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The Bottle Cap Alley – A Dumping Ground Turned Tourist Attraction

Bottle Cap Alley is a unique roadside attraction located at the north edge of the Texas A&M University campus, in College Station Texas. As the name suggests, it is paved with hundreds of thousands – by some accounts, millions – of beer and soda bottle caps.

No one knows exactly how the tradition of paving the 50-meter-long by 2-meters-across alley with metal caps began, but seeing as it is located between the iconic Dry Bean pub and the Dixie Chicken restaurant, some people believe that it started out as a dumping site for the two establishments. Patrons who took their drinks outside followed their example, and as word of the Bottle Cap Alley spread, other local bars started bringing in their nightly haul of bottle caps here as well. It is estimated that the tradition goes back four decades.

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Nature Turns Human Pollution into Stunning Glass Beach

For years, Ussuri Bay, on Russia’s Pacific shoreline, was a dumping ground for glass bottles and waste from a nearby porcelain factory. But nature found a way to turn lemons into lemonade, and today, all those unwanted materials have been shaped into a colorful glass beach.

The story goes that many years ago, truckloads of glass and porcelain were dumped in Ussuri Bay, but instead of what should have been a landfill for unwanted waste, Steklyashka beach is actually one of the most stunning tourist attractions in the world. Years of erosion have rounded and polished the pieces of glass and porcelain into beautiful pebbles of various colors and have turned this place into a wonderland reminiscent of California’s Glass Beach.

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Japan’s Unique Museum of Stones Shaped Like Human Faces

Chinsekikan, or The Hall of Curious Rocks is a unique museum in the Japanese town Saitama, just outside Tokyo, where visitors can admire close to 1,000 rocks that resemble human faces.

This outlandish tourist attraction is the work of the late Shozo Hayama, a rock enthusiast who spent 50 years of his life collecting strange-looking rocks, and especially those that resembled human faces. His only requirement was that nature be the only artist, and believe it or not he actually put together a collection of over 900 human-looking rocks, some of which resemble famous people, like rock’n roll legend Elvis Presley or Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

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Chinese Artist Spends 20 Years Turning Ancient Valley into an Artistic Wonderland

Artist Song Peilun is being hailed as “The Father of Yelang Valley” after spending the last two decades turning a forested patch of land into an artistic village as a tribute to the ancient civilization that once thrived in the area.

Yelang was an ancient political entity first described in the 3rd century BC centered in what is now western Guizhou province, China. Experts believe that many ancient cultures were rooted here, but there are unfortunately no architectural remnants left standing in the great valley. Inspired by Crazy Horse, a mountain monument dedicated to a Native American warrior, in the US state of South Dakota, after visiting the United States, Chinese artist Song Peilun dedicated his life to building a memorial to the artistic heritage of Yelang Valley and restoring part of its former glory.

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La Colonia Tovar – A Picturesque German Alpine Village in Venezuela

Venezuela is one of the last places you would expect to find a picturesque German alpine village, and yet… La Colonia Tovar, also known as ‘The Germany of the Caribbean’, is conspicuous for its white houses with timbers and red roofs surrounded by flower gardens, carefully tended fields and creeks with water mills, and its hearty German cuisine of sausages and sauerkraut and large slices of black forest cake followed by a cold pint of beer.

It’s hard to imagine such a place actually exists in a South American country with a predominantly tropical climate, like Venezuela. But travel north to the state of Aragua, about 1,800 meters up in the forests of the Cordillera de la Costa, and you’ll reach this quaint little town reminiscent of alpine Germany. Founded in 1843 by a group of 300-odd immigrants from the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) of the Grand Duchy of Baden, on the eastern bank of the Rhine River, the town still maintains the original cultural imprint of this centuries-old community.

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World’s Only Public Diamond Mine Lets You Keep What You Find

The Crater of Diamonds State Park, in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, is the world’s only diamond mine open to the public. Visitors get to go on a real-life treasure hunt and keep whatever they find!

According to park officials, over 600 diamonds of various colors and grades are found by visitors each year. Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed since the mine was discovered in 1906 – 19,000 of them since the mine became a state park in 1972.

Scientists believe that these diamonds were formed three billion years ago in the earth’s mantle, 60 to 100 miles below the earth’s surface. The precious rocks were brought up to the surface about 100 million years ago, by a rising column of magma. A huge volcanic eruption resulted in an 80-acer crater, filled with fragments of mantle rock that contained diamonds. Over the years, the rocks have eroded, leaving the diamonds and other semi-precious gems loose in the soil.

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The Petrifying Well of Knaresborough Turns Objects into Stone

Located on the banks of the river Nidd, near Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, is a mystical well that converts objects to stone. Any object touched by the well’s dripping waters – leaves, sticks, dead birds, and more – naturally turn to stone within a few months!

For many centuries, locals believed that the Petrifying Well was cursed by the devil – a myth fueled by the fact that the side of the well looks like a giant’s skull. They constantly lived with the fear that if they touched the well’s water, they would be turned to stone too.

