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Hoping for a Miracle, Miami Resort Guest Seeks Lost Ring

brittania_ringjpeg

On a calm beach, a big wave can knock you off your feet—and even act as a thief, as one resort guest recently learned.

Brittania Fisher and her husband were vacationing earlier this month at Miami’s Turnberry Isle Miami, and on their last day there, Brittania was wading in shallow water and picking up shells on the private beach. Suddenly, a big wave surprised her, and knocked her over. "I clenched my left hand because the water was cold, and I knew it would make my fingers shrink," the Dallas native told us. "But my rings were already gone."

She immediately enlisted other people on the beach to help her look, and hotel staffers are still looking—but so far, with no results.

Turnberry's staffers, it should be noted, have recovered lost rings in the past. In 2002, Heather Mills, former wife of Paul McCartney, "lost" one hers when she was staying with the music legend at the resort. "Apparently they had a big row in our Grand Presidential Suite, and in their fight she threw her engagement ring off the balcony," Rachel Pinzur, the resort's public relations director, told NBC Miami. A determined hotel employee found it in the bushes with the help of a flashlight.

The shoreline may pose greater challenges, but Fisher says that she is hopeful that her two rings—both platinum, and soldered together—are heavy enough to have sunk into the sand, rather than be sucked out to sea. (See picture: above.) She recently posted on the resort's Facebook page asking guests to keep looking, and is offering a $2,000 reward for their return.

“There's a dollar amount on the rings, of course, but I can't replace them," Fisher told us. “The engagement ring was what my husband had when he got down on one knee, and he slipped the band on my hand on our wedding day. They're priceless." She's willing to be patient, too. "You always hear stories about people being reunited with items after a long time, so I'll believe in miracles."

Does Feeding Stingrays Lead to Unwanted Pregnancy?

stingray

To some travelers, feeding stingrays in their native habitat may seem like a way fun to share some inter-species goodwill, but it turns out that it can leave the wildlife feeling a little off-kilter, to say the least.

According to recent announcement, a study by the Guy Harvey Research Institute, at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, looked at how regular human interaction is affecting the marine wildlife at Stingray City in the Cayman Islands, where travelers can pet, feed and swim with the big fish. Researchers found some distinct changes in the stingrays' behavior. For instance, the fish shifted from foraging for food at night to doing so only during the day—perhaps when human visitors might be handing out snacks—and then sleeping at night.

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Welsh Tourist Fired After Saving Kids from Shark

Nothing helps shake off the stress of work like a beach vacation far from home. But as one Welshman learned, there may be a fine line between easing stress and whooping it up—at least in the eyes of his bosses back at home. Paul Marshallsea was taking stress-related sick leave from his job at a charity in Wales, and was using part of that time to visit Australia's Sunshine Coast. On the beach one day, the 62-year-old spotted a shark in shallow waters near a group of kids. "It could have been very nasty," he told the BBC.  "My instincts took over and I just grabbed the shark by the tail."

And then some: Marshallsea wrestled the shark into deeper waters, all of which happened to get caught on film and broadcast on Australia's Channel 9, where he was declared a hero. (Watch the video above.)

For starters, we feel for anyone who takes a vacation expressly to unwind, and ends up tangling with a shark. But Marshallsea's good deed did no go unpunished: Back in Wales, his employers happened to see the clip and fired him. "If I hadn't gone in to save the kids on that beach that day, I would still have a job," he told WalesOnline. "You think being … a children's charity, they would have tapped me on the back."

What do you think? Is it out of bounds to take a vacation while on stress-related sick leave?

World's Tiniest City Park Dodges Decimation

Mill's Ends Park

When you're the smallest city park in the world, it doesn’t take much to suffer an epic natural disaster—perhaps a skateboarder who veers wildly off track, or a even a German Shepherd who couldn't make it to the next hydrant.

But Portland, Oregon’s Mill’s Ends Park—just two feet across in diameter—seems to have endured some sort of foul play: Oregon Public Broadcasting recently reported that the sole tree of the petite park, on a median on Naito Parkway, had been removed. "Someone yanked it out," said Mark Ross, of Portland’s Department of Parks and Recreation, to OPB.

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Tourists Flock to Florida "Chicken Church"

chicken church

Supposedly spiritual images found in a mundane places—the face of the Virgin Mary in a pancake or in the salt runoff below Chicago's Kennedy Expressway—make for great "news of the weird" fodder and, eventually, curious tourists.

