Eating & Drinking

Cool Apres Ski Destinations

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:


“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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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 something superlative feature that’s well worth a detour if you are traveling nearby.

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The 100% Chocolate Cafe

If you think dessert is the best part of a meal, check out our review of the world’s best chocolate shops.

If you think dessert should be the only part of a meal, head to Tokyo, Japan and check out The 100% Chocolate Cafe.

But don’t let the name fool you. The 100% Chocolate Cafe isn’t exclusively a cafe where every menu item involves chocolate. It’s also a store — where every item for sale involves chocolate. And there’s also a street-side walk-up window — exclusively for chocolate.

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The Best Oktoberfest Celebrations
(Outside of Europe)

Have you ever been to a really amazing wedding reception that turned into an epic party? Exactly 201 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’s Spot Cool Stuff’s roundup of a few great places to enjoy the occasion outside of Europe. Our selection of Oktoberfests span the globe and are attended by people 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 Ice Cream Parlor of 1000 Flavors

It used to be that 36 flavors was something to brag about. But the days when rocky road starred in a three-dozen flavor line-up have long passed.

Now, ice cream shops worldwide boast long lists of wonderfully unusual flavors.

On the U.S. east coast Boston-area’s Toscanini’s features wort and Guiness ice cream, and on the west coast Bellingham, WA’s Mallard’s makes flavors such as earl grey tea and black pepper. London’s Chin Chin Labs claims to be Europe’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor and Bar Ciao (in Channing Cross) strives to make ice cream dishes that look like other food — such as asparagus or sunny-side up fried eggs. Beef tongue, charcoal, cactus and octopus top the unusual flavors to be found in Japan. To be sure, there are many others experimenting in the art of creative cold concoctions that take us far beyond a round scoop of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.

But to choose from the widest variety of all, you’ll need to head to Merida, Venezuela.

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Bathe In Chocolate

Bathe in whipped chocolate milk while basking in the glow of Tootsie Roll-flavored candles and breathing in brownie scented steam.

Chocolate is romantic. Taking a candlelit bath with your special someone is romantic. So what could be more romantic than spending time with your special someone while bathing in chocolate?

It’s that sort of flawless logic that has Spot Cool Stuff writing a review of the world’s best chocolate spas. We found three spots in particular—one each in Switzerland, the United States and Japan—where you’ll want to go to experience the world’s best chocolate baths.

So, what’s it like to bathe in chocolate? you might be asking.

Contrary to what you might imagine, it isn’t like this . . .

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The Shipping Container Starbucks

Most Starbucks are architecturally rather cookie cutter and bland. But the popular chain of coffee shops does have a handful of locations with a cool edge to them. Perhaps none more than the company’s drive-thru located in outside of Seattle in Tukwila, Washington. The Starbucks there is built out of used shipping containers!

Since Spot Cool Stuff’s first post about shipping container architecture, use of the eco-friendly building material has grown hugely in popularity. Sadly, it hasn’t grown as quickly as the surplus supply of used containers. But nearly every day work begins on at least one new shipping container house or office building somewhere on the planet.

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