Former Monk Has Spent the Last 50 Years Building a Giant Junk Cathedral in the Name of God

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Justo Gallego Martinez, an 86-year-old farmer from Spain, has spent the last 50 years of his life single-handedly building a large cathedral in a suburb of Madrid, without any architectural knowledge or construction experience.

Considering the sheer size of Justo Gallego’s junk cathedral, almost 40 meters (131 feet) tall, with its large dome and spires towering over nearby apartment buildings, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of a single man. But it just goes to show how far people can stretch their limits in the name of a higher purpose. In Gallego’s case, it was his faith and love of God. His mother was very pious and he grew up with a deep Christian faith and an overwhelming desire to dedicate himself to the Creator. After working as a farmer and as a bullfighter, Don Justo, as everyone calls him, joined a Trappist monastery, where he spent eight years as a monk. He was forced to leave the monastery in 1961, after he contracted tuberculosis, but promised himself that if he survived the illness he would dedicate his life to building a  a chapel in the name of the Lady of The Pillar (the Blessed Virgin Marry), who he prayed to during the ordeal. His prayers were answered and he stayed true to his vow, laying the first brick of what would become a unique cathedral, almost 50 years ago.



Man Builds 12,000 Square-Foot Castle in the Middle of a Florida Swamp

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When he moved from New York to Florida over 40 years ago, Howard Solomon took the saying “A man’s home is his castle” quite literally. The artist once known as “The DaVinci of Debris” spent a total of 12 years building a three-storey castle by hand, in the middle of a swamp.

Solomon began working on his unique castle in the 70’s, after he and his family moved to Ona, Florida. The original plan was to build a nice house on the piece of land he had bought in Hardee County, but after realizing the place was actually a big swamp, he decided to construct something high enough to resist any potential floods. He had always been fascinated with medieval castles and this proved to be the perfect opportunity to build his very own 16-century fortress, complete with a bell tower, moat and drawbridge. Howard worked on his architectural masterpiece on and off ever since 1972, and reckons he has spent over 12 years erecting the structure and covering it in aluminum plating, and an additional 4 years building a Spanish galleon in the castle moat. When he first started building his dream home, people thought he was mad, and wouldn’t even let their kids play with his, but over the last 40 years they’ve accepted him into the community, and Solomon’s Castle is now the most popular attraction in the area.



Martial Arts Enthusiasts Practice Impossible “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” Kung Fu Moves at Chinese Resort

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Remember those awesome action sequences from the movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, where kung fu masters would float through the air, skim on water and do battle through tall bamboo trees? A Chinese resort is now giving martial arts enthusiast the chance to perform these impossible feats themselves with the help of special effects equipment used on the big screen.

A martial arts theme-park in Kunming, China, has invested around $800,000 in high-tech special effects equipment that gives kung fu fans the chance to perform the impossible stunts of their favorite movie icons. From skywalking to skimming on water, anything is possible at the Wild Duck Lake Resort, thanks to a computer-controlled wire system almost identical to the ones used in blockbuster films. This is apparently the first time people outside the movie business get the chance to live their dreams of becoming legendary kung fu masters, even if it’s just for a few minutes. According to a theme-park spokesman, the computer controls how fast and how far visitors travel on the water and through the air, once they are connected to the wires. So all they have to do is strike a nice pose as their friends and family take photos. Fees for the realistic martial arts experience start as low as $15, so if you’ve always fantasized about starring in your own kung fu flick, this is one chance you don’t want to miss.



Solo Per Due – World’s Smallest Restaurant Only Seats Two People at a Time

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If you’re searching for the most private restaurant dining experience possible, look no further than Solo Per Due, a small ristorante in Vacone, Italy, that only features one table and two chairs.

Aptly named “Solo Per Due”, Italian for “just for two”, the world’s smallest restaurant only accepts two people at a time. This unique feature makes the Italian restaurant a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, but especially for lovers. There are no queues, no turns and no waiting, but booking this place for a romantic dinner, especially on holidays like Valentine’s Day can be a real challenge. Only around 1,500 people get a chance to enjoy the unparalleled privacy Solo Per Due has to offer, and it’s this exclusivity that best explains the set price of €250 ($335) per person (not including wine and champagne). The idea behind this unique eatery is that guests enjoy true intimacy and get the full attention of the cooking and waiting staff, which guarantees an extra special dining experience.