But a church in Tampa Bay, Florida, is having the opposite problem: People are suddenly seeing a mundane apparition in a spiritual place. After a photo of the Church of the Sea recently went viral, people have started referring to the Madeira Beach chapel as the Chicken Church, thanks to the steeple's seemingly bird-like face. Built in 1944, the cross that tops the church lights up at night, acting as a lighthouse of sorts for local fisherman needing a guide back to shore. Church officials told reporters the church was never meant to remind people of a chicken.

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When Life Imitates Soap Opera Plots: Do You Know This Amnesiac Tourist?

lost tourist

He's reportedly been in Austria since the beginning of the year, but a middle-aged tourist has no memory of who he is, or where he belongs. At least, that's what Austrian police have disclosed to the local newspaper, in hopes that someone will recognize this bereft traveler. Or—if this were a soap opera or decent date-night movie—perhaps someone could fall in love with the poor guy and take him back to their hometown where wacky antics could ensue.

Indeed, for anyone who thought amnesia was just a convenient plot device, it seems to be truly perplexing the authorities who are holding a traveler in Austria. According to police, the man was wearing hiking gear when he got off the train on November 19 in the German town of Lindau, on Lake Constance; after visiting the tourist office (a great resource, whether you have amnesia or not) and walked over the border to nearby Bregenz. A police spokesperson say that they have nearly adozen leads, but so far can only assume that the man is German (thanks his "High German" accent). "He has good days and bad days," the police spokesman told a reporter.

We wish the traveler a speedy recovery—and also hope that a Meg Ryan comeback film would emerge from all this.

Photo by iStockphoto

Baby, Please Don’t Go: Man Calls in Fake Bomb Threat to Ground Girlfriend’s Plane

airplane

Admit it, if this were part of a movie, it might be kinda awesome: Lovers have a fight just as the girl is about to leave town, perhaps for good. The guy must stop her from leaving—he sprints through the airport, of course—and then tries one last desperate move: Calling in a bomb threat so that her plane has to be evacuated. Girl de-planes, boyfriend apologizes. "You’re crazy!" she tells him. "Crazy about you," he replies. They kiss, music swells, credits roll.

We cannot vouch for any reconciliation, but a 31-year-old Chinese man reportedly did indeed call in a fake bomb threat to his girlfriend's flight to Shenzhen, because they had had an argument before she left. Her plane had actually already gotten some distance from Hefei Luogang International Airport and had to make an emergency landing at Nanchang Changbei. We're guessing that ruined their cinematic reunion. Perhaps even more disturbing, though, is that China has apparently endured a number of fake bomb threats lately: two within one week during fall 2012, and one last spring involving an 18-year-old man imitating the rules of a game; in fall 2011, a 28-year-old woman apparently even called one in on her own China United Airlines flight, to "make her husband worry."

If this trend continues, nervous fliers everywhere will have their own reasons to worry.

Photo by iStockphoto

Coming Soon to Guam: Dead Mice From the Sky

snake

There are two things that Guam is particularly famous—or infamous—for: its residents love of Spam, and the area's snakes. According to some experts, Hawaii—another Spam-lovers paradise—is just one unlucky plane ride away from becoming a den of vipers, too.

Both canned processed meats and snakes arrived in Guam right after World War II, courtesy of the armed forces (the Spam as non-perishable meals; the snakes as stowaways on ships). Since then, Guam’s now-thriving brown tree snake population has been responsible for decimating the local bird population, gnawing on power lines, biting lots of folks, and generally giving Guam a bad name.

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A True Destination Wedding: Getting Married at the Frankfurt Airport

destination weddding

Now arriving in Terminal 1: The bride.

The destination wedding—having your family and friends trek to an island or foreign country for your nuptials—has become a staple of the wedding industry. But for the bride- and groom-to-be that can't commit to just one destination, Frankfurt has a new suggestion: Throw the party at the airport.

As part of its "Great to Have You Here!" campaign, Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) is now inviting travelers to get married in the terminal, as a convenient springboard for honeymoons. Indeed, it may be a nice lure for wedding guests, too. Your friends and family can fly into FRA just long enough to toast the happy couple, do the chicken dance and then catch a connecting flight to Prague.

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Tourists Are Flocking to North Korea… According to North Korea

North Korea

In case you thought firing off a nuclear test might be bad for a nation’s global reputation, North Korea has some exciting news: according to its Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), foreign tourists are flocking to the communist state

Sure, officials don’t provide any actual numbers, only saying that the visits have grown since 2000, and markedly so since 2009, with the biggest spike coming from European visitors. Tourists are dazzled, the news agency claims, by the range of “shining, socialist accomplishments” credited to the ruling Kim family.

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