Hiking & Trekking

The Lightweight, Feature-Heavy Osprey Exos Backpacks

As our regular readers know, when Spot Cool Stuff travels we’re fanatical about using lightweight luggage. Because why lug around a heavy bag when you can choose an equally good light one?

Several luggage companies offer one or two lightweight models. But no one offers more high quality yet lightweight bags and backpacks than Osprey.

Previously, we reviewed the Osprey Ozone, the lightest full-size wheeled carry-on bag on the market today. Though, in addition to being made of lightweight materials and being cleverly designed, the Ozone cuts down on the pounds by cutting down on the features.

So, when we received our review unit of Osprey’s Exos backpack we expected that it too would be both lightweight and largely devoid of features. We were wrong.

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The Best View from a Hotel Room in the Austrian Alps

There are few countries with more scenically situated hotels per square mile than Austria. So for this post — part of Spot Cool Stuff’s series reviewing the best hotel room views in various locations — we had to bend our own rules a little:

First, instead of considering hotels across the whole of Austria, we decided to limit our search to countryside. (In the future, we’ll write-up the hotel with the best room views of Vienna — follow us on Facebook, Twitter or email to be updated on that.)

Second, instead of only reviewing one hotel, we’ve chosen two. The Berghotel Schafbergspitze is our choice as the best views from a hotel room, but the quality of rooms (as well as the hotel in general) is otherwise rather bland. Those who want their amazing room view to come along with some amazing luxury should check out the Ferienhotel Fernblick instead.

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5 Temples & Monasteries
on Perilous Cliff Sides

To monks, the monastery represents the victory of good over evil. To travelers, it represents the victory of architecture over gravity.

Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed five towns on cliff sides — villages where drinking and driving . . . or drinking and walking . . . or simply walking could be especially perilous.

Following up on that, here are five religious buildings—a shrine, temple, church and two monasteries—built at a cliff’s edge. Gaze down the rocky drops from these structures, and out upon the magnificent vistas they offer, and perhaps one can’t help but believe in God.

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China’s Pastel-Painted Mountains

There’s a UNESCO heritage site near the Chinese village of Nantaizi that, to some, looks like a real life scene from a Dr. Seuss illustration. Others imagine the giant hand of a deity painting the rocky mountains in pastel colors with long sweeping brush strokes. To Spot Cool Stuff’s eye, the area looks like giant pieces of bacon.

Whatever it reminds you of, unless you happen to have visited one specific section of Gansu province, you’ve never seen anything like the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park.

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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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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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7 Amazing Circular Geological Oddities

The man made hole is so large that helicopters and small aircraft can not fly near it without the very real fear of being sucked in!

Spot Cool Stuff has been thinking of cool spots lately. Big geologic spots, that is. Circles on the face of the planet of the sort that would make some one browsing around on Google Earth (or traveling in a spaceship) stop and ask What the heck is that circular thing?

Here’s an overview (literally!) of seven of our favorite such spots. They span six countries on four continents:

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The Best View in the Alps

When the world’s highest climbing cable car brings you to the highest mountain in the Alps you know you are in for an amazing view. But maybe not this amazing.

The scene from the summit of Aiguilles de Chamonix, a jagged mountain high in the middle of the Mont Blanc massif, is the single most spectacular in the whole of the Alps. It might be the best mountain view that doesn’t involve hiking, flying or driving available anywhere.

Here’s how to make the trip:

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