Monthly Archives: October 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #94: Yellowstone National Park

Posted by on October 22, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #94: Yellowstone National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #94: Yellowstone National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

The vast natural forest of Yellowstone National Park covers nearly 9,000 km2; 96% of the park lies in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho. Yellowstone contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples. It also has the world’s largest concentration of geysers (more than 300 geyers, or two thirds of all those on the planet). Established in 1872, Yellowstone is equally known for its wildlife, such as grizzly bears, wolves, bison and wapitis.

Not only is Yellowstone the first national park in the world, but it is also one of the best. You’d be hard pressed to make a top 10 list of attractions in the natural world and not put Yellowstone on the list. Between the geology and the wildlife, Yellowstone has it all.

Statue of Liberty

Posted by on October 21, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #93: Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty: My 93rd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Statue of Liberty for the Statue of Liberty:

The Statue of Liberty, a hollow colossus composed of thinly pounded copper sheets over a steel framework, stands on an island at the entrance to New York Harbor. It was designed by sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi in collaboration with engineer Gustave Eiffel and was a gift from France on the centenary of American independence in 1876. Its design and construction were recognized at the time as one of the greatest technical achievements of the 19th century and hailed as a bridge between art and engineering. Atop its pedestal (designed by American architect Richard Morris Hunt), the Statue has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States since it was dedicated in 1886.

The Statue is a masterpiece of colossal statuary, which found renewed expression in the 19th century, after the tradition of those of antiquity, but with intimations of Art Nouveau. Drawing on classical elements and iconography, it expressed modern aspirations. The interior iron framework is a formidable and intricate piece of construction, a harbinger of the future in engineering, architecture, and art, including the extensive use of concrete in the base, the flexible curtain-wall type of construction that supports the skin, and the use of electricity to light the torch. Édouard René de Laboulaye collaborated with Bartholdi for the concept of the Statue to embody international friendship, peace, and progress, and specifically the historical alliance between France and the United States. Its financing by international subscription was also significant. Highly potent symbolic elements of the design include the United States Declaration of Independence, which the Statue holds in her left hand, as well as the broken shackles from which she steps.

The Statue of Liberty is one of the few cultural World Heritages sites in North America that is from the post-colonial era. There is a smaller replica of the statue in Paris, which is also in a World Heritage site.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church

Posted by on October 20, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #92: Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church

Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church: My 92nd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Westminster Abby and St. Margaret’s Church:

The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church lie next to the River Thames in the heart of London. With their intricate silhouettes, they have symbolized monarchy, religion, and power since Edward the Confessor built his palace and church on Thorney Island in the 11th century AD. Changing through the centuries together, they represent the journey from a feudal society to a modern democracy and show the intertwined history of the church, monarchy, and state.

The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church continue in their original functions and play a pivotal role in society and government, with the Abbey being the place where monarchs are crowned, married and buried. It is also a focus for national memorials of those who have served their country, whether prominent individuals or representatives, such as the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The Abbey, a place of worship for over 1000 years, maintains the daily cycle of worship as well as being the church where major national celebrations and cultural events are held. The Palace of Westminster continues to be the seat of Parliament.

Westminster School can trace its origins back to 1178 and were re-founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. It is located around Little Dean’s Yard.
The iconic silhouette of the ensemble is an intrinsic part of its identity, which is recognized internationally with the sound of “Big Ben” being broadcast regularly around the world.

The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church together encapsulate the history of one of the most ancient parliamentary monarchies of present times and the growth of parliamentary and constitutional institutions.

In tangible form, Westminster Abbey is a striking example of the successive phases of English Gothic art and architecture and the inspiration for the work of Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin on the Palace of Westminster.

Westminster is London. When you think of London you think of Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abby. In addition to the abbey you can also enter parliament, which is something I did back in 1999 when I visited London. If I had to list one thing everyone should do if they only have a brief layover in London, it is to visit Westminster.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 4:52 pm

Las Vegas/Blog World Recap

Posted by on October 19, 2009

Street artist on Venice Beach

Street artist on Venice Beach

I’m finally out of Vegas and have arrived in Newport Beach, CA. I’m staying at the Newport Beach Fairmont, courtesy of Fairmont Hotels. After a week at Circus Circus, staying here is like Jed Clampet moving from a shack in Kentucky to a Beverly Hills Mansion.

