Markers Along the Journey
Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true
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