Tourism is a great source of income for every developed country. While we know all about the many tourist traps that ended up being built, most people haven’t heard of these crazy proposals.
10Michael Jackson’s Laser Robot
In the mid-2000s, Michael Jackson was planning on a huge comeback by securing a residency in Las Vegas. Jackson and his crew developed a variety of ideas for arenas, costumes, and shows but needed a huge advertising statement. Many ideas hit the drawing board before Jackson settled on his favorite: a 15-meter (50 ft) walking robot that would circle Las Vegas shooting laser beams.
Robot Michael Jackson was going to be fully mobile. It would stalk the desert around Las Vegas, focusing on being under the flight paths for airlines flying into McCarran Airport. (Nobody knows for sure if the robot would just walk or do Michael Jackson’s trademark moonwalk.) To complete the idea, robo-Jackson was going to have laser beams shooting from its eyes that could be seen from all parts of Las Vegas. It is unknown whether those would have been just laser lights or real, damaging laser beams. Unfortunately for Jackson, it was impossible to get any of the real estate moguls to invest in the design (possibly as a result of Jackson’s sex scandals), and the team had to drop their idea.
Instead of the giant robot, Jackson’s team decided on a “scaled down” plan to make a Michael Jackson–themed hotel and casino. They also refused to give up their dreams of robotic entertainment and planned to have Jackson’s shows involve a “giant audience-interactive video game with human cyborgs.”
All of these ideas never took off. Jackson did not have enough money and eventually decided against a Las Vegas residency. The city was spared from being stalked by a giant, laser-shooting Michael Jackson robot.
9Miami’s Artificial Sun
Miami is well known as a popular tourist area due to its perpetually warm weather and wonderful beaches. A pair of Swedish architects hope to capitalize on the sun-drenched city by erecting exactly what Miami needs: another Sun. Creatively named “Miami Sun,” the building is intended to be a 150-meter-tall (500 ft) half-orb with a hotel and casino. The exterior of the building is designed with screens that allow it to replicate the most vibrant sunsets during the day and to look like the Moon during the night.
If the architects get their way, Miami residents can look forward to a huge, otherworldly Sun-Moon combo right on the bay. As terrifying as that might sound, the Swedish architects have some practical reasoning behind their idea. The Miami Sun will be big enough to block out the real Sun during key summer months for people right near it. By doing this, tourists can have the joy of experiencing a sunny day without risking damage from dangerous UV rays. Fortunately for Miami residents, the city is extremely skeptical about the design, and it does not look like Miami will be building the artificial Sun anytime soon.
8Life-Size USS Enterprise
In 1992, the mayor of Las Vegas announced a project to redevelop downtown Vegas to pull some tourist money away from the big casinos on the strip. Countless project proposals were submitted, but the most interesting of all was the plan by the Goddard Group to build a life-size replica of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek.
The plan was an enormous undertaking. The Goddard Group proposed to build the Enterprise exactly to scale, making it a 300-meter-long (1,000 ft), 70-meter-tall (230 ft) attraction. Fittingly, the attraction would need new engineering techniques to keep the pylon and saucer held up without any external support. Instead of fitting the Enterprise with a hotel and casino as is standard for Vegas development projects, the ship was mainly geared toward shows, restaurants, rides, and other fan attractions.
Unfortunately, Paramount did not give the go-ahead for the licensing. Stanley Jaffe, CEO of Paramount, thought that the project would flop. Jaffe told the Goddard Group: “In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it’s a flop—we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away. The next movie comes out and everyone forgets. But this—this is different. If this doesn’t work—if this is not a success—it’s there, forever . . . ”
Without the support of Paramount, the project stopped, and Las Vegas decided to go ahead with the Fremont Street Experience light show instead. Although a full-size Enterprise never came to fruition, the Goddard Group later built Star Trek: The Experience in the Las Vegas Hilton. This gave Star Trek fans the attraction they had waited for, until the Hilton tore it down in 2008.
7Valravn Roller Coaster
Unlike the other entries on this list, the Valravn roller coaster is one that you may actually be able to experience in your lifetime. It is currently under construction at Cedar Point in Ohio. When completed, the Valravn will break 10 world records, including one for the biggest dive roller coaster. Other roller coasters may have drops that seem vertical, but a dive roller coaster puts the riders through a long, 90-degree vertical drop. When the drop occurs, the riders are in complete free fall; the only thing keeping them in their seats are the restraints.
The Valravn has a 68-meter (223 ft) drop, ensuring that the riders get a few terrifying seconds where they are just falling. Because the drop is so long, the Valravn will also break the record for the fastest dive roller coaster at an insane 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph). Utilizing that fast speed and energy, the Valravn will put the riders through three inversions throughout the ride, once again breaking a world record while doing so. It is slated for completion in spring 2016, so brave riders can get ready to experience the feeling of complete free fall.
