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Maddeningly Close Visits to WHS

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Author winterkjm
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#1 | Posted: 7 Mar 2014 13:21 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Perhaps an interesting place to share close calls. Most of mine are directly related with my first awareness of UNESCO in 2007, therefore, I inadvertently missed out on some unique WHS. Several "missed" sites relate to my first (and only) trip to Europe.

Total: 6

Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona - In 2007, I was in Barcelona for 2-3 days. I visited some of the Gaudi sites (largely by accident), but I had zero awareness of these Art Nouveau treasures.

Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France - In 2007, I was in Paris for 4-5 days. I had no idea that the Tour Saint-Jacques was part of a serial world heritage nomination.

Durham Castle and Cathedral - In 2007, I was in Newcastle, but I had very little knowledge of WHS, therefore I missed this site that was just a short stop way.

Historic Monuments of Macao - In 2007, I took the ferry to Macao from Hong Kong. The trip was last minute, no planning, and we arrived just before dark. We walked quite a lot, I was with 2 friends. Because of time and confusion of where the historic district was, I never properly visited the WHS, despite entering some of the buffer zone and inscribed boundaries.

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian - I was in Beijing in 2006 and 2007, both times I was unaware of this nearby WHS.

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park - In 2011, I was in the Philippines. I travelled to Palawan and stayed in around El Nido & Taytay for the better part of a week. On my final day I planned to fly out of Puerto Princessa and I would fit in a trip to this National Park the day before. Unfortunately, time constraints and logistics made my planned trip largely impossible. Disappointing because one reason I flew out of Puerto Princessa was this WHS.

Missed Hotspots
Madrid (1/6)
Ile-de-France (2/7)
Catalonia hotspot (1/5)

*When the Silk Road nomination is inscribed, I will be reminded of my 2-3 days in Xi'an, in which I visited much of the city, but not the serial sites included in this extensive nomination.

Author clyde
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#2 | Posted: 7 Mar 2014 14:57 
Good idea ... although it 'hurts' to know these missed sites could have been easily visited sites on our list.

The following are my "missed sites":

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian, China - I had to leave this one out because of time constraints and visited the other 5 WHS of the Beijing hotspot

Derwent Valley Mills, UK - I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.

Durham Castle and Cathedral, UK - I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.

Ironbridge Gorge, UK - I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.

Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City, UK - I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.

Saltaire, UK - I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.

Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, UK - I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.

Preah Vihear Temple, Cambodia - When I visited Siem Reap there were ongoing clashes between Cambodia and Thailand so I decided to visit Beng Melea instead.

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves/ La Amistad National Park, Costa Rica/Panama - I spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica and Panama before I became a WHS enthusiast and did not stop to visit this WHS.

Area de Conservacin Guanacaste, Costa Rica - I spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica before I became a WHS enthusiast and did not stop to visit this WHS although I passed by the buffer zone.

Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark - I visited Copenhagen 3 times but I missed this WHS and focused on other non-WHS sites.

Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe, France - I decided against visiting this WHS in favour of spending more time in Bourges.

Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Germany - I missed this WHS when I went for a road trip on the Romantische Strasse.

Darien National Park, Panama - I couldn't for the life of me trade the heavenly Kuna islands of San Blas for an organised trip to this WHS.

Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo - I couldn't for the life of me trade the heavenly Kuna islands of San Blas for an organised trip to this WHS.

Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, Qatar - I visited Qatar twice before this site became a WHS

Author winterkjm
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#3 | Posted: 7 Mar 2014 22:01 | Edited by: winterkjm 
I think we all have some "missed" sites before we became world heritage enthusiasts. However, it is those sites that we made some attempt to visit and failed that truly stick with us. For me Historic Monuments of Macao and Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park were the ones that I really regret missing.

Author Durian
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#4 | Posted: 7 Mar 2014 22:06 
clyde:
Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe, France - I decided against visiting this WHS in favour of spending more time in Bourges.


