UNESCO World Heritage Site #189: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #189: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Site #189: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites World Heritage property is internationally important for its complexes of outstanding prehistoric monuments.

It comprises two areas of chalkland in Southern Britain within which complexes of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and funerary monuments and associated sites were built. Each area contains a focal stone circle and henge and many other major monuments. At Stonehenge these include the Avenue, the Cursuses, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, and the densest concentration of burial mounds in Britain. At Avebury, they include Windmill Hill, the West Kennet Long Barrow, the Sanctuary, Silbury Hill, the West Kennet and Beckhampton Avenues, the West Kennet Palisaded Enclosures, and important barrows.

Stonehenge is unquestionably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. There are few people who can’t immediately recognize it from a photo. It is often placed on lists of world wonders and was even commemorated in song by Spinal Tap.

The actual site of Stonehenge wasn’t quite what I expected. There is a road which passes surprisingly close to it, but you never actually see it in photos. Also, the impression of large megalithic blocks is somewhat toned down by the fact that you can’t actually get close to the stones anymore. You can only walk around the structure at a distance.

As I write this in December 2012 they are in the process of replacing the current visitor center and removing the road which passes by. By 2014 the entire area should be green pasture with the visitor center about a mile away, out of sight.

Stonehenge can easily be visited by day trip from London. You can often find trips that will take you there for £30, not including admission.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Photo Essay : Egypt

I visited Egypt in early 2009. It was a place I had been anxious to visit during my previous two years of traveling. They pyramids and the other Egyptian ruins are some of the most ancient remnants of human civilization. Egypt didn’t disappoint. Despite a rather negative experience at the pyramids, my experience in Egypt overall was a positive one. I went SCUBA diving in Alexandria to see the ruins of the ancient lighthouse, traveled all the way to Abu Simbel, sailed down the Nile from Aswan to Luxur, crossed the Sinai Peninsula and visited the world’s oldest monastery: St. Catherine’s.

I know that the recent turmoil in Egypt has soured many people on visiting, but I would return again in a heartbeat.
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UNESCO World Heritage Site #188 – City of Bath

UNESCO World Heritage Site #188: City of Bath
UNESCO World Heritage Site #188: City of Bath

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Roman remains, especially the Temple of Sulis Minerva and the baths complex (based around the hot springs at the heart of the Roman city of Aquae Sulis, which have remained at the heart of the City’s development ever since) are amongst the most famous and important Roman remains north of the Alps, and marked the beginning of Bath’s history as a spa town.

The Georgian city reflects the ambitions of John Wood Senior, Ralph Allen and Richard ‘Beau’ Nash to make Bath into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with architecture and landscape combined harmoniously for the enjoyment of the spa town’s cure takers.

The Neo-classical style of the public buildings (such as the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room) harmonises with the grandiose proportions of the monumental ensembles (such as Queen Square, Circus, and Royal Crescent) and collectively reflects the ambitions, particularly social, of the spa city in the 18th century.

The individual Georgian buildings reflect the profound influence of Palladio, and their collective scale, style, and the organisation of the spaces between buildings epitomises the success of architects such as the John Woods, Robert Adam, Thomas Baldwin, and John Palmer in transposing Palladio’s ideas to the scale of a complete city, situated in a hollow in the hills and built to a Picturesque landscape aestheticism creating a strong garden city feel, more akin to the 19th century garden cities than the 17th century Renaissance cities.

Bath might just be the most charming city in England. While originally built and best known for its Roman baths, it is also an excellent showcase of English Georgian architecture. The city has a whole is very walkable and I found it to be one of the highlights of England.

In addition to the Roman baths, Bath is home to Bath Abbey, the Fashion Museum and a host of Georgian buildings. The riverfront area is especially picturesque.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Gary’s 20 Immutable Laws of Air Travel

As someone who puts on over 150,000 miles in the air each year and has elite status on all three major airline alliances, I’ve come to realized that there are certain things that will alway happen when you fly. I have codified these into Gary’s 20 Immutable Laws of Air Travel.

1) The biggest person on the plane will probably sit next to you.

1a) If you are the biggest person on the plane, you will get the middle seat.

2) If you have only a short amount of time for a layover, your flight will almost certainly arrive late.

3) If the seat next to you is empty when they are about to close the door, the last person to enter the aircraft will be the person sitting next to you. Also, see #1.

4) If you are on the list for an upgrade and there are 4 seats available, you will be number 5 of the list.

5) If you have to transfer planes, your gate will be the one farthest away.

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