Thursday, February 28, 2008

Monopoly - And who did you vote for

I have had a few people ask me what my ten selections were for the Monopoly cities. I wanted to ensure that all the continents were represented and that they were all special cities full of travel wonders that I would want to own. Let’s face it, any of the cities would be a bargain at the rates Monopoly typically charges.

Paris – the city of Love with fantastic food, great boulevards, superb art and great buildings
Prague – Europe’s architectural wonder with a medieval center topped by a castle over 1000 years old
Moscow – the great Russian city
Rome – so much history with the Roman Forum, Colosseum, superb churches, great piazzas, a joy of living and the Vatican
Cairo – the home of the Pyramids and 1000s of years of history
New York – the Big Apple with its hectic pace, great museums and excesses of life
Buenos Aires – the Paris of the south
Tokyo – a collision of a wonderful ancient culture with modern business and life
Hong Kong – towering skyscrapers, great lights and an eclectic mix of the east and the west
Sydney – the sun-drenched harbor city, great beaches and lots of life

…and it was difficult to leave out several other cities out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monopoly - Vote for the World's Great Cities

As I post this blog, the folks at Monopoly are gathering the final votes as to the 20 cities which will make a new world Monopoly board (from a list of 68 of the world’s major cities). Just think, a chance to buy Paris or Tokyo or Sydney. For a further two weeks (up to 9 March), you can vote for two wildcard cities, which are cities that did not make the final list of 68. This means you can enter your home town, your favourite city around the globe or a city that brings a special memory to you. Maybe one that has one of the world’s great travel wonders.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Great Pyramids and Sphinx (Egypt)

Through the dust and sand, these three giants stand proudly overseeing so much of the world's history. Crowds snap photos and gaze in amazement, touts hawk the latest in T-shirts, plastic pyramids and hats to hide the sun. Camels cruise by, seemingly unaware of the fuss.

Built over 4,500 years ago, the Pyramids are the only survivor of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Although there are around 100 pyramids in Egypt and Sudan, the most famous are the Pyramids of Giza, a virtual suburb of Cairo. As the ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife, the pyramids are built on the west side (setting sun side) of the Nile and are glorious mausoleums to the pharaohs. They sit on a perfect north-south alignment. When you are there, note the extraordinary architectural skill - the huge blocks aligned into a perfect pyramid with only the mesuring tools of almost 4,000 years ago to guide.

In order of size, and looking from right to left are the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at 137 metres in height, the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus). All three were originally coated in a white limestone coating so they would have sparkled in the hot desert sun. The limestone has been taken over the years for other buildings and only a small cap on the middle pyramid (Khafre) and a small amount around the base of Khufu remains.

The Pyramid of Khufu remained the tallest building in the world for another 3,800 years.

Near the Pyramid of Menkaure are the three much smaller Queen’s pyramids. Beyond this area, touts will sell camel rides. While they charge much more than they should, some bargaining will reduce the price a little (though the camel owners are seasoned pros). The view from the end of the ride makes it all worthwhile and sets a great end-on scene of all three giants.

Either side of the Pyramid of Khufu are the cemeteries of the various nobles. At times, a couple of these are accessible though finding the guard with the keys can be tricky.

Getting There

Try to come here early in the morning to have less crowds and to get away from some of the midday desert heat. Taxis cost around E£20 (US$3) from the center of Cairo or E£5 (US$1) from the Giza metro stop. There are two entrances to the Pyramids.

The Sphinx

Though smaller than most people imagine when they first see it (due to photos where it is in the foreground and the pyramids in the background), the Sphinx is still a mesmerising sight. Thought to be a model of Khafre (the middle pyramid’s pharaoh) with his royal headcloth, the Sphinx looks eastward guarding the Pyramids. The story that one of Napoleon's men shot off his nose seems unlikely. Sadly, the Sphinx's beard is in the British Museum (London).

Inside the Pyramids

Although there is not much to see inside, it is an experience to climb through one of these ancient wonders and into the actual tomb area. Khufu follows to both the King’s gallery and also to the Queen’s gallery. Typically two of the three pyramids are open at any one time (one being closed for maintenance).

Light and Sound Show

The sound and light show is held every night in different languages (three shows per night). It is well worth the journey as the lighting is spectacular with the use of colors and lasers to tell the story of the pharaohs (the Sphinx tells the story!).

Welcome to Travel Wonders of the World

Hi and welcome.

This blog will contain a mix of travel stories and reviews of what I believe are the true travel wonders of our planet from over 25 years of travel to every continent on the globe. Most blog entries will tell a story or review one special travel wonder and give you some guidance in what to see and experience if you go there.

The sites will vary from glories of nature (Barrier Reef, IguaƧu Falls, Grand Canyon or the Himalaya), through ancient worlds (Pyramids, Machu Picchu, Stonehenge), the great modern cities, sacred places and the wonders of wildlife.

Over the months, this site will build into a review of 100 to 200 of the finest wonders on the planet. Eventually I’d like to get to the point of giving them some kind of ranking or at least a top 10 and a top 50 and a top 100.

The locations will vary a lot. One time we may be in Africa and another may find us in Europe or the Americas.

The first entry will be the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the sole survivor of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

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