10 Great Atlantic Ocean Liners

Throughout much of the 20th century, giants plied the waters of the north Atlantic, bringing immigrants to the New World and ferrying wealthier passengers between New York (and other eastern ports) and Europe. A handful of these great liners still exist, while most are memories, found only in old photos or in fancy restaurants that salvaged a portion of a great ship’s interiors. Below are some of the greatest in terms of length of service, luxuriousness, reputation and overall amenities. Most of these at one time held the Blue Riband, a coveted prize given for the fastest Atlantic crossing.

Please note: There is a huge difference between an Atlantic liner and a cruise ship. The latter are made for calm seas and pure entertainment. The former were made to tackle rough north Atlantic weather and purpose-built to carry ocean-going passengers. For more information, read Thomas Maxtone-Graham’s magnificent “The Only Way to Cross.” Also note that the years correspond to launch date, not service-entry date. For example, Queen Mary went down the quays in 1934 but didn’t enter service until two years later.

Queen Marry 2 In Southampton

For almost 30 years, it seemed as if the Queen Elizabeth 2 was to be the only thread to the bygone era of the superliners, but the QE2’s continual transatlantic and cruising success convinced Cunard to build another one. Queen Mary 2 holds the record as the largest Atlantic superliner ever built (although one Caribbean cruise ship, the Freedom of the Seas, is bigger, and the first Queen Mary actually weighed more). QM2 looks like a cross between an Atlantic liner and a cruise ship, but she was built primarily for Atlantic crossings in mind, even though she can—and does—go practically to any sea in the world. Hey, if you have about $2,000 (about 1,000 pounds), you can hitch a ride on the QM2 and check it out for yourself. (And if you’re wondering why QM2 is #10 instead of #1, it’s because she hasn’t been around that long.)

800Px-B-17S Flyby Rex

The pride of the post-WWI Italian fleet, the Rex and her sister ship, the Conte de Savoia, were Italy’s answer to Germany’s new greyhounds. (See #6.) After an embarrassing start, Rex would capture the Blue Riband in 1933 and hold it for two years. She is remembered today for a famous “interception” in 1938 by American YB-17 bombers while the liner was still far out to sea. The Italians laid her up during the war, but the Allies sank her in September 1944 to keep the Germans from using her to block the harbor at Trieste.

Ss France Hong Kong 74

One of the most famous of the last great Atlantic superliners, The France was her namesake country’s flagship for almost 15 years. She was literally the pride of France, and the nation mourned when she was laid up in 1974. She was then sold to Norwegian Cruise Line and renamed the Norway, under which she sailed from 1980 until about 2001. As Norway, she experienced many troubles, but managed to remain popular on the Caribbean circuit. She was then sold and resold with designs for either refitting or scrapping, but the liner was laid up today over environmental concerns. She was finally scrapped in 2008.

800Px-Rms Queen Mary 2008

The first Queen Mary was designed to recapture British glory on the seas, and also replace the aged Mauritania and Aquitania. While very traditional in her appointments, she was more popular than the more-modern looking Normandie. Like her sister ship (loosely defined) the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary was a highly sought prize by German U-Boats in WWII. They never caught either. In the post-war years, the two Cunard queens ruled the seas as originally designed. Today, the Queen Mary is gutted and laid up in Long Beach, Calif., as a hotel and tourist attraction, while her sister ship was burned to a hulk in the 1970s during an attempt to make her a floating university.

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-11081, Schnelldamper "Bremen"

After losing her pre-WWI fleet of liner giants to war reparations, Germany again reclaimed a prized place on the seas with the Bremen and her sister ship, the Europa. This modern ship started the “express liner” craze of the 1930s, where ships were sleek, fast, luxurious, “wet” (Prohibition made European ships more popular over the “dry” American ships) and modern in all details. Bremen was a highly popular ship, but like most liners, the next war ended her career. The German military turned the Bremen into a barracks until she was burned and gutted in 1941, a victim of arson. She was scrapped in 1946.

