Mark­ers Along the Jour­ney

Just be­cause it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

Some­times we rely on a cliché to ex­press an idea that’s easy to say, but hard to prove. For ex­am­ple in our busi­ness it’s cliché to say that travel broad­ens one’s hori­zons. But no mat­ter how many stamps we’ve ac­cu­mu­lated in our pass­ports or what our fre­quent flier sta­tus is, it’s dif­fi­cult to quan­tify ex­actly how all those miles trans­late to a broader world view.

But there’s lit­tle doubt in my mind that they do. So in the ab­sence of a for­mula that equates trips taken with hori­zons ex­panded, it’s up to each of us to find the magic con­nec­tions be­tween the places we go and the ways in which those ex­pe­ri­ences will change our out­look.

Along the high­ways and by­ways in most of these United States, you’ll find plaques not­ing im­por­tant sites or memo­ri­al­iz­ing in­di­vid­u­als who have had some im­pact on his­tory. These mark­ers give just enough de­tail to be tan­ta­liz­ing, but sel­dom re­veal the whole story; they’re in­trigu­ing, but hardly com­plete. Plus it’s im­pos­si­ble to slow down long enough to read them with­out snarling traf­fic.

Some­times there’s enough of the story to mo­ti­vate me to it look up on my smart­phone. But mostly I pass these his­tor­i­cal mark­ers by with just a vague un­re­quited itch in my cu­rios­ity, as if a lit­tle corner of my world view has a blind spot.

Each month your ed­i­to­rial team at Busi­ness Trav­eler re­views lit­er­ally dozens of news items, press re­leases and me­dia re­ports to dis­cover sto­ries that we think will be of in­ter­est to you, our read­ers. I can never pre­dict which of these will be – like an in­trigu­ing road­side marker – in­ter­est­ing enough to stop me in my tracks, but it does hap­pen with pre­dictable reg­u­lar­ity. This month, one that piqued my cu­rios­ity was a re­port that in 2016 UNESCO put 21 more places on its list of World Her­itage sites around the globe.

Since 1972 UNESCO – the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion – has worked to iden­tify and pre­serve sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural land­marks and unique nat­u­ral lo­cales by des­ig­nat­ing them World Her­itage sites. So far, the list con­tains just over 1,000 of these his­tor­i­cal and nat­u­ral won­ders, so the ad­di­tion of nearly two dozen new ones turns out to be a big deal. The ad­di­tions cover ev­ery­thing from the pre­his­toric An­te­quera Dol­mens in An­delu­sia to an­cient Philipi in Greece to the 20th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture of Le Cor­bus­ier scat­tered around the world. Nat­u­ral sites range from the Lut Desert in Iran with its ae­o­lian ero­sion form­ing iconic cor­ru­gated ridges (you’ve seen the pic­tures) to the enig­mat­i­cally named Mis­taken Point in New­found­land. Al­to­gether, from the Statue of Lib­erty to the Serengeti, these thou­sand­plus land­marks rep­re­sent the cul­tural and nat­u­ral her­itage of all hu­mankind. In other words, this is the best that we and the earth we in­habit have to of­fer. They are places that, in the opin­ion of UNESCO, are def­i­nitely worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing. As trav­el­ers, we can find our­selves sur­rounded by the in­trigu­ing, the beau­ti­ful, the unique on ev­ery trip – if we know where to look. Re­search­ing this story has given me a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what it means for a land­mark to be a World Her­itage site, and it’s added lots of new items to my bucket list. May I sug­gest on your next trip, look up some­thing about your des­ti­na­tion. Make time for a lit­tle ex­plor­ing, whether it’s a World Her­itage site or a mu­seum or some his­toric mon­u­ment. The point is, don’t pass the op­por­tu­nity by; in­stead – and here’s an­other one of those cliches – stop and smell the roses. Or at least, slow down and read the road­side marker. BT — Dan Booth Ed­i­to­rial Direc­tor

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