June 20, 2019

Travel

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'Harry Potter' fans battle crowds and lightning in 10-hour wait to ride new 'Hagrid' roller coaster

Travel
(CNN) — An apparating spell would come in handy for muggles looking to get to the front of the line of Universal Orlando's newest addition to its Wizarding World. Diehard "Harry Potter" fans are waiting up to 10 hours to ride Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a twisting, high-speed flight through the Forbidden Forest led by the eponymous half-giant, on its opening day at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Wannabe wizards and witches camped out hours ahead of the park's opening to nab a spot in line. The wait already hit eight hours long by 8:30 a.m. ET and stretched to 10 hours by 10:30 a.m. ET, CNN affiliate WFTV reported. That's half the time it would take to watch all eight "Harry Potter" films back-to-back. ...
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Museum tells locals to give its real-life 'Moby Dick' whale bones back, please

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(CNN) — A British historic hall is imploring locals to return stolen bones of a massive whale skeleton that Herman Melville described in "Moby Dick." In honor of the author's 200th birthday, Yorkshire's Burton Constable Hall wants to restore the fossilized sperm whale to the "same manner in which Melville first saw it." The 60-foot specimen washed up on shore off England's east coast in 1825 and quickly attracted the attention of residents and researchers alike. A local doctor dissected the whale on location and conducted one of the first studies of the animal. It was displayed in Yorkshire, England, where it attracted tourists like Melville, who was bewitched by the whale's size and spectacle and even included its description in his seminal novel. ...
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A British man donated his frozen big toe to a Yukon bar so he can drink it in a cocktail

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(CNN) — When Adam Gerle went to work one morning this week, he was thrilled to finally find a parcel with a frozen big toe in it. Gerle is the general manger of the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Canada, which is world-renowned for an extremely gross traditional drink - the Sourtoe Cocktails. Since 1973, visitors of the Yukon bars have been challenged to drink a shot of whiskey with a mummified human toe floating inside. To join the club - and get a certificate from the bar - the drinkers' lips must touch the toe. Over 86,000 Sourtoe Cocktails have been served since.The latest big toe to reach the hotel belonged to Nick Griffiths, a former British Marine who lost it during a winter ultra marathon in 2018, according to a statement by Downtown Hotel. ...
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Guánica Lighthouse Ruins in Guanica, Puerto Rico

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During the late 19th century, the Spanish government in Puerto Rico built about 15 lighthouses to strategically protect the island’s surrounding waters and the ships sailing in them. In 1898, one of these lighthouses, the Guánica, spotted American vessels heading towards the coast of Rincón.Guánica Lighthouse was located at Punta Meseta, the entrance to Guánica Bay, between the lighthouses at Cabo Rojo and Isla Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island). Standing 177 feet tall, the lighted tower could be seen from up to 8 miles away.The one-story lighthouse was built in the neo-classical style, with a red brick octagonal tower in the center for its lone keeper, and a spiral staircase leading down to the lantern room. At the north side of the building was the main entrance, while the storage room was located at the south. The west side held two bedrooms and a bathroom, while the east side held a living room, an engineer’s room, and the kitchen/dining room. ...
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The Struggling Vineyards That Helped Inspire Karl Marx’s Communism

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A spectre is haunting Trier, Germany—the spectre of Karl Marx. Today, tourists to the small Rhineland city visit the house where Marx was born and gaze at the armchair he died in. They take selfies in front of a larger-than-life Marx statue, gifted to the city in 2018 by the Chinese government. And if they want a more embodied experience of the revolutionary, who spent the first two decades of his life in Trier, the official tourism outfit offers several guided costume tours, says Dr. Paula Koltz, a historian and marketer at the agency. Visitors can opt to learn about the city from a period-era nightwatchman or Marx’s wife, editor, and fellow revolutionary, Jenny von Westphalen....
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Top 5 best first class experiences in the sky

Travel
While most of us love to travel far away, we also dread the thought about sitting in a long metal tube (no, not the one that is riding underground in London) next to a bunch of screaming kids who make you feel like the plane ticket was a total rip off.Lucky enough some airline companies got your back offering us first class. No, not business class cause that’s for people who actually do business. We’re talking about the full blown, out of the ordinary, sometimes insanely luxurious first class! Let’s take a look at the best to see if there’s any difference with the last time you took a flight.EmiratesThe airline that is known to have the biggest fleet of Airbus 380’s has also one of the biggest arrays of fancy features on board their planes. To begin with, they introduced full sized bathrooms for first class, including a shower which is cleaned after every passenger left the bathroom (yes, there is a dedicated crew member on board for this job). They also were one of the first to put a bar between first and business class in order for the lucky few to stretch their legs while not running dry on champagne and cognac. The seats are covered in bling, but hey, what do you expect from a country where everything that glitters is gold!...
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Thingbæk Kalkminer in Skørping, Denmark

Travel
Since 1935, the old Thingbæk limestone mine has been operating as a museum dedicated to sculpture. This distinctive, unusual exhibition space is beautiful and chilling, lit mostly by candles and kept at a temperature of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. As such, it's a surprising and charming stop along an older two-lane highway that's now usually bypassed by travelers who take the nearby (faster) freeway.The highlights of the mine are the gypsum sculptures created by the late Danish artist Anders Bundgaard, who was the first to place his plaster figures in the caves decades ago, as well as bronze sculptures by another late Danish sculptor, Carl Johan Bonnesen. Many of the imposing pieces displayed in Thingbæk served as early prototypes for massive sculptures that now dot public areas around Denmark, such as Bundgaard's bronze Cimbrian Bull located in the center of Aalborg, and his Gefion Fountain located on the harbor in Copenhagen....
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Someone Donated His Frostbitten Toe to a Canadian Bar

Travel
In Dawson City, a town on the Yukon River in northwest Canada, one hotel bar serves up a truly unique drink. It’s called the Sourtoe Cocktail, and it contains Yukon Gold Whiskey and a dehydrated human toe. This mixological tradition has been happening at the Downtown Hotel since 1973. Over almost five decades the hotel has served a whopping 86,000 Sourtoe Cocktails, and counting. Recently, a former British Marine sent his big toe, tragically lost to frostbite, to the world-famous hotel by Royal Mail in the hopes of becoming the next in the storied lineage of this unique garnish.In winter 2018, Nick Griffiths competed in the Yukon Arctic Ultra, an extreme multiday marathon comprised of 100-, 300-, and 430-mile races along Yukon’s dogsled trail. After his left foot succumbed to temperatures that reached 40 below, Griffiths’s big toe was amputated and preserved in a vial of alcohol by the U.K. hospital that treated him. There was only one place it belonged, he figured. He promptly shipped it to the Downtown Hotel’s bar, known as the Sourdough Saloon, where it has joined the hotel’s floating toe collection....
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The Ancient, Sunken Forest That Rises From a Welsh Beach

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Long before it was a sandy patch abutting Cardigan Bay, the beach near Ynyslas, close to Borth, Wales, was grassland—and before that, thousands of years ago, a forest. The proof is right there in the sodden sand, but it’s only fully visible every once in a while. And when it appears, it looks like something out of a fairy tale.During times of strong wind and surging waves, layers of the wet sediment peel away, and clumps of sulfuric peat and stumps of long-dead trees emerge. They’re waterlogged, so the shin-high crags of ancient birch, pine, and oak look stained—dark brown, almost onyx when they’re wet. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of these stumps are scattered across a few miles of the shore, jutting through the sand in sharp, pointy angles. The size and shape often remind Martin Bates of shark fins....
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Sold: A Letter Where Hemingway Complains That He Sucks at Bullfighting

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Ernest Hemingway had a lot going for him when he sat down in a Paris cafe on September 3, 1924 to write a letter to his father. He was fawning over his infant son, hanging out with the literati, and thinking up The Sun Also Rises: his first major novel and a modernist milestone still read widely today. But he just couldn’t get over how awful he was at bullfighting.That’s one of the key points made by the writer in this letter home, which was auctioned today in Bonhams’s New York sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts. Never before published, it sold for more than $25,000.Writing of his time in Pamplona, Spain with his friend and fellow writer Don Stewart, Hemingway tells his father that he “was in the bull ring 5 different days and was tossed 3 times, once as the bull was about to hit me I went in between his horns and hung on, and was carried...for about two full minutes…” Even for a notorious bruiser like Hemingway, it was a bit too much to take. “I am too old to take up bull fighting seriously,” he continues, “as the great ones all start when they are about six years old...a man’s courage needs exercise just as much as his legs do…” At least it wasn’t all for naught. “I have some great bull fight stories to write,” he deftly humblebrags. Those stories would indeed help him craft the breakthrough novel on his horizon....
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Castle of Gormaz in Gormaz, Spain