6Aeroscraft Flying Hotel
Large airships lost favor with the public after the Hindenburg explosion and due to the slow speed of airships. Since passengers wanted to get where they were going quickly, the idea of flying on a slow airship was uninviting, especially in the era of fast jet airliners. In recent years, many investors and designers have proposed bringing back the airship, but the most spectacular of them all is Igor Pasternak, who wants to build huge flying hotels that lumber across the world.
Named Aeroscraft, these airships will be the largest in the world at nearly 200 meters (650 ft) long and 50 meters (160 ft) tall. Aeroscraft will travel at a slow speed of 280 kilometers per hour (175 mph), which will allow it to cross the United States in 18 hours. That might seem like a long time, but riding in an Aeroscraft is not about the arrival at the destination but the experience of getting there. Aeroscraft will carry 250 passengers in utmost style. Interior amenities will include full staterooms, bars, lounges, casinos, conference rooms, and anything else a person may need on their flight. For transatlantic flights, Aeroscraft will basically be a flying hotel.
This may seem far-fetched, but Pasternak has already begun development on the project. Various investors have given him money, including the United States Department of Defense. Not only will Pasternak’s airships be good for passenger travel, they also have uses for freight lifting and defense. A half-scale airship called Dragon Dream took to the air in 2013, making the flying hotel seem like a future inevitability.
Currently, DisneySea is the name of an aquatic theme park in Japan, but most people do not know that it’s based on an insane and complicated Disney park planned for California. Plans started in the late 1980s, when Disney began buying up real estate in Long Beach with plans to make Port Disney, a huge resort area on the California coast.
As Disney was buying land, it also made two other purchases, the RMS Queen Mary and the “Spruce Goose” airplane, which were key parts of the Port Disney plans. Disney planned to convert the Queen Mary into one of Port Disney’s five hotels. Plans for the port also included a huge marina that would serve as home for Disney cruise ships. The centerpiece of this oceanic property was a new Disney theme park, DisneySea.
The theme park would have been a huge architectural undertaking. Initial plans show that it had five huge domes, each one focusing on a different part of marine life and offering different attractions. Among these attractions were huge aquariums, natural history museums, a few rides, and—most surprisingly—an attraction where guests sat in steel cages in shark tanks so they could experience swimming with the sharks. DisneySea would also offer research opportunities to biologists studying marine life.
Even though the plans seemed impressive, residents of Long Beach opposed the project, and costs skyrocketed, becoming too high even for Disney. Instead of opening Port Disney, the company decided to develop the much more conventional California Adventure park next to Disneyland. Years later, architects used the DisneySea plans for a Tokyo theme park, which gave tourists a glimpse of what could have been.
4ACME United Nations Memorial Space
UN memorials are not usually big tourist attractions, but the United Nations Memorial Space in Chungju, South Korea will attract tourists from around the world. Chungju is the birthplace of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The Memorial Space will be the focal point of a large UN Peace Park. The ACME proposal did not win the design competition, but it is certainly an interesting building.
ACME designed its building as a series of cells that resemble a honeycomb. To determine the cell arrangement, ACME used a Voronoi diagram. This is a mathematical diagram that partitions a plane based on a series of predetermined variables. By using Voronoi diagrams to decide on the design of its structure, ACME gave the Memorial Space building a fascinating and seemingly random facade quite unlike other buildings. This odd structure symbolized the UN’s unity—all countries coming together for a single purpose.
The inside of the Memorial Space building houses a 1,500-seat assembly hall, conference rooms, theaters, and exhibition areas. Due to the cellular design, each area can be easily reconfigured for different purposes without affecting the structure of the building. To top it off, ACME placed a garden area on the roof for delegates and tourists to experience fresh air. ACME architects also made the center of the building hollow to allow for natural light to illuminate the corridors. Oddly, the UN has not released the second place and winning designs. With ACME’s spectacular building taking third, the winning design is probably breathtaking.
3Russian Commercial Space Station
Space tourism is all the rage now, with companies across the world gearing up to offer tourists a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a price. Not to be outdone by American space companies, the Russians are getting into the game. Aerospace company Orbital Technologies made plans for the first ever commercial hotel space station. Designed to be serviced by Soyuz and Progress capsules, the Russian space hotel was intended to launch by 2016, but setbacks in the program have pushed the date closer to 2020.
When completed, the yet-unnamed space station will be the first hotel in space. The design is big enough to hold seven people and can host research projects, if other countries prefer to use it instead of the larger International Space Station. But the science part is secondary. Orbital Technologies is looking to rake in tourist money from wealthy vacationers. A short stay at the station will cost around $1 million.
Orbital Technologies also expects to use the space station to host media productions and large parties. The firm has attempted to gain US support by stating that ISS astronauts could use the station as a backup if they need to evacuate. Investors have put some money into the project, and Orbital Technologies is confident that it will succeed.
