Monthly Archives: February 2012

Photo Essay – Switzerland

Posted by on February 9, 2012

Prior to setting out in 2007, I explored the world on the maps of Risk and Axis and Allies. Via dice rolling and troop movements I was able to explore most of the world, but there was also one place I couldn’t go: Switzerland. It was a big greyed out area on the map where I could never move my plastic units.

When I was invited to Switzerland in the summer of 2011 I jumped at the chance to go. It was a country I have always been fascinated by. During my trip I visited the cities of Bern, Basel and Zurich.

I left Switzerland with a desire to return, which I will be doing later this year. I’ll be in Lucern for the 2012 Adventure Travel Summit and TBEX Europe. I’ll be getting a rail pass which I hope to use before the conferences to visit all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland in 8 days!


UNESCO World Heritage Site #173: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

Posted by on February 7, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #173: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

UNESCO World Heritage Site #173: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

From the World Heritage inscription:

Edinburgh has been the Scottish capital since the 15th century. It has two distinct areas: the Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress; and the neoclassical New Town, whose development from the 18th century onwards had a far-reaching influence on European urban planning. The harmonious juxtaposition of these two contrasting historic areas, each with many important buildings, is what gives the city its unique character.

The remarkable juxtaposition of two clearly articulated urban planning phenomena. The contrast between the organic medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town provides a clarity of urban structure unrivalled in Europe. The juxtaposition of these two distinctive townscapes, each of exceptional historic and architectural interest, which are linked across the landscape divide, the “great area” of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Valley, by the urban viaduct, North Bridge, and by the Mound, creates the outstanding urban landscape.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, falls into a category of World Heritage Site where the entire city gets lumped into one site. You can find similar sites in Rome, Paris, Kyoto and Budapest.

The architecture of the city has a very powerful feeling which is highlighted by the castle overlooking everything.

I only had one day in Edinburgh and it was in the winter, which limited my daylight exploration hours. I very much wish to return in the summer so I can better explore the city and its buildings.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Why I Am Not One Lucky Bastard

Posted by on February 7, 2012

One Lucky Bastard?

One common thread I’ve noticed when people interact with me is that they will often refer to me as being “lucky”.

“You are so lucky to be able to travel that much!”

“You are so lucky to have visited Fiji!”

“You are so lucky to have gone to the Rugby World Cup!”

With my latest trip to Antarctica the “lucky” cries have grown even louder.

I understand that no one intends to be disrespectful when they say I’m lucky, but I want to make it clear that luck has nothing to do with it.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #172: New Lanark

Posted by on February 6, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #172: New Lanark

UNESCO World Heritage Site #172: New Lanark

From the World Heritage inscription:

When Richard Arkwright’s new factory system for textile production was brought to New Lanark the need to provide housing and other facilities for the workers and managers was recognized. It was there that Robert Owen created a model for industrial communities that was to spread across the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. New Lanark saw the construction not only of well designed and equipped workers’ housing but also public buildings designed to improve their spiritual as well as their physical needs. It has the most complete integration of architectural design of all the early cotton mill settlements, a type illustrating the most revolutionary element of the Industrial Revolution. The buildings and water-power system express the extension to the outermost limits of the application of materials and techniques to the new industrial age.

The name of New Lanark is synonymous with Owen and his social philosophy in matters such as progressive education, factory reform, humane working practices, international cooperation, and garden cities, which was to have a profound influence on social developments throughout the 19th century and beyond. Owenism, utopianism, philanthropy, cooperation, communitarianism, industrial capitalism, concepts of the sublime landscape, and models for modern conservation partnerships were all shaped at New Lanark.

This is a fascinating World Heritage site that many people traveling to Scotland might over look.

New Lanark was part of a utopian movement which began in late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many social reformers were trying to make the world a better place by creating communities based on new rules and new social structures. Robert Owen created his vision at New Lanark.

New Lanark was a cotton mill with a community around it. Many of the things implemented there were unheard of at the time: schooling for children under the age of 12, an apartment for families to live in and free health care. Ironically, life at New Lanark by today’s standards would be considered exploitative: children work in a factory at the age of 12, 6 work days a week and the food and housing allotment would be on a par with a company mining town.

The New Lanark mill was in operation from 1785 until 1968. In 1975 the New Lanark Heritage Trust took control and began preservation efforts. Today there is a hotel and restaurant on site and artisan, organic wool spinning is done on site. The site currently gets over 300,000 visitors a year. It is a short drive from Glasgow, which would be the closest major city.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.