Travel
The Castle of Gormaz was originally constructed in 756 by an Islamic military commander in an effort to control the region. Around 200 years later, was expanded to cover the entire plateau on which it was strategically placed. By then, it was the largest fortress in western Europe.When driving toward the fortress, you can see it growing ever bigger and the excitement builds. For the most unique experience, park at the bottom of the castle and hike up the trail. Otherwise, simply walking the grounds of Gormaz Castle is incredible in its own right. The architecture is in remarkably good condition and the keep still stands strong today. Keep a keen eye out for medieval pottery, too, as the ground is covered with it....
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8 unmissable holiday experiences in Cornwall

Travel
Conjure up an image of Cornwall and you’re guaranteed to think of the glorious beaches perfect for picnics, bathing in the warmth of the sunshine and splashing around in the crystal-clear waters. Perhaps you’ve visited a few times before or are still to take that much desired trip, or maybe you’ve a trip planned for this summertime. Still to decide what you want to do when you arrive? Fear not, we’ve compiled a list of unmissable experiences for your Cornish holiday.A trip to the Minack TheatreA magical evening spent at the Minack Theatre is truly one of a kind. With panoramic views of the breathtaking coastline and the unique experience of watching an open-air performance whilst perched on the cliffs, the Minack is not to be missed. Bring a picnic of gourmet local produce from the nearby Polgoon Vineyard and Orchard to snack on throughout the evening....
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Beaver Dam Pepper

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It is no wonder that the Beaver Dam pepper was nearly lost to posterity, trampled upon by the market demand for easier-to-grow pepper varieties that don't require such laborious agricultural techniques as planting individual stakes for each pepper plant.The eponymous pepper came to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, in 1912, with Joe Hussli, a Hungarian immigrant who couldn’t conceive of a new American life without a little peppery taste of home. Locals and descendants of friends of the Hussli family like to say that the Husslis planted the seeds, grew the peppers, and shared the seeds with friends and neighbors, thus setting up a little community of Beaver Dam pepper growers who appreciated the delicious plant’s mild bite, enough to pass the seeds down for generations. There are pepper-growing families in Beaver Dam who have saved seeds from at least the 1980s. However, over generations, farming of this pepper has dwindled considerably as hybrids flood the market....
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Parque el Capricho Bunker in Madrid, Spain

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A relic from the Spanish Civil War hides in this picturesque Spanish park. There, among the postcard-perfect statues and greenery, is an old bunker buried beneath a thick layer of dirt and grass.Known as Posición Jaca, the bunker was used by the Republican forces to defend Madrid from Nationalists. If attacked, high-ranking Republicans could seek refuge in the secure subterranean space. Covered beneath feet of soil and confined within the sturdy walls, they’d remain safe from bombs beating the surface above them.Two hundred people could spend months hunkered down in the bunker, which was surprisingly spacious and equipped with toilets, offices, and electricity. Chimneys poking out of the earth provided ventilation and air circulation, and a communications system would keep the refugees in touch with the outer world....
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Chernobyl, With Helping Hand From TV, Becomes an Unlikely Tourism Magnet

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When a nuclear plant exploded in northern Ukraine in April 1986, the Soviet authorities went to great lengths to control information about the disaster — even cutting off private telephone conversations when the word Chernobyl was used.Now, in a strange turn more than three decades after the meltdown, the exclusion area around Chernobyl is gaining a following as a tourism destination, apparently propelled by the popularity of a TV mini-series about the blast that was broadcast in the United States and Britain last month.The mini-series, HBO’s “Chernobyl,” fictionalizes the events in the aftermath of the explosion and fire at the plant’s Unit 4 nuclear reactor. It has been one of the highest-rated shows on the IMDB charts....
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Growing coral on land to save our reefs

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The world's first land-based coral farm in the Caribbean aims to restore reefs worldwide and help them adapt to climate change.
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Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries in London, England

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For some 700 years, the medieval triforium above Westminster Abbey was hidden from view, little more than a dusty old attic used for storage and rarely visited. Then in 2018, the space was opened to the public for the first time since it was built in the 13th century, renamed the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries.In this long-hidden gallery, contrasting sharply with the other royal artifacts of pomp and finery, you'll find a simple sword, a rusted knight's helmet, a rustic saddle, and a shield faded by the weight and wear of centuries. This is the battle gear of a legendary warrior of the medieval age, a leader who was immortalized by both Shakespeare and the collective consciousness of his nation, King Henry V. ...
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What's Up With Those Deep Gashes in Antarctic Ice?

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During austral winter, which stretches from June to September, Antarctica is carpeted with nearly seven million square miles of ice. For several decades, scientists looking at satellite imagery of those frozen swaths have noticed blue-black cavities where the water and ice open up to the air and sky. These jagged holes are known as polynyas, and they can be huge—in 2016 and 2017, gashes in the Weddell Sea were more than 13,000 square miles wide. They persist even in the freezing, windy darkness, when temperatures plummet to a relentless -58 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a lot we still don’t know about these pits: We’re not yet sure, for instance, how they affect the atmosphere—they may release carbon dioxide that had been stagnant and stored in the deep ocean—and it’s unclear what they mean for creatures swimming inside them. (Analogs in the Arctic, for instance, become food-rich oases.) In Antarctica, scientists are still chipping away at an even more fundamental question: How the heck do these holes get there?...
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Convent of the Holy Spirit Crypts in Madrid, Spain

Travel
In February 2009, human bones were discovered while workers performed rehabilitation work in the basement of the Spanish Parliament’s Congress of Deputies building. Among the bones were two skulls believed to possibly belong to the religious order that occupied the old Convent of the Holy Spirit.Today, this site houses the Congress of Deputies, which, together with the Senate, make up the Spanish Parliament. But starting in 1599, it was home to the Convent of the Holy Spirit. For more than 200 years, the cleric regulars were lodged here.The church, which was flanked by two towers, had a Latin cross plan, with a transept and a dome resting on pendentives decorated with paintings by Luis Velázquez. On the main facade stood a large marble medallion with a Risen Christ....
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Hill tribes and fishing villages -- locals show you the real Thailand

Travel
Bangkok (CNN) — With its talcum powder-soft, white sand beaches, turquoise sea and exquisite food, Thailand is at the top of many a holiday wishlist. The fourth most popular holiday destination in the world, the country received a record 38.3 million tourists in 2018 and collected $62 billion in tourism revenue.But how many of those visitors get the authentic experience of daily life in the country?In 2012 Somsak Boonsam established Local Alike, a company which promotes "community-based tourism." Via its online platform, Local Alike offers tourists the chance to leave the resorts and visit over 100 communities, from hill tribes to fishing villages.His aim is to address the current inequality by generating employment and funneling tourism dollars "to the people who need it most," while giving tourists the chance to "have new experiences and make personal connections with local people."...
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Sasbahu Temples in Gwalior, India

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The 11th-century Sasbahu Temple complex in Gwalior, central India, consists of a pair of temples, one smaller than the other, but both profusely studded with a cornucopia of stone carvings. As an inscription at the entrance to the larger of the two temples indicates, the temples were constructed in 1093 by King Mahipala of the Kachchhapaghāta dynasty and have stood the test of time as one of the most exquisite specimens of temple architecture in India. The Kachchhapaghātas rose to power in the 10th century and ruled over the northwestern parts of central India with Gwalior as their principal seat of administration. The Kachchhapaghāta kings built many monuments, some of which have survived, like the Sasbahu Temples, displaying a highly ornate style of architecture and meticulous attention to detail....
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Christian Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

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Christian C. Sanderson was a local schoolteacher in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in the early 20th century, and a prolific collector of historical memorabilia, particularly from his hometown. This included many unusual artifacts related to the American Revolution, especially the 1777 Battle of the Brandywine fought at the creek near town.Sanderson also collected letters from Civil War veterans, and some very unusual Abraham Lincoln curios. After his death, this impressive but highly eclectic treasure trove was carefully curated by friends and reinstalled in Sanderson’s lifetime home at the center of the bucolic village of Chadds Ford. The collection also includes many objects related to the renowned 20th-century American painter Andrew Wyeth and his family of artists, who were personal friends. ...
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Charles II Statue in Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel
Edinburgh is home to its fair share of well-loved, well-rubbed statues. But its oldest statue remains safely out of reach, towering atop a plinth in a little-visited parking lot in Parliament Square, where it's backdropped by the imposing St Giles' Cathedral.The statue honors Charles II, a man who came to power during troubled times. His father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall Palace in 1649. Though the Parliament of Scotland declared Charles II king, England came under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, who led the country as a de facto republic. Cromwell defeated Charles II in the 1651 Battle of Worcester, ending the English Civil War and forcing the latter to flee to continental Europe....
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Mr. Accordian's Grave in Springfield, Illinois

