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Seven Wonders of the World: Who’s Coming With Me?

January 10, 2014
Mr. Curtis at one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  Yes, he's there.  Look closely.

Mr. Curtis at one of the Seven Wonders of the World – The Great Wall of China.     Yes, he’s there. Look closely.  You can click on the picture to embiggen it.

Some people make “bucket lists” that name all the things they want to accomplish before kicking the bucket.  I try not to be quite so morbid, mostly because contemplating my own mortality isn’t actually on my bucket list – so what’s the point of doing it.

I do have some goals for myself, though.  I always wanted to get a part in a movie, but I was able to cross that off about fifteen years ago.

I always wanted to return to England where I went to college for a while, and I did that this past summer.

Since I was little, I always wanted to write a book, and I got that one done, so I moved on to the next thing.

I wanted to see a baseball game in all 30 Major League stadiums, and I got up to 18, but they keep tearing them down and building new ones, so that’s still a work in progress.

I want to read and see all 38 plays that William Shakespeare wrote, and if movies count (which I say they do), I’m doing pretty good there.

After meeting a new friend with a similar goal, I also decided that I wanted to visit a total of 30 different countries before my passport expires.  I’m doing alright there, too – I’m at 19 countries and I have until 2017 to get that goal accomplished, then it’ll be 30 more countries on the new passport, of course.  (Adults’ passports are good for ten years).

One mission that I’m not sure I’ll ever accomplish is seeing the Seven Wonders of the World.  It’s not that I’m not determined – I really am.  The problem is that no one can seem to agree on which seven things make up the Seven Wonders.

First, there’s the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – which sound awesome, but they’re ancient, so most of them are long gone.  Only the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is still around (at least it’s the only one that is there and not mostly fallen apart).  Egypt is definitely on my list, but they won’t stop with the angry over there, so I’m not visiting until they all just calm down.

The Hanging Gardens of BabylonStatue of Zeus at OlympiaMausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Ishtar Gate and/or the Lighthouse of Alexandria (the lighthouse replaced the gate on the list at some point in time) are all but gone, so you can only stand there and Wonder what they looked like long ago.  Is that really the same as seeing the Wonder?

There's me at another of the Forty-One Wonders of the World.

There’s me at Stonehenge, another of the Forty-One Wonders of the World.



Since I’ve been to Greece and Turkey and stood on the spots where they once stood, maybe I can cross off the Colossus of Rhodes (Not much to see there.  Just a port, some water, and two statues of Rhodesian deer) and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Even less to see there, although if when it was still standing if it was more impressive than the Library at Ephesus, then it was probably amazing, because the Library is incredible to see).  If you count visiting the site, I’m doing okay, but if you actually have to see the Wonder, I’m going to need a TAP time machine for Christmas next year.

The Seven Wonders of the Medieval World might be a little easier to check off, except for one small problem – no one will agree what’s on that list.  Most people agree that Stonehenge, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Great Wall of China all make the cut.  So I’ve got four checked off the Medieval list, which is better than the two I’ve got on the Ancient one.

However, since there are a ton of different versions of the Medieval Wonders list, I have six more visits to make to cross all of them off. The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa and the Cairo Citadel in Egypt could be done on the same trip as Giza’s Pyramid, so traveling to northeast Africa would do some damage to the Ancient and Medieval lists.  Again, though, lots of angry people there, so Egypt has to wait a bit.

The rest of the Medieval Wonders are spread all over the place, though.  I’d like to go back to China someday, but the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing was torn down, so is it worth a trek across the country to see the spot where it once stood, or should I just go back to the Great Wall or hug a panda or something?

I’ve only been to western Turkey, so an adventure in Istanbul would take me to Hagia Sophia.  That would be amazing to see and it’s really close to a lot of the Ancient Wonders, so I could kill a whole bunch of birds with that one.

There's some TAP students at one of the Wonders - The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

There’s some TAP students at one of the Wonders – The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

TAP has talked about India a few times, but the food and crowds seem a little scary, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to see the Taj Mahal.  We missed Ely Cathedral when we went to England last year, so should I go back again?  And the Cluny Abbey is in the middle of France – nowhere near Paris or Nice where all the tourists want to hang out – is that one worth a visit?

That’s already 18 Wonders I need to visit in eight different countries.  That’s a lot of buckets, and there are still more lists.

There’s the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and a funky new list – the New7Wonders – to think about.  That adds the Channel Tunnel that connects England and France; the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada (which I’ve seen from the window at the airport, but I don’t know if that counts); Itaipu DamDelta Works/Zuiderzee Works  in the Netherlands; and the city of  Petra in Jordan (Actually #1 on my list of places I want to go).

Closer to home, in Central and South America there’s the Panama Canal, Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue (I’ve seen its twin in Lisbon, Portugal), the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Mayan pyramid Chichen Itza in Mexico.

The only Wonders of the Modern World I’ve managed to check off the list so far are the Empire State Building in New York and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  Sure, my visits to NYC and California checked two more Wonders off the list, but including these other lists of Wonders puts me at 26 yet to visit.

