In This Small Alaskan Town Everyone Lives under the Same Roof

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Most of the 200-odd residents of the Alaskan town of Whittier all live in the same 14-story condominium – Begich Towers – located on the edge of town. The former Army barracks is often described as a ‘vertical town’ with walls so thin that keeping secrets is simply out of the question.

Apart from residential apartments, the one-of-a-kind settlement also houses a police station, a health clinic, a convenience store, a laundromat, and a church in the basement. It really is inconceivable how missionaries, bartenders, city council members, policemen, and even drug dealers can co-exist in the same building, share the same facilities, and ride in the same elevator.

As eccentric as this living arrangement sounds, it really does seem to work out for the residents of Whittier, mainly because of its size and the weather conditions. The town is rather inaccessible – you can only get there by sea, or take a long, one-lane tunnel through the mountains, which only runs one way at any given time. At night, the tunnel is closed completely.

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Louisville Mega Caves – America’s First Underground Mountain Bike Course

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Mega Underground Bike Park is a one-of-a-kind underground bike trail in Louisville, Kentucky. Spanning 320.000 square feet, with over 45 trails, Jump Lines, Pump Tracks, BMX, Cross Country and Single Track, the park is entirely located 100 feet or 10 stories below the ground!

The bike park is one of the many attractions at Louisville Mega Cavern, a man-made, privately-owned limestone cavern that encompasses an area of 100 acres beneath the streets of Louisville. Founded by Ralph Rogers in the 1930s, the cavern is currently used as a business park, entertainment center, and tourist attraction.

All set for a soft opening in early February, the bike park will be the nation’s first underground mountain bike course, and the largest indoor park ever built. In fact, it is nearly twice the size of America’s current largest indoor park – Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Warsaw’s Keret House – World’s Narrowest Home Is Just 1.2 Meters Wide

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Wedged into the narrow space between two buildings in Warsaw, Poland, the Keret House is considered the narrowest home in the world. At just 36 inches across at its narrowest point and 48 inches at its widest, the house is barely large enough for one person to move around.

The unique living space is the brainchild of Israeli writer and film maker Etgar Keret. The gap between the two buildings was discovered almost six years ago, by Polish architect Jakub Szczęsny. He realized that it was just enough room to fit a house, so he decided to go ahead and build one. Coming up with a design for the tiny available space was tough, but the real challenges were ownership issues, building regulations and financing. Luckily, he managed to raise 70,000 euros (over $80,000) for the project and began the construction in collaboration with the Polish Art Foundation.

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Shani Shingnapur – India’s Village without Doors

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Believe it or not, there’s a village in India where none of the 300-odd buildings – homes, educational institutions, and even banks – have doors. Cash is stored in unlocked containers, as are valuable pieces of gold jewellery.

Even most of the public toilets in Shani Shingnapur village square have no doors. “For reasons of privacy and following requests by women, we recently agreed to put a thin curtain near the entrance, but not doors because that would go against our belief,” said village shopkeeper Parmeshwar Mane.

Some villagers do put up loose door panels against their door frames, but this is done only at night, to keep out wild animals and stray dogs. The only problem with the lack of doors is that there’s nothing to knock on to announce your arrival. But the villagers have a solution for this, too. “Just shout out and somebody will come to the door,’’ one of the villagers, Rani, explained.

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Amsterdam Crane Gets Converted into Luxury Hotel

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Ambitious architects in Amsterdam have converted an old beast of a crane into a luxury hotel, complete with swanky rotating suites, spa pools and a TV broadcasting station.

The 250 ton, 50-meter high, decades old maritime crane is actually one of the world’s oldest and highest mechanical structures. It was almost in ruins, doomed to a life of decay, when a group of daredevil architects from various Dutch companies decided to get together and give it a new lease on life. 

Despite being dismissed as ‘technically impossible’, they decided to take on the task of converting the old crane into a world class luxury hotel. The project was not easy – they had to lay new foundations to withstand the weight of the massive structure, because the quay of the old wharf was simply not strong enough. Developers splurged nearly a million dollars on constructing each room. They even fitted the structure with a thrust bearing made of gold, allowing each suite to rotate with the wind.

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Villa Epecuen – The Argentinian Town That Spent 25 Years Underwater

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The town of Epecuen, in the Argentinian farmlands southwest of Buenos Aires, was once a bustling lakeside resort with a population of over 5,000. Over a quarter of a century ago it was flooded by the waters of a nearby lake and, until recently, it remained submerged. Now it’s finally come back up for air.