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A humorous, defiant testament by a unique individual!  As the story goes, Roy always dreamed of being buried in the cemetery containing Lincoln's Tomb, however, being able to secure a plot was almost impossible. Due to a mixup, Roy was able to buy a plot beside the road leading to Lincoln's Tomb. Cemetery officials eventually uncovered the mistake and threatened legal action if Roy did not return the plot. Roy won in the end, and in a final act of defiance, built a giant gaudy headstone and tomb with his name and Mr. Accordian on the plot. Roy would regularly visit the tomb and play his accordion for cemetery visitors.  A great testament to a man with a ton of luck and a fantastic bit of humor!...
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Mr. Accordion's Grave in Springfield, Illinois

Travel
A humorous, defiant testament by a unique individual! As the story goes, Roy Bertelli always dreamed of being buried in the cemetery containing Lincoln's Tomb; however, being able to secure a plot was almost impossible. Due to a mixup, Bertelli was able to buy a plot beside the road leading to Lincoln's Tomb. Cemetery officials eventually uncovered the mistake and threatened legal action if Bertelli did not return the plot. Bertelli won in the end, and in a final act of defiance, built a giant gaudy headstone and tomb with his name and Mr. Accordion on the plot. Bertelli would regularly visit the tomb and play his accordion for cemetery visitors.  ...
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'Llamas (He and She)' in Prague, Czechia

Travel
These two rusted llamas seem to be looking around, searching for predators in a strange world. They wait in the Botanical Garden of the City Prague. Czech artist Lukas Rais used scrap iron to make them....
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Top 5 ski resorts in the Alps

Travel
There are more ski resorts in the Alps than you could shake a stick at. It would probably take a lifetime to visit them all. If you’re a regular visitor to the Alps and you love to ski, then you’ll probably already have your favourite resort and perhaps you’ll return there year after year. Nothing wrong with that. After all, you’ve probably fallen in love with the place of your choice and it delivers every year, so why not stay with the tried and tested. However, you never know, you might make a change to one of the below resorts and wonder what you’ve been missing.ZermattAs Switzerland’s premier resort, Zermatt attracts visitors all year around, the skiing ranks amongst the very best to be found in the Alps. However skiing isn’t the only thing that Zermatt offers its visitors. The hills are alive with the sound of walkers and mountain bikers, while the colourful canopies of Paragliders swoop and glide overhead. The summer months affords the opportunity to enjoy the lush forests and Alpine pastures that rise up from the village to dizzying heights....
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Lajos Tüköry Memorial Plaque in Palermo, Italy

Travel
Visitors to Palermo, Italy, may be surprised to see a plaque written in Hungarian as well as Italian hanging on a wall along one of the city's major streets. This bilingual marker is a reminder of the relatively recent formation of Italy as a single state.The plaque, hidden in plain sight on the wall of a military barracks, commemorates the role of Hungarian military leader Lajos Tüköry in the "Expedition of the Thousand" campaign to free Sicily from the Bourbon Spanish rulers in 1860—a major step in the struggle to unify Italy.Tüköry was one of four famous Hungarian volunteers who joined the campaign led by Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was a senior officer in the army of some 1,000 volunteer "red shirts" who took on a much larger force defending the island of Sicily. He was shot in the knee at the siege of Palermo, just as the red shirts were entering the city, and died from gangrene a short time later. General Garibaldi himself gave the eulogy at Tüköry's funeral, referring to him as a "freedom fighter of Italy." ...
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Devil's Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale, England

Travel
Devil's bridge has straddled the River Lune since around 1370, where hard rocks form a natural narrowing of the river. Local legend has it that the Devil appeared to a local woman who could not retrieve her cow from across the river. The Devil appeared offering to build a bridge in exchange for the soul of the first to cross it, the woman agreed. Once the bridge was completed, the woman threw a load of bread over the bridge. Her dog chased it across, hence outwitting the Devil!The bridge has three spans each measuring over 40 feet,  constructed from gritstone ashlar and is believed to have been built by the monks of St Mary's Abbey, York. The bridge was eventually closed to all vehicular traffic in 1932. Now vehicles cross the river along the Stanley Bridge, just to the south. ...
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Berlin’s Troubled Humboldt Forum Pushes Back Opening

Travel
BERLIN — The Humboldt Forum, the problem-plagued museum housed in a reconstructed palace in the center of this city, has pushed back its opening date to 2020 because of technical reasons, officials announced this week. They added that “it was not realistic for the building to be ready for use by the end of 2019 as had been planned.”The announcement, in a news release on Wednesday, followed an inspection of the building by the head of construction for the project and the president of the Federal Office for Construction and Regional Planning. A new timeline for the opening will be presented to the board of the museum’s foundation on June 26.The museum, one of Europe’s most ambitious and expensive current cultural projects, has been burdened by construction problems and by accusations from academics and activists that it hasn’t done enough to determine the provenance of its objects that were acquired during the colonial era or to address whether it is appropriate to hold onto them. The opening of the permanent exhibition had already been delayed to 2020; the Forum was slated to open in stages, beginning with a temporary exhibition of ivory objects in November....
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Every Day at 5:00, Japan Tests Its Disaster Warning System With Folk Tunes

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While it is a modern and safe country by most objective measures, Japan nonetheless faces the persistent threat of natural disaster. The nation is entirely located in the seismically active Ring of Fire, making earthquakes an obvious hazard, in addition to the typhoons that have wrought havoc in recent years. As a result, Japan is a country that takes pains to be ready for the worst. Accordingly, dotted throughout most municipalities in the country are banks of loudspeakers mounted on poles, part of a broadcast system that stands ready to alert residents to impending natural disasters or other large-scale civil emergencies....
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'Il Commendatore' ('Cloak of Conscience') in Prague, Czechia

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Sculpture artist Anna Chromy's "Il Commendatore," or "Cloak of Conscience," sits outside of the historic Estates Theatre in Prague. Though the sculpture was created as a symbol for hope and peace, it's allegedly haunted: visitors have claimed faces in the figure's empty cloak have appeared in photos that have used flash photography.  ...
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The Dia Diversifies, While Staying True to Its Roots

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BEACON, N.Y. — Of all New York’s museums, none has a stronger house style than the Dia Art Foundation. It committed early on to supporting a small number of artists, such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, and presented their work in uncommonly long exhibitions of up to a year. It also undertook permanent installations in New York and in the American west, where the Dia commissioned Walter De Maria’s “The Lightning Field” and now maintains Robert Smithson’s monumental earthwork “Spiral Jetty.”Most of the Dia’s chosen artists were Americans and Germans, working in minimal and conceptual idioms that privilege processes, materials, phenomenology and environment. By 2003, when the foundation moved its permanent collection to a renovated box factory in this Hudson River town, my colleague Michael Kimmelman bestowed these artists with a new sobriquet: “The Dia Generation.”...
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36 Hours in Oxford

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Over the centuries, the oldest university in the English-speaking world has had quite an influence on its namesake city, as even visitors here can attest. Wandering through Oxford’s ancient streets, overhearing conversations in a marvelous spectrum of accents — about mathematics and music and the intricacies of Kurdish politics — it’s easy to feel the university rubbing off on you. But there’s much more to Oxford than cloistered academia. With its idyllic natural setting, buzzing restaurant scene and dynamic industries in fields as diverse as publishing, health care and auto manufacturing (the Mini is made here), this more-than-a-thousand-year-old community on the River Thames is as lively, and lovely, as ever....
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NatGeo reveals the best travel photo of 2019

Travel
(CNN) — A snowy fishing village in Greenland, a vulture soaring through the sky in Spain, and a trio of actors gearing up for an opera performance in China all make up the award winners in the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year awards.Judged by a panel of expert photographers and National Geographic staff, the annual contest received thousands of entries in three different categories: Nature, Cities and People.Weimin Chu was named Grand Prize winner and also took first place in the Cities category for his stunning image "Greenlandic Winter," which showcases the colorful fishing village of Upernavik, in northwestern Greenland, covered in snow. Stiff competitionAs for the People category, Huaifeng Li took first place with a beautiful photograph, entitled "Showtime," of a group of actors getting ready for an opera performance in Licheng County in China's Shanxi Province....
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Possibly the only known recording of artist Frida Kahlo found, Mexican Sound Library says

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(CNN) — The National Sound Library of Mexico has found what it says could be the first known voice recording of artist Frida Kahlo.The recording was found in the pilot of "El Bachiller," a 1955 radio show. The show featured a profile of Diego Rivera, Kahlo's muralist husband, Mexico's Department of Culture said in a press release."Have you ever imagined how the voice of #FridaKahlo could have sounded?" the sound library, Fonoteca Nacional, asked in a Tweet.Kahlo's voice is one of the "most requested and sought after" from the library, said Fonoteca Nacional Director Pável Granados, according to the release."This could be the voice of #FridaKahlo," the Department of Culture tweeted.The voice thought to be the painter's can be heard reading a text titled "Portrait of Diego," according to the release....
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The Tour de France to Start in Denmark in 2021

