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The Hanging Houses of Cuenca

Also known as “Casas Colgadas“, The Hanging Houses are the most popular attractions of Cuenca, Spain.

The history and exact origin of The Hanging Houses is unclear. Some believe they are of Muslim origin, while others say they are Medieval. Centuries ago, this kind of building was frequently seen throughout Cuenca, but nowadays only three “Casas Colgadas” remain, built in a cliff, above Huecar Gorge.

La Casa de la Sirena (House of the Mermaid) and the two Casas de Rey (Houses of Kings) were built somewhere between the 13th and 15th centuries and have been renovated in the 20th century. Now the houses host the Museum of Abstract Arts and a restaurant, but they remain the most photographed landmarks in Cuenca.

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The Incredible Doctor Fish

Actually, I’m not just talking about one, but hundreds of small “doctor fish” treating serious skin conditions like psoriasis.

Garra Rufa Obtusa, also referred to as Doctor Fish, is a special species of fish, found in northern and central parts of the Middle East. In countries like Turkey, people have started breading them artificially, in giant basins, and use them to treat severe skin diseases.

The small fish can survive in waters as hot as 43 degrees Celsius and love to fed on dead tissue. The little miracle workers aren’t fed, so when patients dip their sick limbs into the water, they act like a pack of gentle piranhas, nibbling with their gummy mouths.

Doctor Fish aren’t recognized as a cure for Psoriasis, although there have been cases of complete healing following a treatment at a Doctor Fish Spa, but they do help improve the condition of the patients, at least temporarily. The fish eat away the red, scaly spots on the patients’ bodies and the mineral water helps the healing process. Thousands of patients travel to Doctor Fish Spas, like the one in Kangal, Turkey, and spend 21 days being eaten alive by the Garra Rufa Obtusa, in two daily four-hour sessions.

Doctor Fish cosmetic facilities have become very popular recently, and you can find them in countries like Japan, Malaysia or China.  After all, Doctor Fish are a lot healthier than a chemical exfoliation.

Photos by Xianhua/Reuters, via People.com.cn

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Ball’s Pyramid – Mountain in the Ocean

Located 20 km southeast of Lord Howe Island, in the Pacific Ocean, Ball’s Pyramid rises 562 meters above the waters.

Ball’s Pyramid is all that remains from a shield volcano that was formed 7 million years ago and is the tallest volcanic stack in the world. It was discovered in 1788, by Lieutenant Henry Ball, but no one was able to climb to its summit until 1965.  In 1982 climbing was banned and soon after all access to the island was restricted. Nowadays, the policy has changed and climbing is allowed, but only under strict conditions.

In 2001 researchers found a small population of Lord Howe Island stick insects, a species thought to have been eradicated by the black rats that were introduced on Howe Island. The 24 rare inhabitants found on Ball’s Pyramid are now being bred in captivity, in hopes of reviving the species.

Photos via Snegopad

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The Living Bridges of Cherrapunji

It might sound like an exaggeration, but the root bridges of Cherrapunji are indeed alive. Unlike most parts of the world, these bridges are grown, not built.

Known as the wettest place on Earth, Cherrapunji is home to some of the most amazing plants. One of these is the Ficus elastica tree, a sort of rubber tree that grows a ind of secondary roots from higher up in the trunk. The War-Khasis, a local tribe, noticed this plant and realized its potential.

Using hollowed-out betel nut trunks, the tribesmen are able to direct the roots in whatever way they like. When the roots grow all the way across a river, they are allowed to return to the soil, and over time, a strong bridge is formed. It takes up to 10-15 years for a root bridge to develop, but it becomes stronger with each passing year and are known to last for centuries.

Boulders and stones are placed among the rubber tree roots for an easier crossing. The living root bridges of  Cherrapunji are incredibly sturdy, able to sustain more than fifty people at a time.

via rootbridges

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Milestii Mici – The Underground City of Wine

Milestii Mici is a small settlement, located 20 km south of Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. It might not look like much , but it sits atop the greatest wine cellar in all of Europe.

Milestii Mici has become internationally famous for its impressive wine collection, known as the Golden Collection. It has been acknowledged by Guinness Book of Records as the biggest wine collection in Europe. The cellars of Milestii Mici hide approximately 2 million bottles of wine, of which 1,5 million are collection wines.

The cellar complex under Milestii Mici is also the biggest one in Europe, stretching over 250km. At this point only 120 km are in use, so there’s enough room for more wine. The most expensive bottle of wine in the cellars of Milestii Mici is worth 480 euros.

I can’t imagine how anyone can find their way around this giant catacombs, let alone a specific bottle of wine.

via Doo Doo

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Total Privacy at Clingstone

This 103-years-old mansion in Rhode Island is built on a small, rocky island far away from any nosy neighbors. Just like this house, built close to Oslofjord Island, Norway, it offers total privacy.

Clingstone mansion was built in 1905, for a cost of roughly $36,000, by J.S. Lovering Wharton, a distant cousin of 79-year-old Henry Wood, the present owner of the house. He and his ex-wife bought it in 1961, for $3,600 and managed to bring it back to life after it had been abandoned for two decades.

Mr. Wood and his family found an ingenious way of preserving this 23-room architectural wonder: the Clingstone work weekend. Every year, around Memorial Day, the Wood family and up to 70 friends gather at Clingstone to clean the mansion and fix any of its problems. Practically, any volunteer workers are welcome.

