South America

The Best Oktoberfest Celebrations
(Outside of Europe)

Have you ever been to a raucous wedding reception that turned into an epic party? Exactly 202 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 is Spot Cool Stuff’s roundup of a few great places to enjoy the occasion outside of Europe. These Oktoberfests span the globe and are attended by revelers 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 Luxurious, Remote Amazon River Cruise

You’re on a cruise ship that features an outdoor jacuzzi and exercise room. Your meals are cooked by a gourmet chef. And your cabin is the equivalent of a five-star hotel room. But you aren’t sailing the Mediterranean. And you aren’t cruising the Caribbean. You are in Peru, on the Amazon River, deep in the heart of darkness, aboard the M/V Aria, on a luxury experience from Aqua Expeditions.

There’s something amazing—and perhaps a little unsettling — about being able to experience this much luxury in such a remote location.

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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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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 Crazy-Cool Treehouse-Like Hotels of Huilo-Huilo

Like staying in a CGI scene from Avatar come to life

The Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve in the Andes Mountains of Chile is one of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite travel destinations in all of South America.

Next month we’ll be publishing a review of the reserve itself — follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook and return to our travel review blog for that.

In the meantime, here’s our look at two of the unusual, and amazing, places to stay within the reserve: The Hotel La Montaña Mágica and the Nothofagus Hotel & Spa.

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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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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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Take a Google Street View Tour of the Amazon

You might think of Google Street View as that feature of Google Maps that let’s you look at ground level photographs of your childhood home, a new restaurant you are trying to locate or some other street-side destination. But for several years now, Google has been expanding Street View to all sorts of locations that, well, don’t have any streets. You can use Street View to climb up the Swiss Alps, trek in Antarctica or tour some of the world’s greatest art museums. And, now, you can also use Google Street View to explore along the Amazon River.

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