Rms Mauretania

Along with her sister ship, the ill-fated Lusitania, the Mauretania was the first Atlantic Ocean greyhound. Steam turbines powered this mighty and luxurious ship, and she remained a favorite for three decades. Mauretania held the Blue Riband for 20 years before the Breman took it away. She was scrapped in 1935, over protests from ship aficionados, including Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Near the beginning of the blockbuster movie Titanic you’ll hear the insufferable Cal say, dripping upper-crust snobbery, that Titanic is “over a hundred feet longer than the Mauritania and far more luxurious.”)

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If you have ever seen old posters of 1930s-era travel, you might have seen ads of a looming Normandie profiled head-on with her sleek, clipper-like bow. She was ultra-modern, with a steam turbo-electric power-plant, a clean upper deck and luxurious appointments throughout. Yet the celebrated ocean liner struggled to consistently make a profit during the 1930s. When war began anew in 1939, Normandie wound up in New York, and stayed there after the fall of France. (A great picture taken in 1940 shows the Normandie, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth berthed side by side in New York for the first and only time.) U.S. officials seized her after American entry into the war and renamed her USS Lafayette. But she never sailed again. She caught fire in early 1942 during her refitting, and the lopsided nature of the firefighting efforts caused her to capsize. Despite an expensive salvage operation, she was scrapped in 1946.

Ss United States Postcard

So fast that her top speed was a state secret, this last of the old greyhounds is still around today, slowly rusting at a Philadelphia pier. She was built with both passenger service and military use in mind—many liners scrapped in the mid-1930s would be missed a few years later when WWII began—hence the secrecy about her true speed. In the 1960s, all of the ocean-going palaces fell on hard times as the speed of the jumbo jet replaced the comfort and leisurely travel of the ocean liner. SS United States still holds the westbound Blue Riband, and awaits her ultimate fate after being purchased in 2004 by the Norwegian Cruise Line.

Olympic 1911

The glorious Olympic far outlasted her sisters, the infamous Titanic and the unfortunate Britannic (the later never entered passenger service and was sunk by a German mine off Greece while serving as a hospital ship). She was nicknamed Old Reliable, and remained in continuous service (except for brief periods) from 1911 until 1935. She was notorious for striking other ships, but one occasion was actually deliberate. Under British law, she was designated an auxiliary cruiser, and in 1918, when crew spotted U-103, Olympic turned and rammed the submarine, causing the Germans to scuttle the boat. She retained her popularity well after the war, despite her age. She was laid up in the mid-1930s and scrapped in 1937.

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At the twilight of the golden age of Atlantic steamers came the QE2, launched upon the retirement of the first Mary and her sister ship. From the late 1960s until 2004, the QE2 was the only way to cross in luxury (aside from the Norway, before she became a cruise ship). She sailed more than just the Atlantic, though, and came to port in Sydney, Australia, among other places. This gorgeous superliner finally retired in 2008, and will soon become a floating hotel in Dubai.

Notable omissions: Majestic (ex-Bismarck), Aquitania, Berengaria (ex-Imperator), Nieuw Amsterdam and the Kungsholm/Sea Princess/Victoria/Mona Lisa.

Contributor: STL Mo

Read more: http://listverse.com/2008/12/29/10-great-atlantic-ocean-liners/

10 Man-Made Structures Taken To Huge Extremes

Mankind often stretches the boundaries of preconceived norms with creations so extraordinary that they become more than the sum of their parts. The Eiffel Tower is a cultural icon of France and, although not warmly received at first, its beauty has since transfixed people the world over.

So it might come as a surprise to learn that, from 1925 to 1936, French automobile manufacturer Citroen essentially utilized this extraordinary structure for the mundane task of advertising their brand. In fact, the very thing that saved the Eiffel Tower from demolition was its role as a radiotelegraph communications tower in World War I, hardly a glamorous occupation for one of the most romanticized structures in the world.

Despite having a functional purpose, the Eiffel Tower still remains extraordinary, but what about things mankind has created that are ordinary, even mundane in their very creation and essence? Let’s take a look at 10 man-made things that are so extraordinary, they deserve to transcend their ordinary origins.

10The Niesenbahn Funicular Service Stairway

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It would be fair to assume that the longest stairway in the word is in an extraordinarily tall building, but that title actually goes to the service stairway running alongside the Niesenbahn Funicular railway near Spiez, Switzerland. At 11,674 steps, it claims the Guinness World Record for longest staircase in the world. To put 11,674 steps into more relatable terms, the stairway covers a distance of 3.5 kilometers (2.2 mi) and rises 1,669 meters (5,476 ft) in elevation along that distance.