That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles, and I haven’t even started with the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, and of course there’s way more than seven of those.  I’ve found 15 so far, from a variety of lists.  I’ve only been to one – the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  I’m very excited that during our 2015 trip to South Africa, I’ll get to cross Table Mountain off the list.

Seriously?  It's not on any of these lists?

Seriously? It’s not on any of these lists?

Of course, someday there will be a TAP trip to Australia and we’ll see the Great Barrier Reef, and if someone doesn’t sing “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” while we’re there it might not be worth the trip around the globe.

Maybe a trip far enough north in Canada, Scandinavia, or Alaska will give us a view of the Aurora, but what if we’re not lucky enough to see it?  That happened to us in Japan.  Even though we were just a few miles from Mt. Fuji, we never even caught a glimpse of it through the fog and clouds.  Sometimes bad luck prevents you from seeing a Wonder.

A visit to the Christ the Redeemer statue would put you right above the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, so Brazil might be a worthwhile visit since you could also see Iguazu Falls and the Amazon Rainforest.  But visiting a country doesn’t mean you see all the Wonders they have to offer.  Chichen Itza and the Parícutin volcano are both in Mexico, bot they’re on opposite sides of the country, so I may have to choose one or the other.

Mount Everest is literally in the middle of nowhere.  Victoria Falls straddles the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, but is far from any other Wonders. A massive tour of the South Pacific may be in order soon, too.  Jeju Island is the only Wonder in Korea, and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam isn’t too far away in the global sense.  On top of that, Komodo Island (yup, home to that dragon) is just on the souther side of the South Pacific.  If you’re already there, you may as well visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines.

So, if I decide to put “See the 7 Wonders of the World” on my bucket list, and if I decide not to get any more specific than that, then I have nine sites checked off already, which sounds good (and kind of confusing) when you say, “I’ve seen nine of the Seven Wonders of World so far,” but I still have a long way to go.

To see the other 32 Wonders, I’d have to travel back to Canada, England, France, Greece, Turkey, China, and Japan.  After that I’d have to do some sort of around the world in 80 days sort of thing to see all of them.

Okay, so Google Maps didn't want to cooperate with the lettering, but start in Canada, move to "A" in Norway, then follow through the alphabet.  After Africa, the lettering starts over again in South America.  You get the idea.  If you don't, you can't come with.

Okay, so Google Maps didn’t want to cooperate with the lettering, but start in Illinois, head next to Canada, move to “A” in Norway, then follow through the alphabet. After Africa, the lettering starts over again in South America. In other words, J, I, A-T, other A-J.  You get the idea. If you don’t, you can’t come with.

I have a plan though… Leave Chicago and head to Toronto for the CN Tower,  cross the pond heading way north to somewhere in the far reaches of Norway to see the Aurora.  Jet down to England (Ely Cathedral), through the Chunnel into France where we’ll see George Clooney’s Abbey. Down to Greece for the temple in Olympia and straight towards Istanbul, zipping around Turkey on the way.

Across the Mediterranean to see all the sites in Egypt, through Jordan, and into Iraq (where I will duck and wear a helmet to see the site of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon).  Off to safer territory and the Taj Mahal in India, then I’ll settle for seeing Mt. Everest from the plane on the way to China, because I don’t do climbing.

Since we’re trekking the entire globe, we may as well stop in Nanjing, then head to Korea for Jeju Island.  Over to Japan where we’ll wait out the fog to get a view of Fuji this time, then down to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.  We’ll pause for a while to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef.

Then it’s back west towards Africa.  We’ll stop in Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, and just to get another stamp in our passports, we’ll cross the border on elephant back to Zambia (yes, you can do that).  Then it’s Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa before crossing the Atlantic back to the Americas.

I’m going to chill on the beach in Rio for a while, then ride the cable car up to the Christ the Redeemer statue, head over to the falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil, visit the ruins of Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains, hike through the Amazon Rainforest, and wind up in Paraguay to see the dam.

In Central America we’ll cross the Panama Canal, see the Mayan pyramid and the volcano in Mexico, then zoom right back to good old Minooka.

That’s 32 Wonders of the World, 28 countries, 21 new stamps for my passport, and one heck of an adventure.  Anyone coming with?

Have you seen any of the Wonders of the World?  Are there any on this list that you’re just dying to see?  If so, let us know about them in the comments.  

4 Comments leave one →
  1. miss lara permalink
    January 23, 2014 9:20 pm

    Mr. Curtis — You’re insane! Can you make a list like this for me?!?!

    • January 24, 2014 10:33 am

      Miss Lara, You’ve been almost all the same places as me. Your map would be almost identical.

  2. Ms. Waters permalink
    February 11, 2014 10:36 am

    Hysterical! I had a great time with Mr Curtis in Beijing picking his brain for ideas. Hopefully it’s healed by now…

  3. Jaden Easton permalink
    November 11, 2014 6:51 pm

    He is in your pocket! 😳

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