Destinations

“The Restaurant Near the Sanyou Cave”

There are lots of blogs that repost photos of cool-looking places. Usually these websites give very little information even identifying the location shown in the photo, much less practical tips on how to travel there.

Spot Cool Stuff is a different in this way. We aren’t about spreading memes. Our travel blog is about discovering cool travel ideas. It’s about finding tips for getting out and exploring this amazing planet of ours. Because, a photogenic place is so much more than a piece digital eye candy. It’s a real life destination that anyone (appropriately equipped with a plane ticket, passport and credit card) can to go see.

It’s in that spirit that we previously wrote about visiting an impossibly secluded house in Iceland. And that we now write about the place made famous by the photo, below — a place usually described only as “The Restaurant Near the Sanyou Cave.”

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Norway’s Landscape Hotel

There are all kinds of hotel categories: boutique hotels, eco hotels, heritage hotels, apartment hotels and capsule hotels, to name a few. (To say nothing of motels, hostels, lodges, resorts, inns, pensions, guest houses, flophouses, bunkhouses, bed and breakfasts, holiday cottages and caravanserai). But chances are you’ve never stayed at a “landscape hotel.” That’s because, chances are, you’ve never stayed at the cool Juvet Landscape Hotel near the village of Gudbrandsjuvet, Norway, a five-hour drive north from Oslo.

The landscape hotel category was virtually invented by the Juvet and the Norwegian architectural firm that designed it, Jensen & Skodvin. The idea was to create a hotel that’s minimalist in design, that blends into its environment and that offers amenities oriented outwards towards the surrounding nature.

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Yotel NYC

When Spot Cool Stuff was arranging a tour of the Yotel New York, a hip boutique hotel two blocks from Times Square, we suggested to their press representative that we meet her in the lobby. She wrote back: “I’ll meet you at Mission Control.”

That would not be the last time we would be reminded that, at Yotel, things work a little differently.

Yotel got its start in Europe as an in-airport pod hotel for passengers in transit or pre-positioning themselves for early morning flights. Their New York City property is Yotel’s first foray outside of an airport. Though, the hotel’s inspiration still comes of a romanticized version of luxury airliner travel. As such, Yotel New York does not have a lobby, it has the aforementioned “Mission Control.” Instead of rooms it has “cabins.” Instead of staff it has “crew.” The VIP section is “first class” and the shared kitchenette on each floor is the “galley.”

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Tuscany and Moravia Through a Telephoto Lens

Spot Cool Stuff is sometimes asked for advice on what camera lenses to bring on a trip. The short answer is: It depends. Different camera types, different travel styles and different destinations require different lenses.

If you are going on a nature trek to somewhere with rolling hills and sweeping vistas, for example, a medium telephoto might make an outstanding choice. Want proof? Look no further than the photography of Marcin Sobas. In particular, we love his shots of the countryside in Tuscany and the Moravia region of the Czech Republic.

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The Largest Water Park in the Caribbean

Somehow, kids make it look easy the first time they hop on a SurfStream simulated wave.

For such a sun-drenched, humidity-soaked, tourist-filled region, the Caribbean has surprisingly few really great water parks. Perhaps the best of them, and certainly the largest, is at the all-inclusive Beaches Resort in the Turks & Caicos. It’s there that Pirates Island beacons the young — and the young at heart.

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The Glowworm Cave

When it is time for vacation and you go online to research ideas, it often happens that small things can make a big difference in choosing your destination.

Take, for instance, the tiny glowworm. The unusual creature is only about the size of a small mosquito. But when gathered in a large group, the glimmering effect the glowworms create can be worth traversing the globe for.

And you likely will have to traverse a large portion of the globe to experience the glow of the glowworm, unless you happen to live Down Under. That’s where the majority of glowworm habitats are located.

The very best place to go glowworm gazing? That’s inside the appropriately-named Glowworm Cave in Waitomo, New Zealand.

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Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions

The Edinburgh Castle is the largest and most famous tourist attraction in Scotland’s capital. But in its shadow, almost literally, there’s another must-visit destination: The Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions. Operating since 1835, it’s part unusual art gallery, part interactive science museum, part surreal funhouse — and entirely entertaining.

As an attraction, Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions consists of two parts. It will surely come as stunning news that these are: 1) the Camera Obscura and 2) the World of Illusions.

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The World’s Best Bakeries

Spot Cool Stuff loves finding good bakeries on our travels. Spontaneously coming across one while exploring a village or city neighborhood can make an ordinary walk special. But some bakeries are special in their own right and worth purposefully seeking out — either for the quality of their baked goods or for their interior design or for the atmosphere of being there or for some combination of all those.

Below is our review of eight such bakeries. We hesitate calling them the “best,” since the world has many bakeries and we’ve only been to a relatively small handful. But each of our selections has some superlative feature that’s well worth a detour when traveling nearby.

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