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WHS Meetup 2020

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Author nfmungard
#1 | Posted: 28 Jul 2019 16:36 
After the meet up is before the meet up... Several places were already mentioned, but I would like start discussions with the requirements first.

Below are my requirements based on the meet ups we have had so far.

1 - Unvisited
So far we have always tried to find a spot many of us havent visited yet, particularly Els. But with several regulars, particularly Els, finishing the obvious spots this gets more and more difficult each year. Eventually, we would need to meet on the cruise to the Astral Islands.

In addition, most of us are also very proactive on the nominations. I think the good documentation (reviews, map locations, scheduled years) we provide here is partly to blame. In any case, even future inscriptions provide less opportunities than when we started. I am pretty sure Van Nelle would draw less crowds than the first time.

* Do we want to relax the unvisited rule?
* Should we maybe aim at Top Missing (sites that should be WHS, but aren`t)?

2 - Group Experience
I think we originally said to meet at sites where arriving in a group would offer benefits, e.g. make sites accessible or significantly lower costs. The summit was this year by aiming at St Kilda.

Stll, if we are honest, most of what we have done so far could have been organized individually just as well. In the case of St Kilda we even increased risk by all arriving at the same instead of spread apart.

* Do we still aim for a special group experience?
* If so, what sites would actually count here?

3 - Quality vs Quantity
The lesson for me from Bulgaria was that a meet up needs a highlight, i.e. a site clearly above average. I think quantity is less relevant, especially with the afore mentioned issue of the hotspots being exhausted.

If I compare Gibraltar vs Bulgaria, then Bulgaria netted me way more sites, but all of them were unmemorable. In Gibraltar meanwhile we had a unique experience and the Africa adventure and I found that way more enjoyable.

* Should we focus on quality or quantity?

4 - Location
So far all meet ups were held in Europe. With the exception of St Kilda/Skye all locations were feasible as a weekend trip and connected to all parts of Europe by plane.

I think it`s worthwhile pointing out that the majority of participants is from Europe and may have issues agreeing on a long distance flight and time window.

* Should we stick to Europe?
* Should the site be easy to reach (weekend trip)?

5 - Local Guide
Not sure we find a second Allan, but... having a local guide providing context and background was great. I would be happy to do the same for Hamburg, Ian could do it for London. And Samuel knows some rockart and Versailles... I think leveraging the community and the community knowledge should be part of the meet up.

* Should we try to find a location with a local guide?
* What location could you be a guide for?

6 - Connections
If I am honest what I enjoyed most about this years meet up with crossing paths with the others who traveled through Scotland. We had two nights in Edinburgh with Iain also joining. We had a night out in Thurso looking across the sea to Orkney. And I had the priviledge of joining Hubert on his long ride along the Scottish west coast.

* Should we focus on an area with independent options for travels?

7 - Time
In general, we have done the meet ups outside high season. This year was different and several problems followed. Hotels needed to be booked early, plans could not be changed, ... On the other hand, we got to see the Scottish sun and everyone was traveling longer than a weekend.

* What period should we aim for for 2020?

This is by no means a complete list. Please feel free to add your own requirements and questions.

Author nfmungard
#2 | Posted: 28 Jul 2019 16:57 
Do we want to relax the unvisited rule?

I think we should. There are also plenty of serial sites where visited may still allow for a new location and angle to be explored. Sticking to my hometurf Hamburg, we could get a private tour of the Chile house including the interiors. We could have dinner in the Speicherstadt. We could do a Wattwanderung to Neuwerk. So, these would be visited sites, but with a new angle.

Should we maybe aim at Top Missing (sites that should be WHS, but aren`t)?

This only makes sense when we have a revised list of top missing. But then I think it would make sense to actually trust our known judgement and get to take a look on our own.

Do we still aim for a special group experience?

If possible, yes. But frankly, we are all very individual travelers, so I think we shouldn`t force this.

If so, what sites would actually count here?

All the caves you don`t get entry to. Residential buildings without museum.

Should we focus on quality or quantity?

Quality. The meet up needs a highlight site (above 3.5, preferably above 4). Quantity I can do on my own.

Should we stick to Europe?

Yes. I think arranging long distance will just create head aches for everyone. We are primarily Europeans and till the Americans/Asians/African community members don`t make the point more strongly that we should come their way, I don't think it makes sense.

Should the site be easy to reach (weekend trip)?

Yes. Even in the highly optimiyed fashion Els traveled it was a 4 day adventure for a single site. For me, it was not possible to get there in less 5 days and that's just too much for a single site.

Should we try to find a location with a local guide?


What location could you be a guide for?

Hamburg. Berlin.

