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The Marble Caves of Rio Tranquilo

Located in the Coyhaique province, Chile, the Marble Caves are some of the most impressive attractions of Patagonia.

Las Cavernas de Marmol, as the Spanish call them were created by the clear waters of Rio Tranquilo that dug into a giant limestone peninsula, creating an impressive labyrinth of caves. The peninsula is known as the Marble Cathedral and can be reached by boat, during a guided tour.

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Masatrigo Hill – Nature’s Perfect Cone

Ok, so maybe it’s not exactly perfect, but Masatrigo Hill, or Cerro Masatrigo is as close as you can get to finding a natural cone-shaped landmark.

Located in Badajoz province, Spain, Masatrigo Hill has always been considered an extinct volcano, by the locals, because of its cone-like shape. Scientists haven’t yet been able to determine how Cerro Masatrigo was formed, and the mystery behind it allowed people to come up with all sorts of legends and stories, and earned it the nickname “magic mountain”.

The name “Masatrigo” means “wheat dough”. It reminds me of the Chocolate Hills of the Philippines

via WOW!Travel

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KidZania – Career-Building Theme Park for Kids

KidZania is a chain of theme-parks where children can decide what they want to be when they grow up, by actually doing the job.

Do you remember, as a kid, when someone asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up”? And you would say things like astronaut, fireman, doctor without actually knowing what those jobs actually implied. Well, at KidZania, children have the opportunity to experience all kinds of jobs and decide if they really like them.

Luis Javier Laresgoiti, a true theme-park innovator, was the one who came up with the concept of Kidzania and was further developed by Xavier López Ancona, a Mexican entrepreneur. The first career-building theme park was opened in 1999, in Mexico City and there are now 6 Kidzania parks around the world (Tokyo, Monterrey, Jakarta, Koshien and Lisbon).

At Kidzania, children can try popular jobs like firefighting, driving planes, being a doctor, as well as well as being a mechanic or flipping burgers at a diner. The point is for kids to have fun and learn the value of money and work, at a young age. Parents are allowed to watch the kids as they perform the jobs, but they are not allowed to help them.

At the end of the day, the young workers are paid in KidZos (official currency of KidZania).

Photos by GETTY IMAGES via Telegraph.co.uk

KidZania

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Lena’s Stone Forest

One of the most beautiful natural wonders of Russia, Lena’s Stone Forest is also one of the most difficult to reach, by tourists.

Known also as Lena’s Stone Pillars, this incredible rock formation is not only beautiful to look at, it’s also holds important information on the formation of the organic world. Fossils from various organisms dating back to the Cambrian era could supply invaluable insight on life evolved on planet Earth.

Lena’s Stone Forest offers tourists a unique sight. Colossal stone statues rise up from the earth and pierce the sky, like giants frozen in time. The pillars are grouped together and stretch for tens of kilometers, along the river banks.

Unfortunately reaching this wondrous place is no easy feat. It lies in a part of Siberia not yet touched by civilization and it will take you roughly four days to reach it, from Moscow. After a long flight, you’ll encounter armed locals more than glad to take you to Lena’s Stone Pillars, in their boats, for a “small” $500 fee. The boat ride lasts about 3 days, but once/if you reach your destination, it will all have been worth it.

via English Russia

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Modern-Day Flinstones House in Portugal

Located in Fafe, Portugal, this unusual stone house bears a remarkable resemblance to The Flintstones House. Man, I loved that show!

I know what you’re thinking and you’re not the only one, but as fake as these photos may look, the stone house of Fafe is very real. I mean it’s even been featured in the Daily Mail. Ok, you’re right, that’s not a valid argument, but this house does exist.

The photos taken by Jsome1 have been causing quite stir on the internet, partly because he decided to improve the photos a little and make them look fake-ish. But other curious web-surfers have been digging around and found the stone house exists and it’s actually a local landmark of the Fafe region.

The last two photos were used to promote the Fafe biking marathon and feature the Flintstones-like house as background. That’s the best proof I could find, hope it’s enough.

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The Grape Fight of Binissalem

One of the most fun events of September took place in the village of Benissalem, on the island of Majorca, during Fiesta of La Vermada.

