Great Attractions

The World’s Most Beautiful Ecological Disaster

The locals call it Hell’s Door.

Environmentalists call it an unmitigated ecological disaster zone.

You may call it a destination on your next adventure vacation.

The “it” in question is a giant firey gas pit near the village of Darwaza (also spelled Derweze) in the middle of Turkmenistan’s Kara-Kum Desert.

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10 Reasons to Visit Hamilton Island, Australia

There are 908 islands scattered around the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia’s Queensland State.

Of those, 74 islands make up the Whitsunday Archipelago, a national park and one of Australia’s top tourist destinations.

Of those, 11 islands are inhabited.

And, of those, only 1 island has luxury resorts, gourmet restaurants and a sophisticated, yet laid-back, vibe:

Hamilton Island.

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The Best Oktoberfest Celebrations
(Outside of Europe)

Have you ever been to a raucous wedding reception that turned into an epic party? Exactly 202 years ago this October, the German Prince Ludwig the First married Princess Therese and afterwards hosted exactly such a celebration. It was so memorable that the attendees wanted to relive it every year. That desire spawned the annual alcohol-filled party known today as Oktoberfest.

Happily for lovers of celebrations and beer, Oktoberfest has very much spread beyond Germany in the last two centuries. Here is Spot Cool Stuff’s roundup of a few great places to enjoy the occasion outside of Europe. These Oktoberfests span the globe and are attended by revelers across the spectrum of race, religion and political affiliation. We see it as proof that one of man’s most universal and fundamental desires is to have fun — while guzzling beer and wearing lederhosen.

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The Living Sculptures of Mosaïcultures

Spot Cool Stuff, generally speaking, is not a fan of botanical gardens. As a place to walk around for a few minutes as part of a romantic date, maybe. If we happen to be near the entrance of a botanical garden. . . and if we had some time to spare . . . and if admission is free . . . we’d possibly consider popping in. But would we plan a trip around a botanical garden? Never. Absolutely not. No way. There’s no botanical garden worth that.

Except perhaps one: the Montreal Botanical Garden.

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The World’s Largest Underwater Sculpture Park

The collection of life-sized human casts resemble an underwater Pompeii

Ah, Cancun. The sun. The beaches. The shopping. The tequila shots. The drunken college kids on spring break. The massive underwater sculpture park?

Even some of those familiar with the attractions Cancun offers above sea level are surprised at what they can find underneath it: a museum. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte, to be specific.

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The Shard Lifts London Restaurants to New Heights

Like so many others, Spot Cool Stuff first traveled to London as college students. That was more than two decades ago and we still remember falling in love with the British capital for its salty residents, gritty streets and low-rise charm. Back then, we never could we have imagined London as the home of The Shard.

Yet, there it is. At 306 meters (1,004 ft) tall, the gleaming glass and steel skyscraper is the tallest building in the European Union. On a sunny day, The Shard literally casts a shadow on the London Bridge.

The building has been open for a few months now. But only recently has the public been able to eat at one of The Shard’s three main restaurants: Hutong, The Oblix and Aqua Shard. Each restaurant requires taking a non-stop lift to The Shard’s 32 floor. Each restaurant charges sky-high prices though, happily, each also offers views to match.

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5 Temples & Monasteries
on Perilous Cliff Sides

To monks, the monastery represents the victory of good over evil. To travelers, it represents the victory of architecture over gravity.

Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed five towns on cliff sides — villages where drinking and driving . . . or drinking and walking . . . or simply walking could be especially perilous.

Following up on that, here are five religious buildings—a shrine, temple, church and two monasteries—built at a cliff’s edge. Gaze down the rocky drops from these structures, and out upon the magnificent vistas they offer, and perhaps one can’t help but believe in God.

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China’s Pastel-Painted Mountains

There’s a UNESCO heritage site near the Chinese village of Nantaizi that, to some, looks like a real life scene from a Dr. Seuss illustration. Others imagine the giant hand of a deity painting the rocky mountains in pastel colors with long sweeping brush strokes. To Spot Cool Stuff’s eye, the area looks like giant pieces of bacon.

Whatever it reminds you of, unless you happen to have visited one specific section of Gansu province, you’ve never seen anything like the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park.

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