This is an open letter to Howard Hillman from Hillman Wonders.
How are you doing? I’ve been a great fan your website for the last 10 years, in fact I’ve used your Hillman Top 100 as my defacto bucket list. It’s a great bucket list and although I might not have agreed with everything in your top 100, it’s a great list to aspire to.
I’ve finally seen more than 1/2 of your Top 100 list, which is something that earlier in my life, I thought I would have never had the chance accomplish. I even have a gallery where I’m charting my “Hillman progress”.
Now that we’re acquainted a bit, here is the gist of my letter. Everyone has an opinion and we all have to respect those opinions, but as a traveller myself, I think that you’ve made one egregious ranking error in not categorizing the towns of Uzbekistan significantly higher.
Going through your top 1000, I understand that everything cannot make it to the top. I understand the North American bias that you have to your rankings/top 100 – I have no issue here – we live in North America. I will even understand that you didn’t put a ranking for Trinidad’s Carnival Celebrations – which as a Trinidadian – should annoy me significantly. Here is a screenshot from 31/Mar/2013.
The fact that you put Rio’s Carnival celebrations at 78 (which I have no quarrel with) is fine, but Trinidad’s celebrations should definitely rank in your top 200, especially when compared to at least two other highlights in your 100-200 ranking.
- The Statue of Liberty … seriously? Great symbol … but in the top 200?
- Millau Bridge … engineering marvel, but in your top 200?
Maybe your staff needs a bit of education on what Trinidad Carnival is … and the fact that Trinidad Carnival is a year long set of events culminating in the two days before Ash Wednesday. I’d be more than happy to offer some insight. However, even this omission isn’t so bad when compared to the ranking of Uzbekistan’s troika (Bukkara, Khiva, Samarkand)
The fact that Khiva isn’t listed here, is an omission that should be corrected – or you could replace Tashkent Old Town with Khiva. Even looking at the USVI and not seeing Magens Bay listed, seems to be an omission, especially when thinking about “Ski Dubai” … but again, we all have different opinions and I respect that.
I would think that rather than breaking up the troika into separate items, I would combine them all into an “Uzbek Silk Road” adventure. The three places together is simply a world highlight and should easily rank in your top 100. Thankfully, I can say this because I’ve now seen 51 “wonders” and I can compare the troika against the others. There are four “wonders” that are simply overrated … and could easily be replaced/reclassified.
- Stonehenge : How Stonehenge even makes it to any list is beyond me. It’s a product of fantastic marketing … there is history etc around it. There is special “religious” significance, but if that’s a criteria, then Samarkand is just as valid.
- Leaning Tower of Pisa : Again … does a Leaning Building fall into the list, then we need to go to Germany for “more lean” 🙂
- Sistine Chapel : Overrated. Consistently. Nuff said!
- Neuschwanstein Castle : Yet another consistently overrated tourist attraction. Yet another brilliant marketing plan … kudos to those PR people for getting this thing noticed.
It seems criminal to me that Registan Square doesn’t rank higher in your list. It’s truly one of the great squares in the world. The scope, scale and grandeur is easily on par with the Taj Mahal … if you want a monument to love, then the Bibi-Khanym Mosque wouldn’t be a bad choice (even it has had significant restoration)
Hopefully, I’ve made a case for some investigation, reclassification and maybe a trip on your part to revisit Uzbekistan’s Silk Road.