Vote. It's your civic duty.
I always thought the "7 Wonders of the World" were set in stone. Not really a matter for debate. Either you made the list or you didn't.
Apparently...I was wrong. (I say that sentence rarely, so enjoy it while you can.)
The history seems a bit complicated. The wonders of the ancient world was a list of what was deemed the seven great structures of classical antiquity. Apparently based on guidebooks from Greek tourists of the age, only one still stands, the Pyramids at Giza. Though you can see the site of the Colossus of Rhodes or the Temple of Artemis (and your bribers have, at that) that's apparently the only real show in town.
A few thousand years later, someone with a sense of humor decided to create a list for the wonders of the Middle Ages. Many amazing sites are included on that list, though the list isn't so much seven wonders as eleven...either there was significant disagreement, or counting was not a prized skill in medieval times.
Somewhere in the 20th century, we lost control of the list. There became a list for the seven natural wonders, for the seven modern wonders (the CNN tower? seriously?) and the seven tourist wonders. Clearly, the wheels had come off the wagon, and it was time to narrow. To focus. To examine the great sites of the world and show some taste in the matter. Can't just hand these things out like candy, or UNESCO World Heritage Site ratings.
This task apparently fell to a Swiss organization called the New Open World Cooperation. In 2001 they started combing the world and in 2006, they released a list of 21 finalist.
Your bribers have been to a number of them including:
Seven years ago. Spent most of the time laughing at people taking digital shots and home movies of the urn collection in the neighboring museum.
Twice now. Never fails to take your breath away.
Ali could tell you about that. But she's apparently on strike. Does it count as a strike if you never blogged in the first place?
7 years ago again. The entire time I was whining to Alison that I had to go back to the hotel to wait for a phone call from my boyfriend. We called it the summer of Juliet. Yes. I too, was once lame.
-The Eiffel Tower
-The Great Wall
Did I mention it was, in fact, great?
Eh. Nice. Big. Sturdy. Old.
Hard to distinguish among the 8,396 temples we saw in Kyoto.
-Pyramids of Giza
-The Statue of Liberty
Some stones. Nicely arranged, grant you.
Looking at the list...at the incredible disparity between these things, after all, how can you compare the Pyramids with the Eiffel Tower? How bogus is it that something like The Statue of Liberty even made it to the final round? What on earth is the criteria?
I looked into this. Apparently, age has nothing to do with it, as it covers the entire span of human history. Instead they are judging based on structure quality, geographic dimension, artistic/cultural value, recognition and diversity...whatever the last two mean.
But really...it should be so much more than that. Alison made a great point - it shouldn't just be an impressive architectural structure. It should have some aspect of mystery or, dare I say, wonder. It should take your breath away. You should feel all at once amazed at what man can do and mystified by how on earth it was achieved. And no amount of explaining can fix that.
And so, without further ado, we present you with another list. It's not a perfect list. Some of these things are not even structures, but experiences. Nonetheless, offer it we do. Your favorite bribers now humbly submit for your approval...
Better than a large statue in a moderately dirty harbor...Marvels of the world that will knock you on your ass:
1. A balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey
Magical. Can't describe. Just look...
2. Abu Simbel, Egypt
It's not just that the statues of Ramses II that guard this temple are austere and massive and many stories high, because they are. It's realizing that 40 years ago, an international team took 4 years to disassemble the entire structure and put it back together in a different and higher location, to save it from submersion from the rising water of the Nile due to the construction of a dam. Plus no one is allowed to take pictures inside, so you can actually see the carvings and paintings without being blinded by the constant flash of cameras. (The digital camera was a horrible invention, giving people with no talent or interest the ability to take hundreds of low quality pictures of a subject, without actually looking at the subject except through a camera lens, and then allowing them to bore friends, relatives, neighbors etc with said photos of something they visited but didn't actually experience).
3. A bus ride through India
Hard to do it justice. But ride through any random town or city in India. And the visual stimulation is so overwhelming- the colors and images that flash by you, not to mention the smells and sounds. Sensory overload is an understatement. And you're just filled with amazement at the delicate order that rules the seeming chaos. And moderately impressed that this society has not collapsed at this point...
4. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge, NY, USA
Eternal optimism of the human spirit. Don't even get me started.
5. Walking the Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
At midnight. When the statues are dark but the castle is still lit up. It feels haunted...and you feel a creeping paranoia that a KGB spy in a trench coat will pop out and begin torturing you...
6. The marketplace in Marakesh, Morocco
At dusk it starts to come alive. Food is being cooked and touts try to hustle you into a table. There are snake charmers sprinkled throughout and little groups of musicians playing or puppet shows, theater troops and magicians. Smoke starts to billow everywhere and it could be 300 years ago, but for the other tourist milling around with their digital camera. That's pretty much when the charm starts to wear off.
7. The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India
Maybe its the sacred pool that surrounds it. Or the cool of marble under your freshly washed feet. (There is something about being in a temple or mosque, where they require your shoes to be removed. Padding around, somehow...it makes you more aware of everything.) Maybe its the removal of the holy book on its long golden bed, supported by 15 Sheiks, all staggering under the weight. Hard to say. But maybe my favorite sight in India. And that's saying a lot.
So, go to the website. You only have 60 days left before they close the books. Look at the 21 choices. Choose wisely. Although you are entitled to your own opinion, if you vote for the Statue of Liberty over something like Ankor Wat or the statues at Easter Island, hang your head in shame. This accolade will bring much needed tourism to each country that gets this listing. So Cambodia and Mali are more greatly in need of those tourist dollars than New York...stepping down from soap box now. Apologies.
But also, make your own damn list. What have you done? What have you seen that gave you chills, made you breath deeply at a sight or experience? What has filled you with wonder? Despite feeling a bit like Hard Harry in asking this, your bribers welcome your contributions to this list of wonder filled experiences.
We're waiting. And we're not known for our patience.