World’s First Twitter Hotel Caters to Social Media Addicts

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If you’re one of those people who can’t stop tweeting even when they are on vacation, you might find the world’s first Twitter-themed hotel, in Magaluf, Spain, to be the perfect summer destination.

Ever-growing customer demands, the need for diversity and the increasing number of social media addicts all over the world have inspired Meliá Hotels International, the leading hotel chain in Spain, to create the world’s first ever Twitter hotel. Located in Magaluf, Mallorca, the @SolWaveHouse Hotel allows guests to interact with its staff and other tourists via text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. The hotel’s General Manager, Gonzalo Echevarría, says “the hotel takes a new step in meeting the expectations of an increasingly experiential and social customer profile, through new technologies.” At the heart of this social-media-themed hotel is #SocialWave, a virtual community accessible only from its wifi via smartphone, tablet or computer. Once they’ve registered with their Twitter accounts, guests can use #SocialWave to connect with other tourists, chat, share photos and even flirt by sending virtual kisses. There’s a special hashtag for pretty much everything, and two Twitter Concierges are always standing by t meet guest requests via Twitter and generate conversation in this virtual community.



Chinese Get Their Feet Wet at Chongqing’s Unique River Restaurant

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Aptly named the River Cafe, one restaurant in Chongqing, southern China, has come up with an ingenious way of attracting clients. Taking advantage of a nearby stream, the owners have set up dozens of tables straight on the water, offering patrons a cool escape from the unbearable heat.

With summer temperatures reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, the Chinese are always looking for new and enjoyable ways to cool off. The River Cafe, in Chongqing, is inviting locals and tourists to take off their shoes and grab a seat in the waters of a cooling stream. Since it’s too hot to serve their delicious food inside or in the sun, the managers of this popular venue have decided to set up most of the tables straight on the water, under the shade of trees. The pop-up restaurant now has more tables in the stream than it has on land, which can seat up to 300 people at a time. The water doesn’t look very clean, and you can see plastic bottles floating through the plastic tables, but it beats facing the scorching sun or going to overcrowded swimming pools like the famous Dead Sea of China.



Paradise Lost – England’s Deceptively Inviting Blue Lagoon Is Now Black

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It was known as England’s  Blue Lagoon and its tranquil turquoise waters really did resemble those of an exotic watery paradise, but the popular swimming spot located near Buxton, was actually a flooded former quarry and its alluring contents were almost as toxic as bleach. That didn’t seem to bother people who came here from all over the country for a quick dip, so authorities had no choice but to dye it black.

Seen from afar, the Blue Lagoon at Harper Hill looked like the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day, but as the saying goes, appearances can often be deceiving. Not only was this abandoned quarry full of trash, dead animals and human waste, but its waters had a pH level of 11.3, almost as toxic as ammonia (11.5pH) or bleach (12.6pH). The shoreline was lined with warning signs stating the dangers swimmers would be exposing themselves to – skin and eye irritations, stomach problems, fungal infections, etc. –  if they entered the water, and yet for decades they chose to ignore these warnings, bewitched by the beauty of the lagoon. The attractive color of this place was caused by the surrounding limestone walls which leached calcite crystals into the water, turning it turquoise, and the high alkalinity came from calcium oxide, a by-product of the quarrying process left around the site. Fearing for their children’s safety, locals asked authorities to restrict access to the lagoon, but because it was located on private property, they couldn’t stop people from visiting. So they decided to make it less attractive instead.



The Ultimate Thrill Ride – Dangling on the Edge of a Canyon in a Pneumatic Swing

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Located on the edge of a canyon, 1,300 feet above the Colorado River, the Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is definitely not your playground swing set. But if you’re an adrenaline junky this might very well be your dream come true.