Established in 1920 along the shore of Lake Epecuen, the popular tourist destination played host to at least 20,000 visitors every season. Its main attraction was the saltwater lake, which contained 10 times more salt than the ocean. According to local legend, the lake is so salty because it was formed by the tears of a great Chief crying for the pain of his beloved. The waters of the lake were believed to cure depression, rheumatism, skin diseases, anemia, and even diabetes.

Thousands of visitors would arrive by train from the nation’s capital to relax in the town’s saltwater baths and spas. Tourists, mainly from Buenos Aires’ large Jewish community, enjoyed the floating water because it reminded them of the Dead Sea in Israel. The town had almost 300 thriving businesses – including guesthouses, lodges, hotels and other establishments centered around tourist trade.

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Shell Gas Station Toilets in the Philippines Are So Clean It Will Blow Your Mind

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The video tour of a Shell Gas Station toilet in the Philippines is making waves on the internet – it has gone viral with over 4 million views on YouTube and nearly 30,000 likes on Facebook. The video was made by Canadian model and TV personality Jason Godfrey; it shows the inside of a pristine toilet that’s so amazing, you’ll probably never want to leave it!

The gas station, located in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, is primarily meant to attract travelers and tourists. In addition to sparkling clean toilets, the restroom also has a very homey ambiance, with lovely paintings adorning the walls, bookshelves that stock reading material to peruse while using the loo, furnished wood and other beautiful decorations. It’s unlike any public toilet I’ve ever been too, that’s for sure.

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Japan’s Unique Cotton-Spinning Bar

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Contrary to what its name suggests, ‘Tokyo Cotton Village’ isn’t a rural settlement of cotton farmers, but a bar located in the heart of Japan’s capital city, in Setagaya Ward. The one-of-a-kind establishment allows its patrons to experience spinning cotton, which is supposedly a relaxing activity.

The service is available for free to anyone who orders a drink – they get to enjoy spinning threads of wamen, a type of cotton that’s cultivated in Japan. The airy texture of wamen is believed to calm the mind and relax the body. The concept is a big hit with customers, many of whom visit the bar several times a week.

“Getting absorbed in [spinning threads] lets me forget bad things that happened at work,” said Yoshiko Jimura, 32, who visits at least twice a week. “This is a precious time for me to change my mood.”

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Waitresses at Aptly-Named Shooters Grill All Carry Guns

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True to its name, Colorado restaurant ‘Shooters’ is a pro-guns type of place – the waitresses are all packing heat and patrons are encouraged to do the same! Incidentally, the restaurant is located in a town called Rifle, where openly carrying guns in public is illegal.

A sign on the front door of the restaurant reads: “Guns are welcome on premises. Please keep all weapons holstered, unless the need arises. In such cases, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.” So when waitresses at Shooters take an order, they not only carry a pad and pen, but also loaded handguns holstered around their waist, Wild West Style.

According to Shooters owner Lauren Boebert, the restaurant is simply allowing customers and employees to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. “We encourage it, and the customers love that they can come here and express their rights,” said Boebert. “This country was founded on our freedom. People can come in carrying their gun, and they can pray over their food.”

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Venice of the Middle-East: The Floating Basket Homes of Iraq

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Little is known to the world about Iraq’s Tigris-Euphrates marshlands – an area that, at one time, covered over 9,000 square miles – bigger than Venice’s lagoon and Florida’s Everglades combined. The marshland was inhabited continuously for over 5,000 years and at its peak, it was home to half-a-million ‘Marsh Arabs’ or ‘Ma’dan’.

The Ma’dan consisted of several tribes that had developed a beautiful, eco-friendly culture that centered on the marshes’ natural resources. One of the truly admirable aspects of their lifestyle was their beautifully elaborate dwellings – floating houses made entirely out of reeds that were harvested from the open water.

These architectural wonders, strongly reminiscent of the ‘casoni’ of the Venetian fishermen, were called ‘mudhif’. They were temporary structures built of reeds in only three days, without the use of nails or wood. Even the islands that the houses would rest on were made of complicated arrangements of mud and rushes.

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Welcome to Ifrane, Africa’s Little Switzerland

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Ifrane is a small town and ski resort in Morocco, famous for its European style and its similarity to the tourist haven of Switzerland. Developed by the French in the 1930s, Ifrane is so reminiscent of the Swiss Alps that it is fondly referred to as ‘Africa’s Little Switzerland’.

