Categories
africa america asia england estonia europe greece italy morocco singapore spain turkey USA

I Reached 80 World Heritage Sites

I started my World Heritage Sites project with 40 sites, back in mid 2012. With the addition of Ephesus by the committee just weeks ago, and my boat trip in Rhodes, I finally reached 80 sites! 81 sites in fact, with also the addition of Singapore Botanical Gardens. I thought I need to write a post to mark this arbitrary milestone.

I’m happy to double my number in 3 years. It’s weird to think the next milestone will be 120 sites – that seems like a huge number. Back then 40 sites already seemed like a big number. The total of Unesco World Heritage this year is 1031 sites though, and they add new ones every year, so that’s only a tiny chunk of the sites. Makes you realize how BIG the world is, and in a way it’s wonderful to think that your whole lifetime may not be enough to cover the world. And I’m okay with that. My purpose of traveling is never about just ticking the boxes. It’s to have a meaningful, worthwhile journey.

So talking about worthwhile, perhaps you’d be as curious as me, what are the most impressive World Heritage sites I’ve visited in the last 3 years? Note that these will be from the latest 40 sites I’ve visited – not those in my lifetime.

Most Impressive

La Alhambra, Granada
La Alhambra, Granada

Alhambra, Granada, South Spain. It’s not just the whole palace complex, but since it’s located up the hill of Granada old town, the view was amazing, even the walk up was beautiful. It is so worth going. In fact I fell in love with the whole Andalucia region.

Ephesus, Turkey
Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus is special, because I visited it before it was inscribed as World Heritage in July 2015, and I always thought it was only time before it’s included. I even remember the date I was here, because it was New Year of 2014. 1 January 2014. I started my new year in the Old City of Ephesus. I can’t even put it into words.

Manarola, Cinque Terre
Manarola, Cinque Terre

Yes, it is as beautiful as everyone says it is! And there isn’t just one village, there are FIVE. There’s walking trail from one village to another along the coast, with cliff on one side and breathtaking view of the sea on another. Love.

Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece

It’s hard for me to decide whether to pick Athens or Delphi in Greece (I try to just limit one site per country in this list). Both are impressive in their own ways. But I’m going to go with Athens, as it’s not just its Acropolis that stands out all mighty, there are a lot of gems in this city too. I have never, ever seen any capital city like Athens – it is really one of a kind.

As I mentioned I tried to pick just one site from each country, but I’m not immune to favoritism. I love some region or country more than the others. I could easily put Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Pamukkale in that list, or Toledo, Cordoba, and Seville, or Florence, Rome, and Verona.

Favorite World Heritage Towns

But enough about “Impressive”. Another thing I love about the World Heritage list is how I could find little towns that I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. They don’t have a single mighty site, but the whole town is usually unique and full of character. Some of my favorites:

Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn, Estonia

I feel a bit bad calling Tallinn “town”. How can a capital of a country be a town? But the Old Town had that town feeling, and the whole historic center is a World Heritage site. I love love love Tallinn, with its cobbled stones and cute buildings. When you’re there, you’d wonder if time stopped in Tallinn centuries ago.

Safranbolu, Turkey
Safranbolu, Turkey

This small Turkish town stole my heart a bit. The inn that we stayed in felt like something that comes out of a video game – it’s old, wooden, and cozy. The village is walk-able and people were lovely. We only spent one night here, so it was short, but really really sweet.

Bath, England
Bath, England

This charming town in England is a definite favorite with its Georgian architecture – makes you feel you’re dropped right into 18th century England, in which Jane Austen’s characters live. I have been there several times now, each time discovering new things, and I can see myself going back again and again as long as I still live in London.

World Heritage Signs

Part of my hunt of these World Heritage sites, is the hunt of the UNESCO World Heritage sign. Which is surprisingly not always the easiest to find.

Volubilis, Morocco
Volubilis, Morocco – Sometimes it’s a no brainer to find the UNESCO World Heritage sign.
UNESCO World Heritage - Cinque Terre
Sometimes it’s tiny. And hidden. – at Cinque Terre, Italy
Independence Hall - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sometimes it’s tucked under the stairs, behind a door! – at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, US

Sometimes I only saw it right at the last minute, from a window of a moving vehicle. Sometimes I couldn’t find it at all. Which brings me to my last point:

Things I Learned

There were occasions when the sites didn’t live up to their full potential purely because of the weather. But I think this is part of the experience of traveling. Sometimes you only have one day, which is the day you have to go, there’s no alternative day, and the weather is godawful. Sometimes you have only less than an hour to spend on a World Heritage site. There were a couple of times that I didn’t even manage to go in, because the site was closed on the day!

Considering the length of time (almost all, if not all of them are centuries old) that they’ve managed to survive, and the effort put into qualifying them as World Heritage sites, it could feel ungrateful or disrespectful to spend such little time on them. But I do what I can, and I don’t stress much about it. It’s the journey that matters. The Journey.

And it’s a worthwhile one that I will continue on šŸ™‚

Update: Two great websites for counting the sites you’ve visited: theplacesihavebeen.com and worldheritagesite.org

 

By mee

Blog about travel, culture, lifestyle and books from London at http://www.wanderingmee.com and http://www.meexia.com/bookie

6 replies on “I Reached 80 World Heritage Sites”

That’s a great milestone! I added a couple more sites to my list this year, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near 80. The city of Bruges was the highlight, though I also really enjoyed visiting the beguinage there that was part of the beguinages of Belgium.

Like

Thanks biblioglobal! I loved Bruges! It was one of the WH sites I went to when I came to Europe (included in my first 40). Interesting about the beguinage – which I never heard before. Belgium is one country that I haven’t spent much time on, even though it’s so close to London, so hopefully I can revisit in the next year or two šŸ™‚

Like

Congratulations on hitting 80 (or rather 81) sites! Those are some impressive sites you’re getting to see, and you’re fortunate to live so close to so many on the continent of Europe. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to make your 120 site goal for your next milestone!
If I ever get back to Turkey, I’ll have to try to take a trip to Safranbolu. Your pictures make it look amazing! Right now I’ll keep focusing on visiting sites in the Western Hemisphere, even though they are generally spread farther apart (well, save for the Mexico City hotspot).

Like

Thanks Mome Rath. As you can see I have not covered South America at all, and not much of American continent. I’ve only lived in Vancouver as student for a year, so I haven’t got a chance to travel much in the continent. The world is huge, so I think it’s great to be able to concentrate on those closest to home first, and remember that one’s backyard is another’s dream travel destination šŸ™‚

Like

Woooow, you’re awesome Sis. Honestly, i one of your silent reader, and i enjoy your great travelling photos and post. I adore how could you be such smart, brave and independent woman. Keep posting !

Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s