Before you enthusiastically venture out to conquer this Everest of stairways, you must first register to do so. It’s only open to workers, excluding the annual stairway run—in which you can pay to run on stairs for over an hour. Admittedly, that sounds terrible, but since it’s in Switzerland the views are probably gorgeous.

9The Cleveland Federal Reserve’s Vault Door

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From its installation in 1923 to its retirement in 1996, the 1.5-meter-thick (5 ft) door at the Federal Reserve of Cleveland served as the largest vault door installation in the world. At a weight of 100 tons, the swinging section of the door alone is akin to the weight of a Boeing 757 before fueling and loading, and its 5.5-meter (18 ft) hinge adds an additional 47 tons to the total weight. Yet it’s so perfectly balanced that one person can open and shut it with ease.

The door is so large and heavy that, when the time came to transport it to Cleveland, Ohio from York, Pennsylvania, the largest railcar in the United States was required to carry it, and the route had to be carefully planned to avoid bridges, because the sheer weight of the cargo threatened to collapse anything that wasn’t solid Earth. Once the car arrived in Cleveland, it took two full days just to unload the door from the railcar. No crane existed that was strong enough to lift it, so massive hydraulic jacks were used instead. If that wasn’t enough, once unloaded from the railcar, it took a total of four days to travel from the rail station to the bank, a distance of merely 1.6 kilometers (1 mi).

8Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C

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The world’s longest ship, Emma Maersk, is astounding in its own right, with a size comparable to the height of the world’s tallest skyscrapers at 397 meters (1,302 feet). It’s been the record holder for the world’s longest ship since 2007, but it’s the heart of this mighty beast that’s truly staggering. It’s befitting that the longest ship on the planet be powered by the largest reciprocating engine in the world—the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C, an engine roughly the size of a small three-story apartment building.

Without getting too technical, an engine of this size generates 110,000 horsepower and weighs 2,500 tons; compare that to the average horsepower and weight of an automobile engine at 150 horsepower and 160 kilograms (350 lb). Despite being so immense, the Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C is incredibly efficient, but nonetheless it still consumes 39.5 barrels of fuel every hour and costs $46 a minute to run.

7The Delaware Aqueduct

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Many of us reading this have the luxury of instant access to clean water in the comfort of our homes, but we usually don’t think of the unseen engineering marvels put in place so we can do something so simple as fill a glass of water. Most modern cites aren’t blessed with the foresight of the founders to settle near an adequate water supply, and New York City is one of them. Early settlers dug the first permanent well in 1677, and the first reservoir delivered water to 22,000 residents via hollow logs nearly 100 years later in 1776. Aqueducts became the solution to New York’s growing population and their increasing thirst all the way up until 1944, when the Delaware Aqueduct was constructed.

As of today, it still delivers 50 percent of the metropolis’s drinking water. At 137 kilometers (85 mi) long, it is the world’s longest continuous tunnel, and its deepest point lies 450 meters (1,500 ft) underground—nothing short of incredible, considering that it was constructed by drilling and blasting through solid rock. The aqueduct is also incredibly efficient—95 percent of its water is delivered by gravity alone, which is no small feat considering it delivers 1.9 billion liters (500 million gal) of water per day. Unfortunately, the fact that it leaks up to 130 million liters (35 million gal) of water daily—and has been since 1988—makes it one of New York’s biggest current problems. Plans are underway to spend $1.2 billion on diversion tunnels by 2019.

6KVLY-TV Television Mast

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Before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was built in 2010, the record for the world’s tallest man-made structure belonged to the KVLY-TV antenna in North Dakota. It took just 33 days and 11 men to assemble the antenna to a dizzying height of 628.8 meters (2,063 ft). The tower is so tall that if one of those 11 workers dropped his wrench at the top, it would be traveling at 400 kilometers per hour (250 mph) by the time it reached the ground—fast enough to ruin your day in a hurry if it happened to land on your toes.

