Destinations

The Cat Houseboat of Amsterdam

Most crazy cat ladies live in dilapidated houses in blighted suburban neighborhoods that you wouldn’t want to travel to. Henriette van Weelde is not one of those crazy cat ladies. For one, she lives in a quaint section of central Amsterdam. Also, her cat-filled abode is not only a place you might want to visit, it’s a place lots of tourists do.

It started in 1966 when van Weelde decided to take in a family of stray cats she found near her home. Then she found another stray and thought to herself what so many crazy cat ladies have: Well, I’m sure I can find room for just one more cat.

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Our Favorite Room Themes at the Landhotel Hof Beverland

Spot Cool Stuff likes unusual hotels with creative themes. So, of course, we love the Landhotel Hof Beverland.

The Beverland (very much not to be confused with Bieberland) is located on the site of a former dairy farm near Ostbevern in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has 62 rooms. And 36 radically different room theme.

There’s are the under-the-sea rooms, for example, and the medieval themed rooms. The hotel’s jungle rooms have beds suspended from the ceiling. Their Star Wars rooms have private cinema screening areas. Their disco rooms come complete with hanging disco balls and blaring 70s music.

None of those rooms, however, made our list of our top five favorite room themes at the Landhotel Hof Beverland. Which rooms did make the cut? Read on:

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Roof It Around Stockholm

For some travelers the opportunity to take a guided walking tour of historic buildings is about as appealing as taking a walk through an airport security checkpoint. Yet even those travelers would find the offerings by Stockholm tour operator Upplev Mer cool. That’s because their tours don’t walk alongside acclaimed architecture—they walk on top of it!

Literally. Participants on a Upplev Mer tour scamper across Stockholm’s roof tops like Mary Poppins. Except, instead of using an umbrella for safety, they rely on hard hats, harnesses and cables.

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The Magical Way into Harry Potter’s Wizarding World

If you are planning a vacation to Central Florida with young Muggles, odds are high that they’ve tugged on your arm begging you to take them to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The attraction, a part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, has been Orlando’s hottest attraction since it opened in June of 2010.

Nearly any kid who’s a fan of the J.K. Rowling books will eat up everything about the Wizarding World like so many Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. But what about the parents?

The good news for adults is that, while the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is far from mind blowingly amazing, it does have cool elements to it. There’s also one piece of advice that in itself can make your visit there turn out somewhere between tolerable and fun. For that, Dear Reader, continue on . . .

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Beach Cottages For Getting Your Groove Back

Make yourself at home. Shirts and shoes are strictly optional.

Spot Cool Stuff has not seen the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But we’ve seen where Stella got her groove back — at My Time ‘N’ Place, a wonderful little cottage bed and breakfast-y type of place on the northern coast of Jamaica.

My Time ‘N’ Place owes its existence to the movie industry. And to its gregarious and entrepreneurial owner, Tony.

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The Beach in the Middle of the Meadow

Though not on the sea, water at the beach falls and rises with the tides.

In Spain, it isn’t surprising to find a crystal-clear waters lapping up against a golden sand beach. Yet it is completely surprising when you come across Spain’s Playa del Gulpiyuri. That’s because this unusual beach isn’t on the Atlantic Ocean. And it isn’t on the Mediterranean sea. It isn’t even on a lake or next to a river. Instead, Gulpiyuri beach is in the middle of a meadow!

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Take a Chance on The ABBA Museum

Anyone can (attempt to) sing Dancing Queen in a karaoke bar. But what about singing Dancing Queen along with a holographic rendering of ABBA and then fielding a real live phone call from one of the original band members? That’s possible only if you are exceedingly wealthy, eccentric and well-connected — or if you visit The ABBA Museum. It’s part of a new complex in Stockholm that celebrates Sweden’s second most famous export after Ikea furniture: The Swedish Music Hall of Fame.

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The Emerson Resort and the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope

There are plenty of rural lodges with log cabin architecture and a family-friendly environment. And there are also a myriad of modern hotels that offer a luxurious, adults-only atmosphere. But we only know of one resort that is both of those at once: The Emerson in Mt. Tremper, New York.

Spot Cool Stuff went to visit The Emerson as part of our road trip test drive of a Kia Sportage EX and our family road trip around the Catskills area of New York State. We stayed at The Lodge at the Emerson (the family-friendly section of the resort), toured The Inn at the Emerson (the resort’s adult portion) and did some shopping at the resort’s country store, which, among other things, is the unlikely home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope. Here’s what we found at each:

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