And find out how you could win a trip to your own personal Seven World Wonders with Exodus Travels!
What would you pick as your own Seven Wonders of the World?
That was the challenge that I was set by Exodus Travels, the activity and adventure holiday specialists who believe that the world is full of wonder.
I thought it was an intriguing question, and started thinking about all the places that I’ve visited. Which ones really filled me with a sense of wonder?
Read on to find out how you could win
a life-changing travel prize with Exodus Travels
In this post:
- 1 Who are Exodus Travels?
- 2 Win a trip to your Personal Seven World Wonders
- 3 My Seven World Wonders
Who are Exodus Travels?
Exodus Travels have been providing adventure and activity holidays for over 40 years. They now offer more than 500 itineraries in 90 countries, combining incredible experiences and wonderful destinations. In 2018 they were named as a Which? Recommended Provider, the only adventure holiday provider to be given this honour.
From remote villages to bustling cities, and from windswept mountain peaks to the wide open plains, Exodus believe that there are more than just Seven Wonders of the World.
Win a trip to your Personal Seven World Wonders
Travel is a very personal thing, and everyone has their own individual bucket list. And that’s why Exodus travel are giving you the chance to win seven Exodus trips to your personal Seven World Wonders. You’ll even be able to create a personalised video to share with your friends!
To be in with a chance of winning this once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’ll need to pick out your personal 7 Wonders of the World from the 500+ tours offered by Exodus Travel. Once you’ve done that, you can get bonus entries by referring friends to enter the competition via your own personal link.
Three winners will be picked – one each from North America, the UK, and the Oceania region. Each winner will receive an Exodus Tours holiday to each of the seven destinations that they picked as their Seven World Wonders.
The competition is open to residents of United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, aged 18 and over. Entries close at midnight on 15th December 2018.
My Seven World Wonders
So what did I pick out as my own personal Seven World Wonders?
I’ve looked back over 40 years of travel and picked out some of my favourite sites. Some are close to home, and some a little further away. The list includes a natural wonder, an industrial marvel, an ancient city and a historical monument amongst others.
All of them are places that filled me with wonder, and left me with memories to last a lifetime.
The Grand Palace, Thailand
In 1999, I travelled to Thailand to visit my Dad and his wife. Of course, the internet was in its infancy back then, and compared to the journeys I take now, I was totally underprepared.
It was the first time that I’d travelled outside of Europe, and everything about the trip came as a huge shock. The crazy traffic and the crowded markets, but also the delicious food and the beautiful Thai people with their friendly smiles.
We spent a few days in Bangkok as part of my holiday, and that seemed to take everything up another level. But at the Grand Palace, I was struck by the peace and serenity inside Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The temple is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, and its walls are covered in intricate murals depicting the life of the Buddha. The Emerald Buddha itself is deeply venerated by the Thai people, and is only ever touched by the King himself or the Crown Prince in his place.
The temple offered a brief respite from the heat and intensity of Bangkok. And of course, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the artefacts I saw inside.
But seeing how much the temple meant to my step-mother is the memory that really stayed with me.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Two years later, in 2001, I travelled to Cancun in Mexico to get married. To be honest, I wasn’t completely enamoured with Cancun while I was there, and I’m not sure I’d go back.
But during our stay, we took a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Chichen Itza. This was one of the great Mayan cities, and it is the site of the instantly recognisable Temple of Kulkulkan, seen above. As well as one of my own 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza was also named as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World in 2007.
We were given a tour around the ruined city, and I remember being amazed by the skill of the Mayan people in constructing these fantastic structures.
I really wanted to climb up the steps to the top of the pyramid but with only a guide rope to hold on to, I was too nervous and let the chance slip by. Since my visit, many of the monuments at Chichen Itza have been closed to public access and it is no longer possible for visitors to climb the pyramid.
I take that as a lesson to seize every opportunity when it is presented to me. You never know if you’ll get another chance.
The Iron Bridge, England
The next Wonder on my list is another UNESCO World Heritage site, but this time it’s a little closer to home. Actually, I’ve lived within 30 minutes of the Iron Bridge since I was 5 years old, but it’s only recently that I’ve really grown to appreciate it.
The Iron Bridge spans the River Severn just south of Telford in Shropshire. It was the first major bridge in the world made from cast iron and the area which took its name from the bridge became known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
Until recently, I always thought of Ironbridge as just a part of the local area. To be honest, I took it for granted. It wasn’t until I went to stay there for a weekend that I realised what a beautiful part of the world it is, and how much important history lies in the area.
Over the last year, the Iron Bridge has been undergoing a £1m renovation. As I write this, the covers have finally been taken off the Bridge but it is still surrounded by scaffolding. Soon the scaffolding will come down and we’ll be able to see the results of the restoration.
That definitely warrants another visit!
The Brandenberg Gate, Germany
Berlin has always held a special attraction for me. It started when I was a child, hearing about West Berlin being sealed from the rest of the West, a city divided in two.
Then it continued when I was a teenager, jealous of my brother who got to stand on the Berlin Wall on the night it opened in 1989. So when I took my sons there for a weekend in 2017, it really was the culmination of a lifetime of anticipation.
I could have just included Berlin as one of my Wonders, because there was so much that I love about the city.
But I’ve picked out the Brandenberg Gate for this list, because it symbolises the division and then reunification of the city. The Gate was bigger and more impressive than I imagined, and I felt quite emotional as we walked through the Gate and into Pariser Platz.
Walking under the Gate, seeing the statues at its sides, laying my hand on the stone, I couldn’t help thinking about all the people who died trying to cross from East to West.
Tintern Abbey, Wales
To me, Tintern Abbey always sounded like a place out of mythology. So when I had chance to call in on the way back from Cardiff one day, I took the opportunity to see the ruins for myself.
It’s a Cistercian abbey, made up of a collection of buildings dating from between the 12th and 16th century. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, Tintern Abbey was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
The Abbey is now in the care of CADW, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, and the ruins are being carefully conserved.
Wandering through the ruins of the Abbey church and the monks’ quarters is incredibly atmospheric, even on a sunny day.
You can’t help but wonder what it must have looked like before the Dissolution, and how impressive this building must have been when it was intact.
The Alhambra de Granada, Spain
The third UNESCO World Heritage Site on my list of Seven Wonders is the Alhambra de Granada in Spain.
This Moorish palace was built in the 13th century on the ruins of a Roman fortress in the Andalusia region of Spain. It’s the site of stunning palaces with beautiful Islamic gardens and courtyards, and you can easily spend a day wandering around.
I visited in 2017, and it was a visit that I’d been waiting to take for a long time. While Mark was keen to view the Paradise gardens, I wanted to see the architecture and decoration inside the buildings. And I wasn’t disappointed!
The intricate tilework and carvings throughout the Palace, beautiful laid out courtyards with water features flowing through them, and the views out towards the Sierra Nevada mountains all made my visit to the Alhambra a truly wonderful experience.
The Kyles of Bute, Scotland
And the final location on my list of Seven World Wonders takes us up to the West Coast of Scotland. I recently visited Argyll and Bute, and fell totally in love with the area.
The Kyles of Bute are the two narrow sea channels that run either side of the island of Bute. My drive took me from Glasgow over to the gorgeous island of Bute, and then along Argyll’s Secret Coast to the marina at Portavadie.
At the Tighnabruaich viewpoint, I stopped for a while to look out over the West Kyle of Bute. The crisp autumnal wind chilled my face as I looked out over the deep inky blue sea to the mountains of Arran visible in the distance.
It was an experience I’ll never forget and a reminder that you don’t need to travel thousands of miles to experience the Wonders of the World.