Petra, Jordan

7 World Wonders: Q&A with Exodus’ Andrew Appleyard

Meet Andrew Appleyard: archaeologist, avid ornithologist, amateur photographer, and traveller. You may recognise him as the man who could answer all your questions from our roaming evening presentations. We know him as our international sales manager, and a man who has been representing Exodus for nearly 20 years. There are very few places he hasn’t had the opportunity to go. We managed to steal 10 minutes of his time to find out what keeps him excited and enthusiastic about travel – and what his own 7 world wonders would be, if he had to choose...

Andrew Appleyard in Kenya

What inspires you to travel the world?

My passion for travel started at a young age, growing up in Malta. My interest in the ancient world also began then – I now have three archaeology degrees. I ended up doing archaeological excavation work 25 years after I first went to Malta as a child, and then dug all over the Middle East: Syria, Jordan, Israel and Beirut.

Roman waterwheels, Hama, Syria

Tell us about your personal 7 wonders.

For me, it’s Petra, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu and Sicily – these are the ones I love to talk about when I’m giving my evening talks for our travellers all over the UK.

What’s your most precious memory from one of your chosen seven wonders?

Standing under a tree in Angkor Wat, trying to photograph lightning bolts over the Bayon temple. There was a woman next to me; she was struggling to work out the best camera setting whilst also being concerned about holding her umbrella. We were married at the bottom of Mount Kenya a few years later.

Bayon, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Are there any lesser-known hidden wonders you think deserve more recognition?

As a destination and archaeologically Sicily is just astounding. The countryside and beaches are beautiful, but the history is what really interests me, with Norman Churches, incredible Roman Mosaics and farmhouses, Greek Temples and amphitheatres everywhere you look. We have so many great trips there, but I’m warning you now, one trip to Sicily is never enough!

In countries like Jordan most people visit Petra and Jerash, but we have designed trips to take in sites others simply just don’t see. Two of my favourites are Umm Qais and Pella, which you can do in a day and aren’t even that far from Amman but are too often overlooked – a real gem for history lovers! The former is famous for its Black Basalt theatre, unrivalled in the archaeology world. The site is only partially excavated and overlooks the Sea of Galilee and the snow-capped peaks of Lebanon in the distance.

Have you ever been caught misty-eyed by a world wonder?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Petra numerous times, but the most recent time was extra special. I was very fortunate to go with my wife, and we were first people to get to the Monastery very early in the morning, to find an old Bedouin man playing a traditional Lyre as we approached the site. It was a truly magical moment for us to share, and a highlight of all the trips I have taken there.

What’s your top tip for visiting a world wonder?

View of the Karnak temple in the evening. Luxor, Egypt

I’ve always believed a local guide adds more to the moment than any guide book can do. I have visited many archaeological sites and other natural and ancient wonders around the world, many of which I had studied in detail at university, and yet still find there is something else I learn whilst I’m there. Especially somewhere like Egypt, where a guide to me is just essential. You need to balance it with free time – it’s important to have time to just meander through places like Petra and Luxor at your own pace, but you need a guide to set the scene.

 

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