7 Reasons to Travel in 2019
With advances in communication and the ease of modern-day travel, the world has truly become a small place. To those with the means and the adventurous spirit, new experiences, new cultures and new destinations are commonplace. “The bucket list” is more than just a movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson – it has become a to-do list of places to go and things to see not only because of a diagnosis, but because we all really only have one life.
If you are not sure where to start, start with the 7 Wonders of the World, 7 places around the world without ranking, which represents a global heritage. The first is the Great Wall of China, a stone and earth fortification created to protect the borders of the Chinese Empire from invading Mongols. Built between the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century A.D., the wall is a succession of multiple walls spanning around 4000 miles (nearly 6500km) is the longest manmade structure in the world and can even be seen from space.
Resting on the Corcovado Mountain and looming over Brazilians and tourists since 1931, the 130 foot (nearly 40 meter) Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful symbols in the world. The art deco style statue is made out of reinforced concrete and soapstone and cost about $250000 to build (in 1931). Even though at that time it was a lot, most of the money was raised through donations. It turned out to be worth every cent to have an awe-inspiring statue of perpetual blessing prayed out over Rio forever.
Machu Piccu is a 15th century Inca Citadel located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru. This ancient city of sparkling granite perched between 2 towering Andean peaks built at the peak of the Incan Empire in the mid-1400s, is thought to have been a sacred archaeological centre for the nearby Incan capital of Cusco. Eventually abandoned by the Incas, it was relatively unknown with the exception of locals until 1911 when it was rediscovered. This incredible site can only be reached by foot, train or helicopter and is a truly magical escape into the past.
Between 800 and 1200 A.D., the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico hosted an economic and political hub for the Mayan civilization. A powerful city and trading centre for cloth, slaves, honey and salt, it celebrated the genius and the adaptability of the Mayans. Today it can be seen in the splendid ruins of Chichen Itza. Get lost in the history of a bygone era and don’t forget to visit the most familiar of the ruin sites, El Caracol, a sophisticated astronomical observatory.
The Roman Colosseum is probably the most famous piece of ancient architecture in Europe. Built between 70 and 80 A.D. and seating nearly 50000 spectators, this epic piece of Roman history has experienced gladiators fighting to the death to battle re-enactments, animal hunts and executions. In use for 500 years however, it was earthquakes and stone-robbers that have left the Colosseum in a state of ruin. Only a portion of this once magnificent bastion of Roman culture remains open to the public, which is a tragedy, because even 2000 years later, its design still influences the construction of modern-day amphitheatres.
The Taj Mahal has appeared in countless movies – it has even been “blown up” in a few. Its regal appeal is legendary and tourists flock annually to experience the wonder up close. Constructed between 1632 and 1648, this mausoleum commissioned for the wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was considered to be the most ‘perfect specimen of Muslim art in India’. The white marble structure represents Persian, Islamic, Turkish and Indian styles of architecture, while the formal gardens of raised pathways, sunken flower beds and the reflecting pool are beautiful to behold.
Petra is our last (but at no means least) wonder. Capital of the Nabataean Empire of King Aretas IV, this city in rock is supposed to have existed since 9 B.C. It seems that members of this civilization were experts in manipulating water technology, constructing intricate tunnels and water chambers, helping to create a pseudo-oasis. It is almost unfathomable to imagine these incredible structures that were meticulously carved into stone, like a 4000-seater amphitheatre and the famous El-Deir Monastery. It was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1985.
A great quote I recently made my own reads, “Travel. Your money will return, but your time won’t”. Depressing yes, but so thought provoking and inspiring as well. That is why EXPLORE is in capital letters on my 2019 to-do list. And yes, it is a test of patience to go to any branch of the department of Home Affairs for your passport, but you only have to do it once every few years and it will open up a world of travel, a world of adventure, and a world of endless possibility. See you in line.