Travel
The Tour de France is heading north.In 2021, for the first time in its 118-year history, the race will begin in Denmark; it will be the northernmost start for the prestigious cycling race. Three Danish legs of the race, or stages, are planned for July 2, 3 and 4 that year.The Tour de France, divided into 21 one-day stages covering approximately 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers), is often described as a dazzling travelogue. It’s opening legs, known as the Grand Départ, change location every year and are occasionally hosted outside of France, usually in neighboring countries like the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, though Monaco and Britain have also had the honor. (The finish always takes place along the Champs-Élysées in Paris.)...
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Luxury hotels and vegan food in Singapore

Travel
Singapore is a destination with an impeccable list of the finest hotels, and a myriad of dining options that truly offer something for everyone. It is a melting pot of styles, culture and cuisine making it one of our favourite locations in Southeast Asia. In recent years a growing number of hotels and restaurants have embraced the popularity of veganism and have added vegan and plant based options for their guests. Here we highlight a selection of these establishments that we ‘tried and tested’ on our last trip to Singapore. We hope you enjoy reading ‘Luxury hotels and vegan food in Singapore’ as much as we enjoyed researching the article!Six Senses DuxtonWhen the Top Hotel Brand in the World opens a pair of boutique luxury hotels in Singapore you know you’re in for a treat. Six Senses are known for their unique resorts in breathtaking and natural locations and Six Senses Duxton was the first city centre hotel from this award winning brand. You can expect environmental and eco influences throughout as this is synonymous with the ethos of Six Senses. What may pleasantly surprise you is how they have seamlessly transitioned from luxury beach resorts to luxury city centre hotels....
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Walt Whitman's Grave in Camden, New Jersey

Travel
Walt Whitman's family tomb is built into a hillside, fronted by two vertical granite stones and a horizontal granite crossbeam inside the historic Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey. It's an amazingly peaceful and beautiful place. ...
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Omajowa

Travel
Sandcastles of mud and termite saliva dot the African savannah, providing locals with an assortment of culinary delights. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, abandoned works of termite architecture double as outdoor ovens. Kenyans roast termites to serve alongside corn porridge. And in the northern regions of southern Africa, where rainfall is exceptionally high, giant mushrooms spring from the base of tall termite mounds after heavy downpours.Around January, February, and March, residents of central and northern Namibia anticipate the sudden appearance of Termitomyces schimperi, also known as omajowa, the Herero name for these termite-hill mushrooms. Harvested by locals, the wild mushrooms—which can weigh more than two pounds apiece—enhance meals and supplement incomes. As such, they symbolize growth and prosperity. Their flavor, which some liken to veal, is unique and hearty, and the firm caps are big enough to fry like hunks of schnitzel. Cooks chop up the stems to add to soups and risottos. In kind with store-bought mushrooms, diners savor the meaty mushroom's flavor when it's prepared simply: cooked in butter and seasoned with salt.  ...
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Lake Michigan Crucifix in Petoskey, Michigan

Travel
Submerged under some 20 feet of water and ice at the bottom of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, an 11-foot white marble cross with a lifesize statue of a crucified Jesus Christ is visible to curious spectators willing to venture out onto the frozen bay in winter.The crucifix was crafted in Italy in 1956 at the behest of a mourning family following the tragic loss of their 15-year-old son to a freak gun accident. Weighing in at almost a ton, it arrived at the local church after its long journey with unsightly damages, including a broken arm, and was deemed unfit to honor their late child. Instead, the crucifix was sold to a local diver from the Superior Marines Divers Club in 1962, who submerged it under 65 feet of water in the middle of Little Traverse Bay as a tribute to a drowned peer....
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Horchata Lojana

Travel
You may associate horchata with the creamy, rice-based, cinnamon-studded drink common in Mexico. But horchata Lojana from Ecuador's Loja province, is a far cry from the creamy Mexican staple. Hawked hot on street corners in the morning, and consumed cold with meals, Ecuadorian horchata has a vivid hibiscus color, with a floral, herbal taste enhanced with a hit of sour lemon, a lot of sugar, and sometimes a squeeze of aloe vera.Locals claim horchata Lojana has medicinal properties, even calling the surrounding horchata-producing region the "Valley of Longevity" due to the belief that the valley's residents live until they're 100 years old. You can think of horchata Lojana as the distilled herbal knowledge of the region's folk doctors and foragers....
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Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico City, Mexico

Travel
At 220 feet tall, the Monumento a la Revolución (Monument to the Revolution) is the tallest triumphal arch in the world. And while many people admire it as they explore downtown Mexico City, not everyone realizes how much is going on inside this huge monument to the Mexican Revolution.If things had gone as planned, the Monumento a la Revolución would never have been built at all, at least not in its present form. When construction began in 1906, it was not for a monument but rather for the Palacio Legislativo Federal (Federal Legislative Palace). This grand palace would have housed the various legislative bodies of the Mexican Federal Republic, but the project was abandoned in 1912 because of the Mexican Revolution....
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The best luxury wildlife lodges in Latin America

Travel
Latin America’s abundant nature and fascinating wildlife is one of the continent’s most alluring attractions. From the marine life of Belize and the Galapagos, to the diverse fauna in the tropical forests of Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Costa Rica: wildlife lovers cannot help but be enchanted by the variety of species present in these breath-taking eco-systems. These days, enjoying a remote wildlife experience in Latin America does not have to mean roughing it in a sweaty forest campsite. Here are five of our favourite lodges where you can see the best of what Latin American wildlife has to offer in ultimate luxury:Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Alta Floresta, BrazilEnsconced in the southern Amazon rainforest, away from the industry and pollution of the northern tropical city of Manaus, Cristalino Lodge is accessed via a small remote airport called Alta Floresta. This boutique wildlife lodge is perched on the banks of the Cristalino River, an Amazon tributary known for its populations of secretive Amazonian River Otters. ...
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27 Inspiring Bridges That Are Worth Going Out of Your Way to Cross

Travel
Let's be thankful that the world (and life, amirite?) is full of valleys, chasms, rivers, and streams that need to be crossed, because otherwise we wouldn't have so many incredible bridges. From towering railway spans to crumbling historic foot crossings, bridges manage to be both awe-inspiring monuments to human ingenuity and essential geographic connections. We recently asked Atlas Obscura readers over in our Community forums to tell us about the most incredible and memorable bridges they've ever encountered, and the response was staggering.Take a look at some of our favorite submissions below, and if you have a beloved bridge of your own that you'd like to recommend, head over to the forums and keep the conversation going. Bridges make it easier to get from here to there, and they also make it hard not to stop and stare....
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Lunt Roman Fort in Baginton, England

Travel
Dating back to the first century, this ancient Roman fort near Coventry, England, was unearthed in the 1930s after numerous Roman ceramics were discovered at the site. Excavations revealed that the site originally functioned as an army camp occupied by a complete Roman legion (5,500 troops) around 60 AD, in the wake of a rebellion by the native Iceni tribe of East Anglia.The camp was then used again about four years later by a much smaller cohort of soldiers, about 10 percent of the previous garrison. This second phase reduced the size of the fort, and many buildings were demolished to allow space for a 100-foot-diameter “gyrus,” or horse training ring. Evidence suggests the Lunt fort was used as a cavalry center for breaking and training the horses seized from the native Iceni to ready them for battle. The horse training ring at Lunt is the only known example in the Roman province of Britannia, and to accommodate the circular structure, the fort's outer wall was curved, making it an unusual shape among Roman ruins....
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Exploring the Isle of Skye and the Highlands with Heart of Scotland Tours

Travel
No visit to Scotland can be complete without a few days in the Highlands. A place of rare beauty, the Scottish Highlands are famous as the home of Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. However, getting to Loch Ness and Skye from major cities such as Edinburgh can be complicated. Although some public transportation options are available to get to Skye, exploring the Isle requires renting a vehicle. While on the Isle, you would need to navigate narrow one-lane, two-directional roads. These roads can wash out in inclement weather – a common occurrence on Skye. With these logistical difficulties in mind, many travelers choose to take a luxury 3 day Isle of Skye and the Highlands tour instead. One of the most luxurious options for a 3 day Skye and the Highlands tour is the Heart of Scotland tour company....
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Tweeddale Court in Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel
This old courtyard off Edinburgh's Royal Mile houses a surprising architectural oddity.Tweeddale Court dates from 1576. The property received its name from John 1st Marquess of Tweeddale, who acquired the townhouse in the 17th century. He, like those who dwelled there after him, changed the structure, adding to the building’s evolution.Over time, the house fell into decay and disrepair as the Old Town’s wealthier residents relocated to the freshly constructed New Town. But despite these changes and its prolonged period of neglect, the building’s interior still houses one of the original 1576 doors....
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Life in Paris, Part 3: Nothing Lasts Forever