If you’re feeling brave, there’s a small, two-man service elevator that takes you 594 meters (1,950 ft) up the tower, but the last 275 meters (900 ft) or so—the actual antenna—are only accessible by climbing. The gusts up there can reach 112 kilometers per hour (70 mph) and the tower sways up to 3 meters (10 ft), so maybe it’s best just to visit the Burj Khalifa’s air-conditioned observation deck instead.

5The Australian BHP Iron Ore Train

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How would you like to be stuck behind a train that is 7.3 kilometers (4.6 mi) long? While it might not seem that impressive at first glance, know that the amount of cars in this record-breaking run was a staggering 682 cars with a combined weight approaching 100,000 tons, making it both the longest and heaviest train to ever move. This becomes even more impressive when you learn that the entire train was under the control of a single driver harnessing the power of eight massive General Electric Diesel locomotives spaced evenly throughout the train to increase traction and braking forces.

BHP Iron Ore is no stranger to long trains, however, and routinely operates trains at half this size, meaning that they are regularly the largest trains on the planet at any given time. If you ever find yourself blocked at a railroad crossing by one of these beasts, it might be best to just head back the way you came.

4The Luxor Sky Beam

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No matter how common lightbulbs are these days, it’s hard to overlook the light mounted on top of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. This light is the second brightest man-made light in the world. While its setting is anything but ordinary, there’s no trickery or magic behind the “sky beam,” as it’s called in Las Vegas. It uses 39 xenon-powered lamps and the aid of simple reflector shields. Granted, these aren’t your average consumer-grade lightbulbs, as each one costs a hefty $1,200 and uses 7,000 watts. When combined as a unit, they make 40 billion candlepower. It’s so bright that it has reportedly been seen at night by airline pilots 430 kilometers (270 mi) away in Los Angeles, and the air temperature around the lamps reaches 260 degrees Celsius (500 °F).

This might sound impressive, but the world’s brightest light used to be even brighter when it was first installed in the 1990s. The hotel once claimed that American astronaut Daniel Brandenstein remarked that the light was so bright that it would awaken his comrades on the space shuttle. While that story was revealed to be a hoax, the Luxor sky beam is still powerful enough to use as a navigational landmark, as more than a few Las Vegas residents have admitted to doing.

3Large European Acoustic Facility

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The Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) is so loud it can kill you. Glossing over how the scientists behind it found that out, let’s try to put one of the world’s most powerful artificial sound systems in more relatable terms. At its base, the LEAF isn’t much more than a juiced-up sound system pumping sound waves into an acoustically optimized room, similar to a loud stereo system playing into a hard-walled closet. The only difference is, the room is 15 meters (50 ft) tall and the system is fueled by nitrogen to produce sounds just 40 decibels quieter than a TNT bomb.

The device is used to test whether satellites and other electronics can withstand the decibels produced at takeoff. As some of the loudest man-made sounds on the planet, rocket blasts sometimes damage the sensitive equipment being launched into space. And yes, the LEAF can kill you—because of this, the designers engineered a fail-safe that doesn’t allow the system to be turned on unless the door is closed.

2The Aerium

Businesses fail all the time, and the more ambitious ones usually leave behind large facilities in their wake. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to sell a standard office building than it is to sell, say, an aircraft hangar 210 meters (688 ft) wide and 107 meters (350 ft) high. That’s the predicament German airship company CargoLifter AG found itself in in 2002 when they declared insolvency. Fortunately for tourists in Europe, the Malaysian company Tanjong had the extravagant plan to convert the world’s largest freestanding building into an indoor water park and resort.

The result is nothing short of astounding. While the structure is nothing more than a clever aircraft hangar, and the resort is standard fare for tourists and business moguls alike, the two combine to create one of the most fascinatingly odd man-made attractions in the world. Just how big is the world’s largest freestanding building? The Aerium can fit the Statue of Liberty standing up or the Eiffel Tower lying on its side; the floor space alone can fit eight American football fields. With all that space available, it’s barely surprising to learn that it holds a 2,700-square-meter (9,000 sq ft) pool with 180 meters (600 ft) of sandy shoreline. It also contains the world’s largest indoor rainforest with 50,000 trees.

