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Do you remember the first time?

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Author meltwaterfalls
#1 | Posted: 2 Feb 2017 13:07 
Appologies for the wave of nostalgia, but today is the fourteenth anniversary of my first knowing visit to a World Heritage Site, namely the Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc.

For those that want the specifics, I visited at around 22:20 CET, the temperature was about -5*c and there was a thick fluffy smattering of snow in the air. I don't normally remember the specifics in as much detail (though you may be surprised at the amount of junk my mind retains) but this day I specifically remember as it was my first night as an Erasmus student. And with my roommate (now best friend) we were taken out for a pizza on the central square.

I remember on the walk there a friendly American student telling us about how there was a column on the town square that was protected by the UN and if we were planning on travelling around whilst we were studying then this UNESCO list was really useful in planning trips. We were impressed by this advice, my roommate perhaps more than me as he is now married to that same US student.

Just before we went into the Pizza restaurant, we ducked our heads around the corner of the Town Hall and to have a look at this Column, and then I had the first real wow moment of visiting World Heritage Sites, which it has set me off on fourteen years of travel all over the world.

I also recall the next morning during our orientation at the library, looking up this World Heritage list, and stumbling across a website of a Dutch lady that was trying to travel to them, it looked like this.

I did spend a lot of my time whilst studying in Olomouc criss-crossing the centre of the continent and trying to build up my tally, with a trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine being the first I went on specifically to tick it off from the list.

So that was the story of the first WHS I knowingly visited, on reflection it was actually my ninth site visit (the first was either the Dorset and East Devon Coast or Westminster).

I think I remember Els used to have a blurb about discovering WHS thanks to being given a book on 'Werelderfgoed' but I was just wondering if anyone else has a story associated with their "first" World Heritage Site visit?

And yep for fans of mid 1990's UK indie music, the title is indeed a nod to Pulp.

Author elsslots
#2 | Posted: 2 Feb 2017 13:47 
And yep for fans of mid 1990's UK indie music, the title is indeed a nod to Pulp.

Ah, I loved that song...

Author nfmungard
#3 | Posted: 3 Feb 2017 04:33 | Edited by: nfmungard 
I have been thinking about this for a while myself. My first WHS ever must be:

* Wattenmeer (Sylt)
* Speicherstadt/Chilehaus
* L├╝beck
* Paris / Versailles

I am not sure when I went first consciously to a place because it was a WHS. Eventually, I just noticed that I had seen quite a few and then kept going ;)

Author warwass
#4 | Posted: 3 Feb 2017 06:33 
For me there were places in Poland: (Warsaw, Malbork, Cracow, Wieliczka) and in France (Paris, Versailles, Mont St. Michel)

The "serious" pursuit of WHS started three-four years ago, when I discovered this site :) Thanks, Else!

Author clyde
#5 | Posted: 3 Feb 2017 09:00 
Interesting question. I started visiting UNESCO WHS "on purpose" around 6 years ago after visiting Japan. I clearly remember many Japanese tourists asking for a UNESCO WHS stamp on a sort of "Japanese WHS credencial" which most of them had. Then I found this site on the internet and noticed that I had already visited around 80 WHS and kept adding to my tally ever since.

My first visited WHS is surely the City of Valletta.

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 3 Feb 2017 09:42 | Edited by: elsslots 
For me the first would have been the Wadden Sea when I was 12 (I don't think I had been to Amsterdam before that).

Triggers for the first knowingly visit to a WHS indeed came from a book about 'Werelderfgoed', just as meltwaterfalls mentioned. I turned that concept into (an early version of) this website, and I somehow remember a thatched farm in Shirakawa-go as the first photo on the homepage.
I actively started visiting WHS in the same period (around 2000 - 2001) using special offers KLM had - they publicized cheap tickets on Tuesday afternoon for the next weekend. That way I went to Stockholm etc. just for the WHS.