Glenwood Springs is a small Colorado town famous for its wide variety of family-oriented attractions. In 2011, USA Today named it the “Most Fun Town in America”, but the Giant Canyon Swing isn’t the kind of ride most parents would ever want their children to go on. This metal beast is perched on the side of a cliff 400 meters above the Colorado River and sends up to four passengers flying 112 degrees above the horizon at about 50 miles per hour. At the highest point, all thrill-seekers can see is the seemingly endless drop below them, which causes them to scream in excitement, fear or both. The swing’s creator, 41-year-old Steve Beckley has only tried it once, and has been too scared to try it again ever since, but he gets a kick out of seeing other’s faces and hearing their screams during the 60-second ride.



A Cruise on Dry Land – Korea’s Unique Cruise Ship Hotel

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Ever wished you could experience a luxury cruise without the motion sickness? Step aboard the Sun Cruise Hotel, A Korean tourist attraction designed and built to emulate cruising  for the sea sick.Seen from afar, the Sun Cruise Hotel looks like a ship washed up on top of a cliff by a giant wave, but the colossal structure was actually built there in 2002 for tourists who didn’t have the funds or time to go on a real cruise. But its bizarre location is pretty much the only thing that sets it apart from other cruise ships. The 65-metre-long, 45-meter-high and 30,000-ton-heavy land vessel features 211 rooms, both condominium and hotel style, a Western and a Korean restaurant, revolving sky lounge, a night club, a karaoke, a sea water pool, volleyball court, fitness club and even a netted golf range. To make its visitors really feel like they’re on a cruise, bird calls and the sound of waves crashing against the deck are played over loudspeakers strategically installed around the ship. Believe it or not, the Sun Cruise Hotel is one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Korea.



Maho Beach – Where People Get Literally Blown Away by Airplanes

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Located right next to the Princess Juliana International Airport, on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, Maho Beach is a unique destination where tourist experience what it’s like to have jumbo jets flying just a few meters above their heads and get blown into the sea by their powerful jet engines.

Fine white sand and crystal clear water is not what makes Maho Beach such a popular tourist destination. There are hundreds of other such beautiful beaches in the Caribbean which aren’t located right next to a busy and noisy airport like Princess Juliana. But it’s precisely this little detail that makes this piece of paradise so remarkably unique. In order to land safely on the unusually short Runway 10, aircraft pilots have to make their final approach at minimal altitude, and that means flying just a few meters above the heads of thrill-seeking beach-goers. And we’re not talking light airplanes either, but jumbo jets like Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. Plane spotting has become so popular at Maho Beach that local entrepreneurs have built an entire business around it. Beach bar owners have put up boards of airplane arrivals and departures so people can plan their visit, and some even broadcast radio transmissions between the airport’s control tower and and the aircraft.



Greensburg’s Famous Tree Growing Out of the Roof of the Courthouse Tower

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The town of Greensburg, Indiana, is known as the “Tree City” for the over a dozen trees that have been growing out of the roof of the Decatur County Courthouse ever since 1870. They are believed to have sprouted from seeds in bird droppings.

In the year 1870, the citizens of Greensburg began to notice what looked like a small sprig growing on the northwest corner of the courthouse tower. No one paid much attention to it at first, but as the shrub grew into a young tree, it became the talk of the town. A few years later, five new sprouts were spotted on the tower roof, threatening to form a small grove atop the 110-foot-tall tower. Authorities were worried the tree roots might cause irreparable damage to the roof, so in 1888 a steeplejack was hired to cut down the smaller trees, leaving just one, which in time grew to about fifteen feet with a diameter of almost five inches at its base. It continued to brave the storms for many years, until it finally died, and was removed to a place in the Decatur County Historical Society Museum. But that was not the end of the now famous courthouse tower tree. In the meantime, another tree appeared on the southeast corner of the tower, and grew to a considerable height in just a few years time.



The Amazing Stone Jumpers of Nias Island

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Hombo Batu or Stone Jumping is an ancient ritual of Nias Island, North Sumatra, with young men leaping over stone walls over two-meters tall. The tradition was born out of inter-tribal conflicts and was once potentially deadly as the walls were covered with spikes and sharpened bamboo sticks.