2The Berg: Artificial Mountain
Everybody loves mountains. They are beautiful, scenic, and provide a variety of wonderful, touristy things to do, like skiing. Unfortunately, not everybody has easy access to mountains. Most people have to travel to visit them, and many might not have the time or money to make such a trip. The city of Berlin, Germany is bereft of tall mountains. Architect Jakob Tigges wants to change that by building a huge artificial mountain in the middle of Berlin.
In 2008, Berlin demolished the historic Tempelhof airport, clearing a huge swath of land in the city. German politicians do not know what to do with the land. Into the vacuum jumped Tigges, who believed that an artificial mountain called “The Berg” could invigorate the country. Chief among his proposal was the chance to ski right in the city without taking a trip to the Alps. With beautiful slopes and alpine features, The Berg would attract tourists from around the world while being a cutting-edge architectural project.
Tigges is not clear on exactly how to construct The Berg, but he is still working on getting approval for the project. In the late 2000s, support for the project was rapidly developing, with people around the world expressing interest in The Berg. However, development has stalled, and it seems that any chance that The Berg had has now evaporated. Still, it remains on the table as an odd way to reinvigorate Berlin.
1Hilton Hotel On The Moon
In an episode of AMC’s hit series Mad Men, hotel mogul Conrad Hilton asks protagonist Don Draper to work on an ad campaign. The subject? A forthcoming Hilton hotel on the Moon. The show portrayed it as a quirk of Hilton’s character, but the Hilton Moon hotel was a real project and one of the earliest attempts at outer space tourism.
Plans for the Lunar Hilton began to really take shape in 1967 and gained the public’s interest after the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey introduced people to the idea of commercial space travel. Nobody knows if the plans were sincere or just a way to get more people interested in the Hilton company. Whatever the case, by the end of the 1960s, everybody was talking about the Lunar Hilton. The company even started to sell souvenirs and reservation cards for the eventual opening of the hotel. Designs showed a fairly conventional hotel, with the biggest selling point being the view. Nothing could compare to waking up to a view of the Earth. With the lunar landings in 1969, the Hilton project remained in the public eye.
As time went on, excitement over the project waned. Lunar Hilton dropped out of the public eye, turning into a mere curiosity of the early space program. But the Lunar Hilton rarely stays dead. Talks about the project began again in the 1990s. This time, Hilton discussed building two hotels: one in orbit around the Earth and another on the Moon. These plans are shelved for now, but when it becomes possible, Hilton will create one of the most interesting tourist traps in the solar system.
Zachery Brasier is a physics student who likes to write on the side.
10 Small Towns In The United States Known For Weird Things
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who has set your eyes on the world’s largest ball of twine, located in Kansas. Maybe you’ve even seen aliens on the highway as you’ve passed through Roswell, New Mexico, at night. Could it be that you can even brag to your friends about attending the world’s largest spinach festival in Alma, Arkansas? Or perhaps it’s always been your dream to see the world’s largest ketchup (catsup?) bottle in Illinois.
Whatever strange, silly, or (in)famous things you have seen on your travels throughout the United States, you cannot possibly see every wacky thing in every wacky town across this wacky country often simply referred to as “America.” That’s why this list of small towns famous for weird things is here for you. From the weird to the spooky, from the pointless to the dangerous, from the historic to the futuristic, this list of ten strange towns below might just make you want to go on a road trip in search of them all!
10 The Flavor Graveyard
Everybody loves ice cream, especially Ben Jerry’s ice cream. If you stop in Waterbury, Vermont, and take a tour of the Ben Jerry’s Ice Cream factory, you’re sure to get a sweet and fun experience. However, a more gruesome part of the tour leads you to a hill in the back of the factory surrounded by white picket fencing and some ghostly trees. But don’t worry, it’s just the Ben Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, where ice cream flavors go to die!
The Flavor Graveyard is there because of the company’s constant experimentation with weird and wacky ice cream flavors. However, some flavors are just too strange, which ultimately means they did not turn a profit. Every year, around ten or so flavors are eliminated due to low sales and become unfortunate inductees into the Flavor Graveyard. While the sweet cemetery makes for a serene setting for some of the oddest ice cream flavors to rest, only 34 graves have been dug so far out of the over 200 flavors that have been killed off as of this writing. If you can’t find your favorite ice cream flavor in your local supermarket, maybe it’s time to pay your respects at the Flavor Graveyard in Vermont.
9 The Lost Luggage Capital
Alabama may be famous for college football, Southern food, and Forrest Gump, but if you’ve ever wondered where unclaimed airline baggage ends up, and you happen to be in the northeastern part of the state, make a stop in Scottsboro. When an airline cannot track down the owner of a lost item or piece of luggage, it is sent to the Unclaimed Baggage Center there. At the center, you can browse through and purchase a myriad of lost luggage items.
