Many of you have probably noticed that I get around this globe of ours rather often. More often than not this getting around is for business (meetings, conferences, speeches, etc.), but I normally try and fit in a bit of free time too so I can go and inspect this or that place of interest nearby. Sometimes this is a mere ‘see, take pics; sorted; next!‘. Other times it’s a matter of seriously studying some seriously amazing natural and/or historical phenomena.
As I’d look at all these wonders of the world, I’d often think to myself: ‘everyone should see these’. I’d then normally get to thinking ‘what else needs to be seen in this world?’ What are the most interesting and breathtaking places on the planet? And once upon a time (many years ago) I was handed a ‘Top-100 Most Beautiful Places in the World’, or something like that. Around the same time I also saw a TV program called the ‘Тop-20 Places to See Before You Die” (again, or something like that).
After viewing both, the first thought that struck me was, ‘these ain’t right’, and it occurred to me that the writers/program makers probably hadn’t really seen much of the world at all, let alone be qualified to write lists on the best places in it. So it was there and then when I decided to intervene directly and come up with my own list – ‘of the very best and most interesting places on the planet, which all need visiting one day – if you’ve the time and cash to spare’ (or something like that).
The ‘first edition’ of my Top-100 appeared back in December of 2011 (the e-version of the book is here). Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge – a lot of planes flown, and dozens of new places visited and investigated, so the list has seen quite a few significant changes (in my head up until now) – for the better, naturally. And now the time has come for me to make all the necessary amendments and to re-submit my list for the reading pleasure of experienced travelers, occasional tourists, and simply curious blog-following sympathizers.
This Top-100 is populated with the most beautiful, unusual and/or mysterious places created either by nature or man – sometimes both. From North America to Kamchatka; from the South Pole to New Zealand. Everywhere!
But just before starting to put fingers to keyboard to make my list updates, all of a sudden I seemed to be taken over by some mysterious urge (a muse spirit?) to write a preface to my list – a kind of short essay ‘on the beauty of the world’, no less. // Indeed, sometimes even I go over to the side of the nature-lover/poet – the appreciator of all things aesthetically beautiful in this world; yes – even hard-nosed infosec guys go all mushy at times… Main thing is to make sure you make it back sooner rather than later into the ‘real’ world :).
So here we go: a short essay by an antivirus doctor on the beautiful and eternal – on cities and villages.
Somewhere in the infinitely colossal cosmos a large blue and white orb constantly spins around a huge yellow star – this cosmic tango being the remains of a huge explosion of something much bigger billions of years ago. And on that blue and white orb, certain nano-molecules gathered together and pulled off this thing called evolution, which (in the opinion of those molecules) reached dizzying heights. The molecules, having come together to make up the most complex of structures, started not only to add to their world, but also to photograph it! To study, analyze, archive, and to come up with theories about the role of protein beings and their influence on the blue and white ball. Oh, fantasists! Oh molecules! Oh mores!
Nevertheless, we’re now here all together on the surface of this wee (or huge – depending on what you compare it to) planet called Earth. Just at the right distance from the mega-white-hot temperatures of its molten iron-nickel nucleus and the impossibly cold, limitless cosmos. We live here – creating, destroying, fantasizing, swimming, flying… doing just about everything under the sun :).
We’re also blessed to find ourselves in a comfortable geo-interlude between previous and future geological periods incompatible with Homo sapiens. During this interlude we’re able to have all sorts of fun: We extract oil and gas from the bowels of the earth; we make roads and bridges and tunnels; we fly in planes all over the planet; we fly to the moon; we generally indulge in all sorts of fancy modern tech and luxuries enough to make minds truly boggle. We are very lucky indeed.
For all that human ‘progress’… nature couldn’t care less about any of it! It lives true to its laws, sometimes creating the most stupefyingly spectacular lush landscapes, and all in its own time – a heck of a long time – and in the process often changing its appearance beyond all recognition. Man, in his micro time period on the planet, understandably gets fascinated by it all, and so tries as best he can to capture it all, document it, and share it with his fellow men.
Most of the earth’s surface is boring and expressionless. But there are some places that blow completely the proverbial mind – even the mind of the most experienced of traveler (and remember – traveling is a must! Otherwise life on the earth’s surface becomes equally boring and expressionless:). In fact there are rather a lot of these mind-blowing places, and the more and more you see of their number, the more and more difficult it becomes to try and find in them features that are even better than the ones you already know of; ranking them is no less difficult a task.
No sooner was my original Top-100 published than it was perfectly clear that all the beautifulness of the world wouldn’t fit into it. Now, several years later, an ‘overflow’ has been organized! It comes in the form of a separate list of 20 items taken out of the main Top-100. Those items are cities (one isn’t quite a city, but let’s not split hairs here, ok?:), leaving the main Top-100 to be populated only by natural/historical (non-city-like) places of marvelous merit. Everything else stays the same: I’ll keep doing my cosmopolitan crisscrossing of the globe, checking out both famous and not-so famous hotspots of outstanding exquisiteness, bringing you blogposts as I go along, and periodically rearranging and revamping my lists of the very ‘top’ (IMHO) places for your perusing pleasure (and hopefully, eventually, visiting pleasure). The first full rearrangement and revamp is what you’ll be getting in stages in the coming few weeks…
…But for the moment here’s a teaser in anticipation of the upcoming umpteen ‘Top’ posts…