Over one thousand people, both locals and tourists, gathered in Binissalem, a village known for the quality of its wines, for what may have been the biggest grape fight in the world. Every year, at the end of September, the people of Binissalem organize a fiesta, to  celebrate a successful grape harvest. The highlight of Fiesta of La Vermada is the  grape fight that attracts people from all over the world, just like La Tomatina festival, held in Bunol, Spain.

The grape fighters gather in Plaza de l’Esglesia, in the center of the village and wait for a rocket to be fired. Once that happens everyone stampedes into a field outside Binissalem and a human circle is formed around a huge pile of grapes. When the whistle blows, the madness begins and grapes start flying.

Photos by Reuters, via Chinadaily

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Hotel Made Out of 200,000 Plastic Key Cards

The Holiday Inn Key Card Hotel was built by card-stacking master Bryan Berg, from 200,000 discarded hotel key cards.

To mark the relaunch of their hotel chain, numbering 1,200 establishments, Holiday Inn inaugurated the world’s first key card hotel, in Manhattan, New York. It’s made up of a guestroom, bathroom and lobby, featuring life size furniture made-out of key cards.

Bryan Berg, who built his first record-breaking house of cards when he was only 17, back in 1992, said this was his toughest challenge yet, because he has never created human scale structures before. The Key Card Hotel was opened on September 17 and will be in business until September 21. During the five day event, Bryan Berg will build a replica of the Empire State Building, inside the lobby of the strange hotel.

via Daily Mail and Xinhua

keycard-hotel

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The House of Plastic Bottles

Apart from the breathtaking Iguazu Falls, one of the most important tourist attractions in the Iguazu area is the House of Plastic Bottles, built out of plastic bottles and other recyclable materials.

Alfredo Alberto Santa Cruz got the idea of building a house from plastic bottles while he was creating a playhouse for his little daughter. After he finished it, he noticed the plastic the structure was pretty sturdy and realized he was on to something. That’s when he decided to build a one-bedroom cottage out of plastic bottles, for him and his family.

Mr. Santa Cruz’s bottle house features a bed, chairs, shelves and even a fake hanging plant, all made out of PET bottles. Practically everything inside the house is recyclable, apart from the wood framing and a few metal bolts. The walls are made from 2-liter plastic bottles, while the roof consists of hundreds of tetrapak cartons (the boxes you drink juice from). Alfredo has flattened them into shingles and turn them aluminum side up, to reflect the sun and keep the place cool. They would only last for 4-5 years, due to rains, but he covered them up with a layer of plastic, cut from bottles and says this combo could last even 20 years.

I’ve seen glass bottle houses before, even a temple built out of glass bottles, but this is my first plastic bottle house.

plastic-bottle-house

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A Preview of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park based on JK Rowling’s best selling series, Harry Potter, due to open in the spring of 2010, at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure resort, in Orlando.

Artists have drawn artworks to show the world a small preview of the magical theme park. Let’s have a look at what we’ll be able to experience in the world of Harry Potter:

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Caveland – A Perfect Home Built in a Cave

Believe it or not, there are people out there who still live in caves and the weirdest part of it is, they actually enjoy it.

Curt Sleeper and his entire family have been living inside the cave they’ve appropriately named Caveland, for the last five years. Their unusual story begins back in December 2003, when Curt was searching for a commercial property on eBay and he stumbled across a cave, in the Fetus/Crystal City area, Missouri. I guess it’s true what they say, you can find anything on eBay.

Curt visited the property and fell in love with it on the spot. Where most others may see just an inhospitable environment, he saw a perfect home for his family, so he started working on it right away. The Sleepers used all their savings and inheritance money to build a comfortable house and the result is simply mind-blowing, as you can see in the pics below.

There have been some rough bumps for the sleepers, but the toughest time was at the beginning of 2009, when, due to the economic crisis, they couldn’t refinance their mortgage. Since banks weren’t interested in appraising an odd cave house, Caveland had to be put on sale on eBay, for $300,000. Fortunately, the Sleepers managed to find some long-term financing and they are still living in their unusual home.

via Caveland

Caveland

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The Seven-Color Earths of Chamarel

The strange formation known as the Colored Earths is located near the village of Chamarel, in southwest Mauritius. The exposed hills form seven different color patterns: red brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow.

