Thursday, July 26, 2012

World Heritage Sites and Technology


An eerie 'capture' from a YouTube travel video of Ouro Preto. It's a gate leading out of an old gold mine shaft (horizontal). I captured it because it seemed a metaphor for something mystical. (I've been looking at a lot of Renaissance Art on YouTube too.)

You know the movie Julie and Julia? (Terrific movie, I think.)

Well, in that movie (based on a blog) a modern New Yorker called Julie decides to cook up every recipe in Julia Child's classic, the Art of French Cooking. (Is that the title?)

I've decided to do something similar. I've decided to find great YouTube videos of Unesco World Heritage Sites.

I won't do it in order, because I'm not that kind of gal. Indeed, I'll probably give up after a while. But, still, it should be a great way to filter through all those travel videos on YouTube.

Now, I once read up on the selection process for choosing Unesco World Heritage Sites. I don't remember much, however. But I do remember that being so designated is a bit of a double-edged sword.

A locale becomes valued and therefore preserved, but it also attracts tourists, who, in turn, can trash the place. This is especially true of World Heritage Sites that are conservation areas.

Anyway, years ago I worked for a TV station that had a travel show. We would be jealous of the crew of said show as they got to visit all over the world.

But for them it was just hard work. They yearned for the old days, before budget cuts, when they had some off time, and could lay down their cameras, and therefore could enjoy the pleasures of these charming destinations themselves.

Just the other day I came across a stunning video of a game reserve in South Africa. A group were on a camera safari. An elephant was coming up the road towards the group who were in an open bus, and I could hear someone in the background say, "I'm NOT going to take  a picture. Sometimes you just want to enjoy the moment."

So true. Technology serves to separate us from the experience much in the same way stethoscopes, when invented, separated doctors from their patients.

I am very grateful for these people who post travel videos, especially the HD videos with no narration, just background noise. Some travelers have become adept at filming just the right amount of footage for each place, understanding that YouTube is not a TV Show. We don't want sharply edited clips, dve's (digital video effects) or fancy transitions. We want to feel as if we are walking the city streets, or staring off the lookout or visiting a cathedral with the camera person, his or her camera being our eyes. But we also want the time-frame sped up a fair bit, as we have short attention spans and get bored easily.

I especially like the videos where the creator puts in some captions, with pithy information about said Cathedral or said memorial statue, or where a real tour guide is heard speaking because they know their subject.

The other day I saw a long 2 hour video of St. Petersburg which was perfect. Part of St. Petersburg is a World Heritage Site, the canals, the tour guide said so.  Like Nevsky Prospect below. Blue skies and Venetian charm. Apparently St. Petersburg is a very sunny place, generally.  (But, it's almost always sunny on YouTube videos :)

St Petersburg HD tour


OK. So this morning, I looked on Wikipedia for a list of World Heritage Sites. There are tonnes of them, although none in Montreal. Hmm.

Have I seen some in person? Well, yes. The Canadian Rockies and even Roskilde Cathedral. My brother lived in Roskilde, Denmark, right on the fjord, across from the Viking Museum. Roskilde is a beautiful old city, perfect for biking.  And Old Quebec. It's three hours away and I've only been there three times in my entire life. And Lunenberg, Nova Scotia is on the list, but not Peggy's Cove. (Hmm.) Peggy's Cove is amazing.I've been there numerous times.


I randomly chose Ouro Preto in Brazil, because I had never heard of the town. After a few wrong turns, aged low definition videos,  I found a series of clear Scandinavian videos, with a voice over narration, but in Swedish, I assume, so I didn't care. Beautiful destination, Ouro Preto (Gold Nearby?) no doubt about it. GORGEOUS. Both the natural beauty and the man-made beauty.  The pic above is taken on a train ride outside the city.

And then after that I  chose Dubrovnik. I've heard of that city of course. And right away I found a video of someone walking the battlements on the harbour, the city wall.  Breathtaking, as well. A great video,too.

So, I'm stealing or 'capturing' pictures off YouTube. Some people burn their name onto their videos..

But here's the links to the ones I visited.City Wall Walk Dubrovnik. I give it 9.00 out of 10.00
 And Swedish Ouro Preto video. Ouro Preto Five parter.. 8 out of 10.00.
St. Petersberg video..HD almost two hours. 9.7 out of 10. I think it sets the standard.

Anyway, hopefully these generous YouTube citizen-travellers will help the people of the world come to understand how beautiful and precious the planet is and why it must be preserved.