Sunday I drove Rob of to Los Angles from Vegas. He is starting his own trip around the world and is leaving tonight to Thailand on a one way ticket. We hung out on Venice Beach and watched all manner of people out doing their thing. It was nice to see someone else setting out on their own adventure.

Saturday night I was invited to see the Cirque du Soleli show, Mystere, at Treasure Island with Pam Mandel of Nerds Eye View. I’ve seen several Cirque shows before. I saw Love when I was in Vegas at the start of my trip, I saw La Nuba in Orlando, and I saw Dralion when it came to town in Minneapolis. Even though Mystere is one of the oldest Cirque shows in Vegas, it didn’t disappoint. My comment to Pam was that Cirque should be a new Olympic sport.

Thai dinner with Jim Bennett, Jen Leo, Jessica Speigel, Trisha Miller and myself

Thai dinner with Jim Bennett, Jen Leo, Jessica Speigel, Trisha Miller and myself

I’d also like to mention that I got to meet Drew Bennett of (Drew also posts a daily photo and has been doing it longer than I have) He was sitting in a session that I was at and asked a question. I introduced myself to him and we started talking about photography. He pulled out a point and shoot camera to take a photo of us and I made the comment that I seldom get to take photos of myself when I travel. (which many other people have commented on as well) Without skipping a beat, he went into his bag and pulled out an xShot 2.0, which is an extending metal rod where you can attach your camera at one end. So I really want to thank him for that.

The big question for those of you with blogs who are reading this, is was it worth going to Blog World Expo? The short answer is: Not really. I have no regrets going, but I don’t know if I’ll be coming back. Blog World seemed mostly designed for new bloggers. None of the panels were particularly enlightening. I’d get more business information by attending Affiliate Summit and you meet more and better people in the travel industry by attending Travel Blog Exchange (the 2010 conference is happening in New York June 26-27).

You can take some OK images with an iPhone

You can take some OK images with an iPhone

I did meet some interesting people that had nothing to do with travel, but they were few and far between. There were a lot of “social media consultants” (I have no idea what the hell that is) and other marketing types that just sort of provided chaff for the conference. The reality is, the only real reason to attend conferences is to meet with people in person. Given my niche of travel blogging, there aren’t many people who really care to talk to me. The entire weekend I hung out with the same group of travel bloggers.

To anyone who noticed the giant hole in the crotch of my jeans this weekend, I apologize. That is one of the hazards of living out of a bag with not much clothes in reserve. I’m buying a new pair today.

Kew Gardens

Posted by on October 19, 2009

World Heritage Site #91: Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens: My 91st UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Kew Gardens:

Set amongst a series of parks and estates along the River Thames’ south-western reaches, this historic landscape garden includes work by internationally renowned landscape architects Bridgeman, Kent, Chambers, Capability Brown and Nesfield illustrating significant periods in garden design from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The gardens house extensive botanic collections (conserved plants, living plants, and documents) that have been considerably enriched through the centuries. Since their creation in 1759, the gardens have made a significant and uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity, plant systematics, and economic botany.

The landscape design of Kew Botanic Gardens, their buildings, and plant collections combine to form a unique testimony to developments in garden art and botanical science that were subsequently diffused around the world. The 18th century English landscape garden concept was adopted in Europe and Kew’s influence in horticulture, plant classification and economic botany spread internationally from the time of Joseph Banks’ directorship in the 1770s. As the focus of a growing level of botanic activity, the mid 19th-century garden, which overlays earlier royal landscape gardens is centered on two large iron framed glasshouses – the Palm House and the Temperate House that became models for conservatories around the world. Elements of the 18th and 19th century layers including the Orangery, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage; the folly temples; Rhododendron Dell, boundary ha-ha; garden vistas to William Chambers’ pagoda and Syon Park House; iron framed glasshouses; ornamental lakes and ponds; herbarium and plant collections convey the history of the Gardens’ development from royal retreat and pleasure garden to national botanical and horticultural garden before becoming a modern institution of conservation ecology in the 20th century.