Author Solivagant
#7 | Posted: 3 Feb 2017 10:29 | Edited by: Solivagant 
My first visit to a site which eventually became a WHS would have been a school trip to the "Tower of London" - a rite of passage I guess for most school kids living in the S of England in those days. The date will seem "archaeological" for most of you - around 1950?? We 8 year olds behaved disgracefully, spitting cherry stones out of the "charabanc" window at all and sundry. I remember the Crown jewels, the Ravens and the Beefeaters. I think I have only ever paid once since that date to fully go inside the Tower - and that also many many years ago!! And NEVER expect to ever again at those prices!

The first holiday when I can definitely identify having actively gone out of my way to pick up a site BECAUSE it was a WHS was in summer 1997 when we drove the 25kms to Khami Ruins (inscribed 1986) from Bulawayo and back - I don't think we would have gone out there otherwise and we were "in Zimbabwe" for reasons other than WHS which would have been no more than 3rd "priority" behind "New Country" and "Wildlife". But a drive down whilst in Chicago on business in 1996 from there to St Louis which picked up Cahokia as well as the Gateway Arch (and the Lincoln Home and FL Wright's Dana-Thomas House in Springfield Il on the way back) might also count (but I find it difficult to remember how important the WHS inscription was for visiting a site which was well worth visiting anyway). When I look at the holidays we took between the start of the scheme in 1978 and then there were many easily visitable and already inscribed WHS which got missed out - some have been picked up in subsequent visits but there are still gaps which could have been filled and most likely will now never be visited!

The first holiday planned "around" WHS as a MAJOR determinant of the route would be as recently as 2008 when my 3rd visit to Mexico had the specific objective of picking up as many of its "Centrally" located WHS as possible - leading to the "17 WHS in 17 days" trip.

Author Colvin
#8 | Posted: 4 Feb 2017 00:49 
The earliest WHS that I visited would have to be the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, during my family's visit to the World's Fair in Knoxville. The US doesn't have as dense a concentration of WHS as other countries, so it wasn't until college and later that I began to travel and pick up more sites. Even still, those were serendipitous since I was only vaguely aware of WHS, and they didn't factor into trip planning yet.

I traveled to about 30 different sites before I intentionally planned visits to WHS when putting together plans for a road trip in the Canadian Maritimes in the summer of 2007. I probably would have visited Gros Morne and L'anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland even without the WHS list, but I certainly wouldn't have made it to Lunenburg, a lovely town in Nova Scotia. Since then, I have been much more focused about including WHS in my trip plannings, and have thus seen some pretty exciting places.

Author winterkjm
#9 | Posted: 4 Feb 2017 03:54 | Edited by: winterkjm 
My first world heritage site was Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (Forbidden City) in July 2006, 6,272 miles from my home! This is perhaps somewhat unique considering I was 21 years old at the time and from the US. Growing up in the Midwest, very little opportunity, even for family trips to visit some of the iconic US National Parks presented themselves. Therefore, my first world heritage sites were from a journey to China with my college roommate. I picked up 8 WHS form that trip, and 1 additional inscription at a later time (South China Karst). I was largely unaware of UNESCO, until I revisited China in 2007 and then studied in Edinburgh during the Fall of that same year. By the time I began a Spring semester in Korea in 2008, I was well aware of UNESCO and made sure to visit all 8 WHS (at that time). My first WHS in the United States was from a road trip from Wisconsin to Cahokia and then Mammoth Cave NP in May 2009; I picked up more iconic US world heritage sites on my one-way road trip (move) from Wisconsin to California in July 2009. Within 3 years of my first WHS site, I had already checked off 26 WHS! July that same year (27 Jul 2009 15:49) is when I registered here and its been a growing travel obsession ever since.

First WHS by Continent:

Asia - Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) (China) July 2006
Europe - Edinburgh, Old and New Towns (UK) September 2007
Latin America - Historic Centre of Lima (Peru) January 2009
North America - Cahokia Mounds (US) May 2009

I visited WHS in 3 continents before I visited one in my own!