Travel
The end is here. After four months in Europe, I head home tomorrow.When I came to Paris earlier this year, everyone asked if it was forever. And, when I said I wasn’t sure, people would reply, “Oh, so you aren’t really moving there, huh?” — as if to say that only a forever and ever move is a real move. But I did move here. This is where my stuff is. This is my home (even if it might only be temporary). In my world, there’s no such thing as a forever and ever move.I have no job that keeps me anywhere in particular. No boss to call me into the office and say, “Matt, we’re transferring you to the Paris office. Pack your bags. We got your visa. You’re there for the next five years.” ...
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Abandoned Scar House Village in North Yorkshire, England

Travel
The Scar House Reservoir was constructed during the 1920s, the last reservoir to be built in the magnificent Nidd Valley in North Yorkshire. It was built to supply water to the nearby city of Bradford, and took 15 years to complete. During the construction of the dam, a temporary village was established for the workers and their families. At one point this remote place was home to more than 1,200 people.The villagers lived in relative luxury for the era, in spacious living quarters with hot and cold running water, rare for working-class housing at the time. The village included 10 single men's hostels that accommodated over 60 men each, as well as married quarters, a school, shops, laundry, and the village hall. ...
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The Mount in London, England

Travel
At the southwestern corner of Mountsfield Park in Catford, London, lies the remnants of the Mount, a 50,000-seat hilltop stadium that hosted the local football club nearly 100 years ago. Originally built for the local Catford Southend team, in the 1923 season the Mount also housed the Charlton Athletic, which was struggling to fill its 75,000-capacity stadium, the Valley. A merger between the teams was also being considered but fell through, and Charlton Athletic left the Mount after a single season. Catford Southend ended in 1927 after failing to meet its financial obligations, and the stadium itself was demolished in the 1950s....
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SpaceX Space Cheese in Hawthorne, California

Travel
Artisans craft small batches of Le Brouère using milk from grass-fed cows, molded in patterned wood. It tastes a bit like Gruyère, and makes a splendid accompaniment to bread, nuts, and crisp fruit. According to a manufacturer, Le Brouère makes a "dynamic and compelling" grilled cheese. SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk decided it was also well-suited for launching into orbit. In 2010, the rocket venture formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. announced a "secret payload" aboard the maiden flight of their Dragon spacecraft. Fearing the secret cheese would distract press from the actual point of the mission, Musk refrained from revealing anything about it until the project was completed. ...
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Underwear photos prompt Chernobyl criticism

Travel
(CNN) — The writer and producer of the hit HBO series "Chernobyl," has called on visitors to the site of the nuclear disaster to show respect, after a series of inappropriate photos were posted online."It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. But yes, I've seen the photos going around," tweeted Craig Mazin Tuesday."If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed."The five-part series, which ended on June 3 in the United States, tells the story of the missteps and mismanagement that led to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the world's worst nuclear disaster....
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Cimitero delle Porte Sante (Sacred Doors Cemetery) in Florence, Italy

Travel
Tucked behind the 1,000-year-old church of San Miniato al Monte is the Cimitero delle Porte Sante (Sacred Doors Cemetery). The burial ground was founded in the 1800s for both common citizens and notable Florence residents. Here, the dead rest in peace, backdropped by stunning views of the city.The cemetery serves as an open-air museum filled with sculptures and beautiful architecture. The private chapels and tombs are built in a medley of styles, ranging from neo-classic to Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Many of them are largely inspired by Florence's medieval and Renaissance churches.The graveyard's most popular and romantic statue is the one on the Mazzone grave. The effigies depict the two Mazzone siblings dancing together. Mario died while serving as a pilot during World War I, and his sister Maria died just before her wedding. Their mother wanted to represent them finally reunited in the afterlife, Mario wearing his uniform, and Maria wearing her wedding gown....
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This Archive Captures Centuries of British Crime, From Cheese Theft to Murder

Travel
In 1580 in the British diocese of Ely, an Englishman named William Sturns went down in history for an unusual crime. His alleged malfeasance? Stealing not one, not two, but three cheeses. Ultimately, he was found not guilty, but this alleged felony was dutifully recorded in an archive spanning 200 years of crimes in Ely.“Unfortunately we don’t know what type of cheese it was but cheesemaking was fairly common in the area at the time,” the archivist Sian Collins writes in an email. Collins works at the Cambridge University Library, where archivists have begun cataloguing the nearly 270 files and rolls for the first time, according to The Guardian. These documents encompass a rich record of everyday transgressions in Ely, from tiny (cheese theft) to big (murder), and everywhere in between, including highway robbery, forgery, trespass, vagrancy, and, rather notably, witchcraft....
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To Make a Field Guide to Life on Mars, First Head to the Deep Sea

Travel
In 2021, a NASA rover will touch down on Mars in search of signs of life, past or present. It will investigate the surface of the red planet and collect samples from areas that seem particularly promising. But traces of life on Mars—if they exist—aren’t going to be apparent to the naked eye: Obviously there’s no remains of mammoths or goldfish or snails. Any record of life on Mars would likely take the form of organic compounds, which have already been identified up there but aren’t definitive, or actual fossils of microorganisms. Such fossils exist here on Earth, but they’re very tricky to spot—even in places we know they’ll be. The best strategy for finding these miniscule traces, according to a group of Scandinavian scientists, is to study the denizens of the deep sea. This team now plans to create an atlas of fossilized microbes from Earth’s oceans—an extraterrestrial field guide of sorts—to help the rover and its human partners identify definitive proof of life on Mars, according to their recent article in Frontiers in Earth Science....
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The Zen Beekeeper Returning Hives to the Wild

Travel
In recent years, the mysterious disappearance of bees has puzzled experts from across the world. In the United States alone, the honeybee population has dropped by 50 percent from midcentury levels, and 700 species of bees are now at risk of extinction. Scientists can’t really pin down the cause of the “bee apocalypse,” but point to the interplay of toxic pesticides, biodiversity loss, and climate change.Michael Joshin Thiele, a German apiculturist based in California, thinks a solution may lie in returning bees to the wild. Since their appearance on our planet more than 100 million years ago, bees have been a keystone species for forest environments, where 90 percent of plant life depends on pollination. But with the onset of commercial beekeeping, bees have increasingly lived in settings that are not in line with their natural habitats....
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Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California

Travel
Driving by this Buddhist temple from a distance, you can see the golden rooftop high up on the hill. Once you pull up to the small parking lot, you are greeted with a grand building. This is the Hsi Lai Temple, one of the largest Chinese Buddhist monasteries in the West. Climb all the steps to enter, and you'll be ushered into a gorgeous courtyard full of golden Buddha statues, ornate architecture, lush gardens, and a few other temples. A second grand building is home to shrines and smells of incense. It's very beautiful and calm, and well worth exploring....
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Decoding Secret Florence

Travel
Florence is accustomed to invaders. The French, the Spanish, the Austrians, the British on the Grand Tour and the international tourist hordes in their cargo shorts and Crocs have flowed over this city in waves and yet somehow left its character and soul largely untouched. So it is perhaps unsurprising that when an influx of nearly 30,000 visitors arrives each June for Pitti Uomo, the world’s largest men's wear trade fair, locals react with a collective shrug.Those buyers and sellers from 50 countries are in town to trawl the stalls of the more than 1,200 exhibitors in the historic Fortezza da Basso for the hottest, finest and latest in men’s wear. The savviest among them also know to look for finds outside the exhibition halls. That’s because in Florence, unusual in an age of point-and-click shopping, the pleasures of brick-and-mortar are alive and well....
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Murals of Bonampak in Bonampak, Mexico

Travel
"Bonampak" is the modern Mayan word for “painted walls,” which perfectly describes this rare ancient ruin in the rainforest of Chiapas. Three rooms within the main structure at the archaeological site are covered with colorful vivid murals from top to bottom, including on the arched ceilings. These elaborate frescoes are considered the most elaborate, sophisticated, and well-preserved murals of the Mayan civilization.Still mainly unknown and hidden in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Bonampak is not easy to get to, but this masterful Mayan artwork makes the trip well worthwhile. Dating to around 790, these paintings tell stories of courtly customs during the Classic Mayan period, depicting peace and celebrations, war and sacrifice, music and rituals. They offer an unmatched window into royal life under the last rulers of the ancient city....
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The Dixie Sternwheeler in North Webster, Indiana

Travel
Northern Indiana’s Kosciusko County is blessed with many lovely lakes that are left over from the last glacial age. Among them is the scenic 640-acre Webster Lake adjacent to the town of North Webster, where the oldest sternwheel paddle boat in Indiana cruises the calm waters to this day.Steamboats first began sailing on the Webster Lake as early as 1902. In 1914, Captain Joseph Breeck began operating a 65-foot, wooden-hulled sternwheeler named the Dixie, which today is the oldest of its kind still in operation. The boat primarily served the community by delivering people, mail, and groceries to various locations around the lake. The original Dixie was later replaced by Captain Breeck with the current 76-foot steel-hulled Dixie in 1929, and he continued to operate the ship until his retirement in 1939....
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House Hunting in … Mexico