Strange items have been found in this bizarre retirement community for suitcases. Ancient Egyptian artifacts, secret documents, and even a 5.8-carat diamond ring have been reportedly been discovered. The Unclaimed Baggage Center has even been given awards for retailer of the year.
8 Birthplace Of Captain Kirk
Riverside, a small town in Central Iowa, once had a town slogan saying “Where the best begins,” honoring its laid-back lifestyle and small-town Midwestern values. However, the town’s slogan is now “Where the trek begins,” as it is the self-described future birthplace of James T. Kirk, captain of Star Trek ‘s USS Enterprise.
While Kirk has not yet been born, the town celebrates his future birth date of March 22, 2228, with a festival called Trek Fest (formerly River Fest). Note that Kirk’s birth year was established as 2233 in the Star Trek series. The 2228 date is from a book, The Making of Star Trek, published in 1968. While no Star Trek novels, television series, or movies have made clear what Iowa town Kirk was (will be?) born in, Riverside, during the mid-1980s, said, “Why not us?” Perhaps this small town truly has gone where no small town in Iowa has gone before!
7 The Devil’s Crossroads
According to lore, when blues legend Robert Johnson was a young man, he sold his soul to the Devil himself in the small town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. As the pioneering state of American blues music, Mississippi has been the home of blues greats such as B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters, to name but a few. However, Robert Johnson was said, in exchange for playing wicked blues, to have made a wicked deal with the Devil himself at what is now known as the Crossroads, where US highways 61 and 49 converge in Clarksdale.
As a young man, Johnson wanted desperately to be a blues guitarist. “Voices” told Johnson to take a guitar to nearby Dockery Plantation at midnight and wait. He did, and a tall, dark man emerged, took Johnson’s guitar, played it, and then handed it back to Johnson. Immediately, Johnson was able to play blues guitar like no other ever had. If you desperately need to make a pact with the Devil anytime soon, perhaps a trip to the small town in Central Mississippi is what you need.
6 World’s Largest Time Capsule
In the small town of Seward, Nebraska, a man named Harold Davisson liked the year 1975 so much that he made sure to preserve everything he could in the world’s largest time capsule. Today, his time capsule, which is largely underground, is a tourist attraction for those passing through. With a pyramid built on top, the 45-ton vault holds more than 5,000 items from the 1970s!
The large vault made Davisson somewhat of a local celebrity in Seward, and his time capsule was sealed on July 4, 1975. Two years later, The Guinness Book of World Records certified that his time capsule was the largest in the world. However, Seward’s most famous resident received backlash from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, which argued that their “Crypt of Civilization,” sealed in 1940, was the world’s largest time capsule. Controversy followed, but Davisson was granted the title. His capsule is due to be opened on July 4, 2025.
5 The Last Sideshow Town
Gibsonton, Florida, with a population of around 14,000, is America’s one true “Carny Town.” During the early 20th century, when roaming carnivals traveled the land, many carnival workers, also known as carnies, took the summer holiday in the small town of Gibsonton, about 19 kilometers (12 mi) north of Tampa. Gibsonton is fabled for a large portion of its population having been former carnival workers and so-called “sideshow” human attractions. Gibsonton was known as a place for many such people to retire or spend the off season in a warm locale.
Many “carnies” called the place town Gibtown. In the past, the local police chief was a dwarf, and the fire chief was a 244-centimeter-tall (8′) carnival performer. As one can imagine, the carnie population in Gibtown was a closely connected community, and over time, the former carnival workers even developed their own secret language called (yes, you guessed it) carny. Additionally, the International Independent Showmen’s Association runs a very specific welfare system for retired and out-of-work carnies. These days, however, the number of former carnies in Gibsonton has greatly dwindled, and the town is more or less like any other.
4 On Fire for Decades
Centralia, Pennsylvania, has been on fire since the 1960s. In the early 1980s, around 1,000 people lived in this small Pennsylvanian town about 100 kilometers (60 mi) north of Harrisburg. Centralia is more of a ghost town now; by 2010, less than a dozen inhabitants called it home.
Why is Centralia on fire, you might ask? Since 1962, there has been an intense coal mine fire burning not above but below the tiny town. Toxic smoke venting from the cracked ground, sinkholes, and underground gas explosions are pretty good reasons to avoid living in Centralia at all costs. Nevertheless, a few (brave?) residents still hang on.
In 1992, the Pennsylvania government seized all properties in Centralia and condemned them. However, the handful of inhabitants in and around the town are currently allowed to stay. However, once they pass, the town of Centralia will officially be no more. In fact, some scientists believe the fire underground will go on for at least another 250 years!
3 Meet ‘The Slabs’
Residents of Slab City, California, are creatively known as “the Slabs.” This tiny town is popular for recreational vehicling in the Sonoran Desert, but, situated 240 kilometers (150 mi) northeast of San Diego, the bizarre Slab City remains a self-described city without laws. The residents, or “Slabs” as we should refer to them, share one communal shower in this dusty part of the California badlands. As many as 4,000 people may live there in the winter, when it’s cooler, but it gets quite hot in the summer.
