The Mysterious Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad

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Located on the thin Curonian Spit that splits the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, lies one of the strangest natural phenomena on Earth.

Known as the Dancing Forest by caretakers of Curonian Spit National Park and as the Drunken Forest, by locals, this unusual pine forest is made of trees of various shapes, most of them twisted in circles and spirals, along the ground.

According to tourists, the Dancing Forest looks more like a site near Chernobyl, with 20-year-old pines tied into natural knots and loops, like lumpy contortionists. A few years ago, the park manager invited students from local universities to conduct studies, and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Since then, several theories emerged, including one suggested by a psychic who said the forest is located on a spot where massive amounts of positive and negative energies collide. Others say the causes are geological, that it must have something to do with the unstable sandy soil. But the most widely accepted theory is that the Dancing Forest was manipulated by the powerful winds blowing in the area.

Whatever the reason, the Dancing Forest of Kaliningrad is definitely an interesting site, especially if you’re into strange natural phenomena.

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Cal Orko – The Dinosaur Wall of Bolivia

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A cement quarry near Sucre is home the world’s largest site of dinosaur tracks, known by the locals as Cal Orko.

More than 68 million years ago, thousands of dinosaurs flocked at Cal Orko (a lakeside in those times) in search of food and water. This explains the over 5,000 dinosaur tracks, laid in around 350 criss-cross trackways, on a crumbling wall. The most amazing thing about Cal Orko is it features footprints from 330 dinosaur species, from the Cretaceous, just before they went extinct.

The fascinating 70-degree rockface is a rather new discovery, found by Bolivian workers, in 1994. It stretches 1.5 kilometers in length and it’s 150 meters tall. Compared to other dinosaur track sites, on any other continent, Cal Orko is by far the biggest and most important.

Unfortunately, Cal Orko is in constant danger of crumbling and Bolivian authorities spend $30 million every year, to keep it in place. With all their efforts, part of the Dinosaur Wall has crumbled at the beginning of February, and with it about 300 footprints have been lost.

Photos via Fogonazos

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Cano Cristales – The Rainbow River

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Known as ‘The River of Five Colors” or “The Rainbow River”, Cano Cristales is one of the most amazing rivers of our world.

For the most part of a year, Cano Cristales river, in Colombia, is just an ordinary as any other flowing waters you might have seen. But for a brief period of time, it becomes the scene of a natural festival of colors. The special algae living on the river’s bed of rocks is behind this incredible natural phenomenon.

The river’s flow of water regulates the amount of sunlight reaching the algae, and during the rainy season, it keeps the sun’s rays from reaching the bottom. During the dry season, the water is too shallow to sustain river life, but between these two seasons, conditions are just right for the colors of Cano Cristales to come to life.

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The Relaxing Cat Cafes of Japan

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Cats are famous for their relaxing effect on people, but in a country like Japan, where space is an issue, having a pet is problematic. That’s when cat cafes come into play.

For a modest fee of between $5 and $8 Japanese animal lovers can enjoy their usual coffee surrounded by dozens of playful cats. Spending an hour in the company of cats can work wonders on the human mind, and when you’re as stressed as Japanese business-men, even more so. Many of them can’t fit a household pet into their busy schedules, so they opt for a relaxing one-hour break in the company of purring felines.

It might seem like an oddity to us, but ever since the first cat cafe opened in 2004, in Osaka, this sort of establishment has become mainstream in Japan. While you can pet the cats and pay with them, you must obey a very simple set of rules regarding hygiene. In order to prevent infection OF THE CATS, customers have to wear disposable socks and slippers, as well as wash their hands with antiseptic.

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The Phallic Monuments of Love Valley

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The appropriately-named Love Valley is a part of Cappadocia that features some rather excited exciting natural structures.

Before you ask, no this is not where the annual Phallic Festival is celebrated, it’s one of Turkey’s most interesting tourist destinations. Apart from its breathtaking beauty and one of the best trekking places in Asia, Love Valley is famous for hosting a relatively large number of literally rock hard…willies. That’s right, the eroded volcanic ash monuments resemble phalli proudly reaching for the sky.

Like the inspired dude who post this story on Neatorama said: “If God created Love Valley, he most likely did it when he was a school boy.” Brilliant!

via Trifter

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Animatronic Dinosaurs Invade London

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There must be something about Britain’s capital because after the invasion of the blue rubber duckies, it’s time for fierce dinosaurs to take over a part of the city.

