Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Seven Wonders of the World

RHYS: A few years ago I blogged on my ten most beautiful places on Earth. That particular blog has been my most revisited and requoted post ever.But now I'm afraid I have to revise it. You see, I've just returned from Nice, France and the scenery took my breath away. The low road from Nice to Monte Carlo skirts the sparkling blue water with its little harbors and outrageously large yachts. The high road hugs the cliff tops with scary drops at every bend and old villas clinging to sheer faces and always the blue water far below. So it has to join my list.So this time I'm going to do the Seven Wonders of the World according to Rhys. Of course this list is limited by the fact that I haven't been everywhere. I've never been to Africa, only briefly to South America and never to China.It's also subjective in that I am drawn to mountains and water--dramatic scenery of my Welsh heritage And I also apologize because I do seem to show preference to the states in America where I now live: California and Arizona.

1.Lake: Dal Lake, Kashmir. This is probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen and I'm so sorry it's no longer available for travelers. To sit in a little boat being paddled across a lake covered in pink lotus blossoms, surrounded by sparkling snowy peaks was a once in a lifetime experience.Runners up: Lake Tahoe, CA, Lake Louise, Canada, and Lake Como, Italy

2. Natural Feature: Sedona--the red rocks, Arizona.I spend my winters just over an hour's drive from Sedona and I visit it often, but those rock formations, with the sun making them glow, never fail to take my breath away.Runners up: Great Barrier Reef, Australia; Grand Canyon. Yosemite Valley, especially from Glacier Point

3.Island: Morea, Cooks Bay: The true Bali HiRunner up: Greek Islands, can't decide which, Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

4.City: VeniceRunners up: Paris at night; Salzburg : two of my home towns: San Francisco and Sydney

5.Man Made Beauty:Taj Mahal, India. Until you see it you can't appreciate the size or the perfection.Runners up: Rice Terraces on Bali; Golden Gate Bridge--(confession...I haven't yet seen the Great Wall of China or I'm sure it would be on the list. And I know that half the buildings in Europe would qualify)

6: Village or Rural area: the hill towns of TuscanyAnd it's really a tie with St Ives, Cornwall, or really so many unspoiled English villages in the Cotswolds or Somerset and Swiss Villages like Grindelwald, Brunnen, and Austrian villages around Salzburg,

7: Coastline: From Nice to Monte CarloRunner ups: Seventeen Mile Drive, Carmel, CA, and the Cinque Terre path.So you see how sneakily I got in many more than seven. Even as I read this through I can think of so many places I have left out. But I'm going to limit everyone else:What are your seven wonders?

HALLIE: This is SO HARD, and I'm afraid I'm going to repeat quite a few of your favorites, Rhys. 1. Zabriskie Point in Death Valley - go at daybreak, go at sunset, and again at midday. It changes minute to minute. 2. The Three Gorges as seen from the Yangtze River at dawn. Like being in a Chinese painting.3. Bryce Canyon - Sinewy red rock formations, the scale of them is astoundingly perfect for humans to appreciate.4. New York City emerging from the subway to view the tip of the Flatiron Building (a special place for me because I felt like Mary Tyler Moore, wanted to spin and toss my hat in the air when I went to meet the editor of my first book, Kelley Ragland at St. Martin's).5. Luquillo Beach about 45 KM from San Juan; for me, the world's most perfect beach...and I grew up swimming at Malibu.6. The Twelve Apostles by Great Ocean Road in Australia; the stone formations in the surf and the weather, what a combination.7. The Parthenon, lit up at night as viewed from the roof of an Athens restaurant, the table loaded with mezze platters and surrounded by friends.