1SEA-ME-WE-3

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Submarine telecommunication cables are the unsung heroes when it comes to connecting the world. It seems that in our modern age of increasingly advanced technology and rapid development, the majority of communications would be delivered via satellites, but the reality is that most of our data circumnavigates the globe the same way our computers connected to the Internet 10 years ago—with really long cables. Most people don’t even know they exist, and SEA-ME-WE-3 is the world’s longest at a staggering 39,000 kilometers (24,233 mi). Completed in 2000, the cable runs from England to Australia and has 39 landing points in 33 countries and four continents.

What’s even more incredible than the sheer scale is how mundane and simple these cables are. Modern submarine fiber optic cables like SEA-ME-WE-3 are little more than 6.8 centimeters (2.7 in) in diameter, which accounts for a rubber shell, protective synthetic bedding, copper insulation, and the optical fibers themselves. The difference between your household Ethernet cords and submarine fiber optic cables isn’t that great in principle, and everyone who’s had a data cord break on them knows how frustrating it can be. As it turns out, this exact thing can happen to data cables as well.

A miscalculation by a ship’s navigator or even a curious sea creature can sever a cable, resulting in millions of users without Internet access. Even the mighty SEA-ME-WE-3 isn’t immune to the risks—this exact thing happened in 2005, resulting in Pakistan essentially being isolated from the rest of the world for weeks.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/11/28/10-man-made-structures-taken-to-huge-extremes/

15 Interesting Places and Events in New Zealand

New Zealand is an island country located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It geographically comprises two main landmasses, the North and South Islands. In 1250-1300, Polynesians settled New Zealand and developed a distinctive Māori culture. Europeans first made contact in 1642. The culture of New Zealand is largely inherited from British and European custom, interwoven with Māori and Polynesian tradition. European and Māori remain the two largest ethnicities, but the large Polynesian population in Auckland has prompted the observation that Auckland is now the largest Polynesian city in the world.

In fact, Auckland is the most remote city in the world with a population in excess of one million. The country of New Zealand is currently the 122 most populated in the world. During its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity. It is a marvelous place to visit and holds many unique experiences. This article will examine 15 interesting places and events in New Zealand.

Kawekaweau

The Kawekaweau is an extinct Giant Gecko unique to New Zealand. It is by far the largest of all geckos with an overall length of at least 600 mm (around 2 ft). The only recorded account of a living Kawekaweau is from 1870, when a Māori chief killed one he found under a dead rata tree in the forests of the Waimana Valley, which are now protected as part of the northern section of Te Urewera National Park.

The lizard is described as being “brownish with reddish stripes and as thick as a man’s wrist.” In 1986, a single stuffed museum specimen of a Kawekaweau was discovered in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Marseille. Nobody is quite sure how the specimen got to France. In 1990, the Kawekaweau was given to the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, which is the national museum and art gallery of the country. “Te Papa Tongarewa” is broadly translated as “the place of treasures of this land.”

Greenstone

Pounamu (greenstone) is several types of hard, durable and highly valued nephrite jade, bowenite, or serpentinite found in New Zealand. Pounamu almost always refers to nephrite jade and is found in specific rivers on the South Island. When searching for the rock, it can be difficult to identify because it hides in large boulders that often need to be cut open. The Māori people have recognized four main types of pounamu. They are kawakawa, kahurangi, īnanga, and tangiwai. Kahurangi pounamu is the rarest variety and is highly translucent in color.

Pounamu plays a very important role in Māori culture and is considered a treasure. It is valued for its beauty, strength, and durability. In 1997, the Crown gave back the ownership of all naturally occurring pounamu to the South Island tribe Ngāi Tahu. Today, greenstone continues to be popular among New Zealanders and is often presented to visitors and people moving overseas.

Zuiyo Maru

For centuries, large unidentified sea animals have been reported off the coast of New Zealand. In 1968, a carcass washed ashore at Muriwai, on the west coast of North Island. The body was measured at 30 ft (9.1 m) long and 8 ft (2.4 m) high. After examining the bizarre carcass, the chairman of the Zoology Department at the University of Auckland said: “I can’t think of anything it resembles.” The body was photographed and looks like a big hairy blob. Other than a few sentences, very little information has been written about the case.

