Monday, November 24, 2014

Annoyed With Someone? - Alnwick Poison Garden


Maybe your boss is a real jerk. Or maybe you're going through a not-so-amicable divorce. Incidentally, there exists in Alnwick, England, a public botanical garden that features an exhibit of more than a hundred species of lovingly cultivated and displayed poisonous plants. To appease my legal team, I must state, unequivocally, that poisonous plants are not the answer to your problems ... even though they're fairly easy to obtain and largely undetectable in the system once ingested. But again, NOT THE ANSWER. Let's move on.

So this poison garden is the real deal. All the plants within it have the ability to harm, with the worst offenders being actual killers. The gardeners who work here wear gloves, and visitors are only allowed in as part of a tour group. Otherwise the gates to the garden are kept locked. Because some of you look like you can't be trusted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seeing Pink - Lake Hillier

You know that fantasy that everyone has about diving into a pool of strawberry milk and just swimming and sipping, swimming and sipping ... no? Just me? OK, well lucky for me, there exists a lake on Middle Island, Western Australia, that resembles a pool of strawberry milk. Except that it's not strawberry milk at all, it's a body of super-pink salt water that probably wouldn't be very smart to drink (emphasis on "probably"). No one really knows why the lake is this color, but scientists think that it's the work of microalgae that live within the lake's salt crusts. MICROALGAE. Just when you thought algae couldn't get cuter.

Whatever the case, visitors aren't allowed to swim or boat in Lake Hillier. Which is probably a good thing, because otherwise I'd be forced to get over my intense fear of dingoes and book a trip to Oz immediately.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Tree House of One's Own - Hotell Hackspett

Last time I stayed at a hotel, I thought to myself, "Why is this hotel situated on a street and not in a tree?" OK, I didn't, but after seeing pictures of Hotell Hackspett in Västerås, Sweden, I did. Because what's not to love about a tree house hotel perched 40 feet off the ground? You come and go using harnesses, the view can't be beat, and you're completely safe if the zombie apocalypse occurs while you're on vacation. Time to book a ticket to Sweden, amirite?

Just don't expect an in-room Jacuzzi, or even running water. You get bottled water, a bed, a hot plate, a fridge, a dry toilet ... and a TREE HOUSE. If you're anything like me, a girl from Queens who grew up with a love of tree houses but a tragic dearth of trees, you'll agree that this hotel is a dream come true.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Turning the Tables on Dinnertime - Kinderkookkafé

I've often heard that restaurants are the most difficult businesses to run. Well, if this is true, why, may I ask, is there a restaurant in Amsterdam that's completely staffed by CHILDREN? At Kinderkookkafé, kids ages five to twelve make the food, serve it, clean up, and bring you the check. It is literally child's play, and guess what? It's a huge success, to the point where you typically need a reservation to get a table.

Before you call child services, don't worry, the restaurant is also a legitimate daycare. There are a couple of grownups on the scene, helping the kids read recipes and making sure no boogers make it into your soup. Parents are typically the ones dining at Kinderkookkafé, but completely unrelated patrons are welcome as well. I know what you food snobs are thinking. Is there a decent grape juice list? You'll have to dine in to find out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Most Romantic Place on Earth is in ... the Ukraine - Tunnel of Love

Photo by Oleg Gordienko

Last Valentine's Day, did you get your significant other a dozen roses and declare yourself the greatest soul mate in the world? Prepare to be shamed. Because what you COULD have done to more adequately express your love was fly your significant other to Klevan in the Ukraine to take a stroll through the city's Tunnel of Love. The gorgeousness of the naturally occurring setting speaks for itself.

Well, don't actually fly there around Valentine's Day, because the Tunnel of Love is just a bunch of sticks at that time of year. But do go in the spring, when the leaves are blooming and the air is all full of possibilities ... and maybe some radioactive fallout? (Chernobyl is nearby.) Just be careful to avoid the train, which barrels through the tunnel three times a day. I have it on good authority that getting mowed down by a locomotive is considered not very romantic.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bigger Is Better - Monster Truck Bus Tour at Showcase of Citrus

At Showcase of Citrus in Clermont, Florida, you can pick oranges off trees, buy farm-fresh produce ... and take a ride in a monster truck bus. That's right, it's part monster truck, part bus, and it's billed as the world's largest 4x4. I've never been prouder to be an American.

The one-hour ecotour begins with a climb up a very long stepladder to board the truck-bus. What takes place next is no monster rally, but it's still pretty fun. You drive through ponds, hurl oranges at cows to eat, maybe even take a turn at the wheel. The tour ends in the farm's parking lot, but unfortunately does not include the experience of rolling over a row of parked cars. Seems a little anticlimactic to me. Maybe I'll put in a suggestion on Yelp.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Health Code, Shmealth Code - Japanese Cat Cafés

If you're the sort who likes a sprinkling of cat hair in your morning coffee (and, c'mon, who isn't), then the cat cafés of Tokyo may be your cup of tea. Cats literally roam these coffee shops, twining through the legs of customers, peering aggressively at their shoelaces, and generally being their intensely-cute selves. Patrons pay a cover fee to sip a hot beverage of choice while they play with the resident kitties.

There are many such cafés all over Tokyo, ranging from straightforward Starbucks types to more whimsically themed places such as Temari no Ouchi. The first cat café actually appeared in Taiwan, but has since been enthusiastically embraced by the Japanese - AND, in answer to my fervent prayers, cat cafés are scheduled to open all across the United States this year. Health codes were a pesky hindrance that delayed their existence in this country until now. So cat lovers of the U.S., rejoice. Or, if the idea of sharing your morning cuppa with a herd of cats creeps you out, then maybe this blog isn't really for you. Get outta here ... scat! Scram!

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