On the 9th of August 2016 with the Taj Mahal, I have visited my first Wonder of the World and 1017 days later on 23rd of May 2019 I have visited the 8th and last Wonder of the World … the amazing site of Machu Picchu in Perú.
To get to Taj Mahal, it was quite a hassle … Arriving on the next day without sleep in Delhi, meeting up with some people in an hostel in Delhi. Getting ripped off by a douche-Bollywood-good looking type, so we got a driver and we went from Delhi to Agra, it took us more than 4 hours on a toll-highway. We arrived in the late afternoon, so we mostly checked out the city and went for dinner. Our driver slept next in the parking next to my hotel in his car. 5 am my alarm clock went off. And around 7 am we were one of the first visitors and for only 1000 rupees entrance fee. This was like a dream coming true.
To go to the Pyramids was a bit easier. Arriving in the airport of Caïro. The next day I took a taxi from Caïro to Gizah to get to my hostel close by the pyramids. My driver didn’t spoke English and I didn’t spoke Arabic, so we passed by the hostel 2-3 times on a sand road filled with lots of holes, dents and rocks, where we were traffic jammed for many minutes. My taxi driver so many times, asking lots of people if they know that hostel, even a caricatural police agent with quite a belly, who was eating an ice cream, also he sends us the wrong way … eventually I said, I will get out the car, because the metro was running … and eventually after asking other people as well, I found it. Another early wake up, to try to be one of the first visitors, so around 8 am-ish I arrived at the entrance and for 80 Egyptian Ponds I could enter this historical site. What was very remarkable, that there were almost no tourists, because of the terror in the area past year, many tourists didn’t came to Egypt.
To go to the lost city of Petra, was even more bizar. It all started at the airport of Brussels, apparently my connection-flight was not possible for me to get, so during the check-in, I was waiting, finally they found a flight where I could have a seat, so I arrived in the airport of Jordan (in the north of the country, initially I booked it close to Aqaba, in the south, but Turkish Airlines changed it so many times, that they also change the airport). So I arrived around 5.00 am in the airport and I had an hassle at the airport, the passport control, found it suspicious, took my passport and didn’t allow me to enter: an asian guy, with tattoos, unusual haircut with a dutch name … luckily I had also my Belgian identity card and I said: ” Hel Tetekalamtoe inglizieja? ” ” Ana Belgici ” and then I showed them my Belgian identity card. To show that there is also the same name, with the same photo, to show that I am the same person. So by the time I arrived in my hotel, in Madaba, it was almost 6 am … so I slept almost 2 hours … then 8 am alarm clock went off. So I also missed the cheap bus who left from Amman (the capital) all the way to the south, to Wadi Rum, the city next to Petra. So I asked how do I get to the south? The guy of the hotel arranged someone who could bring me, but I had to pay like 60-80 euros. So I said, if I have to pay that, then I want the driver to take me to a lot of places and that he at least speak a little bit English, so the driver took me to Mount Nebo close to Madaba, where Mozes was looking from that mountain to look to the ” Promised Land ” as well where he due to the Bible died and buried. Then we went to Jarash, in the north of Jordan, one of the east-roman cities. After we passed the Dead Sea, where I took a book and ‘ floated ‘ in the Dead Sea, then to drive all the way to the south of Jordan. I fell asleep a few times (logically, since I only slept 2 hours after a long flight to get to Jordan). My hotel was only 2 streets away from the entrance of Petra. Around 6 am I woke up and when I arrived at the entrance, the bedouins (people from the mountains) were still building up their shops/stands … the entrance fee was 50 Jordan Dinars. You walked through The Siq, it’s like the Grand Canyon, where an ocean used to pass and now was gone, the rock remains. To after a walk, to see Al Khazna (Treasury) … 7h20 am … it was truly amazing! No bunch of tourists, just a few people at that time. After 2 hours, I was kinda okay with the lost city of Petra, around 9h00-ish, all those big groups were coming… a few hours it was empty and calm, now it was like a cross walk in Hong Kong… so many people.
To get to Cristo Redentor was another challenge. Once I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, I had to get to my hotel. It was close to Copacabana beach but as well close to the Favellas. So I had to be cautious not to draw extra attention or my phone or money/wallet getting stolen. So once installed, I arranged a taxi, this one took me almost all the way up the mountain and then from there you had to buy a ticket (27 Brazilian Real) to get by shuttle bus up the mountains. Once there you took 2 escalators and finally you saw the statue. It was mostly the view on the ocean and the city of Rio de Janeiro which made this view and place very impressive. Tbh this ‘ Wonder of the World ‘ was in 2016 my least impressive one.
Before going to Chile and to visit Isla de Pascua / Easter Island, I flew from Roma with Alitalia. Since I had to fly from Roma, it was the ideal chance to visit the Colosseum. So taking the train from Milano to Roma and in the evening I saw the Colosseum.
To get to Chichén Itzá was quite okay. It was a direct flight to Cancún. The next day I arranged a rental car and drove from Cancún to Valladolid. The roads are very tricky, the escape hills / traffic islands / road bumps were made of solid hard stones, so a lot of roads where you drive 80-100 km/h and suddenly there are a few, sometimes there were road signs but sometimes there were no road signs and no road lights … so it was dark. Valladoli was one of the cities close to the site of Chichén Itzá. Staying one night in a hotel, next day took the car and drove an hour to arrive there. Compared to the other sites of the Wonders of the World, this one was really calm. It remind me of the Pyramid in Gizah, Egypt, as the shape and the construction is a bit similar.
To get to the Great Wall of China was funny and challenging. So the flight to Bei Jing was really cheap from Belgium, I paid € 465 a direct flight, first I thought, with Brussel Airlines, but they gave it to ” Hainan Airlines “, so there I was, in a plane full with Chinese people, no one spoke English, most only Cantonese, even the crew members and the most recent movie (as most long flights, the movies are recently released) in the plane was the plane was ” Butterfly on a wheel ” a movie from 2007 with Gerard Butler and Pierce Brosnan, I never heard of this movie and of course none of the subtitles was in English. One of my good friends arrived 6-7 hours later, he flew with KLM from Amsterdam. So our plan was simple, to go by taxi to the Wall and back. But none of the Bei Jing taxi drivers wanted to take us, as it’s an 1,5-2 hours drive and then they have to drive back plus no one spoke English, so we tried to show the address in Cantonese, but even the taxi drivers never drove there, so they don’t know the address. They don’t use GPS there … as the city Bei Jing is so big, most drivers never been to the other side of the city nor they left by car the capital. So I met a Swiss couple in my hostel and I asked if they are also going to the Wall, but they were planning on another day. So my friend and I, we tried to find a taxi, but as the time and the hours passed by, we gave up, as none of the drivers wanted to take a half blood African guy and an asian guy with a beard and tattoos. So in the Hostal, I said, okay, arrange a bus, luckily, we were with 5 so the costs of the bus was not that expensive anymore. They other wise charge € 200. So it came to € 50/per person. The entrance fee was only 45 Yuan. We went all the way up by a cable lift. But after all, it was amazing to stand on this masterpiece of history.
To get to my last Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu … was also one of the more toughest, challenging ones and the most expensive one of them all.