In 1977, the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyō Maru discovered the Zuiyo-maru carcass off the coast of New Zealand, east of Christchurch. The crew was initially convinced that the body was an unidentified animal, but Captain Akira Tanaka decided to dump it back into the ocean. Before it was lost, a collection of photos, sketches, and samples were taken of the creature. The discovery resulted in a “plesiosaur-craze” in Japan. Analysis of the tissue indicated that the creature was most likely the carcass of a basking shark. However, the carcass holds some bizarre characteristics. It had a long neck, four large, reddish fins, a long tail, and lacked a dorsal fin.

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William Trubridge is a record setting free-diver from New Zealand. He is the first human to break the 100m barrier in an unassisted dive. In 2011, Trubridge won the World’s Absolute Freediver Award (WAFA) naming him best all around free-diver in the world. On December 16, 2010, Trubridge set a new world record and dove to a depth of 101 m (331.36 ft) on a single breath of air with only his hands and feet for propulsion.

During the dive, William didn’t use any swimming fins, weights, and required no heavy sled. He also didn’t use any inflatable airbag to reach the surface. In total, Trubridge held his breath for 4 minutes, 10 seconds, from start to finish. He made the record breaking dive at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, which is the world’s deepest known blue hole with seawater.

On April 10, 2011, on the third day of completion in Vertical Blue, William Trubridge reclaimed his world record in Free Immersion and dove 121 meters in a time of 4:13. Free immersion is a bit different in that the diver can use a rope to help themselves in the decent and ascent. William Trubridge is an Apnea Academy instructor and operates a free-diving school and annual competition (Vertical Blue) at Dean’s Blue Hole. Over the last couple decades, New Zealand has become known for famous divers. Another great free-diver from New Zealand is a man named Dave Mullins.

David Gray (Murderer)

The deadliest criminal shooting spree in the history of New Zealand occurred on November 13, 1990 in the small seaside township of Aramoana. On the day in question, resident David Gray, a 33-year-old unemployed man, began indiscriminately shooting people with a scoped semi-automatic rifle. In the attack, Gray shot neighbors and members of the town killing thirteen people, including local police Sergeant Stewart Guthrie. After the massacre, Commissioner of Police John Jamieson authorized the Special Tactics Group (STG) to travel to Dunedin and locate Gray. After a long day searching from house to house, the STG found Gray in a house on the north-eastern side of the township.

At around 5.50 pm, David Gray ran out of the house, shooting from the hip and shouting “Kill me!” He took several steps before being shot and knocked down by STG gunfire. He died on the way to the hospital. Police fired between 50 and 60 shots, and at least 150 police officers were involved in the operation. Three days after the incident, Gray’s house at 27 Muri Street in Aramoana was deliberately set on fire and burned to the ground. The shooting directly resulted in an amendment to New Zealand’s firearms regulations, tightening gun control laws in the country.

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Barry Smith was a Christian preacher and author from New Zealand. During his lifetime, Smith traveled around the world and spread the word of Jesus. He was also a conspiracy theorist who wrote eight books about the end of times prophecy. Smith was highly concerned with the New World Order, One World Government, and the Mark of the Beast. He wrote that the Mark of the Beast would be achieved by some form of modern technology, such as barcode tattoos, or a chip used to replace money. Many of Barry’s predictions are said to have come true over time.

He predicted the development of the subcutaneous RFID implant, the rise of terrorism, and the Middle East Conflicts. He was a proponent of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, and claimed the attacks were orchestrated by the US federal government. Shortly before his death in 2002 (age 69), Smith forecast an imminent worldwide financial and economic “collapse.” He said the Bible indicated that the trade of the world would be moved from America to Europe. “Under the reign of the Antichrist, the American dollar will give way to the Euro dollar.” He also said that the New Zealand dollar would probably give way to an Asian dollar.

Barry Smith is quoted: “I also discovered that the AIDS virus was created in a laboratory in America, which has been proven by a Jewish fellow called Leonard Horowitz. We even have the cure for AIDS. I’m a friend of the President of Kenya and they are using it there. That’s how wicked and mixed up everything is.” Kenya has experienced a notable decline in HIV prevalence in comparison to other African nations, attributed to behavioral change and increased access to medication. Barry Smith also had some harsh words for Henry Kissinger and thought he was possibly the “Antichrist.”