The town is located at an altitude of 5,460 feet above sea level in the Middle Atlas region. Its neat red-roofed houses, blooming flower beds, lake-studded parks, and snowbound winters present a huge contrast to Morocco’s narrow, maze like streets and old, earth-colored buildings. It is truly a wonder that such lush greenery, cedar and oak forests, and pasturelands can even exist in the midst of the hot and dry climate of the region.

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World’s Largest Corn Maze Is So Tough to Get Out of That People Often Call 911 for Help

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Cool Patch Pumpkins corn maze, in Dixon, California, is officially the biggest corn maze in the world. The gigantic 63-acre Halloween attraction is the creation of brothers Matt and Mark Cooley, who personally hand-cut five miles of winding paths, twists, turns and loops. This year, the maze finally broke the Guinness Record for the world’s largest maze.

The maze might appear easy to navigate when you first set foot in it, but visitors soon realize it is far more complicated than they originally thought. Believe it or not, a few visitors have actually resorted to calling 911 for help! “When it’s dark, all you see is corn,” Matt said. “A lot of people have been telling us that it has taken them a couple of hours to get through the corn.”

“There’s a concern; there’s a bit of fear involved,” said Deputy Daryl Snedeker from the Solano County Sheriff’s department. “I think they are overwhelmed. You can get a little worked up when you can’t get out of a place and everything looks the same. We don’t laugh, it’s not a comedy to us, and our dispatchers have a very serious job, and they take every call to 911 seriously.”

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London Hotel Unveils Hogwarts-Themed Rooms Designed to Look Like Harry Potter’s Living Quarters

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If you’ve ever fantasized about living at Hogwarts Castle (as all Potterheads do), then here’s some good news for you. The Georgian House hotel in London is offering its guests a Harry Potter Hotel Package, with Hogwarts-themed bedrooms that are designed to resemble Harry’s fictional dorm room.

The Gregorian House is a four-star hotel built in 1851 and still run by the descendants of the original owners. While the hotel traditionally offers Victoria Classic and Belgravia Boutique rooms, they’ve decided to take full advantage of the renewed worldwide interest in Harry Potter, ever since J K Rowling released a new Harry Potter story on her website, Pottermore.

Aptly named ‘The Georgian House’s Wizard Chambers’, the two transformed rooms contain everything that a would-be wizard might need – four-poster beds, potion bottles, cauldrons, spell books, and even battered trunks. The interiors are done up with ‘Hogwartsian’ accents, perfectly capturing the essence of the Potter universe.

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Human Mole – The Man Who Spent 32 Years Digging a Tunnel to the Middle of Nowhere

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Somewhere in the Mojave Desert’s El Paso range there is a strange tunnel that traverses 2,087 feet of solid rock up in Copper Mountain. What’s strange is that it doesn’t lead to anywhere special. It simply emerges on the high ledge, in the middle of nowhere. The only reason it exists is because an eccentric man named William Henry ‘Burro’ Schmidt – a.k.a. the human mole – wanted it there.

Although he spent 32 years of his life single-handedly digging a half-mile long tunnel through a solid granite mountain, he never talked much about it. When questioned about his bizarre project, he simply replied that it was a shortcut. To where, no one really knows.

Schmidt first migrated to the California desert from Rhode Island in the late 19th century, in order to improve his health. He is believed to have started digging the tunnel in 1902, near the site where he had staked a mining claim. He carried out the excavation using picks, hammers, hand drills and explosives, and removed rubble with a wheelbarrow. At times, he even carried it out on his back. Eventually, he installed iron tracks and a mine car to transport debris.

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Japanese Turtle Taxi Promises to Drive You as Slow as Possible

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Unlike most other taxi services, the Japanese Turtle Taxi caters to people who aren’t really in a hurry and prefer a leisurely ride. Surprisingly, there are many who enjoy a service that is deliberately slow – the unique taxi has been steadily growing in popularity ever since it started in December 2013.

The taxi service was created by the Sanwa Kotsu Group – they’ve designated 10 of their 500 cabs in Yokohama as ‘turtle taxis’, and specifically trained cab drivers to accelerate and decelerate as gently as possible. They’ve also been told to manage the ‘centrifugal forces’, to avoid making sharp turns.

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