Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another of my Seven Wonders of The World

Following the glowing success of my previous entry about my own Seven Wonders, I started mulling some of the other places that I’d visited, which I believe are also worthy of mention. I have not included such wondrous places such as the Coliseum in Rome or the Parthenon in Athens, but places which, perhaps, dear reader, you might have never visited or even seen a picture thereof.
I shall start with The Cape Of Good Hope. This, as you will know, is close to the tip of Southern Africa. However, the actual southern tip is Cape Agulhas which is where I wish to show. It is something of a magical place in that Nature shows its sheer might and character. Here is where from the Western approach, the Atlantic Ocean meets on its Eastern approach, the Indian Ocean. To stand on the headland is to see the full force of Nature. The Atlantic Ocean is dark and angry, while the Indian Ocean is almost blue tranquil. The two meet in a never ending battle, and is a sight to beholden.

For my second choice, I have to return to the US. One of my most memorable trips is the ‘17 Mile Drive’ in California. This delightful road is mostly on the edge the Pacific Ocean. It includes allowing a chance to see the famous Lone Cypress, much used in films etc. One has to pay to drive along it, but in the change, one always gets a 50 cent coin. I remember once stopping in a parking area, where my daughter (BLS) was so pleased to see an otter, and was able to feed the animal with some bread. It actually was a squirrel, but who am I to spoil the fun of a 24 year-old. To the North of this is the famous city of Carmel. This enchanting city is an absolute must if one travels in that area. It has the inevitable overpriced ‘galleries’, but it also boasts the original ‘Hog’s Breath Inn’ (there’s another famous one in Key West). Once owned by Clint Eastwood when he was Mayor, he frequented the bar/restaurant regularly and mixed with the punters. A lovely man. My daughter made another discovery here. Corned beef in the US is nothing like corned beef in the UK. I seem to recall her comment was ‘yuck’ when she saw it. Clint was followed as Mayor by Sonny Bono, who went on to become Mayor of Palm Springs, California, where I lived for a while. He went on to become a member of the House of Representatives for the Palm Springs area, and was much admired by the locals and all politicians. Upon his untimely death, even Bill Clinton praised him for his honesty and integrity as a politician. High praise indeed. If only the politicians were as honest today!

My third choice takes me back to South Africa. I was fortunate to visit Kruger National Park to address a sales/customer meeting many years back. This park is over one-third the size of the UK. The meeting lasted about two hours, and then followed much jollity, with lashings of beer to wash down the meats from the braai (the S African equivalent of a barbeque). We all retired at about 9 p.m. We set off at 4 a.m. to see the animals waking up and feeding. I cannot express the pleasure of seeing the animals in their natural environment, feeding, mothers looking after their young ones, but saw some brutal scenes too – but that is Nature. I will never forget walking down to a river’s edge, and a hippo coming out after me. I believe they are permanently angry. A bit like some people I know. One photo does not do justice (to any of these choices in reality), but there is a live webcam at three locations which can be found at

For my next choice, I select Brussels in Belgium. This is another fabulous city to visit. Famous for its range of beers, chocolates and to a lesser extent, lace (Bruges, about 60 miles to the north has that accolade). Of course, everyone expects that they have sprouts and images of Hercule Poirot, but in reality, they do not, but they have Le Grande Place, the central square, where many restaurants and bars vie to force good food and alcohol down one’s gullet. The ambience is excellent, with its 18th Century architecture, and sometimes, they dim the lights and play Mozart. But this is not where I choose to take you, dear reader. I choose the ‘Atomium’. Built some 50 years back, this has been designed to look like a scientist’s atom cell. People can walk from sphere to sphere. My children loved this place. When I was last there in the mid 90s, it was a little ‘tired’, but it is still magnificent to see. Who said the Belgians are boring.
My fifth choice takes me back to Africa, to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. At almost 20,000feet, it is one of the highest volcanic mountains in the world. Although not active, it seems that the snow around the top is melting at an alarming rate. Cue Al I-Invented-The-Internet Gore with his climate change.
My penultimate stop is back in the US. In Joy’s home State – Tennessee. The Cumberland Caves. A truly incredible place, carved by eons of water. I’ve seen such caves in Wales and in other countries, but this one ‘takes the biscuit’ as we Brits would say. It is vast, and stunning. In one massive ‘room’ called the Volcano Room, there hangs a ¾ ton chandelier, originally from Loews Metropolitan Theater in New York.
My last choice is an antipodean marvel – Rotorua in New Zealand. Nature has performed another miracle here with its hot thermal springs and bubbling mud. The smell is awful – sulphur, or rotten eggs. But buildings are heated by literally hammering a tube into the ground, and piping the liquid into filtering systems and around the houses. The locals told me that the smell doesn’t bother them – a fact borne out by several people, they just got used to it.

So that my friends, is another world tour finished. I have diligently followed my son's and Ricardipus instructions on how to get some pictures attached. As you can see, I failed. But I have them separately if anyone wants them.

Here endeth today’s lesson.