There’s a new(ish) FB meme floating around called The Travel Challenge List. 100 places are named, and people check off where they have been. Everyone gets around 25 or 30 of the 100 and then complains about how poorly traveled they are. This is similar to the “BBC” book list that circulated around Facebook a while back - in that both lists are completely arbitrary bullshit.
The plus side - for lazy writers like me, the only easier column gimmick than making a list of some sort is to poke holes in an existing list. Let’s have some fun.
Here are my major complaints:
A lot of the sites are range from "okay" to "worth checking out if you happen to be in the same postal code, but otherwise lame." All of the sites are theoretically impressive, but some of the lamer ones include:
Devil's Tower, Wyoming. I've never been, but I've seen pictures. No way is it amongst the most impressive places in the world. Shiprock in New Mexico didn't make the cut, and it looks far more awesome to me. Ditto Saddle Rock in Arizona. That's just two superior monoliths in the Western US that I can think of off the top of my head. Extend this to the world, and no way should Devil's Tower be included.
The Gateway Arch - come on. It's a fucking arch.
Gettysburg Battlefield - Sure, an important battle to the US, but it's the only battlefield on the list. Lazy, lazy pick.
Hollywood Boulevard - If they wanted to list a place to see washed up celebs and score hookers and blow, they should have gone with Avenue Revolution in Tijuana.
Napa Valley - I've never been. I''m sure it's nice. Other nice places to see grapevines include Chianti, Tuscany and the Loire Valley in France. I'm sure the latter are much nicer than the former, but only Napa makes the list as a wine country rep.
Niagara Falls - Angel Falls and Victoria Falls do make the list, as does another waterfall in Africa that I've never heard of. Do we really need four waterfalls on the list? Wouldn't two work?
Portland Head Lighthouse - it's a fucking lighthouse.
Sears Tower - See, I'm not just being a homer here. The Sears is the tallest and most famous skyscraper in Chicago, but it's not in my top 20 Chicago sights. If Chicago gets one attraction (and on a list of the 100 best sights in the world, I'm okay that Chicago only gets one) then it should be the Tribune Tower. Or Millennium Park. Science and Industry would work too. I'd have no argument with Wrigley Field. Michigan Avenue or State Street or The Loop would suffice. Even the John Hancock Building or the new Trump Tower would be more worthy of this spot.
The Space Needle - Why? I love Seattle, and I know the Needle is the most famous landmark, but there are plenty of more architecturally interesting observation towers in the world. I'd actually rank Seoul Tower higher, and I have no great love for Seoul Tower.
The Alamo - I've never been, but all accounts I've heard have been underwhelming. Historical significance you say? Sure, if you're a Texan. Why not Deally Plaza? At least that's national history rather than just Texas history. If history is key, then why not Westminster Fucking Abbey? Did the Roman Forum do something wrong?
The Leaning Tower of Pisa - insanely famous, but Pisa sucks. There are plenty of more interesting things to see in Italy. The Leaning Tower is probably the most famous place that I've been to that's far more interesting in pictures than real life.
The Pebble Beaches of Nice - interesting I suppose, but there are far better beaches in the world. Hell, there are far better beaches in France.
Atlantic City Boardwalk - y'know, downtown Gary, Indiana was important in the earlier part of the 20th century as well. Since I don't have much interest in getting shot, I'll avoid them both for the time being.
A lot of these sights are in clumps, either right next to each other or visible from one another.
St. Peter's Cathedral and the Sistene Chapel - right fucking next to each other. Everybody sees them both in the same day. Sure, both are worthy sights, but couldn't they have just listed "The Vatican" and been done with it?
The Washington Monument/The White House/The Smithsonian. Why not just go with "The National Mall?" There are several vantage points in DC from which all three of these sights are visible.
New York - do we really need to include The Empire State Building, Times Square, The Met, and the Statue of Liberty? I'm not knocking the Apple here - no one city, neh, borough, should include 1/25th of this sort of list. Between New York and DC (4 hour train ride), one could theoretically see 7 of the top 100 sights in the world in a single day.
This list is WAY too US-centric specifically, and Western in general. I'm not saying this as an apologist. I think the west has awesome sights, and America particularly so. I understand that this list has to be grounded in some sort of travel realpolitik, and I know most people reading this list would much prefer to visit the 8th best sight in Spain than the best sight in Burkina Faso. Still, this list includes:
An insane 32 places in America. 32! Nearly a third of the list is in the States. The island of Manhattan (33.7 square miles) ties the continent of Africa (11,668,599 square miles) at 4.
On top of that, the western world (North America, Europe, Australia) makes up a whopping 70 sights.
Southeast Asia has two sights, which is one more than Wyoming. Russia has one sight, which is one more than Indonesia. Even Canada gets slighted at one, which ties it with the city of St. Louis.
Nuts. Lazy. Bullshit.
Finally, this list leaves off all kinds of worthy sights, which I suppose is predictable. Where is Boracay? Where is Bali? Did Shanghai do something wrong to piss off the creators of this list? Did Dubai? On a U.S.-centric list like this, where the fuck is Yellowstone?
I admit that creating a list of this ilk is an absolutely impossible task, and I'd have an argument with it even if it were my own personal list. However, I maintain that they could have done better than this steaming pile of wildebeest excrement.