Author Sjobe
#10 | Posted: 4 Feb 2017 05:35 
My first visit to current WHS must have been Old Rauma during a football tournament in the 1980s. When I studied at the university in Vaasa in the 1990s we used to do biking trips to Raippaluoto/Replot which is nowadays part of the Kvarken Archipelago WHS. Both of those aforementioned were not WHS at the time.

The first sites that I visited knowingly because of the WHS status must have been on my trip to Sicily in 2008. During that trip I visited Syracuse, Late Baroque Towns (Noto, Modica, Ragusa and Catania) and Agrigento. It was the first time I planned my itinerary just for the World Heritage Sites. I think that my first visits to this web site were soon after that trip.

Author GaryArndt
#11 | Posted: 4 Feb 2017 12:09 
I have only been counting sites I visited since 2007, but technically the first WHS I visited was probably Independence Hall in Philadelphia back in the mid 90s.

Author meltwaterfalls
#12 | Posted: 4 Feb 2017 17:37 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Thanks for these responses, they have been really interesting to read through and glad to have appealed to Els' taste in music.

First WHS by Continent:

I like that Idea, here is mine, first visit (V) first known site (K):
Home Country: (V) Dorset and Devon Coast or Westminster, (K) Bath
Europe: (V/K) Trinity Column Olomouc
North America: (V) Statue of Liberty, (K) Cahokia Mounds (amusing that three of us have mentioned this site on the thread)
Australasia: (V) Sydney Opera House (K) -
Africa: (V/K) Medina of Tunis (for Subsaharan Africa Senegambian Stone Circles)
Asia: (V/K) Ayutthaya
South America: (V/K) Brasilia

Author hubert
#13 | Posted: 5 Feb 2017 11:55 | Edited by: hubert 
My first visit to a site that later became a WHS certainly was the Lorsch Abbey. I was born about 10 kilometers from Lorsch and visited Lorsch countless times in my childhood. This may explain my fondness for the tiny Torhalle and my positive review, though I can understand that other visitors are rather disappointed.

My interest in WHS started when I moved to Graz in 2004. Then I started to explore the other sites in Austria. Probably the first site that I visited only because it was a WHS, was the Orto Botanico in Padua. I remember, that my girlfriend and I were wondering why such a rather common garden was a WHS and the marvelous Scrovegni Chapel not. At that time, I did not know much about the nomination process and I wasn't aware of things like Tentative lists, but I must admit that today, I still have no convincing explanation for this.

The first trip that I planned with the focus on WHS, was in 2009 to central/east Germany (Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Goslar, Fagus etc).

Author mrayers
#14 | Posted: 7 Feb 2017 03:10 
My first visited:

-Everglades NP, or Independece Hall, I can't remember exactly, since they were very close to each other in time, when I was in the sixth grade in school, around 1974;

- Between 1974 and 2000: 13 sites in total;

- Between 2001 and 2005: 12 sites, including my first knowingly visited, Old Havana (2002);

- 2005 to 2009: 129 sites

- 2009 to present: zero sites

By continent:
- N. Am, Everglades
- Europe, Canal du Midi (still only 3 European sites visited!!)
- Oceanea, Te Wahipounamu, NZ
- Africa, Ambohimanga
- Australia, Royal Exhibition Building
- Asia, Melaka
- S. Am, Peninsula Valdes

Obviously, I have a lot of catching up to do!

Author meltwaterfalls
#15 | Posted: 7 Feb 2017 07:07 
Obviously, I have a lot of catching up to do!

Only if you feel like it, its not really a race. If it was then I would have pulled up with "cramp" by now as I couldn't keep pace with others here :)

Things change and peoples priorities differ, but having some interesting places to visit when travelling is always a bonus.

I'm very envious of your first African site being Ambohimanga, it feels suitably obscure.

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