Oh! that remind me when I had to skip this church because my nephew cried to go Futuroscope near Poitiers! For kid, theme park is more important than world heritage site :)

Author Solivagant
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#5 | Posted: 8 Mar 2014 02:11 
clyde:
I spent 2 weeks in Leeds before I became a WHS enthusiast and my only day trips were Whitby and York.


We live quite near to all of these and if someone told me they only had time to visit 2 of Saltaire, Studley Royal etc, York or Whitby and which should they choose then I would recommend York and Whitby!!

Author winterkjm
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#6 | Posted: 8 Mar 2014 03:22 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Solivagant:
I would recommend York and Whitby!!

That makes me feel better about my visit to York instead of any WHS in the area. It is a very pleasant town to explore.

Author clyde
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#7 | Posted: 8 Mar 2014 10:48 
You're right Solivagant. I really enjoyed visiting both and if I had to choose between them or the nearby WHS, I'd go for them again. Having said that, I spent 15 days in Leeds! So if I'd visit again, I'd easily visit all the WHS + York and Whitby by renting a car.

Author meltwaterfalls
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#8 | Posted: 8 Mar 2014 19:32 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Yep I have a bunch of these as well, the overlong descriptions below are partially to aid my own memory in the future. Though my discovering of the World Heritage list came fairly early on in my independent travelling life so I have been a little more savy in researching first.

Batalha, Tomar and Alcobaca in Portugal. Could very easily have visited them but was too polite to get some acquaintances to head out of their way for it. Ended up having a wonderful time in Lisbon instead, so I don't think I did badly. But still it is 3 sites I could have added to my tally, but they are low hanging fruit for my eventual return to Portugal.

Royal exhibition building and Carlton Gardens, I sat in a minibus for 20 minutes directly opposite them at the start of a guided tour on the great ocean road, so easily could of stretched my legs and picked up this most underwhelming WHS. Having some good friends nearby though means I will probably get a future chance with them.

Australian convict sites I had two and a half weeks in Sydney, venturing all over downtown, but some how managed to not visit one of the three sites there, think I saw all of them though without actually visiting them. Oh well I have family there now so I'm sure I will pick them up soon. So a little like Clyde and his trip to Leeds they may not necessarily be must see sites but the amount of time I wasted in the city without visiting is the root of some frustration.

Saloum Delta, Senegal I spent a slightly frustrating week at a beach resort in The Gambia from which there are easy trips across the border to here, I even asked for advice on here, but no one was aware of its future prospects. Alas it wasn't inscribed when I visited, but I would have jumped at the opportunity to visit rather than have another day by the pool. Still I did get to meet the enormous and well armed entourage of His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen so at least I got to meet a proper African despot.

Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin been through on two occasions and could easily have stopped to see them. Especially irritating as I had a day to kill in Lille, and was some what forced into wasting it, hunting for clothes shops. Should hopefully pick it up in the next few months though along with the Wallonian mining sites! I can't begin to explain how excited Mrs Meltwaterfalls is about the prospect of that holiday :)

Tin mines of Cornwall and Devon technically I have been there twice, though neither time really counts. The second one I even explored a disused shaft of a mine as part of a sea kayaking adventure. Frustratingly the whole trip started a mere 100m from one of the actual sites which I didn't realise until I got back home. It was on my brothers stag party though and there was no way in hell I could convince 15 grown men, mostly in the navy, to visit some industrial heritage sites without endangering my own life and their sanity, so better for all that I did miss that one, my liver still thanks me.

Oh and a pre-emptive one Namhansanseong Korea, it was on my itinerary but a desire to visit the World Cup museum in Seoul trumped it on my last half day, I rather loved the World Cup stadium though so I don't feel too down. Likewise on the same trip a long hoped for cross border jaunt to Kaesong was scuppered by a cooling in relations between the north and south.

I'm sure there are more but those are the ones that most spring to mind.

And a quick note on the Peking man site, I wouldn't beat myself up on it too much, whilst yes it is near Beijing it is well off the beaten path and a tricky one to get to without a decent amount of planning or local assistance.

