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Chernobyl Opens to Tourists

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Was your New Year's resolution to live more dangerously? Book a flight to the Ukraine. Nearly 25 years after Chernobyl's Reactor No. 4 exploded, wreaking nuclear devastation upon the surrounding area, the Ukrainian government is allowing tourists to enter the exclusion zone set up after the accident on official tours starting this year.

Though it was previously possible to tour the disaster zone through private tour companies, 2011 brings the first official and legal tours authorized by the Ukrainian government.

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Cardboard Czech Cops Cause Crashes

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Those nutty Czechs are at it again. First it was the Velvet Revolution in the 80s. Then it was Prague as hipster-expat HQ in the 90s. And now it's cardboard cops in miniskirts.

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UNESCO's Dubious Intangible Culture Awards

It's even better than reading The Onion. The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has just released its latest list of cultural practices worth preserving. While some of them are obvious choices (French gastronomy, flamenco), others are certain to leave you baffled—and perhaps even asking, "Do we really want to preserve some of these things?!" Once you read the list, you'll be left wondering why they forgot to add goldfish swallowing, 1K charity walks, and the Macarena.

Here are some doozies from the 2010 list, along with our 10-point Intangible Rating Scale (IRS) score and commentary:

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Sleepbox: Is This the Future of Airport Napping?

After seeing a post we recently published on a ridiculously tiny airplane seat design, one of our Twitter followers pointed out a different scaled down design, this one for the weary traveler: the Sleepbox.

Designed by Arch Group, a Russian architect firm, the Sleepbox takes the Japanese capsule hotel concept—which, quite frankly, gives me claustrophobic panic attacks just thinking about—mixes in some serious Fifth Element–reminiscent design, and gives you a (tiny) space that could actually be tolerable (and affordable) in a pinch, though definitely for short stays only.

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Snazzy Napper: The World's Silliest Travel Product

Honestly, when you check out this video you will think it is a fake commercial from Saturday Night Live circa 1983. But no, the Snazzy Napper is a real product, an odd cross between a Snuggie and a burkha—and the video is so hilariously bad that it is going viral.

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Dams, Dinosaurs & Deco: Scouting NYC Goes West

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In Flann O’Brien’s novel, At-Swim-Two-Birds, the protagonist takes a ‘vacation’ by propping a series of postcards around the wainscoting of his room and spending hours focusing on them, one at a time, while drinking to excess. When he gets out of bed at the end of the week, he feels like he’s gotten away.

While I’d never recommend such a voyage, here’s one way of getting away without leaving town. The man behind a great NYC blog, Scouting NY, is currently on a cross-country roadtrip, and his posts from the road may help you escape a little.

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Contest: Go Orange to Go to Amsterdam

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Lately, everyone seems to have World Cup fever. You can hardly walk by a bar without seeing a WC happy hour promo or browse the Web without coming across at least one headline. And now, with the finals upon us, that fever has spread to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, and rightfully so: the Dutch National Team—nicknamed Oranje (orange)—are celebrating their third ever placement in the World Cup finals. (They'll be playing against Spain on Sunday.)

So what better way to celebrate this feat than by starting a contest? The tourism board is offering two round-trip tickets to Amsterdam from any international airport in the world to one grand prize winner. What do you have to do? Show your love for Oranje...by getting decked out in orange—the country's historic, national color!

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Wild NYC: Tree Climbing

The rules of the New York Botanical Garden are very clear: Stay on paths. Deposit trash in designated receptacles. Do not climb trees. That last one makes me smile, because just recently, if you were walking through there at the right time, you would have found me 50 feet off the ground in the branches of one of their leafiest sweetgum trees.

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VIDEO: Travel Has Never Been This Bad

A few weeks ago, we told you about a new book put out by the creator of the Titanic Awards, which celebrates Travel's most dubious achievements. This week comes a video. Click play for the worst baggage handlers, roughest cruise, most insane intersection, and seriously questionable tourist attraction. You may just want to stay home!

God of Death Arrives at Denver Airport

Remember that Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck ‘90s film Armageddon?  About heroic and crusty oil rig workers charged with blowing up an asteroid before it crashed to earth?  Cruelly, it was shown on a particularly turbulent flight I took across the Atlantic.  As my stomach lurched with every sudden drop in altitude and I watched actors struggle to land on a Texas-sized asteroid hurtling through space, I wondered just who had thought that film was a good fit with air travel.

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Such thoughts occurred again today as I read that the Denver Airport (DIA) has erected a 26-foot statue of Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death and the afterlife, outside the terminal.  The sculpture was erected last Wednesday to promote an exhibit on Egypt’s King Tut, Tutankhamun: The Golden King & the Great Pharaohs, which opens June 29 at the Denver Art Museum.

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