The Kew Gardens are one of the most underrated attractions in London. I went there on Sunday morning and had a wonderful time. Most of the visitors seemed to be locals, as opposed to the mobs of foreigners you see at the Tower of London or Westminster Abby. It took me a while to get there because of construction with the Underground, but if everything is working the trip shouldn’t be too onerous.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 3:45 pm

Tower of London

Posted by on October 18, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #90: Tower of London

Tower of London: My 90th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Tower of London:

The Tower of London is an internationally famous monument and one of England’s most iconic structures. William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1066 as a demonstration of Norman power, sitting it strategically on the River Thames to act as both fortress and gateway to the capital. It is the most complete example of an 11th-century fortress palace remaining in Europe. A rare survival of a continuously developing ensemble of royal buildings, from the 11th to 16th centuries, the Tower of London has become one of the symbols of royalty. It also fostered the development of several of England’s major State institutions, incorporating such fundamental roles as the nation’s defense, its record-keeping, and its coinage. It has been the setting for key historical events in European history, including the execution of three English queens.
The Tower of London has Outstanding Universal Value for the following cultural qualities:

For both protection and control of the City of London, it has a landmark siting. As the gateway to the capital, the Tower was in effect the gateway to the new Norman kingdom. Sited strategically at a bend in the River Thames, it has been a crucial demarcation point between the power of the developing City of London, and the power of the monarchy. It had the dual role of providing protection for the City through its defensive structure and the provision of a garrison, and of also controlling the citizens by the same means. The Tower literally ‘towered’ over its surroundings until the 19th century.

The Tower of London is perhaps the largest tourist trap of all the World Heritage sites I’ve visited. It is worthy of being on the list, but they really sock it to you with the entrance fee and all the other touristy stuff surrounding it.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 3:19 pm

Maritime Greenwich

Posted by on October 17, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #89: Maritime Greenwich

Maritime Greenwich: My 89th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Maritime Greenwich:

Symmetrically arranged alongside the River Thames, the ensemble of the 17th century Queen’s House, part of the last Royal Palace at Greenwich, the palatial Baroque complex of the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and the Royal Observatory founded in 1675 and surrounded by the Royal Park laid out in the 1660s by André Le Nôtre, reflects two centuries of Royal patronage and represents a high point of the work of the architects Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and Christopher Wren (1632-1723), and more widely European architecture at an important stage in its evolution. It also symbolises English artistic and scientific endeavour in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Greenwich town, which grew up at the gates of the Royal Palace, provides, with its villas and formal stuccoed terraces set around St Alphege’s church rebuilt to Hawksmoor’s designs in 1712-14, a setting and approach for the main ensemble.

Inigo Jones’ Queen’s House was the first Palladian building in Britain, and also the direct inspiration for classical houses and villas all over the country in the two centuries after it was built.

The Royal Hospital, laid out to a master plan developed by Christopher Wren in the late 17th century and built over many decades by him and other leading architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor, is among the most outstanding group of Baroque buildings in England.

The Royal Park is a masterpiece of the application of symmetrical landscape design to irregular terrain by André Le Nôtre. It is well loved and used by residents as well as visitors to the Observatory, Old Royal Naval College and the Maritime Museum.

The Royal Observatory’s astronomical work, particularly of the scientist Robert Hooke, and John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, permitted the accurate measurement of the earth’s movement and also contributed to the development of global navigation. The Observatory is now the base-line for the world’s time zone system and for the measurement of longitude around the globe.

