Superlative

Go Scuba Diving
From an Oil Rig Hotel

There may be as many as three million (!) oil rigs and platforms scattered throughout the world’s waters. A decent percentage of them—no one seems to know the exact figure—have already been abandon or fallen into misuse. And as underwater oil fields start to dry up and as people implement alternatives to fossil fuels (we hope) many more oil rigs will be rendered useless.

So what should we do with all these discarded drilling platforms?

Here’s a cool idea: Turn them into hotels.

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Flying the Airway to Heaven

On the shores of Lake Constance—which straddles Germany, Austria and Switzerland—the whales are not found in the water. They are found floating above it in the form of the massive whale-like zeppelin, the world’s largest commercial flying machine.

Note that zeppelins are different from blimps. Both have bulbous tops filled with a gas that’s lighter than air. But a blimp’s top has no internal structure; blimps are essentially steerable balloons. Zeppelins use a metal frame, which makes them more stable, agile, durable and quiet for passengers (since the engine can be placed further from the cabin).

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The Best View from a
Hotel Room in Rome

There’s no more iconic sight in Rome than that of the Colosseum. And there’s no hotel with better room views of the Colosseum than the Gladiatori Palazzo Manfredi.

At this five star boutique hotel, you can literally gaze out upon the Colosseum while laying in bed or while brushing your teeth at the bathroom sink.

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Eat Breakfast with a Giraffe

You’d probably expect a lodge named “Giraffe Manor” to have some sort of African decor. You might even guess that a lodge with such a name would be in Africa and perhaps be located within the vague vicinity of where giraffes sometimes roam. But you’d never imagine this . . .

Giraffe Manor is not merely in the vicinity of real giraffes. It is inundated by them!

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The Love Boat, North Korea Style

Looking for an unusual cruise destination? Are the fjords of Scandinavia, the beaches of the Caribbean and the ports of Greece too beautiful or colorful for you? Then consider a cruise to a reclusive communist state instead.

North Korea’s state tourism bureau recently inaugurated its first ever regularly scheduled cruise.

This is not the Hermit Kingdom’s first attempt to woo vacationers; Spot Cool Stuff readers may remember our post about North Korea’s inaugural golf international golf tournament. Those efforts did not exactly turn the country into a tourist mecca. So might this new cruise offering?

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Monkey See, Monkey Spa

The monkeys wash themselves, kick back with their arms resting on the hot spring’s rim, and generally carry on like humans would

So, a man and a monkey are in a hot tub . . .

That’s usually the start of some bad joke. Unless you are in the Japanese village of Jigokudani.

It is there, outside of Nagano in the Japanese Alps, where travelers can stay at the Korakukan Inn, a wonderful little Japanese-style hostel. The inn has a rotemburo (outdoor hot springs) that is for guests only. Though, apparently, no one has informed the local primate population of this policy. Stay at the Korakukan, go for an early morning bath in the winter months, and you may well be sharing the tub with a monkey.

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Swimming With Whale Sharks

Now, now, NOW!

Our captain is yelling while gesturing to us to hurry overboard. Overcome by his sense of urgency, we jump flippers first off our boat into warm Caribbean waters. There’s a second of disorientation. Then the water bubbles created by our fall dissipate and the view out of our snorkel mask clears. And what a view it is: the wide open mouth of the world’s largest fish heading directly towards us.

We are swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox, Mexico. Our trip was all arranged using Pay With Points, available through American Express Travel. Our challenge from American Express: to turn 150,000 Membership Rewards Points into a trip for two with WOW factor.

Being underwater, staring directly into the enormous mouth of a whale shark an arm’s length away—that’s a memory-making travel experience with no shortage of WOW.

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The Water Cube Gets Happy Magic

You may remember the Water Cube as the venue for the swimming events 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The exterior of “The Cube,” with its translucent walls that seemed as though they were made of giant living skin cells, became one of the iconic images of the games.

The Water Cube received a lot of press at the time of the Olympics. But what most reports (including Spot Cool Stuff’s own review) left out was that the building was not designed to permanently host of swimming competitions. From conception, its real intended purpose was to be a water park.

Recently the Water Cube’s original destiny was fulfilled with the opening of the Happy Magic Watercube. (Yes, somehow “water cube” got truncated to one word during the transition). In doing so, the place where Michael Phelps once set world records in swimming is today setting the record as the world’s largest indoor water park.

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