Promoted as the most beautiful attraction of Mauritius, during the 1960s, the Colored Earths are still one of the most popular destinations on the island. This unusual geological wonder was formed when volcanic rock cooled at different temperatures, in multicolored layers. Rains have shaped the rock into small hills that look like dunes of sand and, the first time you look at them, it will seem like the colors are actually just shadows. But after taking a closer look you’ll realize the seven colors are very real.

But this unusual coloring of the hills at Chamarel isn’t their only bizarre trait. Geologists have been fascinated with the Colored Earths ever since they were first discovered, but haven’t yet been able to explain why they never erode in spite of being  exposed to harsh elements and torrential rains.

The Colored Earths of Chamarel also have the unique property of settling into layers. If you take a handful of each of the seven-colored sands and mix them together, they will eventually separate into seven different colored layers.

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The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Most cemeteries around the world are quiet, solemn places where colors, jokes or smiles aren’t seen very often. But the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, in Romania is probably the most bizarre cemetery on Earth, where many people come to enjoy themselves.

Located in the small village of Sapanta, in northern Romania, the Merry Cemetery is one of the country’s most popular destinations. Tourists from all over the world come to this place to see over 800 colorful oak crosses, covered with paintings that depict scenes from the life of each person buried there. Some even have funny lyrics about the way they lived their lives.

In most cultures death is serious business, but at Sapanta it’s reason for laughter and celebration. The origin of this belief can be traced back to the ancient Dacians, who believed they were immortal and death was nothing more than a passing stage to a better life.

The first cross in the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta was painted in 1935, by its founder, Stan Ioan Patras. Since 1960, over 800 wooden masterpieces were added, transforming the cemetery into an outdoor art museum.

Sapanta-cemetery

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The Giant Hand of Atacama

The last thing you would expect to find in the middle of the driest desert on Earth is a a work of art. But that’s exactly what you’re gong to see, if you happen to be traveling through the Atacama Desert, in Chile.

The Hand of the Desert (La Mano del Desierto) is an 11-meters-tall sculpture, in the shape of a hand, rising up from the desert. It was designed and created by Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal, and is probably the weirdest thing you’re going to see in Atacama.

The hand rising from the sand” theme is very common in Mr. Irarrázabal work and he has two other major similar sculptures in the US and Uruguay. We’ll add them both to our list of oddities, soon enough.

hand-of-Atacama

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The Hog Parade of Malolos

Dozens of pigs wearing make-up and funny costumes are displayed through the streets of Malolos, during the Hog Parade.

Highlighting a week-long food festival in the Philippines, the Hog Parade took place on September 12, in the town of Malolos, Bulacan province. The tasty protagonists were dressed as Superman, Popeye, clowns, queens and even brides.

After the fun Hog Parade, the people of Malolos feasted on some free roasted pig, offered by the local authorities. Malolos is the main supplier of pigs in the Philippines.

Photos by Erik de Castro/REUTERS

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Pulling the Head Off A Goose Is A Fiesta in Spain

The “Day of the Geese” is a Spanish Fiesta in which “brave” contestants have to wrench the head off a goose while being plunged into the water.

In the Basque fishing-town of Lekeitio, near Bilbao, people have a rather unusual way of keeping themselves entertained. Every year, during the Day of the Geese, young men try to prove their skill at tearing the head off a goose.

Geese are strung up on a wire, above the town’s harbor, as young men approach in boats and try to grab them. They are then lifted up into the air and plunged into the water repeatedly, until they pull the head off the goose or fall into the water.

Quite a challenge but at least the winner gets a worthy price: he gets to keep the goose…I can’t say I’m surprised to see this kind of display in a country fascinated by archaic traditions like Corrida or the Shearing of the Beasts, but at least here they kill the goose beforehand (if that can be considered a positive aspect). The Day of the Geese used to be celebrated with live geese. Read More »