Monthly Archives: October 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #96: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Posted by on October 24, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #96: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

UNESCO World Heritage Site #96: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

From the World Heritage inscription:

In south-west Alberta, the remains of marked trails and an aboriginal camp, and a tumulus where vast quantities of buffalo (American Bison) skeletons can still be found, are evidence of a custom practised by aboriginal peoples of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years. Using their excellent knowledge of the topography and of buffalo behaviour, they killed their prey by chasing them over a precipice; the carcasses were later carved up in the camp below.

I didn’t know what to expect when I visited this site, but in the end it was far more interesting than I thought it would be. Most people have an image of Indians on horseback hunting buffalo. Horses, however, weren’t introduced to the Americas until the arrival of the Europeans. Before that they had to walk everywhere. One of the easiest ways to hunt would be to heard bison into a group and run them off a cliff. Most of the tribe would be wait below the cliff to skin and process the bison that jumped. It was actually quite brilliant and very efficient way of providing food.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #95: Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

Posted by on October 23, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #95: Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #95: Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

In 1932 Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada) was combined with the Glacier National Park (Montana, United States) to form the world’s first International Peace Park. Situated on the border between the two countries and offering outstanding scenery, the park is exceptionally rich in plant and mammal species as well as prairie, forest, and alpine and glacial features.

Glacier might be my favorite national park in the US. The views are breathtaking and mountains are magnificent.

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.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #93: Statue of Liberty

Posted by on October 21, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #93: Statue of Liberty

UNESCO World Heritage Site #93: Statue of Liberty

From the World Heritage inscription:

Made in Paris by the French sculptor Bartholdi, in collaboration with Gustave Eiffel (who was responsible for the steel framework), this towering monument to liberty was a gift from France on the centenary of American independence in 1886. Standing at the entrance to New York Harbor, it has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States ever since.

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.

Win a copy of “Extreme Cuisine” from Lonely Planet!

Posted by on October 20, 2009

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “what is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten while traveling?” In my case the answer is probably a grasshopper in Thailand. Author Eddie Lin has put together a list of 60 bizarre and exotic foods from around the world in her book: Extreme Cuisine: Exotic Tastes From Around the World.

Here is the description from Amazon.com:

Imagine tucking into grasshoppers as you wander the Mercado Benito market in Oaxaca, Mexico, or chowing down on juicy witchetty grubs on your travels through Central Australia – such meals can be the perfect entrée to a culture. In this book you’ll find over 50 delicacies that creep, crawl, sizzle and spit, where they originated from and wher eyou can experience them. You may not salivate over blood, scorpions, chicken’s knees or partially digested coffee beans, but travel long enough and you’re bound to meet someone who does. Extreme Cuisine is sure to challenge your idea of what makes good eating.

I am giving away FIVE copies of “Extreme Cuisine”. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what the most extreme thing is you’ve ever eaten.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #92: 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

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

From the World Heritage inscription:

Westminster Palace, rebuilt from the year 1840 on the site of important medieval remains, is a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture. The site – which also comprises the small medieval Church of Saint Margaret, built in Perpendicular Gothic style, and Westminster Abbey, where all the sovereigns since the 11th century have been crowned – is of great historic and symbolic significance.

Westminster is London. When you think of London you think of Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abby. In addition to the abby 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 my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #92: 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

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

From the World Heritage inscription:

Westminster Palace, rebuilt from the year 1840 on the site of important medieval remains, is a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture. The site – which also comprises the small medieval Church of Saint Margaret, built in Perpendicular Gothic style, and Westminster Abbey, where all the sovereigns since the 11th century have been crowned – is of great historic and symbolic significance.

Westminster is London. When you think of London you think of Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abby. In addition to the abby 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 my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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 Bloggeries.com 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 BenSpark.com. (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.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #91: Kew Gardens

Posted by on October 19, 2009

World Heritage Site #91: Kew Gardens

UNESCO World Heritage Site #91: Kew Gardens

From the World Heritage inscription:

This historic landscape garden features elements that illustrate significant periods of the art of gardens from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The gardens house 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 and economic botany.

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 my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #90: Tower of London

Posted by on October 18, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #90: Tower of London

UNESCO World Heritage Site #90: Tower of London

From the World Heritage inscription:

The massive White Tower is a typical example of Norman military architecture, whose influence was felt throughout the kingdom. It was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power. The Tower of London – an imposing fortress with many layers of history, which has become one of the symbols of royalty – was built around the White Tower.

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 my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites