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Can We Stop for a Snack Now? Melbourne Offers “Remote Control Tourists”

Google Maps gives travelers a birds-eye or street view of a location—but now, one tourist board Down Under is offering a live, hipster's-eye view of its city, as a way to entice travelers to plan a trip.

Tourism Victoria last month launched a “go before you go” promotion as part of its Play Melbourne campaign, inviting Facebook or Twitter users to virtually explore the city using “remote control tourists.” You could tell these virtual travelers where to go and what to do around the city, whether that's trying on a sweater in a boutique or checking out a live band.

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At Least It’s Not SpongeBob: Buddhist Fresco Restored in Cartoon-ish Style

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It’s sad when an ancient painting or fresco becomes almost unrecognizable due to vandalism or just time. But it may be even worse when it gets fixed so badly that it goes from “ruins” to “ruined.”

That seems to be the case with a nearly 300-year-old Buddhist fresco hanging in a temple in Chaoyang, in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning. The original paintings had been crumbling for years, and a recent “refurbishment” gave them a serious face lift, according to this article in the Daily Telegraph.

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Salem Witches Curse Shutdown

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While international tourists are shaking their collective fists at the closed gates of National Parks, another faction within the travel industry is grappling with the ugly effects of the government shutdown: witches, warlocks and their looky-loo friends in Salem, Mass.

After all, October is usually an extra-magical time of year for the hometown of the infamous 1692 witch trials. The month-long “Haunted Happenings,” which includes a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, conjures up about $30 million in revenue for the town, according to a recent AP article.

But here's the fly, or frog, in the ointment: Salem’s visitors center—the nerve center for the event—is run by the currently defunct National Park Service.

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Release the Kraken? Ginormous Squid Washes Up on Spanish Beach

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They are the stuff of Norse and Greek legends, but now Spain has its own claim on the mythology of sea monsters.

Last week, a giant squid washed up on La Arena beach in Cantabria, according to a report on the web site LiveScience. How giant, you ask? Try 30-feet-long giant.

Beachcombers were perhaps too taken aback to start making “Release the Kraken!” jokes right off the bat. Weighing in at about 400 pounds, the (expired) critter appears to be a specimen of Architeuthis dux, considered to be the largest invertebrate on Earth.  These squid also have the biggest eyes—sometimes as large as a human head. (Try not to think about that next time you wade into the ocean.)

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Not Just for St. Pauli Girls Anymore: Dirndls All the Rage at Oktoberfests

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If you’re going to an Oktoberfest this year, you might suddenly think the place is overrun with waitresses—those women wearing traditional dirndl outfits with a corset top, apron and peasant skirt. But this year, according to a recent report from Reuters, it’s the female customers who are donning the fashion, embracing that when-in-Bavaria spirit in increasing numbers.

The fashion trend is spreading outside the beer gardens, too. Flight attendants on some Lufthansa flights in recent weeks have been wearing dirndls, in honor of Oktoberfest season, and as perhaps the ultimate stamp of approval, Pippa Middleton was spotted wearing her own dirndl at a recent festival in Austria.

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JFK Anniversary: Welcome to ConspiracyCon?

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Will “The 50th”—as organizers call Dallas’ upcoming observance of the JFK assassination, 50 years ago this November—be a somber remembrance of a dark day in American history, or another chapter in the city’s long wrestling match with conspiracy theorists?

On paper, the scheduled ceremony has plenty of dignity: according to recent reports, the Dallas Symphony will perform on the morning of the 22nd at Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot, followed by readings from the president’s speeches (by Presidential biographer David McCullough), a military flyover and a performance by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Glee Club. Area museums, such as the Sixth Floor Museum (in Dealey Plaza) and the Dallas Museum of Art, will be doing thoughtful exhibits.

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Kung Fu Coasters? Jackie Chan to Open Theme Park

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China may already have an Angry Birds amusement park, but the nation is about to seriously up its theme park street cred.

According to a recent Guardian article, action film star Jackie Chan has announced that he will open his own theme park in Beijing, to be called JC World.

No doubt, we love the idea of rides inspired by Chan’s action films—who wouldn’t want to go on a rollercoaster called Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow? How about an It’s-a-Small-World-style dark ride called The Forbidden Kingdom, followed by turkey legs and adult beverages at the Drunken Master concession area?

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Joint Venture: Jamaican Farms Entice Visitors with Special “Ganja Tours"

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Wine lovers have Napa Valley. Beer snobs have Oregon. And now, potheads may have their own vacation paradise: wandering the lush grounds that perhaps inspired Bob Marley to sing, “let’s get together and feel alright.”

According to a new AP report, tour operators in Jamaica are increasingly taking visitors to see the marijuana farms that produce the local “ganja”—such as spots near Nine Mile, Marley’s hometown, and outside Negril.

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Bollywood Backlash: Air India’s TV Screen Calls Passenger an Idiot

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You might not be fazed anymore by grouchy airline workers, or a surly passenger in the seat next to you. But when your in-flight system starts giving you attitude, that’s a whole new level of insult.

According to an article in the Times of India, Air India is investigating an incident on a flight from London to Mumbai in which a passenger was having some difficulties getting a movie started at her seat. According to her side of the story, she finally received a rather brazen error message: "This selection is not currently available. Please try again later," and, below that, "Lie low...Sit down you idiot!"

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Before De-Planing, Check For Your Phone, Passport and Falcon

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In the rush and jumble of getting off a plane that’s just landed, it’s not surprising if you absentmindedly leave your magazine tucked in the seat pouch, or neglect to notice that your favorite pen has dropped and rolled into another row.

But in a recent survey of 700 international flight crew members, travel search site Skyscanner discovered that travelers regularly leave behind a colorful, if not bizarre, array of items in their pursuit of prompt de-planing.

Some sundry items, one might assume, just fell out of a bag as folks took luggage out of the overhead bins—like an unpartnered shoe, an article of underwear or, well, handcuffs. But how exactly does one forget to grab one’s double bass, wedding gown, bag of diamonds—or a falcon?

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