Often occupied by hippies, the homeless, drifters, drug addicts, artists, adventurers, and local weirdos, Slab City’s residents brag about their “town” being “the last free place in America.” In this lawless land, a city with no rules, some arguments have resulted in absolute chaos, with tents and RVs set ablaze and even shoot-outs and duels.
Today, Slab City is managed by the state of California, but in the past, the site was known as Camp Dunlap, a former World War II base. But why is it called Slab City? The name comes from the large concrete slabs that remained after the Army abandoned the area. The site was returned to the state of California in 1961. The state eventually destroyed the remaining slabs.
2 The Bell Witch Cave
What makes this small town of Adams, Tennessee, so scary? Well, during the 19th century, the area was said to be haunted by a demon-like witch!
The legend goes that the Bell Witch’s original name was Kate Bates (or Batts). As rumor has it, Kate entered a poorly planned land deal with the neighboring family, whose name was the Bells. Kate promised to haunt the Bell family after learning she had been tricked. She seemed to keep her scary promise after one of the Bells’ daughters appeared to show signs of possession and strange aggression toward spirituality during the time. Some rumors hold that even former US president Andrew Jackson encountered the Bell Witch after investigating the cave that Kate’s spirit now seems to inhabit as she terrifies all who go near.
For roughly two centuries, people in the area have told of experiencing strange feelings when they go anywhere near the cave. Despite her being known locally as a not very kind spirit, a major dare is to repeat the Bell Witch’s original name in a mirror three times. No thanks!
1 A Town Under One Roof
In Whittier, Alaska, nearly the entire population of 218 people resides in a single building! This 14-story condominium was originally designed as an Army barracks during the 1950s and was made a residence in 1969, about five years after the Army moved out. The building, now known as Begich Towers, doesn’t just have people living in it but is nearly a fully functional tiny town under one roof. The building also serves as a church, the police station, a convenience store, and the post office for the town, 100 kilometers (60 mi) south of Anchorage.
In this so-called “town under one roof,” keeping secrets is much more difficult than in other small towns. However, since Whittier is situated between mountains and the sea, the town, or rather building, can mostly only be accessed by boat from long distances. Or, you can take a very long one-lane tunnel that runs one way underneath the mountains for certain portions of the day. While this setup might look strange, isolated, and perhaps even uncomfortable, Whittier’s residents seem to get along quite well and are a very close-knit community.
Top 10 Unexpected Things About Denmark
In August 2018, Trish Regan, who hosts The Intelligence Report with Trish Regan on Fox Business Network, created quite a stir when she disparaged Venezuela and Denmark in a searing commentary about socialism. In the US, a rising socialist movement, spearheaded by politicians such as Independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, points to Denmark as a potential model for the US economy. But Regan vehemently disagreed.
“There’s something rotten in Denmark,” she said.
Regan argued that the country’s taxes are too high. Worse yet, just 3 of their 98 municipalities had more than half of the residents employed in 2013. She also ranted that “nobody graduates from school” in Denmark because they’re paid to go to educational institutions. You can see her commentary here.
No matter how you feel about socialism, we can admit that we all have preconceived notions of places where we don’t live, especially when we plan to travel to those areas. Americans are now paying more attention to Denmark and what to expect there after Regan’s dismissal of socialism in Denmark on television.
We thought it might be interesting to talk about the realities of life in Denmark and not just theories of government. Here’s what I personally did not expect when I traveled to the country.
10 Bicycle Structure And Where You Can Take Your Bike
Many people understand that Danes often use bikes to get around. This heavy reliance on bicycles sparks many differences between the ways in which Americans and Danes use them.
Danish people like to ride high on their bikes, and the bicycle structure is mostly very thin. My bike back home is a thick, mint green, average-size bicycle that a person can ride leisurely and plant her butt on easily. When I tried to purchase a similar bicycle in Denmark, I was told that I was not allowed to buy it because the bike was so short that it was child-size. I was told that it would hurt my knees. The seat was 1 centimeter (0.4 in) below my hip!
Additionally, when you live in America and want to travel to a city but you live too far into the suburbs to bring your bike with you, you have to find a place to squeeze your bike and yourself on a train or bus. Or you end up just abandoning your bike at home and settling for walking.
However, the S-tog (S-train) system in Denmark has designated cars where you can bring your bike as well as spaces to park the bike for the duration of your train ride. There are marked places where you bring the bike in and out the door so that no one struggles with transporting these vehicles in different directions.
You have to pay an extra fee to bring your bike on the Metro, but there is space for your bicycle if you purchase that pass.
Finally, even in suburban or rural areas of Denmark, bike paths are carved out for cyclists to get from place to place. I’ve been told by some Danes that there are groups of people in Denmark who want to get rid of the use of cars in the country altogether.
