- The Great Pyramid, Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Robben Island were all built for specific purposes. What were they?
- What made a great impression on the author on Robben Island?
- Are there any other places around the world similar to these that have been made into museums? Which ones?
- What do you know about the troubles in Belfast?
- Modern travel has brought us closer together
- It has become more and more dangerous to travel
- Travel broadens our outlook on life
Choose one of the following and write a few short paragraphs telling why:
- My favorite type of travel is visiting ancient ruins and antiquities.
- My favorite type of travel involves city thrills, shopping and clubbing.
- My favorite type of travel involves experiencing nature.
- Go online and find some statistics on tourist visits – rank these 7 wonders by the number of visitors who visit them each year.
- Find more pictures of the famous sites mentioned in this text. Suggested site: Flickr