Travel
This six-bedroom, colonial-style home is in the center of San Miguel de Allende, a city in the hills of central Mexico, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. A two-story, four-bedroom main house and two one-bedroom casitas are enclosed on a quarter-acre lot, which is unusually large for the tightly packed city of 140,000 residents, said Rebecca Crosby, an agent with Agave Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing. The courtyard-style property has professionally landscaped gardens, two stone fountains and a swimming pool.There has been a house on the site since the 1940s, but the property was completely renovated in the early 2000s, Ms. Crosby said. The design features stone arches, exposed wood beams and Saltillo-tile floors, reflecting the traditional style of the region. “The past owners scoured the countryside for original old doors and old wood to include in the building and renovation,” she said....
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London's Rose-Ringed Parakeets in London, England

Travel
The rose-ringed parakeet (also called the ring-necked parakeet) is native to Africa and the Indian subcontinent, as far north as Nepal and as far south as Burma. However, with the help of humans, the species has managed to colonize many areas of the world, where it’s a vibrant—albeit invasive—presence in Europe and East Asia.London is one such place these birds have established themselves, but it’s unclear exactly how they managed to get there. Over the years, there have been several theories put forward to explain their mysterious appearance, the theories often as colorful as the birds themselves....
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Hore Abbey in Cashel, Ireland

Travel
Hore Abbey sits at the base of the Rock of Cashel. Many of the abandoned monastery's walls still stand.The medieval complex's name is thought to come from the word "iubhair," the Gaelic word for "yew tree." Wandering around the ruins reveals great views up to the more-visited Rock of Cashel....
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What We Know About the Dominican Republic Tourist Deaths

Travel
More than two million Americans visit the Dominican Republic every year, making up about a third of the country’s tourists. Six have died in the last year during their visits. Because of the seeming similarities among their deaths, their family members have suggested that they are connected and have raised suspicions about the resorts where they died. Here’s what we know, and don’t know, about the circumstances. Yvette Monique Sport, 51, died in June 2018 of a heart attack. Her sister, Felecia Nieves, has said that Ms. Sport had a drink from the minibar in her room at a Bahia Príncipe resort, one of a number on the island, then went to sleep and never woke up.In July 2018, David Harrison, 45, died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. Mr. Harrison died of a heart attack and The Washington Post reported that his death certificate also listed “pulmonary edema, an accumulation of fluid in the lungs that can cause respiratory failure, and atherosclerosis” as causes of death. He and his wife were in the Dominican Republic for their wedding anniversary with their son....
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Behind the scenes at a private jet factory

Travel
(CNN) — Just like in the artisan neighborhoods of old European towns, each section of the factory floor is dominated by a particular craft. Carpentry in one corner, upholstery in another -- some areas look more like an artistic atelier than an aircraft plant. We are at Bombardier's Centre of Excellence, a facility on the outskirts of Montreal, Canada, where the cabin interiors of some of the world's most luxurious private jets come into being.Business jet manufacturing is a meeting of two different worlds: Each jet is, at the same time, a high-tech machine and a piece of artisan work. Technology and craftsmanshipModern executive jets exhibit cutting-edge sophistication in more than one way. ...
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WaldMenschen Sculpture Trail in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Travel
An series of spooky wooden carvings by the artist, Thomas Rees can be found in the woods near to the Waldhaus Freiburg, a German environmental institution.  They are found along a lovely walk, with other paths nearby, not at all touristy. There are lots of references to the Grimm Fairy Tales....
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How to Have a High-End Vacation for Less

Travel
Why pay top dollar for a luxury vacation when it’s possible to have it for less? A high-end trip without a premium price tag is possible anywhere in the world, but your approach needs to be tailored to your destination. Here, locals in five famously expensive cities — London, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney — share luxury for less tips.TIME IT RIGHT London has some particularly busy periods with sky-high hotel rates, according to Paula Fitzherbert, a lifelong Londoner and the head of communications for the five-star hotels Claridge’s, Connaught and Berkeley. They include June, during the Chelsea Flower Show, Ascot and Wimbledon, and the fashion weeks in February and September. These times asides, rates are least expensive on Sunday nights when occupancy is at its lowest. “A stay could be half the price, compared with another day of the week and you’re likely to get free amenities,” Ms. Fitzherbert said. The properties she represents try to offer Sunday night guests extras such as a bottle of Champagne, breakfast and a room upgrade. ...
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Vacation like an Avenger in Tony Stark's cabin from "Endgame"

Travel
(CNN) — Ever dream of living like Marvel's "Avengers"? Well, now you can vacation like one. The cabin that serves as a home for Tony Stark and the site of his funeral in "Avengers: Endgame" is available to rent on AirBNB. According to the listing, the three-bedroom, three-bath cabin is located in Fairburn, Georgia, about 20 minutes from the Atlanta airport. Guests will have access to the entire home but must bring their own Iron Man suit. Feel free to invite your Hulk, Captain Marvel and the like, since the home sleeps up to six. Amenities include the pond, a fireplace, free parking, and a first aid kit in case of injury from any aliens that come to destroy Earth during your stay.The cabin sits on the private property of Bouckaert Farm and Chattahoochee Hills Eventing, a 8,000-acre farm and site for horseriding events....
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As Trade War With U.S. Grinds On, Chinese Tourists Stay Away

Travel
A new battlefront has opened in the trade war between the United States and China: the $1.6 trillion American travel industry.A Los Angeles hotel long popular with Chinese travelers saw a 23 percent decline in visits last year and another 10 percent so far this year. In New York City, spending by Chinese tourists, who spend nearly twice as much as other foreign visitors, fell 12 percent in the first quarter. And in San Francisco, busloads of Chinese tourists were once a mainstay of one fine jewelry business; over the last few years, the buses stopped coming.Figures from the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office show a sharp decline in the number of tourists from China last year....
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Photograph of the week: Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Angel in Caorle, Italy

Travel
Where the rocks end and the Levante beach begins, on a cliff wedged into the Adriatic sea, you will find the Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Angel. For centuries this has been a pilgrimage destination for residents of Caorle, Italy, a place to worship and find peace. This is increasingly the case too for religious people from all over the world, who come to pay their respects and prove their devotion to the Virgin Mary. It is also, undoubtedly, a picturesque little spot, with an enchanting story to match. Even for those in no way religiously inclined, it is worth putting on an Italian itinerary.Legend has it that the Church was built by peasants fleeing from the barbarians who ravaged Concordia Sagittaria back in the 9th century. They dedicated the church to Archangel Michael. Fast forward a few centuries, and this tiny church would gain a new patron saint: Virgin Mary. They say that she was found by a group of fishermen who, upon seeing a strange light far out at sea, set out to investigate. They discovered a wooden statue of Mary with Child, floating upon the waves, in spite of being mounted on a heavy marble pedestal. After towing her inland, the fishermen managed to carry the statue ashore, but then could move her no further. Try as they might, strong men could not budge the statue. Finally, inexplicably, a group of young children was able to carry her to the Cathedral in town. Even more inexplicably, the following day found the statue back in the little church by the sea, and there she remains. Since that day, the church has been named the Church of the Blessed Virgin....
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History made as the first Canadian woman appointed to captain major cruise ship

Travel
(CNN) — Wendy Williams is set to make history as the first Canadian female captain of a major cruise ship when she takes the helm of Virgin Voyages' newest ship.The cruise line announced Tuesday that Williams will be the master of Scarlet Lady, set to sail next spring. Fewer than 3 percent of the world's mariners are women, according to the cruise line, and Williams hopes to lead the way for others."I think we're making amazing strides now," Williams said in a press release. "When you walk onto the bridge you don't have a gender. You're a Mariner. You're an officer, this is what you do. This is what we do together.""There should be no bearing on what our gender is. And that's the kind of bridge that we are going to have. There's no space in our day to have gender bias." ...
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Gary Gygax Memorial in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Travel
Next to the Riviera Fountain, along the shore of Lake Geneva, is a memorial for Gary Gygax. He was the creator of Dungeons and Dragons, the role-playing game that inspired and entertained people of all ages since it was published in 1976. Legend has it that Dungeons and Dragons players can get their dice blessed by rolling them on the memorial stone....
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Central Electric Ruins in Ronda, Spain

Travel
Ronda is such a breathtaking location filled with a great mixture of natural beauty, stunning architecture, and fascinating history. It is a hiker’s dream to be let loose on this graduated topography. The ruins of the old Central Electrical hydroelectricity plant are hidden just beyond the scenic trails and have been reclaimed by vegetation, which makes this verdant treasure a challenge to uncover.On the south side of the El Tajo canyon, east of the Puente Nuevo, once stood a hydroelectricity plant powered by the Guadalevín River. This power plant was originally constructed sometime in the early 1900s to harness the power of the river and provide electricity to the town and surrounding region. It later fell into disuse and was abandoned. ...
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Church of St. Cajetan in Velha Goa, India

Travel
In spite of the surfeit of religious architecture dotting Goa’s ecclesiastical landscape, the Church of St. Cajetan is a rare and unique gem in this coastal state of India. Named after Saint Cajetan of Thiene, who founded the Theatine Order of monks in 1524, the church is the sole surviving example of Italian architecture in Old Goa. Situated on the banks of the river Mandovi, the church was built by Italian friars of the Theatine Order. Construction was completed in 1661, its design indicative of the Corinthian style of architecture. At that time, almost all the religious edifices in Goa followed the Portuguese Baroque style of architecture. Goa was the first Portuguese colony in Asia, and eventually became the capital of the entire Portuguese empire in the East, remaining under colonial rule until 1961. Its architectural splendor was such that the city was known as "Goa Dourada," or "Golden Goa." ...
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Could Your Clothes Be Made Out of Leftover Bread One Day?