In winter time the boats and floating dock are stored at the nearby Jamestown Boatyard, in exchange for a week’s stay at Clingstone, during the summer.

viabookofjoe

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Weirdest Hotel in China?

Personally I think it has a shot at the title of weirdest hotel in the world, but it’s definitely not the best looking one.

Located in Hebei province, China, the Tianzi Hotel was built sometime in the 2000-2001 period. It is a ten-story high representation of Fu Lu Shou (good fortune, prosperity and longevity) that apparently holds the Guinness World Record for the “biggest image building”…whatever that means.

You probably won’t find much more info about the Tianzi Hotel on English websites. Don’t know if it will help, but it’s also known as The Emperor Hotel and Son of Heaven Hotel.

via Killer Directory

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Mooning of the Amtrack Train

On every second Saturday of July, people gather outside the Mugs Away Saloon, in Laguna Niguel, California, for the annual Mooning of the Amtrack.

Known also as the Mooning of the Train, this tradition dates back to 1979. Legend has it it all started when a rich person walked into the bar and promised free drinks to anyone with enough balls to show their naked behinds to the passing Amtrak train.

This year around 1,000 people attended the mooning and a great time doing so. there were no incidents, unlike last year, when many of the 8,000 mooners got intoxicated in public and the festivities had to be shut down.

The trains are mostly full when they pass by the Mugs Away Saloon and the conductors even slow down so the passengers can really enjoy the view.

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The Zipper Pond of Taiwan

An artistically designed pond that looks like it could be zipped up at any time.

Designed by renowned Taiwanese sculptor Ju Chun, the Zipper Pond has become one of the most popular attractions at the Juming Museum, outside Taipei.  It does look absolutely amazing…I mean I’ve seen some beautiful ponds in my time, but a zipper pond? That’s special.

via Crooked Brains

photos by JT

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Bous a la Mar Festival, in Denia, Spain

Spanish people really have a thing for bulls, don’t they. Bullfighting, the festival of Pamplona, they’re all centered around the bull.

During the Bous a la Mar Festival, in Denia, near the city of Alicante, people get chased by bulls through the streets and into the Mediterranean Sea. The brave participants plunge into the waters just before the bulls are about to catch them. The animals often fall into the sea as well, where they are taunted some more. Eventually, the bulls are caught with a lasso and towed back to shore by a boat.

via Telegraph.co.uk

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Beer-Bike Bar of Amsterdam

The Dutch love to ride bikes and drink beer, so they decided to mix them together and created the Beer-Bike Bar.

Able to accommodate between 10-19 beer lovers, the Beer-Bike Bar is powered by its clients’ pedaling. An increasingly popular party-mobile, the beer-bike is equally popular with both men and women, but it has raised some concerns because of two accidents, since it was launched, in April.

According to Ard Karsten, the manager of the Beer-Bike Bar of Amsterdam, the authorities will certainly realize that although people are allowed to drink in public aboard the beer-bike, they are only served 30 liters. Whether there are 10 or 19 people on board, there are only 30 liters of beer available. The Dutch must all be heavy drinkers, because I have some friends that can get pretty wild after 3 liters of beer. However, the man who steers the Beer-Bike Bar around the city is always sober.

via All Pics 4 U

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Trekkies Party in Vulcan, Alberta

Why journey to Vulcan in a spaceship when you can just drive there?

The Canadian town of Vulcan, Alberta has become a true pilgrimage site for Star-Trek fans because of its coincidental link to the sci-fi series. Vulcan received its name in 1915, from a surveyor of the Canadian Pacific Railway who named it after the Roman God of Fire. It has no connection to Mister Spock’s home planet, but do trekkies care?

Of course not, anything that relates to the Star-Trek universe, accidentally or not, is worth a visit. So the people of Vulcan decided to capitalize on this great tourism opportunity and built a 5-ton replica of the USS Enterprise. And it paid out. This year trekkies gathered in Vulcan, Alberta for a celebration called Spock Days.

Photos show Klingons, Romulans, Tholians, Vulcans and even good old Captain Kirk had a great time in Vulcan this year.

via Telegraph.co.uk

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Harbin Snow Sculpture Festival

I have to be honest and start by saying I’m a huge fan of winter and all that it implies, snow, ice, cold weather, the whole enchilada, so I guess I was a little subjective in picking this piece over others. But even you sun worshipers have to admit that these snow sculptures, especially the castles are simply amazing.

These were all sculpted in blocks of snow and ice, during the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, in China by the most talented sculptures in the world. The festival dates back to 1963 and is one of the four largest ice and snow festivals, along with along with Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada’s Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Ski Festival.

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Blue building of Rotterdam

I guess the Dutch have a thing for colorful infrastructure, because the famous Yellow Brick Road is also found in Holland.

This blue building is set in the Delfshaven district, in Rotterdam and it used to be one of the towns least interesting buildings and one of the most unnoticed by the public. The administration asked an artistic firm to freshen the place up, or it would be demolished. They chose to paint the place blue and the deal with the neighborhood is that it will stay this way until the community comes up with a new plan for the area.

Funniest thing is the blue building has become the most photographed building in Rotterdam. That’s how important 2 layers of paint can be.

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Paradise is moving to Dubai

If you haven’t started saving up for a house on the Palm Paradise of Dubai, you’d better start soon the construction will be done soon. Progress is significant according to these pics, with several houses actually finished and ready to welcome their owners. Just imagine walking out of one of those beauties and plunging into the clear blue waters…must be heaven on Earth!

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