Offbeat + Strange
Many old cruiseliners may end up stripped for parts, but the Duke of Lancaster is proof that one man's scrap can become another's sprawling, blank canvas.
According to a CNN report by Sheena McKenzie, a graffiti collective recently cut a deal with the owners of an abandoned ship beached on Wales’ Dee Estuary, and invited artists from around Europe to start spray painting the vessel, while also pondering the theme of corruption. Some highlights: Three suit-and-tie-clad monkeys sitting on bags of money, some cartoonish pirates and a demon riding a uniformed pig.
How cute, you might say, when you spot a monkey ambling along the beach in Thailand. (“Wait, where'd my lunch go?”) But lately the primates have become a little too aggressive, so authorities have posted new signs on beaches in the country's Krabi province (which includes Long Beach, Phi Phi Island and the aptly named Monkey Bay) that read "Beware of the Monkey" in both Thai and English. According to a report from the Bangkok Post, roughly 600 beachgoers have been treated at one local hospital in the past year for monkey bites. The furry beachgoers have gotten so used to edible hand-outs from their human enablers that they can turn ugly when spurned. A whopping 75 percent of the victims are foreigners.
The need for monkey caution, however, is not limited to Thailand. The monkeys at India’s Amanbaugh Resort in Rajasthan have gotten so close to the guests, the hotel employs staffers to chase the critters away from guestroom patios where the hotel sets out complimentary cookies. In London, monkeys at the London Zoo have been known to pluck sunglasses right off visitors' heads. And in St. Kitts, the little rascals have been caught on video making off with tourists' cocktails. A more powerful deterrent, in the latter case, may be that monkeys can suffer from hangovers just like humans do.
Photo by David Kukin
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.
My three-year-old architect uses Legos to build "crazy towers," so I'm used to them reaching three-, four-, even five-feet in height. But now Legoland has built a true to scale version in Carlsbad, Calfornia that functions as an actual hotel. It opens April 15, and it might be incredibly cool—or incredibly weird.
The LEGOLAND Hotel has a dragon-guarded entrance; pirate-themed rooms with Lego skeletons and swords on the walls; several interactive play areas; and for parents, a somewhat Lego-free Skyline Bar.
My kids would love it. Me? I’m not so sure.
Clara Sedlak is a mom of two and a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California Resort
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.
Hotel designs are constantly shifting, so why not think a few millennia ahead? Paris’s Hotel O, designed by Ito Morabito, recently debuted as a colorful, futuristic boutique property near Place des Victoires.
While the 29 compact guestrooms feel like a space cabin, the loud blue, violet, and Kelly green accents make it feel as if you’ve already landed on another planet. In larger rooms, beds recede into walls to maximize small quarters. Dark, pressed wood acts as a unifying element across the bold color scheme. Quirky details extend to the bar with honeycomb-motif shelves, giving Hotel O’s imbibing guests something to talk about. Doubles from $329.
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Studio Ora-ito
Where should a traveler completely obsessed with cats go for a feline-themed getaway? (Asking for a friend, of course.) Check out T+L's latest must-click article, Craziest Places for Cat Lovers and find out.
Marvel at the descendants of Ernest Hemingway's six-toed cats in Key West, Florida. See a thousand-year-old mummified cat at the Kuchuing Cat Museum in Malaysia. Enjoy the rides at the Hello Kitty Theme Park in Tokyo. All of that and more, in the only cat-related slideshow ever on the internet*.
*Update: Apparently there are one or two other cat-related slideshows on the internet. But do they include a houseboat for cats in Amsterdam?
Photo by Lyndsey Matthews
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.
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
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