It was quite a shock to all of us in the travel industry in the Middle East, when the Pyramids of Egypt were recently left out of a list of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Petra was included in the list, which provided some publicity for this part of the world.
Quite rightly the Egyptians were very upset and I agree with them, for the Pyramids and the Sphinx will always be among my favourites.
This recent omission got me thinking about my own personal list of Seven Wonders. I am going to expand the list to include cities too – well, you have to stay somewhere, when you are sightseeing, right?
Here are my top Seven:
• The Giza Pyramids without a doubt. When you stand in awe in front of the massive structures, it is worth remembering that when Roman soldiers were rubber-necking here, the Pyramids were already 3,000 years old! I remember a scary climb inside a pyramid up to a chamber, which seemed to contain nothing... but ghosts.
• Venice, the centuries-old city, surrounded by water with St Mark’s Square sometimes under water. The city is invaded during the summer by thousands of tourists from all corners of the globe but the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace and the many medieval buildings help you to forget the T-shirt vendors and the gaudy seafront kiosks everywhere.
Take a motor launch to the island of Murano to watch the skillful glassblowers create wonderful items. We stayed at the Hotel Danieli in the middle of the city. I remember sitting on the window sill of our room and almost being able to touch the gondolas, as they glided past on the canal.
• London with the Houses of Parliament, which Guy Fawkes thankfully failed to blow up. The Tower of London, where two of King Henry VIII’s wives lost their heads. The Big Ben and the Grenwich Meridian line keeping the time for the whole world and the quite incredible British Museum. I like the chatty taxi-drivers of the city and the Brits sitting out on the pavements at cafés and pubs in zero degrees sipping their Cappuccinos or beer.
• The Djemma El Fna Square in the centre of Marrakesh in Morocco. This is surely one of the greatest and most memorable places in the world for “life-seeing“, full of street entertainers, food stalls and the inevitable crowd of tourists. I particularly remember the water sellers with their colourful costumes and containers and my husband’s warning about not drinking the water but giving the water seller money in order to wash away our sins.
• The Grand Palace Complex in Bangkok. We sailed there in a high-tailed local “speed boat“ along the Chao Phya River in this famous “City of Angels“ with its redtiled and dazzling golden roofed pagodas. I remember the heat and my collapsing from the oven-like temperatures in the enclosed palace grounds... and the happy, relieved smiles from the Thais when I soon recovered.
• The Acropolis in Athens. This sacred hill with lots of classic temples dominates the Greek capital and can be seen from any point in the city. The Parthenon, built between 447 and 432 BC, is considered the most perfect example of classical architecture still in existence. Close by is the Erechtheion with the Caryatides (female figures), the statue from the left being a copy, as the original is in the British Museum in London.
• The Three Palm Islands in Dubai. I could not list the Seven Wonders of the World with mentioning this modern engineering feat, which is now home to hundreds, soon thousands of people and with more than 50 hotels on The Palm Jumeirah planned including the magnificent Atlantis Hotel.
I remember my husband saying, it was a pity, the villas were so expensive, when they were first announced, only to see them triple in price in less than 18 months. Ah, well, that’s life.
I am sure that some of these Wonders are on your own wish list, and please remember that the world is very like a book and he/she who stays at home, reads only one page!
by Jonna Simon
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.