Kakapo2

New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometers (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea. Because of its remoteness, the land is noted for being one of the last areas settled by humans. The isolation has also given rise to a distinct biodiversity. New Zealand has one of the most varied and unique biodiversities on earth.

Birds comprise the most important part of New Zealand’s vertebrate fauna and the islands are known for a large number of endemic species, which means species that are unique to this part of the world. Of the estimated 20,000 fungi species in New Zealand, only about 4,500 are known. New Zealand also has two sub-species of endemic cetaceans, Hector’s Dolphin and its close relative Maui’s Dolphin.

The Kakapo, also called owl parrot, is a species of large, flightless nocturnal parrot unique to New Zealand. It is the world’s only flightless parrot and the heaviest parrot in the world. The Kakapo is also one of the world’s longest-living birds and has a lifespan of over 60 years. Its anatomy typifies the tendency of bird evolution on oceanic islands and follows the concept of Island gigantism. The Kakapo is critically endangered. Like so many island species, the birds lost their ability to fly in the absence of mammalian predators.

When humans settled New Zealand and introduced predators such as cats, dogs, rats, ferrets, and stoats, the Kakapo was almost wiped out. As of February 2012, only 126 living individuals are known, most of which have been given names. In 2009, surviving Kakapos were moved to two predator-free islands, Codfish (Whenua Hou) and Anchor islands, where they are closely monitored. Similar to other parrots, the species has been noted for their intelligence.

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Sports are very popular in New Zealand, and despite New Zealand being a very small nation, it has enjoyed great success in many sports, most notably rugby, cricket, sailing, netball, motorsport, climbing, and other extreme sports. New Zealand first participated at the Olympic Games in 1908, and has since sent athletes to every Summer Games. New Zealand athletes have won a total of 86 medals at the Summer Games, but only one at the Winter Games (alpine skier Annelise Coberger, 1992).

Let’s take a look at some of New Zealand’s greatest Olympic champions. In 1912, Malcolm Champion became New Zealand’s first Olympic gold medalist, and the first swimmer to represent New Zealand at an Olympic Games. Yvette Williams was the first woman from New Zealand to win an Olympic gold medal (long jump, 1952). Peter Snell was a world class runner that came to international fame in 1960 when he won the gold medal in Rome and set a new national record for the 800m. In 1964, Snell won two more gold medals. He was voted New Zealand’s “Sports Champion of the 20th Century.”

A man named Ian Ferguson (canoeist) is New Zealand’s most successful Olympian. He competed in K1, K2, and K4 kayak events and won a total of four gold medals. Horseman Mark Todd was voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports. He won gold medals at Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988). Danyon Loader is another famous athlete from New Zealand that won multiple gold medals. In 1996, he set World Records in the short course 200 butterfly and 400 freestyle. Loader was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003.

Let’s run through a quick list a notable rugby, cricket, and football stars from New Zealand. Famous rugby players include Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Sean Fitzpatrick, Grant Fox, Dave Gallaher, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Sir Brian Lochore, Jonah Lomu, Sir Colin Meads, Graham Mourie, George Nepia, and Wilson Whineray. Some famous New Zealand cricketers include Stephen Fleming, Martin Crowe, John Richard Reid, Richard Hadlee, Lance Cairns, Chris Cairns, Danny Morrison, and Daniel Vettori.

The current captain for the New Zealand national football team is defender Ryan Nelsen. Arguably the best football player in the history of New Zealand is Wynton Rufer. Rufer was named the Oceania Footballer of the Century. Some other great players include Steve Wooddin, Shane Smeltz, and Ivan Vicelich.

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A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of heated groundwater. There are currently hot springs on all continents and in many countries around the world. Places with an abundance of hot springs include China, Costa Rica, Iceland, Iran, Peru, United States, Taiwan, Japan, and New Zealand. The world’s largest hot spring is located in New Zealand and named Frying Pan Lake. Frying Pan Lake sits in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley and has a surface area of 3.8 ha (9.3 acres), also reported at 38,000 square meters.

