Monthly Archives: January 2011

Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour

Posted by on January 14, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #126: Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour

Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour: My 126th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour:

The Historic Area of Willemstad is an example of a colonial trading and administrative settlement. It was established by the Dutch on the island of Curaçao, situated in the southern Caribbean, near the tip of South America. Starting with the construction of Fort Amsterdam in 1634 on the eastern bank of Sint Anna Bay, the town developed continuously over the following centuries.

The modern town, the capital of the island nation of Curaçao, consists of several distinct historic districts, reflecting different eras of colonial town planning and development. Punda, the oldest part of the city, was built in the 17th century on the eastern side of Sint Anna Bay, adjacent to Fort Amsterdam and is the only part of the city that had a defense system consisting of walls and ramparts. The other three historic urban districts (Pietermaai, Otrobanda and Scharloo) date from the 18th century. Water Fort and Rif Fort, also included in the inscribed property, were built in the late 1820s as part of a more extensive series of fortifications. In the midst of the historic area is a natural deep-water harbor. The entire property encompasses 86 ha and is surrounded by an 87 ha buffer zone.

The architecture of Willemstad has been influenced not only by Dutch colonial concepts but also by the tropical climate and architectural styles from towns throughout the Caribbean region, with which the settlement engaged in trade. Early residences constructed in Punda followed Dutch urban design. In the 18th century, local materials and craftsmanship as well as new architectural elements, such as galleries, began to appear. As the city expanded beyond Punda, the architectural style of the residences evolved. For example, the development of Otrobanda was not restricted by ramparts and houses were built on spacious lots and resembled plantation houses surrounded by galleries. Moreover, the social and cultural differences from Afro-American, Iberian, and Caribbean inhabitants have contributed to enriching the building traditions as well as the city’s cultural life. The result is a European architectural style with regional adaptations in a rich array of Caribbean colors. The colorful buildings of Willemstad are a local tradition dating from 1817 when the previous style of white lime finish on a building exterior was prohibited, apparently to protect eyesight from the glare. Predominant colors are red, blue, yellow ochre and various shades of green.

Curacao is unique among the former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean. It has a very European flavor compared to nearby islands such as Aruba and Bonaire. Even today you will see more European tourists on Curacao and you will be more likely to find Dutch actively spoken than on the nearby islands.

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 @ 2:56 pm

UNESCO World Heritage SIte #125: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas

Posted by on January 11, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage SIte #125: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas

UNESCO World Heritage SIte #125: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas

From the World Heritage inscription:

A serial site – in Cape Province, South Africa – made up of eight protected areas, covering 553,000 ha, the Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants in the world. It represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora. The site displays outstanding ecological and biological processes associated with the Fynbos vegetation, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region. The outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the flora are among the highest worldwide. Unique plant reproductive strategies, adaptive to fire, patterns of seed dispersal by insects, as well as patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation found in the flora, are of outstanding value to science.

The Cape Point of South Africa could be a World Heritage Site just for its beautiful views alone. The amount of flora diversity which this tiny region has makes it one of the most important biological places on Earth.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Rideau Canal

Posted by on January 10, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #124: Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal: My 124th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Rideau Canal:

The Rideau Canal, a monumental early 19th-century construction covering 202 km of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers from Ottawa south to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario, was built primarily for strategic military purposes at a time when Great Britain and the United States vied for control of the region. The site, one of the first canals to be designed specifically for steam-powered vessels, also features an ensemble of fortifications. It is the best-preserved example of a slackwater canal in North America, demonstrating the use of this European technology on a large scale. It is the only canal dating from the great North American canal-building era of the early 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its structures intact.

The Rideau Canal is actually an enormous structure which goes from the Rideau River to Lake Ontario, however, the most famous part lies just below Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It is easy to see and explore if you are visiting Ottawa, but it can also be seen in many other places in Ontario as well. In the winter the frozen canal is plowed to create the world’s largest ice rink.

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

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

Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 11:39 pm

This Week In Travel – Episode 67 (2011 Travel Predictions)

Posted by on January 7, 2011

This week’s guest is Johnny Jet.

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  • Gary – 1) Google will keep moving into travel, as will Apple, 2) TSA will pull back, 3) Big year for travel bloggers
  • Chris – 1) American will come back to Expedia and Orbitz, 2) Liquids ban will go away, 3) Will still make big cruise ships
  • Johnny – 1) Airlines remove from booking sites like Expedia, 2) More airlines will move staff on Twitter, 3) More hotels offer free internet
  • Jen – 1) There will be a rise of a middle luxury industry, 2) Spirit and Ryan Air will keep annoying people, 3) More travel website startups

Favorite Places of 2011

  • Gary – South Africa, Spain,
  • Chris – Egypt, Colorado
  • Johnny – Estonia, Bora Bora, Oman
  • Jen – Lake Como, Namour, Belgium

My multilingual summer in Barcelona

Posted by on January 4, 2011

This guest post is written by Benny Lewis who blogs at where he encourages and helps people learn to speak foreign languages. I met Benny earlier this year in Bangkok and again in Las Vegas for BlogWorld Expo, where we took a side trip to visit the Hoover Dam. Benny currently speaks English, Esperanto, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Gaelic, Hungarian and is now is the Philippines to learn Tagalog.

“So, how long have you been speaking Catalan?”

“Actually, this is my first ever conversation in the language…”

It was Susanna, a potential landlady, who had asked me the question. Since the initial Hola, com estàs? the conversation had continued, albeit slowly, just in Catalan. She didn’t realize until this last question that it really was the first time I had ever used the language.

She had already shown me around the beautiful two-bedroom house near downtown Barcelona, but we stopped here in the garden.

“Què?? Parles molt bé el catalá!


This impressed reaction was something I would see many more times in future when trying to speak a language for the first time. Despite doing poorly in languages in school and only speaking English when I was 21, soon into my travels I had figured out the secret: speak it from day one, no matter what. Study quickly and use the little you know quicker.


2010: My Year in Travel

Posted by on January 3, 2011

Visiting Spain was one of my highlights of the year

Visiting Spain was one of my highlights of the year

2010 is a year I am looking forward to putting behind me. The passing of my father was the single biggest event of the last year, which left a scar on everything. It will be difficult for 2011 to be worse.

It was also a year in which I traveled both the more and less than I did in any of the previous four years. Here is a quick summary of the places I visited in 2010:

  • Fiji
  • Australia
  • Thailand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Canadian Atlantic Provinces
  • South Africa
  • Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City
  • Aruba
  • Bonaire
  • Curacao
  • Las Vegas
  • Honolulu