A few adventurous people left everyday objects near the waterfall, only to witness the transformation occur over weeks. Some of these relics can be spotted even today, like a Victorian top hat and a lady’s bonnet from the 1800s – both converted to solid stone. More recently, people have left teddy bears, kettles, and even a bicycle in the petrifying well, with similar results.

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There Is a “Crappy” Poop-Themed Cafe in South Korea

Believe it or not, there’s a cafe in Seoul, South Korea that has poop as its central theme. From the outside, Poop Cafe looks perfectly normal but when it comes to service, everything comes with a toilet twist.

Coffee and tea, for instance, are served in adorable little toilet bowl-shaped cups. The foam art on the lattes are poop-shaped, as are the throw pillows and cushions that decorate the shop. Poop shaped scones are served with jam in a toilet bowl and the cups have cute poop faces on them too.

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Norwegian Wildlife Park Lets Visitors Get Up-Close and Personal with Majestic Wolves

Situated in Salangsdalen, Norway’s Troms county, Polar Park has a diverse population of wild animals, including foxes, reindeer, wolverines, wolves, lynx, elk, musk, and bears. But the most popular attraction is the Wolf Camp, a facility set up with the goal of ensuring a better life for wolves in captivity. It also provides visitors with the unique opportunity up-close and personal with the beautiful creatures.

So how is it that these ferocious wolves are able to accept human company with such ease? Well, it turns out that in the wild, wolves are actually afraid of humans – so they lash out under stress. But the animals at Polar Park were raised to enjoy the company of humans, so they feel calm around visitors. Known as the ‘Salangen wolf pack’, these are the first wolves in Norway that is socialized with humans. That means they actually enjoy our presence as part of their environment and will even come up to visitors to cuddle with them a or lick their faces.

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Abandoned Chinese Village Reclaimed by Nature Becomes Tourist Attraction

It really doesn’t take long for Mother Nature to reclaim her territory, slowly obliterating all signs of human occupation, if we only allow it. Case in point is the abandoned Chinese village of Houtou Wan which, within a span of 50 years, has become a beautiful secret garden completely covered in lush vegetation.  

Houtou Wan village is located on one of the 394 Shengsi Islands of China’s Yangtze River. It used to be a thriving fishing town a few decades ago, but it was gradually abandoned as the number of fishing vessels outgrew the size of the bay and the population was forced to relocate. All but a handful of villagers left Hotou Wan in the last half century, leaving nature to work her magic on the settlement. The result is nothing short of breathtaking.

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In This Small Alaskan Town Everyone Lives under the Same Roof

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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No Girls Allowed – The Greek State That Forbids Both Human and Animal Females

Mount Athos, formally known as Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, is located on the Greek peninsula of Halkidiki. The monastic traditions of the mountain date back to 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and 2,000 monks from Greece and other eastern orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia. These monks live an ascetic life, isolated from the rest of the world.

Although technically part of the European Union, the Holy Mountain is largely self-governed. This prohibits the free movement of people and goods in its territory, unless formal permission has been granted. As a result, a number of traditions at Mount Athos might seem odd to people outside. The keeping of Byzantine time, for instance, means that their day begins at sunset. But perhaps their most bizarre practice is the centuries-old ban on women entering the sacred peninsula.

For over 1,000 years, women have been forbidden from setting foot on the mountain. In fact, females of other species such as cows, dogs and goats aren’t permitted either. Only birds and insects are exempted from the rule – scanning the skies and grounds for female body parts would surely be too absurd, even by Mount Athos standards.

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Villa Epecuen – The Argentinian Town That Spent 25 Years Underwater

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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Welcome to Ifrane, Africa’s Little Switzerland

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 Snake Gathering Turns Canadian Wilds into a Slithering Sea

Every spring, the Canadian wilds of Manitoba become a sea of nightmarish writhing snakes. A tangled mass of thousands of red-sided garter snakes come together in what is considered the largest snake-gathering in the world. After spending the long winter months in hibernation, they all come out for a bit of a breather, to frolic in the sun and perform their mating rituals.

The fascinating event takes place at the Narcisse Snake Dens, a few kilometers north of Narcisse, in Manitoba province. What makes Narcisse the ultimate rock-concert equivalent of the snake world? Well, the answer to that question dates back to the Paleozoic era, when the area of Manitoba was covered by an ancient ocean. The water doesn’t exist anymore, but the ocean bed still does – layer upon layer of thick limestone rock covers the region, with thousands of natural crevices, tunnels and caves. Rainwater seeps through these cracks and when the rock gives way near the surface, the resulting collapse forms a sinkhole.

The cold-blooded snakes happen to love these sinkholes, which are perfect for hibernation during the harsh Canadian winter with temperatures reaching 50 degrees below zero. So they migrate from far and wide and settle into the sinkholes, putting a good distance between themselves and the frost line. Because there’s a limited number of sinkholes, also known as den sites, all the snakes in an area have to go to the nearest den site. So there are literally tens of thousands of snakes crowded into just one sinkhole the size of the average living room.

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