Europe

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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Glamping in Switzerland’s PodHotel

High snows. Cold temperatures. Brutal winds. Camping at altitude in the Alps during the winter is for the hard core. But going glamping — glamorous camping — needn’t be.

Travel in the Alps offers many opportunities to experience the rugged charm and back-to-nature feeling of staying in a tent without, you know, having to stay in a tent. Spot Cool Stuff readers might remember our review of the disappearing-and-then-reappearing Whitepods ski resort or our post about the boutique hiking hut at the base of the Matterhorn. To those we now add the PodHotel Flims — though the “hotel” in the name is a serious misnomer.

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How To Go Boating in a Hot Tub

Hot Tub Time Machine is terrible. But a hot tub boat? Now that’s cool!

Spot Cool Stuff loves unlikely hybrids of two travel products. Previously we’ve reviewed a scooter that doubles as a wheeled bag, a wheeled bag that’s also a backpack and a backpack that’s also a downhill bike, among other hybrid travel products.

In that spirit of Dr. Moreau-inspired travel ideas comes hot tub boating.

There are, surprisingly, at least two places on the planet where you can take a small boat out in the water whilst simultaneously lounging in a hot tub. One is in Seattle. The another in IJlst, Holland.

It might be the coolest travel hybrid experience we’ve found since the tent-hammock-treehouse. Our look at each:

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Cool Britannia Cottages

“Cool” and “cottage” are not normally words you’ll see together but a cottage holiday in the UK can be anything but chintzy and traditional. Renting a holiday cottage is also a great way to explore the local area and really get a feel for the UK. After the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics, you couldn’t pick a better time to visit the UK than now.

Choose a luxury cottage and you’ll find it rivals a boutique hotel in terms of decoration and fittings; think seriously comfy beds, high-end kitchens and luxurious bathrooms. An unusual or quirky cottage is a great location for a hen party, special weekend away or even your honeymoon! Enjoy all the style and amenities of a cool hotel in spacious surroundings without worrying about what time reception closes. Sykes Cottages have a wonderful selection of cool cottages throughout the UK and Ireland perfect for a short break or longer family holiday.

Here are our top five cottages of cool:

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The Roller Coaster Stairway To Nowhere

Try not to think about the fact that you are above an enormous mound of industrial waste.

There are more than a handful of tourist attractions that feature great staircases. Among those that immediately to mind: the stairs that spiral up the Loretto Chapel in the Vatican, the stairs leading down to the ritual bathing areas along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India and the stairs that ascend Mexico’s Chichen Itza temple. But the world’s coolest set of stairs don’t go anywhere at all. For those you’ll have to visit Angerpark in the town of Duisburg, in the Ruhr area of Germany.

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Our Favorite Extreme Mountain Biking Locations

Mountain biking is one of these sports that its enthusiasts take to extreme (and often dangerous) levels — and each of the five locations below are certainly places where you can do that. But this is not a post exclusively for aspiring X-Games participants. Each of these five destinations is also a great travel destination even for those with no interest in biking (or mountains). And if you are an uninspiringly average mountain biker, you’ll find cool travel ideas for you too:

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The Truth Behind Iceland’s Most Secluded House

Off the coast of Iceland there’s one particular island upon which is built a single, solitary house. It is a house that looks like the sort the Dursleys could have hidden Harry Potter for his 11th birthday.

Over the years, photos of this house — some snapped from airplanes, most from boats — have circulated around various blogs. And as people have glimpsed the digital images of the abode’s stark setting and seemingly impossible seclusion, internet gossip about the place has mounted.

So, let’s start by dispensing with some misconceptions. Here’s some of what the house is not:

It is not located on Iceland’s third largest island. It was not a gift by the government of Iceland to its most famous pop star, Bjork. The house is not a hoax created using PhotoShop. And it is not inhabited by a secretive billionaire, nor by a religious hermit, nor by a paranoid recluse intent on surviving a coming zombie apocalypse.

In fact, technically, it is not a house at all.

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The Roofless Double Decker Aerial Cable Car

For double decker buses, London is famous. Among double decker airplanes, Airbus has the superlative model. For a double decker sandwich there’s no place like the Blue Ash Chili Diner in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. And for a double decker cable car ride — for that you’ll have to head to Switzerland.

It is there, near the city of Lucerne, that you’ll find The Cabrio, the world’s best double decker aerial tramway.

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