Travel
Bread has a lot of uses: the platform for a sandwich, the precursor to a meal, a filling staple on its own. But one laboratory at the University of Borås in Sweden is thinking outside the bread box. In response to the volume of bread products wasted by Swedish supermarkets each year, scientists are exploring the possibility of converting old pieces of glutinous waste into yarn.“Bread waste is among the biggest fraction of food wastes, which has the highest environmental footprint of big supermarkets in Sweden,” says Akram Zamani, senior lecturer in resource recycling at the university. “On the other hand, the global textile production keeps growing as a result of increasing the global collective purchasing power.” Zamani and her team are trying to address both issues—the overproduction of bread and non-sustainable fabrics—by combining them....
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Invasive, Photogenic Plants Are Taking a Toll on Istanbul’s Ancient Walls

Travel
The sight of creeping vines, crawling roots, or clinging weeds on an ancient structure—ruins, old walls, a temple hemmed in by jungle—can be a photographer’s dream. Take a place like Istanbul’s old city walls and gates. These fortifications protected the city from sieges and invaders for 800 years. Today, visually appealing tufts of green accent some sections of the miles of walls, but they also represent an invasion that the fortifications might not be able to shrug off without some help.The walls, a major tourist destination in and around Istanbul’s historic core, present a serious, large-scale preservation and restoration challenge. Recently, forestry researchers from Istanbul University have raised alarms about the plant life next to, around, and on top of the walls. Hüseyin Dirik, a silviculturalist at the university told the Demirören News Agency that non-native plants, such as nettle trees, acacias, willows, and poplars, are having a particularly damaging effect on the walls. Ailanthus altissima, for example, also known as the tree of heaven, is one of the most widespread invasive urban trees in the world. The roots of this tree, native to East Asia, can grow quickly across a wide area, cracking walls apart dozens of feet from the trunk. This process takes time, but roots aren’t the only ways that overgrowth damages old structures. “When plants colonize, they also create habitat and can collect soil, facilitation colonization by additional species, including molds and mosses,” says Laura Meyerson, professor at the University of Rhode Island specializing in invasion biology and restoration ecology....
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Goliath Transmitter in Druzhnyy, Russia

Travel
To communicate with their submarines during World War II, Nazi Germany built what was at the time the largest and most powerful transmitter in the world. Its name, appropriately, was Goliath.Goliath was built in 1943 and remained in use until the end of the war. Its main use was for underwater radio communications, more specifically with submarines. With its low frequency (VLF) transmissions, typically on frequencies between 15 kilohertz to 25 kilohertz, it was able to transmit to submarines across much of the globe, even when they were submerged at depths of up to 40 feet.The huge array consisted of three umbrella antennas, capable of generating 1,000 kilowatts of antenna power. Practically, however, the maximum was around 800 kilowatts. The entire site covered about 642 acres near Kalbe an der Milde, a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was never targeted by Allied bombing raids, as the Allies were busy tapping the Enigma communications Goliath was transmitting, providing valuable information about U-boat activities....
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Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, Ohio

Travel
Started as a humble produce stand in the 1970s by “Jungle” Jim Bonaminio, Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio, has been providing the culinary curious with an extensive collection of rare items and singing animatronic food mascots for over 40 years.The nearly 300,000-square-foot market offers over 180,000 different products, from standard American grocery items to unique international food and drink. Entire rows are dedicated to soda (or “pop,” as they say in Cincinnati), hot sauce, and every variety of potato chip imaginable. Even insects have their own special area (bug kebabs, anyone?). There's a massive beer and wine selection, and shoppers can drink while they explore....
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Matlock Bath in Matlock Bath, England

Travel
Nestled deep in the rolling green hills of the peak district, this large village feels almost out of place. Anyone who has visited a British seaside town will feel instantly familiar with the shopfronts, fish and chip shops, ice cream parlors, and souvenir boutiques. Families mill around, crunching on sticks of rock and frittering away tuppences in the brightly colored arcades. But here’s the strange thing: Matlock Bath is nowhere near the coast. In fact, being in Derbyshire, it’s part of the furthest county from the sea in the whole of the U.K.Much as the first seaside tourist destinations largely sprang out of the belief that the water and air were beneficial for one’s health, Matlock Bath’s history begins with the discovery of warm springs in the area. A small tourism economy soon grew around the blossoming spa town, and the building that housed the famous old spa is now an aquarium. The area began to attract both actual and artistic royalty in the 19th century. For the supposed sake of their health, the aristocracy flocked to Matlock Bath. Queen Victoria stayed here as a princess. Mary Shelley mentions the town in Frankenstein, stating that it much resembles Switzerland, but "on a lower scale." ...
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400400
Manhattan’s Only Vineyard Creeps Up an Upper East Side Brownstone

Travel
Latif Jiji crouches slightly and points through a huddle of tendrils to the neighboring chimneys, air conditioners, and looming hulk of tall condominiums around us. “From here you can really establish that we are in an urban area,” he says, as I peer through the scrim of young grape leaves at the gridded chaos of Manhattan.We are standing on Jiji’s roof, where a network of metallic poles and beams, fitted to make a trellis, are holding up Manhattan’s only vineyard. Born of a single grape vine (and a second one grown from a cutting of that original vine), this vertical vineyard sprawls up the four storeys of the Upper East Side brownstone that Jiji and his wife, Vera, have called home since 1967. “If you look at satellite images of the house, you’ll see it’s the only one with a green roof,” he says, a bubble of prideful effervescence escaping from his otherwise academic demeanor. This is Chateau Latif, a family-run winery, in operation since 1985, but open only to friends and family....
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In Singapore, Playgrounds Are Capsules of National Identity

Travel
Decades ago, the Singapore River was teeming with small wooden rowboats known as sampans that carried fishermen and cargo. It can be easy to forget this former way of life, considering the city’s cosmopolitan reputation, but a delightful ode to this history resides in the town of Pasir Ris, where a playground is shaped like this traditional vessel. Rising out of the sandpit as if bobbing on a gentle current, it features tires on its sides, perfect for scrambling up. Built in the early 1990s, shortly after sampans began disappearing from local waters, the mosaic structure is a relic of Singapore’s urban planning history. It is also one of the last designs of Khor Ean Ghee, the country’s first playground designer....
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Ota Tofu in Portland, Oregon

Travel
In an unremarkable white building on a quiet Portland street, an icon of American food history sits humble and unaware of its own significance.Ota Tofu’s origin story may have been lost to the churn of history, but its importance to Japanese-American foodways is crucial. Opened some time in 1911, this tofu shop has been making and packing tofu ever since. The shop began as Asahi Tofu, founded by an Ohta brother (at the time, the family used an Anglicized spelling of their surname) in partnership with another Japanese man, known only as Mr. Nagaro. It then moved to a new location nearby and took on the family name of the Ohtas, who had migrated from Okayama in Japan. In a marker of how little was known of Japanese cuisine in the early 1900s, Portland telephone directories listed the shop as a bakery selling “soy bean cakes.”...
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Moot Hall in Wirksworth, England

Travel
In the lead mining districts of Derbyshire, once the most productive in the world, a series of mining laws operate that are unique within England. These include the rights of any miner to enter any land within the jurisdiction of these laws in search of lead, and special rules relating to the royalties—in the form of volumes of lead ore measured using a standard dish—that had to be paid to both the crown and the landowner.These unique laws are administered by the Barmote Court, which is held at Moot Hall in the small town of Wirksworth. Although King Henry VIII granted a charter in the 16th century to hold a miners’ court in Wirksworth, many think the court actually originated even earlier, as one of the “burghmoot courts” of the Mercian Kingdom that formed part of Saxon Britain. Indeed, lead mining in Derbyshire was important to the Anglo-Saxon tribes in the medieval era and to the Romans before them—it's even rumored that lead from Wirksworth can be found in the Colosseum....
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A New Generation of Chefs Reframes Taiwanese Cuisine in America