Centuries ago, Nias Island was divided into several regions ruled by landlords or warlords. It was not a hereditary position, nor was it gained by force, but rather through entertainment of the masses. Whoever threw more parties known as “owasa” gained the favor of local communities and became their leader. But organizing these festive events didn’t come cheap, and the island’s landlords would constantly fight each other and use the spoils of war as funding. To start a war, they needed able brave men who had to prove their worth at drafting challenges. Becoming a soldier was a big honor for the young men of Nias and earned them a higher social status in the community, but physical attributes and weapon mastery were not enough to convince their leaders. They also had to jump over a 2.3-meter-tall stone wall without touching it. To make things even harder for candidates, the top of the obstacle was covered with spikes and sharp bamboo sticks, and the jumps often resulted in serious injuries and even deaths. According to some sources, Hombo Batu was also a way of training soldiers to jump over walls during a siege and light the enemy’s camp ablaze with torches.



Riding a Swing on the Edge of a Cliff in Ecuador

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It’s called the Swing at the End of the World and it could literally be the end of you, as this extreme attraction in the mountains of Ecuador lets thrill-seekers swing over an abyss without any safety measures whatsoever.

Hiking up the path to Bellavista from the edge of Baños, Ecuador, you reach a viewpoint and a seismic monitoring station named La Casa del Árbol (The Treehouse). As the name suggests it’s a small house built in a tree, at the edge of a canyon. The view from up here alone is worth the trip, but for adrenalin junkies, La Casa del Árbol offers a unique bonus – a swing hanging over the precipice. Believe it or not many of the people who come here actually use it just to see what it’s like to swing into the void, and the internet is full of scary photos of them hanging over the abyss. It’s reportedly a great way to keep yourself entertained when the clouds block the view of Ecuador’s rumbling Tungurahua volcano, but just I can’t stop thinking about the possibility of one of the lines, or the thin metal beam supporting it breaking which would most likely cause the rider to fall to his death. I know, I’m a coward, no need to rub it in.




Chickens Don’t Fly? They Do at This Unique Thai Restaurant

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At the Ka Tron Restaurant, in Bangkok, Thailand, food is handled like heavy artillery. Its famous fried chickens are set ablaze and launched from a massive catapult at unicycle-riding waiters who catch them on metal skewers. How is that for dinner and a show?

Popularly known as the “Flying Chicken Restaurant”, Ka Tron proves a great gimmick really can make up for average food. Hardly any of the dishes served here are prepared in a truly unique way, they are just your run of the mill Thai recipes, but it’s the way they are served that sets this place apart from all the other eateries not only in Thailand, but the whole world. The chicken is carried out on a silver platter not to the diners, but to a long platform raised a couple of feet above the ground in the middle of the outdoor dining area, and set on one of the several metal catapults. A waiter riding a unicycle makes his way to the platform and stops a few feet away of the loaded catapult. As he struggles to keep his balance and concentrate on what comes next, the edible projectile is set on fire and launched from the medieval artillery device. The chicken soars through the air and most often than not lands on metal skewers the waiter holds in both his hands, in his mouth and on his head.



Become Spartacus at the World’s Only Traditional School for Gladiators

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Roman Gladatorial games may have been banned almost two millennia ago, but you can still train to become a modern-day Spartacus at Italy’s Scuola Gladiatori Roma, the only genuine school for gladiators in the world.

Following the success of box-office hits like Gladiator, starring Russel Crowe, or HBO’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand series, the popularity of ancient gladiators has reached record highs. But few fans of these ancient warriors know they can do more than build their own gladiator armor and read-up on their history on obscure websites. At the Scuola Gladiatori Roma, in Rome, they can actually train to fight in the arena like their lives depended on it. Students have to go through rigorous physical training that tests their agility, coordination, speed and strength, before moving on to the actual weapons training and finally facing their experienced instructor in the arena. True wannabe gladiators attend courses for several months, even years, and become specialized in certain weapons and combat techniques, according to their physique. But for those with less free-time on their hands, the Scuola Gladiatori Roma offers a “Gladiator for a Day” experience that puts participants through a crash course on gladiator training in ancient Rome.



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