Should we focus on an area with independent options for travels?

Yes. For me those areas would be: Northern Spain, Greece (Pelepones, Isles), Turkey outside Istanbul, Romania, Russia, Tunisia, Southern France.

What period should we aim for for 2020?

I hate having to prebook. And I hate insane hotel prices. It shouldn't be high season. May/June or September.

Author nfmungard
#3 | Posted: 28 Jul 2019 17:10 | Edited by: nfmungard 
Last but not least, the ideas so far and a short examination how they match with the requirements I laid out so far.


Hosts: None
Quality: Plenty.
Special Flavor: Ferry to Surtsey.
Connections: Limited. It's an island.
Logistics: Many flight options across Europe. But high local costs.

See Iceland. Logistics and costs will be significantly worse.

Rhodes/Western Turkey
Host: Atila (?)
Quality: Rhodes is very nice.
Special Flavor: Not sure.
Connections: Island hopping in Greece. Turkish west coast.

Hosts: Ivan and Martina.
Quality: Plenty.
Connections: Plenty.
Special Flavor: Solovetsky Islands
Note: Natural candidate for 2021 when EVisa become available.

Med. Rock Art
Host: Samuel
Connections: It's Spain.
Special Flavor:
* Rockart treasure hunt. Form teams and work with coordinates to find most in a given day.
* Rockart guided tour/hike to good, but hard accessible sites. Maybe even with climbing?

Outside Europe people have mentioned: Senegal, Gran Canaria, New Foundland (Canada), Algeria, Tunisia.

Author Colvin
#4 | Posted: 28 Jul 2019 17:39 | Edited by: Colvin 
Thanks for putting this together, Nan! I think it makes sense to keep it close to Europe if most participants are coming from Europe, and if time and cost is a factor. Still, I would certainly not be opposed if anyone were interested in coming out to the Western Hemisphere.

Outside Europe people have mentioned: ..., New Foundland (Canada)

Maybe Newfoundland was mentioned, too, but I also remember there was talk about Nova Scotia. Personally I think Newfoundland has the higher quality sites (Gros Morne and L'anse-aux-Meadows), but it would probably be more expensive to get to. Nova Scotia's sites can be easily visited from Halifax.

Author Colvin
#5 | Posted: 28 Jul 2019 17:53 
Outside Europe people have mentioned: Senegal

Also, I still like Samuel's suggestion of Senegal.
Hosts: None
Quality: Djoudj has gotten good reviews. Though a bit controversial, the Island of Gorée was one of the first twelve inscribed World Heritage Sites.
Connections: should be decent from Europe and North America (Dakar is a layover on some flights between the US and South Africa)
Special flavor: Side trip to The Gambia could include boat trip to see Kunta Kinteh Sites.

Author winterkjm
#6 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 02:39 | Edited by: winterkjm 
One day the stars will align and I will join one of these "meetups". They sound like a lot of fun.

My North American proposal . . . though probably not for 2020!

Fly in/out of Phoenix between December and April
- Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings - Taliesin West (USA)
- El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)
- Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Mexico)
*Vaquita Porpoise is near extinct (10 remain), only found in the Upper Gulf
*None of our users (to my knowledge) have visited the Upper Gulf or Isla San Jorge

Author Durian
#7 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 05:38 
It shouldn't be high season. May/June or September.

Ahh, this is one of reasons why I decided not to join the meetup. Europe's high season is not an ideal time for me, the air ticket is very expensive as well as fully booked, all the hotels and rental cars are also pricy, not to mention the long queue at embassy to get visa. Spring or Autumn are much better choices for much cheaper price.

Rhodes/Western TurkeyHost: Atila (?)Quality: Rhodes is very nice.Special Flavor: Not sure.Connections: Island hopping in Greece. Turkish west coast.Russia Hosts: Ivan and Martina.Quality: Plenty.Connections: Plenty.Special Flavor: Solovetsky IslandsNote: Natural candidate for 2021 when EVisa become available.

I like these two choices, the air tickets to Turkey or Russia from far-east are reasonable even in high season! No visa for both countries is the plus for me :)

Author kintante
#8 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 05:51 
I would prefer a democratic (yes, very Swiss) approach. we collect all the suggestions and create a voting page. Everybody is invited to vote for one or several destinations and the one with the most votes wins. Only undemocratic restriction I would suggest is that if Els is against an option, we remove it from the voting. It would also be great to already vote for the next 2 years. In this particular case I think we already have a favorite for 2021.