Travel
When Richard Ho opened Ho Foods, a tiny storefront in the East Village last year, his goal was to serve the best possible version of a single Taiwanese dish: beef noodle soup. His goal was not to become the host of what his employees describe as Manhattan’s first Taiwanese food community center. But because the dish is so beloved, everyone from Chinatown aunties to fellow Taiwanese-American chefs to curious tourists showed up to see if his soup was up to their particular standards. “Every Taiwanese mom who comes in tells me a different ‘secret’ to the broth,” said Mr. Ho. “Apples, cilantro stems, star anise.” Beef noodle soup is widely considered the national dish of modern Taiwan, assembled from the island’s tumultuous history, celebrated with an annual festival in Taipei and fought over in a cooking competition with multiple winning categories. But it is only one of countless dishes that make Taiwan’s cooking remarkable and rewarding....
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Blair Street Underground Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel
Construction on Edinburgh’s South Bridge was completed in 1788, and it soon became a bustling shopping street for those passing between the Old Town and the university. While crowds of people tramped atop the bridge, an underground world flourished in its shadows.The bridge’s 19 arches housed various vaults and chambers originally used by the businesses that lined it. Cobblers and smelters used the subterranean spaces as their workshops, merchants stored their excess goods out of sight, and even the pubs served patrons drinks in the lower-level chambers.But these legal businesses did not last long. In as early as 1795—not even a decade after the vaults opened—the shops began to abandon the vaults. The bridge hadn’t been properly sealed, leading to frequent flooding. The cold walls grew damp and musty, and insufficient ventilation made spending time in the dank chambers rather uncomfortable....
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Street of the Little Motels in Page, Arizona

Travel
Walk along 8th Avenue in the Old Quarter of Page, Arizona, and you'll stroll down a street lined with motels. When compared to the newer accommodations that have popped up throughout the city, they don't look like much. But spend the night in one of these motels, and you'll be sleeping in one of the apartments once used by construction workers who built the nearby Glen Canyon Dam.Page is a relatively new city. It was founded in 1957, after starting out as a government camp for the construction of the massive Glen Canyon Dam. For seven years (1956 through 1963) large numbers of construction workers were housed temporarily in Page as construction on the dam, Rainbow Arch Bridge, and associated projects progressed....
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Chios Mastiha

Travel
On the Greek island of Chios, trees weep. These "tears" are piney-smelling, gummy mastic resin, which drips down from small slashes locals cut into the bark. Once wounded, the mastic trees release a sticky, gluey sap, which hardens into parchment-colored teardrops, then drop like small, fragrant pebbles to the ground, where harvesters collect them. Greeks use mastic as a flavoring for sweet and savory food, and as a natural chewing gum. But arguably the most delicious use of mastic is also the most intoxicating: Distilled with sugar into a woodsy liqueur, mastic becomes Chios mastiha.Floral and fresh, mastiha combines a spicy, syrupy sweetness with a touch of pine and slight alcoholic burn. Chios locals serve it mostly as a dessert liqueur, but outside the island, it's made its way onto bar menus as an aperitif and a creative cocktail ingredient....
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The Scotsman Steps in Edinburgh, Scotland

Travel
Tourists and locals alike whizz up and down these steps. Few pause to notice the various shades of creamy hues beneath their feet, flowing through the stairwell like a marble river.The stairway, constructed in 1899, was built alongside the Scotsman building, the newspaper’s former home. The 104 steps link the North Bridge to Market Street, letting pedestrians pass between the two levels with ease. Art exhibits popped up within the stone tower, giving walkers ample opportunities to pause as they traveled between the Old Town and New Town.But by the early 21st century, the stairs fell into disrepair. Rubbish littered the steps, which often stank with the stench of urine, as people took to using the passage as an oversized public urinal....
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Cyprus Buffer Zone in Nicosia, Cyprus

Travel
A Buffer Zone controlled by the United Nations cuts across the entirety of the island of Cyprus, dividing the country's population in two, with ethnic Greek Cypriots in the south and ethnic Turkish Cypriots in the north. Also called "the Green Line," this demilitarized zone was established in its current form in 1974, following the ceasefire after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.Although this Buffer Zone runs all the way through the country, the section dividing the capital city of Nicosia is the most palpable, as all roads running on a north-south axis come to a dead end. At times, they terminate with a passport checkpoint; others end with fortified guard huts; and rarely, but surely, some sections are badly fenced and unguarded, tempting short, forbidden visits within the UN-patrolled no man's land. ...
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Skiing in Japan: the ultimate guide to Hakuba’s top 7 ski resorts

Travel
In a rapidly evolving Japanese ski town with 10 resorts to choose from it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to selecting the right mountain for you. While there is information readily available it can be time consuming trying to get an unbiased idea of Hakuba’s mountains and what type of visitors they can offer the most for. In no particular order, here are our picks for Hakuba’s top 7 resorts.1. Hakuba47A solid all-rounder, Hakuba47 has good terrain for every ability level. Its north facing slopes give it the longest season in the valley for top to bottom skiing, making it a particularly good choice for those visiting early or later in the season. Its beginner area is conveniently located halfway up the mountain so even first time skiers can enjoy the view over the Hakuba townsite and ski themselves down a gentle cat track to the bottom. Its other strength is its underrated Tree Riding Zone. Popular with seasoned local riders given to its close proximity to the village, steep and technically interesting terrain, light, dry powder and is typically much less busy than other tree riding areas within the valley....
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Before Fatal Boat Crash in Budapest, Safety Warnings Went Unheeded

Travel
BUDAPEST — The warnings came before a ship called the Mermaid set out on May 29 in driving rain for a nighttime tour of Budapest. Before the much larger Viking Sigyn struck the Mermaid, capsizing and sinking it in seconds. Before 28 people died in Hungary’s worst boating accident in at least six decades.Traffic on the Danube had soared to dangerous levels, and in particular, there were far too many tourist ships. Ship captains and official reports tried to sound alarms, but the government refused to impose new limits.“City officials were warned about the dangers of too much traffic,” said Gabor Demszky, the mayor of Budapest from 1990 to 2010. “But they failed to act. It is a very profitable business.”...
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Rimwood Chapel in Hersey, Michigan

Travel
Rimwood Chapel, the smallest functional chapel in Michigan, is just five-by-eight feet big. It has a finished interior with a church pew, lights, carpeted floor, knotty pine walls, and all you might expect in a regular chapel or church. The exterior is lit 24/7 so the tiny structure is illuminated at night. Visitors from across the country stop by to enjoy this pint-size curiosity, and may even come in and say a prayer on their travels....
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Meet the World's Most Playfully Named Creatures

Travel
In the shallow tropical waters of Indonesia and the Philippines lives a species of octopus with reddish skin, beautifully marked with brilliant white stripes and spots. Each individual has a unique pattern, like a snowflake. A darling of divers and underwater photographers, the cephalopod with the dramatic looks has an equally dramatic scientific name: Wunderpus photogenicus.This and other critters with amusing-sounding monikers, both scientific and common, are the subject of a new, fancifully illustrated children's book Encyclopedia of Strangely Named Animals, Volume One. Authors Fredrik Colting and Melissa Medina say they were fascinated by “how each animal has a specialized feature or habit that carries through in their names.”...
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Rabbit Tree Hostel in Gili Meno, Indonesia

Travel
Upon entering The Rabbit Tree (make sure to take your shoes off!), you will meet the master and creator of this incredible place: Sebastian, a French man who made plans for The Rabbit Tree when he decided to put his mind to something other than partying on the neighboring island. This hostel is no regular place to rest your head, and Sebastian's tour will prove as much. Every room has a theme, from the riddle room to the ballpit room to Grandma's room, and each are hard to find in the maze of secret doors, hidden rooftop seats, and outside walkways. There's even a sunken table, which at random moments will be filled with water to make a little pool....
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400400
Discover the Galapagos by catamaran

Travel
An archipelago some 1,000km west of the South American continent, the Galápagos Islands are the land that time forgot. Its unique landscape and fantastic range of wildlife inspired Charles Darwin and, today, great efforts are made to preserve its rich biodiversity. Of course, any trip to the islands isn’t complete without a visit to the cultural delights of Ecuador.Landing in the mountainous Ecuadorian capital, Quito, I was met on arrival and transferred to my home for three nights – the beautiful Casa Gangotena Hotel set overlooking Plaza San Francisco in Old Quito. It’s perfect for exploring the city’s bustling markets and open-air concerts. The next morning I got to know it better with a city tour of its monasteries, museums and churches, designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site....

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