JAN: This is hard because I don't have a great visual memory, so I have to have visited it fairly recently or more than once, usually, to remember details But I did travel that same road between Nice, where I spent a lot of time during my semester abroad, and Monte Carlo, but mostly remember the really expensive yachts. I loved Nice but Monte Carlo was too rich for my college hippy tastes, so I think I turned off my visual memory.1. I will, as a good Vineyarder, argue with Hallie on the world's most beautiful beaches. There are two: one is at Long Point In West Tisbury, on Marth's Vineyard, where you can swim in a breathtaking South Beach and then walk thirty feet and rinse off in the most gorgeous fresh water pond, that has view both of the marshland and the ocean. The second is at Chappaquiddick at the break, where you are looking off towards Long Island Sound, as you jump in to "ride" the current, across from Norton's Point.2. Manhattan at night, glimmering with lights, as viewed from an eight seater plane, ready to land across the river in Teeterboro. With lots of champagne so you don't feel the bumps.3. The French Alps, in Vars, snow capped, of course, and viewed after skiing when sipping the local liqueur made from juniper berries that tasted delicious there, but like soap when we brought a bottle home.4. Matala, Greece on Crete, where we got beach tar on our feet and had to stop the van for goat crossings.5. Sedona. I'm with you on that one Rhys. The red colors and landscape are incredibly unique and beautiful.6. Mt. St. Victoire in Aix-en-Provence. Hey, it inspired both Cezanne and Picasso. Need I say more?

ROBERTA: This is way too hard, and besides that, you are causing my list of must-see places to grow and grow!
1. Yes, Manhattan, including the Chrysler Building at night, and Rockefeller center at night with all the Christmas lights up!2. Driving from north to south along the Oregon coast to Bandon Dunes. Oh my gosh, that scenery is spectacular! and if you walk out onto the beach and get close to the rock formations, you will see that the orange splotches are really enormous starfish.3. Stonehenge, not far outside of England. If you aren't a mystical, spiritual person, you will feel the mystery of these enormous stones.4. I agree with Hallie--the Parthenon is absolutely stunning. And more amazing, you can see it from every vantage point in Athens because it sits on a steep rock outcropping (the Acropolis.) Picture New York City with an enormous, ancient ruin towering over everything else...5. The Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine mosque in Istanbul. And to get the view of the entire city, go to the rooftop of the Four Seasons Hotel. Staying there was way out of our budget, but anyone can afford a glass of iced tea on the roof and enjoy the astonishing views.6. Best beach, where I grew up sunning and cleaning motel rooms and waitressing--Hatteras, North Carolina.7.Things I couldn't fit in: the grand canyon, Yellowstone Park, Notre Dame de Paris, Santorini (from a distance, not up close and personal to all those crabby donkeys), Monserrat a tiny settlement and church in the mountains 45 minutes from Barcelona, the Florida Keys for a gorgeous drive, San Francisco Bay, and now I'm going to stop!

So have we left out your favorites? Any more suggestions?


  1. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas. Think the Grand Canyon on a much more accessible scale.
    San Francisco, CA.
    Coming into Kansas City on I-35 at dusk. The view is quite simply breathtaking. I can only imagine what it would have looked like if there hadn't been bridge construction at the time.
    Corpus Christi, Texas/Padre Island National Seashore.
    I know that's less than seven, but the SF category takes in water, city, and surrounding area, so I'm leaving it at that.
    Rhys, I so want to take that 17 mile drive at Carmel...I fell in love with the descriptions of that area in several books.

  2. The great thing about posts like this is suggestions of new places to visit. Thanks, Shel

  3. I couldn't post on time because I was lucky enough to be away at one of my top ten places.
    10- Yosemite National Park
    Any of the trails takes you away from the scenic overlook people, but the view from the top of Cloud's rest is pretty cool.
    9-Masai Mara/Serengeti
    Need I say more? The only thing missing was Robert Redford shampooing my hair.
    8- Glacier National Park
    Grinell Glacier, Going to the Sun Road, Lake MacDonald, the milky blue waters of glacial moraines.
    7-Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
    All of Utah is gorgeous but these two places in particular. A technicolor geology lesson
    6- Rome
    A history lesson that feels like a tryst. "I didn't know men could build such things."
    5-Yellowstone National Park
    Old Faithful is the least of it.
    4-British Virgin Islands
    Exquisite kayaking.
    3-The Pacific Coast Highway
    What a ride.
    2-New York
    Drinks at The Water Club, the Farmers Market at Union Square, Tompkins Square Park, Central Park (where I got married)Russ and Daughters deli, driving on Park Avenue, 79th St Boat Basin, The Brooklyn Bridge,The Chrysler Building, The Brooklyn Museum, the US OPEN, the New York marathon, window shopping on Madison much.
    But I miss Cafe des Artistes and Caviarteria.
    1-My Connecticut garden. My own slice of heaven.

  4. I was just done talking to a person who will arrange our sydney airport transport to the places that I long to visit this summer. I can't wait! I'll definitely go to these places, too.