Here are all the suggestions I heard/read so far:
- Rhodes
- Iceland/Greenland
- Spanish Rock Art
- Senegal
- Algeria
- Tunisia
- Canada (Nova Scotia)
- Russia
- Israel

Author meltwaterfalls
#9 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 06:10 
will certainly jump in on this one when I get a bit of time, even though I may be hazy on joining up for a little while due to family commitments, but I think Nan's questions are really good for getting to the root of things.

I like winterkjm's idea of a Arizona/Sonora based future itinerary.
Though one thing to point out from my own experience is that I wasn't able to find a car hire firm that would let me take a car from the US into Mexico, so that may cause some logistical problems (it may be different if the rental starts and ends in Arizona though).

Right back to work and I will have a think about answering these questions myself.

Author Sjobe
#10 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 07:12 | Edited by: Sjobe 
I hope to participate next year if timing and place are suitable. This year was out of question due to family commitments – we have a newborn baby. My thoughts about possible places:

Iceland would be a nice and safe option. Customized visits to Surtsey and Vatnajökull would be special.

Russia would be an interesting option especially if coupled with some harder to reach site like Solovetsky Islands or Virgin Komi Forests (especially Manpupuner).

Solovetsky Islands have been mentioned a couple of times, and indeed it would be a special site for meetup. For that I suggest a 'Republic of Karelia tour' which could be as following:
- Saint Petersburg: visiting some not that obvious site of this WHS like Fort Oreshek (en Shlisselburg Fortress, sv Nöteborg, fi Pähkinälinna)
- Move on by train to Petrozavodsk and visit Kizhi Pogost.
- Continue by train to Belomorsk and visit the Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea TWHS
- By train or bus to Kem and ferry to Solovetsky Islands

It would be possible to combine this itinerary to a visit to Finland because we have direct trains and ferries from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg and direct buses from Helsinki to Petrozavodsk.

I have a work mate from Petrozavodsk so I could ask her some advice for Karelia, if needed. Finnish travel infrastructure towards Karelia is quite good in general, because it is a former Finnish territory.

Note, an evisa for Leningrad Oblast will be available already from October 2019. It is still unknown to which countries will be granted an electronic visas.

Rhodes / Western Turkey would be a comfortable and easy combination but not super exciting.

Senegal / Gambia is also a thrilling option but maybe it would need too much time for me for a meetup.

Tunisia and Algeria would also be excellent places for meetup but there are some serious concerns about security.

Author winterkjm
#11 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 09:37 
I wasn't able to find a car hire firm that would let me take a car from the US into Mexico, so that may cause some logistical problems (it may be different if the rental starts and ends in Arizona though).

I have not rented a car from Arizona, but I drove my own car twice into Sonora, Mexico. Purchasing the required car insurance online in advance is affordable and easy. Proper documentation is absolutely essential because the U.S. Border Patrol are the worst.

This should be no issue if:
1) Car Rental originates and is returned to Phoenix
2) Required Mexican Car Insurance Policy is purchased for exact days across the border
3) Destination is Sonora, Mexico (Route through Lukeville crossing to Puerto Penasco is hassle free and a popular travel corridor)

Author winterkjm
#12 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 09:43 
Here are all the suggestions I heard/read so far:

I am not really expecting anyone to jump on board for the Phoenix idea, but I must say for quality/unique world heritage sites this itinerary is pretty nice. If at the very least this gives any of you a spark for a future trip, then my suggestion was worth making. I will be in the UK in 2020 then South Korea in 2021. Perhaps 2022 or 2023 would be the year I can join the group in Europe or even perhaps Canada (as I see some proposals that indicate an interest).

Author Colvin
#13 | Posted: 29 Jul 2019 23:29 

Incidentally, for those interested in travel to Greenland, Michael Ayers (who just wrote the Surtsey review) has a nice write-up on some of the logistics from the first part of his recent trip to Greenland posted on his website.

Author scleaver
#14 | Posted: 30 Jul 2019 06:15 
We plan to be in the Americas for most of 2020 (Mexico/Cuba/USA/Canada/parts of South America), so unless the meet-up is in North America count us out, and I'll stay out of discussions. Would love to join in 2021, interested in most of the ideas so far floated.

Author elsslots
#15 | Posted: 30 Jul 2019 13:15 
We could also have a look at the 2020 nominations:
Europe (10)
- The Great Spas of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom)
- The Lighthouse of Cordouan (France)
- Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands (Georgia)
- Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt (Germany)
- Fortress of Spinalonga (Greece)
- Padova Urbs picta, Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel and Padua's fourteenth-century fresco cycles (Italy)
- Dutch Water Defense Lines [extension] (Netherlands)
- Classical Karst (Slovenia)
- Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (Spain)
- Arslantepe Mound (Turkey)

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