Maritime Greenwich is a really interesting place to visit. It is the location of the Prime Meridian and is where the clocks made by John Harrison, who solved the problem of longitude, are located. Greenwich is not connected to the underground but is easily accessible from central London by train or ferry. This is not on everyone’s itinerary when they visit London, but really should be.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 3:10 pm

Defense Line of Amsterdam

Posted by on October 16, 2009

World Heritage Site #88: Defense Line of Amsterdam

Defense Line of Amsterdam: My 88th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Defense Line of Amsterdam:

Extending 135 km around the city of Amsterdam, this defense line (built between 1883 and 1920) is the only example of a fortification based on the principle of controlling the waters. Since the 16th century, the people of the Netherlands have used their expert knowledge of hydraulic engineering for defense purposes. The center of the country was protected by a network of 45 armed forts, acting in concert with temporary flooding from polders and an intricate system of canals and locks.

Most of the defense fortifications surrounding Amsterdam are in private hands. Finding locations to take photos of was difficult because the few places you can visit were closed when we went to go visit them. We ended up driving past and viewing about 5 fortifications but were only able to get a handful of photos because they are mostly hidden from view and heavily shadowed. Despite the name of the site, there are no actual locations inside of Amsterdam.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 2:33 pm

Beemster Polder

Posted by on October 15, 2009

World Heritage Site #87: Beemster Polder

Beemster Polder: My 87th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Beemster Polder:

The Beemster Polder is a cultural landscape located north of Amsterdam, dating from the early 17th century, and an exceptional example of reclaimed land in the Netherlands. It was created by the draining of Lake Beemster in 1612, in order to develop new agricultural land and space for country residences and to combat flooding in this low-lying region. It also provided a means for capital investment in land. Other earlier land reclamation had taken place, but technical improvements in windmill technology permitted more ambitious undertakings. The Beemster Polder was the first large project covering an area of 7,208 hectares. Today it is a well-ordered agricultural landscape of fields, roads, canals, dikes and settlements.

The polder was laid out in a rational geometric pattern, developed in accordance with the principles of classical and Renaissance planning. This mathematical land division was based on a system of squares forming a rectangle with the ideal dimensional ratio of 2:3. A series of oblong lots, measuring 180 meters by 900 meters, form the basic dimensions of the allotments. Five of these lots make up a unit, a module of 900 meters by 900 meters, and four units create a larger square. The pattern of roads and watercourses runs north to south and east to west, with buildings along the roads. The short sides of the lots are connected by drainage canals and access roads. The polder itself followed the outline of the lake, and the direction of the squares corresponds as much as possible with the former shoreline, so as to avoid creating unusable lots.

Besides the grid pattern of roads, watercourses, and plots of land, the polder is made up of a ring dike, a ring canal (the Beemsterringvaart), and relatively high roads with avenues of trees. Several villages were planned for the polder and today these are Middenbeemster, Noordbeemster, Westbeemster, and Zuidoostbeemster. Protected monuments include religious, residential and farm buildings from the 17th to 19th centuries, industrial buildings (a mill, a smithy, water authority buildings and bridges) as well as the five forts constructed between 1880 and 1920, which formed part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam (also a World Heritage property).

Visit the Beemster Polder was like visiting Wisconsin….except flatter. The area is mostly dairy farms and it is typical of the polders (reclaimed land) which makes up much of the Netherlands. It totally explains Wisconsin is a dairy state.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 12, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

Amateur Traveler Interview: Persian Gulf States

Posted by on October 14, 2009

Amateur Traveler Episode 203 – Travel to the Gulf States:
UAE (Dubai), Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait
I did my second interview with Chris Christensen on the Amateur Traveler Podcast. This show is about the time I spent in the Gulf States of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. One note, I said during the interview I was in Dubai in July. I misspoke. I was there in January.

My previous interview with Chris back in March 2008 about the time I spent in the region of Micronesia: Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Marinas Islands.

I always seem to get the tiny countries….

On a related note, Chris and I are hosting a joint meet up in Vegas tomorrow night at 6pm, at the Pepermill Restaurant. It is located at 2985 Las Vegas Blvd S., just south of the Rivera Casino. If you are in town for Blog World Expo or are a Vegas native, come on by to visit and meet other travelers.