Spot Cool Stuff loves visiting color-bending locales. Like the black, green and red colored beaches of Hawaii. And the pastel-colored mountains of China. And lakes — of pink water?!
A select few lakes in the world — we’re featuring four below but there some two dozen others — have a hue of Pepto Bismol. That’s (usually) because their waters contain a large number of algae that excrete carotenoids. Algae are not the only life forms produce carotenoids. If, on trivia night, you are asked why salmon is pink or why lobster turns red when cooked, “carotenoids” would be your answer. But no animal can make carotenoids in the quality or at a level of pink-ness that the dunaliella salina algae can.
In case you are wondering, these pink lakes are all safe for swimming. (Indeed, both local folklore and some scientific studies have found that carotenoid-rich water is good for you). However, these lakes are also very salty — salt being a byproduct of all that carotenoids production.
There are about two dozen medieval-themed restaurants in the world1. Of those, L’Auberge du Dragon Rouge is definitely not the most authentically medieval. But the Montreal restaurant is almost certainly the most fun.
You’ll find L’Auberge du Dragon Rouge well north of downtown on Rue Lajeunesse. It’s a surprisingly nondescript street for such an unusual restaurant. Walking past the ordinary-looking concrete and brick buildings, your first clue that you’ve come across somewhere special will be the giant gargoyle statue out front.
Regular Spot Cool Stuff travel blog readers might remember our review of Beijing’s cool Happy Magic water park, which is housed inside a building originally constructed to host the swimming events at the 2008 Beijing Games.
But it isn’t the only structure that was originally built for an Olympics but that’s used today for a completely different purpose. Also in that category is the Montreal Biodome. It was originally built as a venue for the track cycling and judo events of the 1976 Olympic Games. Today, the dome is home to fascinating replicas of various ecosystems around the Americas.
When Spot Cool Stuff travels we love staying in a room with a view. In Montreal, there’s no better hotel room view than that offered from the upper rooms at the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain.
Spanning to a height of 139 meters (454 feet), the Marriott Chateau Champlain is the tallest hotel in the city (and its 9th tallest building of any sort). The vista from those lofty heights is framed by the hotel’s most distinctive feature: the half-moon windows.
From inside the rooms, the view through those windows looks like this:
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.
For a family vacation, we absolutely adore Montreal.
Quebec’s largest city is a stellar place to travel with kids. (It’s superb choice for a romantic weekend or singles getaway too, though for different reasons.) We’d place Montreal among the likes of Paris, Sydney and San Francisco as one of the world’s top urban family travel destinations. However, unlike all the other cities that would be on that list, Montreal doesn’t really have any iconic, world-famous sights. There’s no Montreal equivalent of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House1 or Alcatraz Island.
Do not be put off. While Montreal might lack that one must-see attraction, the city makes up for it with its depth of offerings and range of special events and festivals. Especially the festivals. Montreal’s unofficial moto is “Any excuse for a party.” The city almost always has something fun happening, something officials will gladly close streets and divert traffic for. And the best part for families traveling on a budget: Montreal’s festivals tend to be are partly, or completely, free!
The whole point of going on vacation to Niagara Falls is to take in the view. So, when spending the night at Niagara Falls, the smart traveler wants a hotel with a view of, well, Niagara Falls. And no hotel has a better view from their rooms than does the Marriott Gateway on the Falls . . . except perhaps the awkwardly-named Marriott Niagara Falls Hotel Fallsview & Spa. But we’ll get to that at the moment.
Imagine a combination of a ski lodge and Animal House.
Golf has it’s 19th hole. Football matches have after parties. And skiing has après ski. That’s when skiers depart the slopes in favor of a bar, tavern, warming hut or igloo (!) for some drinking and dancing and socializing — and then drinking some more.
The après ski concept has taken hold in some places more than others. Here’s Spot Cool Stuff’s rundown of the coolest après ski countries. Read on or click through to your country of choice: