This is my final entry in the New7Wonders World Tour Blog, with some additional thoughts. I will use the blog later to write more about this fantastic adventure and about the many different and fascinating people we have met during this trip of a lifetime.
It was such a privilege to be able to travel with the New7Wonders campaign and its positive message that allowed me to find many “soul brothers and sisters” all over the world, and I feel an obligation to share these very personal experiences with all of you. It will be some kind of a “State of the World Report” based on real experiences and encounters with real people.
I have travelled, with the N7W team, more than 88,000 km/50,000 miles between the start of the N7W World Tour in Athens on September 5, 2006, and its conclusion in New York on March 7, 2007. We crossed different time zones 65 times in all. Our trip took us to the world’s lowest place, the Dead Sea (-411m/1,300 ft below sea level) and to one of the highest cities in the world, Cusco/Peru (over 3,300m/11,000 ft) on a stop-over to reach Machu Picchu. That is a difference of over 3,700 m. The last two events, in Chichen Itza, with 37ºC, and New York, with -27ºC including wind chill, made us live through a most extreme temperature change, a total of 64ºC difference!
I had the privilege to meet and hand over the Official New7Wonders Certificate of Candidacy to Presidents, Prime Ministers, Premiers, Mayors, Imams and a Cardinal, Ministers of Culture, Tourism and Development, Archaeologists, a Superintendent and even to bury our handmade Certificate in the sand dune for the Pharaohs (post-mortem).
Not only is N7W the first global voting campaign, but it is also the first time that children can participate in an election. They are our best champions, as well as important guarantors that the voting is objective – because most of them have not developed nationalistic feelings and they vote for what they truly like and admire. They also represent the largest group of voters, larger then Chinese or Indians or Americans … because everyone has children, in every country in the world!
So, during our last press conference in New York on March 7, we had invited the children from schools in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York, to join us with the international press. And how refreshing that was! It became one of the most animated press conferences we had on our tour…I wish we would have thought of this earlier! I used the presence of these children to launch a call to all of them, anywhere in the world, to know that the most important thing in life is to remain creative! Never give up drawing on a white piece of paper (or today, on a computer), or writing, or dreaming – because every building one sees, including the marvellous 20 finalist monuments, were all born in the mind of someone or a group of people who first put their ideas on a piece of paper.
I also wanted to have them know that the second most important thing for humans is to ask ourselves the right questions, because our creativity lets us then have the right answers. (Example: thousand of years ago, people asked themselves: how can I fly like a bird. Wrong question! It never got them anywhere! At the dawn of the industrial age, with the building of steam machines at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, some people asked themselves: How can I build a machine to fly? That is when they started to research and learn about aerodynamics and the forces of lift … and within only half a century, we are now flying in great comfort around the world in a jet-propelled airplane!).
Speaking of “machines” in the air – the N7W World Tour was lucky. We survived, without injury, a balloon crash from a the height of 30m/100 ft. in Mexico and an airship emergency landing (without fuel) flying backwards into the middle of the fields in India. For me, the fact that no one was hurt came close not only to a wonder but to a miracle!
The prediction by the coffee grounds in Istanbul (see that blog for the interesting details!), which promised good weather conditions and good luck for the World Tour, held true right until the very end. And so, with no surprise but tremendous luck, we were able to fly our airship in a snowstorm around the crown of the Statue of Liberty under special VFR conditions with a special permit from John F. Kennedy Airport traffic control, while all general aviation airplanes and helicopters were grounded. Now, this was really amazing and a dream under the most difficult of conditions!
My greatest compliments and admiration go to the airline and hotel industry around the world. The core N7W team travelling with me was not delayed one single time! All flights (over 60 individual flights for each of us) and all luggages were received on arrival without delay! We also had some really pleasant surprises – like the flight from Santiago de Chile to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) with “Lan Chile” being the most comfortable (gets the number one rating from me) and best service from around the world. A particularly big surprise for me because I had imagined this flight taking place in some old, noisy propeller aircraft (unfortunately, this nostalgic fantasy did not come through). All hotels we stayed at, and it varied from no-star to 5-star hotels, were all ready to host us on arrival and were cleaned properly everywhere, with mostly very nice, helpful staff. I’d also like to point out a new fantastic trend that we experienced in Latin America (especially in Peru at the “Inkaterra” and Mexico at the “Mayaland” hotels): eco- and culturally focused tourism, employing mostly the very proud local population.
I hope that I was able to convey some of my impressions on this fantastic adventure that the N7W World Tour was, and that you have enjoyed reading my blog. For me, it has been a great pleasure to share this information and passion with you and I hope it does inspire some of you to take off one day to experience some of these great places, the people living there and the marvellous monuments for yourselves!