9 Bicycling Rules And Regulations
In the US, we are theoretically supposed to use hand signals to inform pedestrians and drivers of our directions. However, Americans rarely use them. We’re also supposed to wear helmets and refrain from texting while riding. However, little more than negative verbal reactions ensue if Americans do not follow these expectations.
If someone is found texting while riding or failing to use proper hand signals in Denmark, that person can be fined 100–700 Danish kroner. Danes also ride their bikes no matter what time it is, so it is expected that you will have bike lights. If you do not, people will panic about your safety and that of others during the nighttime.
To allow for the transportation of children, there are child seats that attach to the back of a bike and bicycles that have wagons in the front. While these are also offered in America, they are used much more often in Denmark.
Many pregnant women in the US know about the surgeon general’s long-standing warning: You should not drink while you are pregnant if you do not wish to inflict birth defects on your child.
However, in Denmark, studies have found that it’s okay to drink a standard serving of alcohol per day when you are pregnant. According to social norms, not only is it okay, it is expected.
7 Child Care
If you leave your stroller with your child inside even a few yards away from you in America, it is expected that you will have a fair number of people verbally armed and ready to chastise and scorn you as a parent or caregiver.
I have been a guilty party at one point, although I did not say anything directly to the mother (which may be just as bad). However, in Denmark, it’s normal to leave your child in his stroller one grocery aisle over or at the edge of a public room.
6 Water And Energy Conservation
Whether for tax purposes or in the spirit of ecological concern, Danes can be quite conscious of the ways and amounts they use their water and energy resources. Thirty-minute showers would probably not fly. Although laundry dryers can be in households, drying racks are preferred except in a laundry emergency. It is also expected that you turn off lights when you leave a room unless you plan to return to that room very soon.
Like any city, it is hard for people in Copenhagen to take care of their pets outside their apartments other than walking them in the city. However, if you step outside Copenhagen, people will let their pets run free.
I’ve seen cats roaming the neighborhoods. At first, I felt bad for the little strays. Then I learned that they were not strays, just cats that were let out to be free for the day. Their owners knew they would return for food and quality time with the family.
Depending on the individual person, Danes may be more lax on leashes for their dogs during walks as well. However, that’s not the case too often.
Gap years are common for students who are at or near college age in Denmark. These students are not stigmatized or ashamed of their choice. Sometimes, it is natural for kids to take a year off between high school and college in Denmark.
I don’t know why, but people do not always consider Denmark or Copenhagen when they think of technologically advanced countries or cities, respectively. In America, we do not hear much about companies like Cisco anymore, but this firm is on the cutting edge of collaborative business technology.
Cisco has partnered with Copenhagen to build groundbreaking digital infrastructures. There’s also Khora, a virtual reality lab in the meatpacking district of Copenhagen, where people can try different virtual reality systems and games for a low price.
Copenhagen hosts a yearly Techfestival (motto: where humans and technology meet) and boasts the location of many other tech startups and well-established tech companies.
If you are invited to a dinner party in Denmark, you’d better set aside the whole night, starting at around 5:00 PM. It is not typically encouraged to jump from party to party if you have been invited to more than one on the same day. You eat dinner, drink, have dessert, and talk for nearly six hours.
Normally, the host has a seating plan and you should not arrive late or early. If you arrive late, it is rude. If you arrive early, it is worrisome to the host, who may not be fully prepared yet. It’s not necessarily about partying but more about having a good time together and catching up.
1 Going Out
Okay, so Danes are a lot more fun and adventurous than Americans. At least this American. People don’t start hitting the bars until 11:00 PM, and sometimes, they won’t start leaving until 3:00–5:00 the next morning. When Danes want to party, they party hard.
+ Perception Of Safety
In the US, women are often told to either go out in large groups or make sure they have a man around them if they go out after dark. However, people in Denmark, including women, don’t seem to be afraid to go out on their own.
I’m not about to say that Denmark is a utopia because no place is. I’ve biked home at 1:00 AM here, taken trains at midnight, and felt completely safe. Back home, if I’m waiting outside the catering hall where I work in my town and I hear a sound behind me—even at 9:00 PM—it would be enough to make me curl up into a ball and picture the worst possible scenario.
I’ve talked about this to other young women who are studying abroad with me. They have had no problems going home with Danish men. One even said that any time she felt harassed or in danger in Denmark, it was a foreigner, not a Dane, who made her feel threatened.
++ Danes Are Blunt, And That Is Okay
Danes will tell you their honest opinions—whether it’s believing that certain activities or customs are silly or telling you that you’re wrong about something and exactly why or correcting a social behavior that they believe is rude.
Or maybe they just laugh at you when you mispronounce a street name. The Danes understand that it’s okay to be up-front and honest and there’s a way you can do that without being straight-up mean. In fact, most times, you get a good laugh out of the interaction.