Dinosaurs Unleashed is an animatronic dinosaur display that today opens its gates to the public. It is located on Oxford Street, a well-known shopping area of London turned dinosaur playground. 24 life-like dinosaur models (including stegosaurus, iguanadon, diplodocus or tyrannosaurus rex) will entertain visitors with their realistic movements and sounds. The largest dinosaur model on display is the 30-meters-tall Diplodocus, 3 times the length of an English double-decker bus

Just as impressive as the robotic dinosaurs is the incredible setting. Featuring marshland, forest and prehistoric plants that existed during the reign of the dinosaurs, it will take people 65 million years into the past.

Dinosaurs Unleashed will stay open starting from January 28 until April 30.

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Unique Swiss Ice-Palace Is a Winter Wonderland

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One of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland, the open air Ice-Palace features an impressive collection of castles, towers and grottoes made of ice.

The Ice Palace (Eispaläste) is located in the middle of a forest, near Black Lake, in western Switzerland. Designed by Karl Neuhaus, a talented ice sculptor, the Ice Palace celebrates its 23rd exhibition. The cold climate in the Freibourg area can only sustain this frozen masterpiece for around three months, from Christmas until early March.

The best time to visit the Swiss Ice Palace is after sundown, when all the structures and sculptures are illuminated with colorful lights. It’s a truly memorable sights that attracts thousands of tourists every year.

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China Opens Chocolate Theme-Park in Beijing

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Located inside the Olympic Stadium, in Beijing, the World Chocolate Dream Park is an Asian version of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, in real life.

Announced last year, as a way of pleasing the increasing number of Chinese chocoholics, the World Chocolate Dream Park is finally open to the public. As promised, the chocolate theme-park features a number of China’s historical and cultural symbols, including a 12-meter-long  chocolate replica of the Great Wall, an army of 560 terracotta soldiers of Emperor Qingshihuang made of chocolate, and a traditional Chinese painting of Panorama Along the Upper River During the Qingming Festival, in original size.

The chocolate terracotta army was announced as life-size, back in 2009, but the miniatures aren’t too shabby. According to a Chinese official, many European chocolate makers wanted in on the project, considering it’s a great way to advertise chocolate to a huge market that’s just discovering it.

Photos via Xinhua

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The Doll-Hospital of Lisbon

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If your favorite doll suffered serious damaged that you can’t fix yourself, jump on a plane to Lisbon and take it to the Doll Hospital. They’ll fix it right up.

Located in Figueira Square, Lisbon, the Doll Hospital has been “treating” dolls since 1830 and it’s not going to go out of business anytime soon. Equipped with an emergency and operating rooms, this bizarre establishment has experienced doll doctors and a wide range of spare parts, in case you’re doll needs something replaced.

If people ever stop having their dolls repaired, the Doll Hospital of Lisbon will donate its entire collection of abandoned dolls and spare parts to a local museum. I’m sure they’d fit better on The Island of the Dolls, but…

Photos by REUTERS

via Xinhua

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Underwater Museum Starts to Take Shape

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Announced for over a year now, the world’s largest underwater museum recently received its first exhibits.

The seabed of the Mexican Caribbean is now host to a series of life-size sculptures on display in Mexico’s Underwater Museum. But they are just a few of the 400 statues that will be lowered down to the bottom in the following months.

Located in the National Marine Park, the Underwater Museum aims to raise environmental awareness by creating an artificial reef. Scientists hope the statues will attract young algae that will color them vividly.

Photos by Jason de Caires/BARCROFT MEDIA

via Telegraph.co.uk

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The Grotto of the Redemption

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The Grotto of the Redemption is an excellent example of what man can achieve with faith and hard work.

Paul Dobberstein was a German immigrant ordained as a priest in 1897. At some point he fell critically  ill with pneumonia and vowed he would dedicate his life to building a shrine to The Virgin Mary, if she would save his life. Father Dobberstein survived and soon after his recovery began gathering piles of rocks for his mission. His search for materials lasted 14 years.

Construction of the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend, Iowa,  began in 1912. Foundations were poured, stone slabs were set into place, all in the name of The Holy Virgin. Father Dobberson was actively involved in the building process and many times his hands would crack and bleed from all the cement. He would say “there isn’t any redemption without a little blood”.