Author winterkjm
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#9 | Posted: 14 Jun 2015 13:14 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Question, which ones have I actually visited? I cannot decide, at least 2 of these sites I've been in the inscribed property, but they are incredibly massive serial sites. The other (2), I've at least entered the buffer zone, but probably did not enter the inscribed zone. On top of this, the age old question (at least in this forum), when can you actually say you visited a WHS?

Works of Antoni Gaudi (Spain)
- I've only seen and taken pictures of the exterior of the Sagrada Família

The Grand Canal (China)

- I've only seen and taken pictures of the Old Beijing City Section of Tonghui Canal. Specifically, "Silver Ingot"- or "Yinding" bridge and parts of Shichahai.

Camino Real (Mexico)
- I've been to and explored extensively the city center of Mexico City, including the Plaza Mayor. *Side note: While I know the end of the route, Santa Fe is not inscribed, I have at least visited the beginning and end of the Camino Real!

Luis Barragan House and Studio (Mexico)
- I wasn't planning on visiting as all, but it turned out to be right next to the metro exit on my way to Chapultepec Park. Unfortunately, I arrived 2 minutes before closing time (no reservations), and while we almost convinced the staff to allow us a brief glimpse of the interior, we were only able to see the plain exterior and bit of colored exterior near the roof.

Author elsslots
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#10 | Posted: 14 Jun 2015 13:50 | Edited by: elsslots 
winterkjm:
Works of Antoni Gaudi (Spain)- I've only seen and taken pictures of the exterior of the Sagrada Família

I would say: count it! The exterior gives you a good impression about the extraordinarity of Gaudi's works. Try to add one of the other subsites such as Parc Güell next time.

winterkjm:
The Grand Canal (China)- I've only seen and taken pictures of the Old Beijing City Section of Tonghui Canal. Specifically, "Silver Ingot"- or "Yinding" bridge and parts of Shichahai.

I would count it, but it may feel unsatisfactory if you have not read up on the Grand Canal and its history beforehand.

winterkjm:
Camino Real (Mexico)- I've been to and explored extensively the city center of Mexico City, including the Plaza Mayor.

I would say: doubtful. The city center of Mexico City encompasses so much'else that I doubt you've developed a feeling for the Camino Real (bonus point for Santa Fe though)

winterkjm:
Luis Barragan House and Studio (Mexico)- I wasn't planning on visiting as all, but it turned out to be right next to the metro exit on my way to Chapultepec Park. Unfortunately, I arrived 2 minutes before closing time (no reservations), and while we almost convinced the staff to allow us a brief glimpse of the interior, we were only able to see the plain exterior and bit of colored exterior near the roof.

I would not count this one, as the exterior doesn't really give much away what Barragan's architecture was about (in contrast to Gaudi)

So in general I would count everything as 'visited' when you have been in the core zone or inside the monument, and for some sites also if you have stood right before it / in the buffer zone and have seen some of the essential parts of its OUV.

Author elsslots
Admin
#11 | Posted: 14 Jun 2015 14:18 
I don't have many 'near misses' to share, probably because I am looking for WHS already for such a long time (18 years!) and I nowadays just push on to see one (never mind the effort or cost).

Ones I missed out on:
- Reichenau: When I was still a kid, I've spent 2 weeks at Lake Constance but we never visited Reichenau (my father recently checked our old photo books to make sure!). We did visit nearby Insel Mainau.
- Western Ghats: I have been to Tamil Nadu during my RTW trip of 2011 and I knew this was going to be a WHS. By bus I crossed the hills close to Nilgiri NP, even walked to Doddabetta Peak, but I did not have the time to visit the core zone.
- Gondwana Rainforests of Australia: also during my RTW trip of 2011, I was so bored with Australian forests that I decided to skip yet another park with trees and stay in Sydney a bit longer
- On my RTW trip I originally planned to visit 50 WHS, but finally managed 'only' 47. Two others that I missed besides the Gondwana Rainforests are Ban Chiang and Preah Vihear. The reason again was a lack of time, combined with plans to move on to another country/subcontinent.
- Grand Canal: I've been to Beijing and Suzhou, but the Canal wasn't on my radar at the time.
- White City of Tel Aviv: I've been to Tel Aviv, but before the inscription of the White City and I wasn't aware of it

Author meltwaterfalls
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#12 | Posted: 14 Jun 2015 16:30 
In the end it all just comes down to your own feeling on it, though I think I would probably share the same thoughts as Els. Though I think I would be tempted to tick off the Camino Real myself. I'm still not fully sure I have a real grasp on it even having travelled along it.