+++ Function In Fashion
Remember in 2008 when Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato wore high-top sneakers with their dresses? We thought it looked cute for a few years and then realized that it was just odd.
Danes don’t care. In fact, I’ve seen professors and women on my commute who wear the cutest dresses or outfits with the most beat-up sneakers either because they have to walk long distances or because they have to ride their bikes.
It’s actually made me reframe the idea of cute outfits with athletic sneakers to be wholly cute outfits. Danes also like to be warm. I’ve heard some Danish people tell me that it’s almost like Americans don’t care about the weather—they’ll wear what they think is good-looking in any type of weather and risk their comfort.
However, Danes will wear sweaters and parkas and scarves and make them look cute when they think it’s going to be cold. I’ve seen that even toward the end of summer. However, other American girls and I are wearing skirts and freezing our legs off here when we go out. We dream of how to wear jeans and leather jackets to be warm and cute like the Danish girls.
I’ve continued to learn that changes or differences in the ways that various people live are not bad. Most of the time, our “comfort zone” is really more of a barrier to how we could be experiencing life than an actual comfort.
For me while living in Denmark, that lesson certainly applies. Danes live differently than what I’m used to, but I’m not upset about it at all. In fact, I find myself constantly enthusiastic about this new way of living.
Maher is in her fourth and last year of undergraduate studies at American University in Washington, DC. She studies journalism and health promotion and is currently studying in Scandinavia to understand herself and the world around her more. Maher’s dream is to be an investigative journalist or to work for NPR. Honestly, what journalism student doesn’t have that dream, though?
10 Strangest US Roadside Attractions
Roadside attractions have been a staple of American culture since the first mile of Route 66 was laid down. Fodder for postcards, novelty-seekers, and Instagram shots, these various noteworthy stopping points are often quite unique and bizarre.
While classics such as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine seem weird enough, an in-depth look reveals much stranger sights. Here are ten of the strangest US roadside attractions. (For those curious, the ball of twine is in Cawker City, Kansas.)
10 Unclaimed Baggage Center
Born from the mind of a man named Doyle Owens in 1970, Unclaimed Baggage Center (UCB) is a secondhand store with a unique supply chain: US airline companies. As of today, it is the only store in the country which sells lost luggage. The size of a city block, UCB has forged alliances with most major airlines, not only selling lost luggage but also random carry-on items which get left behind.
Originally sold on card tables in a rented house in Washington, DC, the nearly 7,000 new daily items were moved to their current home of Scottsboro, Alabama, by Bryan Owens in 1995. Thanks to the exclusive contracts signed with the major airlines of the US, UCB boasts more than a million visitors per year. In addition to their storefront, they also have a museum of oddities and curios, items which are not for sale. (An African djembe is one of the more unique exhibits.)
9 Lucy The Margate Elephant
Located just a short distance south of Atlantic City, a 20-meter (65 ft) building rises from the Margate sands. This isn’t your ordinary building, though; it’s in the shape of a large elephant, and its name is Lucy. Since its construction in 1881, news of a giant elephant appearing to sailors began to trickle into various parts of the East Coast. Determined to uncover the truth, visitors began to flock to Absecon Island, shocked when they realized it was no mirage.
The brainchild of a man named James V. Lafferty, Jr., Lucy was eventually patented in 1882, with Lafferty receiving one for the invention of a “building in the form of an animal.” Later owners of the building eventually began guided tours, with such visiting luminaries as President Woodrow Wilson. At various times through its history, Lucy has been a summer home for an English doctor and his family, a tavern (which nearly resulted in it burning to the ground), and a tourist attraction, which it remains to this day.
8 Wall Drug
Perhaps the most famous tourist trap in the entire country, Wall Drug got its start in 1931 on the edge of the South Dakota Badlands. Using his last $3,000, Ted Hustead brought his wife and child to the small town of Wall and purchased a small pharmacy. Business was tough, and they struggled to make ends meet for years while the Great Depression rolled on.
However, to this day, their biggest draw might still be one of their first: free water. Hustead’s wife, Dorothy, had the idea come to her while she tried to sleep one hot July afternoon. Due to her idea, and a number of ingeniously placed billboards, people flocked to the store, filling up on ice water as well as the occasional ice cream cone. Today, more than two million people visit each year, bringing more than $10 million with them.
7 Nicolas Cage’s Tomb
In a move which seems to solidify his eccentric reputation, Nicolas Cage purchased a tomb in an infamous New Orleans graveyard in 2010. Thanks to its below-sea-level elevation and numerous outbreaks of disease throughout its history, the city has strict rules about where cemeteries can be located, unless they’re aboveground. Those rules are what led Cage to purchase a 2.7-meter-tall (9 ft) stone pyramid in the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
However, the exact reasoning behind the tomb’s purchase has been kept secret, though some locals are angry he was able to even get into the cemetery in the first place, going so far as to accuse the actor of knocking down much older burials in order to make room for the pyramid tomb. The first New Orleans graveyard with aboveground burials, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is also the final resting place of Marie Laveau, the infamous voodoo queen of New Orleans.