Though West Bend isn’t the best place to look for crystals and semi-precious stones, Paul Dobberstein traveled to Hot Springs, Black Hills and Carlsbad Caverns and managed to gather truckloads of materials for his Grotto of the Redemption. The redeeming priest worked on expanding and improving the grotto until he died, in 1954, at the end of a long day’s work.

At the time of Dobberstein’s death, the Grotto of the Redemption was the size of a city block and is still expanding today. The crystals, semi-precious stones and petrified wood used to decorate the structures of the grotto are said to be worth over $4,300,000.

Considered “the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place”, the Grotto of the Redemption welcomes over 100,000 visitors every year. It reminds me a lot of the Ideal Palace.

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The PL Peace Tower – World’s Coolest Tower?

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The PL Peace Tower in Tondabayashi, a town close to Osaka, Japan is by far one of the most “bizarre yet cool” buildings I have ever seen.

One of the many structures located in the PL Holy Land, the PL Peace Tower was built back in 1970, using the newest construction technique at the time. It belongs to the Perfect Liberty Church, a religious movement founded in 1924 that teaches its followers that “Life is Art” and they should express themselves in everuthing they do.

The shape of the PL Peace Tower, resembling a single finger pointing at the sky, symbolizes one of the church founder’s revelation that ” the truth is one”. It’s also an international symbol of world peace. Inside the Peace Tower you’ll find an unlimited list of people who lost their lives because of human wars.

The PL Peace Tower is 180 meters high and thanks to a low center of gravity (only 12 meters above ground), it can tilt up to 45 degrees and swing back to its original position. This makes it extremely resistant to earthquakes. Its strange but fascinating shape was achieved through the use of shotcrete, spaying concrete onto wire netting.

Photos via Juergen Specht

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Japan’s Famous Wine Spa Reopened

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Located in Kowakien Yunessun, the biggest, most popular spa center in Japan, the outdoor has opened its gates once again.

Hundreds of gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau, the most popular wine in Japan, are used during the 12 day period the wine spa welcomes its guests. Four the last four years, Japanese wine lovers have had the opportunity to drink and bathe in the liquor they love so much, at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun.

The red pool is constantly fed wine through the wine-bottle-shaped spring, while a sommelier stands by to fill up the glasses of those craving some more Beaujolais Nouveau.

Apart from a wine pool, the spa center also features a sake spa, green tea spa and coffee spa, where clients can bathe in the drinks mentioned.

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Mexico’s Island of the Dolls Is Beyond Creepy

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Known as “La Isla de la Munecas”, by the Spanish, The Island of the Dolls is perhaps the creepiest tourist attraction in Mexico. Located within an extensive network of canals, south of Mexico City, the island is a place of mystery and superstition.

Almost every tree growing on the island is decorated with old, mutilated dolls that give anyone the feeling that they’re constantly being watched. The story behind the Island of the Dolls began when a hermit by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here. Although he was married he chose to live the last 50 years of his life alone.

Don Julian used to say he was haunted by the ghost of the little girl who had drowned in one of the canals around the island. Some say he used to fish the dolls from the water because he though they were real children, but the truth is he was collecting and placing them around his home as a shrine for the spirit that tormented him. At one point he even traded home grown fruit and vegetables for old dolls.

Ironically, in 2001 Don Julian Santana was found dead by his nephew, in the same canal that he said the little girl drowned in. Now his Island of the Dolls is one of the world’s weirdest tourist attractions. Some tourists who visited this place claim the dolls whisper and you must offer them a gift upon setting foot on the island, to appease their spirits.

via Bizarre

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China’s Kingdom Of The Dwarves

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Over 100 height-challenged Chinese people perform in a show called Kingdom Of The Dwarves, close to Kunming, Yunnan Province.

Casting for the Kingdom Of The Dwarves show took place last summer, with only two conditions stipulated: the performers had to be between 18 and 40 years old and be shorter than 130 cm (4’3″). No other special skills were required. Now they take the stage of the Kunming World Butterflies Garden twice a day, singing, dancing and performing comedy sketches to entertain the crowds.

I know it looks like exploitation and discrimination, but the short performers see it only as another form of migrant labor and a haven away from people who mock and tease them on a daily basis. With discrimination and unemployment still high in China, the little people saw the Kingdom Of The Dwarves as an opportunity.

Just to clear things up, this is just a profitable theme park, not a community formed by the dwarves themselves as a shelter, and the mushroom houses only serve as decor and changing rooms, not as living quarters.

Photos by REUTERS

via Telegraph.co.uk

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