Having looked at my list above I'm happy I've tick a couple of them off since. But I realised I have one to add to it, in the shape of the the Medici Villas. I stayed in a hostel across the road from the Jardin de Boboli at the back of Pallazo Pitti but never ventured inside, oh well Florence isn't the sort of place I only imagine visiting once, so I'm sure it will be ticked off sooner or later.

Author Solivagant
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#13 | Posted: 15 Jun 2015 03:25 | Edited by: Solivagant 
meltwaterfalls:
In the end it all just comes down to your own feeling on it

My particular "problem" is that I visited so many of my "visited WHS" before they were inscribed and even before the concept came into being. This is particularly relevant in the case of Cultural landscapes, town centres and serial sites. I think particularly of Chaux de Fonds and Lavaux Vineyard Terraces. So, in 1960, as a 17 year old schoolboy I cycled across the Jura, down through Chaux de Fonds and round the East of Lac Leman on the way to the Alps and the Med coast. So the very sweat of my brow was expended on seeing these 2 places!!! It would seem "unfair" to myself not to "count" them!!! But did I "see" what is regarded as giving them OUV? And even if I did "see" it, did I understand it and do I remember it?

I actually have an old diapositive of the eastern end of Lac Leman and the terraces - but I suppose, to be strict on the matter one shouldn't really "count" Lavaux unless one understands what makes the site different from all those other Vineyard landscapes. And I am afraid the OUV merits of Chaux de Fonds as an industrial centre for watch making were not uppermost in my mind as I passed through!!

If I was being really "strict" with myself I think I would still count Lavaux but exclude Chaux de Fonds - but I am afraid they are both ticked on my list.

Author kintante
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#14 | Posted: 15 Jun 2015 04:51 
Before I started actively visiting WHS, my 2004 vacation in Mexico was the one I missed out most sites. I spent a few days in Mexico City, but did not visit Camino Real, Luis Barragán House or the UNAM. In Oaxaca I missed out on Yagul and Mitla caves and in Yucatan I missed Uxmal.

2005 I spent 2 weeks in Borneo and was even in Brunei. But I found it "too complicated" at that time to visit Gunung Mulu national park; something that would not stop me now.

But far worse for me are the sites I missed out since I started collecting.

2012 I spent a week in Beijing but didn't visit the Grand Canal. Simply underestimating its chances to get inscribed.

I went to Oman 2 times (2011 and 2013) but never found the time (or rather, my wife was not willing to drive that far for some tombs) to visit the Sites of Bat.

2014 I had booked a trip to Saint Catherine monastery from Sharm el Sheik for my last day there. Police cancelled all trips due to safety warnings the night before.

2014 on my trip to Western USA I skipped Redwood National park because my wife wanted to spend more time in San Francisco. The nightmare came in Las Vegas, where I had to cancel my flights to Flagstaff and 3 days in Grand Canyon, because my baby boy was a bit sick from the air cons. And at last we spent our time in LA looking for Justin Timberlake's home, rather than visiting some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings (will count as a miss soon).

Author clyde
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#15 | Posted: 18 Jun 2015 04:38 | Edited by: clyde 
In the meantime I managed to visit the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe, France and the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Germany but the non-European ones will be haunting me for quite a long time. I will shortly add Graz and Semmering to the list as I won't have enough time to catch the Semmering Railway to Graz during my stay in Vienna. I had to prioritise and I opted for Wachau, Schonbrunn and more time in Vienna.

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