6 Airstream Ranch
An homage to Cadillac Ranch, an art installation using junked Cadillac automobiles, Airstream Ranch was located not far from Tampa, Florida, and used old RVs as its medium. It was the pet project of Frank Bates, a man who, coincidentally, happens to run an RV dealership nearby. Controversial for much of its existence (such is the life of modern art), state courts reversed local orders to tear it down after Bates fought for nearly two years.
Created in 2007 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Airstream company, the ranch was originally intended to be built using brand-new RVs, but Bates ended up deciding to get one from every decade of the company’s existence (though he only managed five decades’ worth). Bates had hoped to add to the ranch, envisioning a future where his installation would have become a park, as well as a home for weddings. In the end, however, Airstream Ranch was torn down to make room for a new Airstream dealership in 2017.
Another roadside attraction reminiscent of Airstream Ranch is Carhenge, located in Alliance, Nebraska. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Stonehenge, made of cars.
5 Cross Island Chapel
Otherwise known as The World’s Smallest Church, the Cross Island Chapel was built in 1989 in the small town of Oneida, New York. In addition to having been certified by Guinness World Records, it also sits on a small dock in the middle of a pond. Only big enough for three standing people (or two seated), the church has nevertheless served as the location for a number of weddings. On one such occasion, wedding guests had to anchor their boats nearby.
Though it lost its title of World’s Smallest Church only a few months after its certification (a Swiss church holds the record), the Cross Island Chapel still attracts its fair share of visitors, most of whom come to pray or just take a look. Built to honor God, the building no longer sits on “Cross Island,” as the water level has risen, forcing a dock to be built to house the 2.7-square-meter (28.7 ft2) chapel.
4 The Hobo Museum
Located in Britt, Iowa, the home of the National Hobo Convention, an annual event which began in 1900, is the Hobo Museum, a building dedicated to the memory of hobos and their history. Housed in an old theater, the museum began its life with nothing more than a single box of random items. Today, the building is full, and exhibits extolling the origins and virtues of the hobo lifestyle are abundant. (To be clear, a hobo is a traveling migrant worker, whereas a tramp is a traveler who avoids work. A bum neither works nor travels.)
In 2008, students of various classes at nearby Iowa State University began work on getting the building onto the National Registry of Historic Places, as well as plans to remodel/restore the former glory of the theater. Other sites throughout the city honor hobos, such as the Hobo Jungle and the Hobo Cemetery, a section of a larger graveyard reserved specifically for hobos.
3 Ben Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
Have you ever wondered what happens to discontinued ice creams, such as Festivus or Dublin Mudslide? Fear not, for they have gone to a better place: the Ben Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard. A tongue-in-cheek place for a tongue-in-cheek company, the graveyard is not only a page on their website but a physical place, located at their factory in Waterbury, Vermont.
Originally opened in 1997, the graveyard only consisted of four flavors, with many more added over the years (35 at last count). Most of the graves are empty, with the exception being What A Cluster, for which they held an actual funeral. (Whether or not the pint of ice cream actually made it underground is anybody’s guess.) While it isn’t the most popular attraction on this list, Sean Greenwood, Ben Jerry’s head of publicity, says people do come to pay their respects to their favorite discontinued flavors, going so far as to leave flowers near the elaborate granite headstones erected there.
2 The Octopus Tree
Bearing no relation to the mythical Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, the Octopus Tree of Oregon is an enormous spruce tree, notable for its branches, which resemble the tentacles of an octopus. Believed to be the largest Sitka spruce in the state, debate continues on the story of its origins, with Native American activity being the most likely. Coastal tribes, such as the Tillamook tribe, were said to shape the trees as part of their ceremonial rites.
The idea behind the Native American theory is that the tree was used to hold cedar canoes, as well as other objects of ritual importance. As far as the Octopus Tree goes, it has been estimated to be hundreds of years old and has often gone by the name “The Council Tree,” as it was said that elders also congregated at it in order to make decisions.
1 World’s Largest Collection Of World’s Smallest Versions Of World’s Largest Things
This one is going to take a little explaining. Intrigued by the great American pastime of creating the largest versions of things, artist Erika Nelson decided to riff on that idea. What sprung from her thought was a traveling attraction containing miniature replicas of said things. Extensive research on each and every exhibit is performed before construction, with precise measurements done on the originals.
Appropriate materials are used whenever possible; for example, the World’s Smallest Version of the World’s Largest Ball of Rubber Bands was made using miniature rubber bands. In addition, a photo is taken of each exhibit sat in front of its original. While it is normally on the road, and best seen there, when the attraction is not traveling, it calls Lucas, Kansas, its home.
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