The average depth of the hot spring is 6 meters (19.6 feet), but it reaches the depth of 20 meters (65.6 feet) in places. It is a wonderful place to visit and a marvelous example of volcanic activity. You might wonder what geological event created the massive hot spring. On June 10, 1886 the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley was created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera, on the North Island. The lake is currently fed by numerous acid springs and sits at a temperature between 45 and 55°C (113-131°F).

The 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption also created the Waimangu Geyser, which was located near Rotorua in New Zealand. Rotorua is a famous city on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua. The Waimangu Geyser was the most powerful geyser in the world from 1900 to 1904. It was created after the eruption opened a 14km-long (8.75 miles) fissure down the mountain and through Lake Rotomahana.

The geyser was first seen erupting in 1900 and the explosion of water was observed reaching up to 460 meters (1,500 ft) in height. The geyser attracted worldwide interest in the early 1900s and was a popular tourist destination. On November 1, 1904, the Waimangu Geyser became extinct as the result of a landslide which changed the water table in this area of New Zealand.

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Due to the mild maritime climate of New Zealand, the land is covered with lush forest. The country also has giant mountain peaks, which were formed by the tectonic uplift and volcanic eruptions. For this reason, many areas of New Zealand are extremely remote and isolated. For centuries, the people of New Zealand have reported some unusual creatures on the islands. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular crypids of New Zealand.

Since the late 1990s, several big cat sightings have been reported in parts of New Zealand, on both the North and South Islands. There have been unverified panther sightings in Mid-Canterbury near Ashburton and in the foothills of the Southern Alps, but no physical evidence has been discovered. The Kumi Lizard is a cryptid reptile, possibly a giant monitor lizard, which allegedly once lived in New Zealand. The Kumi Lizard is said to be 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) long and is similar to the giant extinct Australian lizard, Megalania.

The Moehau is reported to be a large, hairy hominid living in the Coromandel-Moehau ranges of New Zealand’s North Island. The most common explanation for the Hairy Moehau is that it is a gorilla that escaped from a ship in the 1920s. Toangians is the name of another ape-man that has been reported in New Zealand. The Waitoreke is an otter/beaver-like animal said to live on the South Island.

Probably the most intriguing cryptid from New Zealand is the Poukai, which was a monstrous bird that is said to have eaten people. According to Sir George Grey, an early governor of New Zealand, Hokioi (Poukai) were huge black-and-white predators with a red crest and yellow-green tinged wingtips. If the Poukai was related to the Haast’s Eagle, then it is possible that the legends could be true. The Haast’s Eagle was a species of massive eagles that once lived on the South Island of New Zealand.

The species is the largest eagle and true raptors ever known to have existed. The total length of the bird was estimated to have been up to 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) in females, with a standing height of approximately 90 cm (2 ft 11 in). Haast’s Eagles preyed on large, flightless bird species, including the moa, which was often fifteen times the weight of the eagle at 300 pounds (140 kg). It is estimated that the Haast’s Eagle attacked at speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph) and could have easily killed an adult human. The birds did not officially become extinct until around 1400.

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New Zealand is known for its extreme sports, adventure tourism, and strong mountaineering tradition. Outdoor pursuits such as cycling, fishing, swimming, running, tramping, canoeing, hunting, and surfing are popular. The Catlins Coast comprises an area in the southeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. If you enjoy scenic beauty, hiking, and the freedom of isolation, this is the place for you. The Catlins Coast is a rugged area that features a scenic coastal landscape and dense temperate rainforest, both of which hold many endangered species of birds, most notably the rare yellow-eyed penguin.

The coast is exposed to wild weather and large ocean swells, which often attract big-wave surfers. Due to the weather, the Catlins Coast has been home to numerous shipwrecks, which has intrigued divers and treasure hunters. The relatively isolated location of the Catlins Coast is a delight for surfers who can find undiscovered hot spots. The area has been described as a “treasure trove of uncharted wave formations.” Some noted locations are Kaka Point, Nugget Point, Cannibal Bay, Long Point, and Catlins River Mouth.

Be sure to visit the cliffs of Slope Point if you are on the Catlins Coast. There is no road to Slope Point and it must be reached by a 20 minute walk following dilapidated yellow markers. The rugged, scenic coastline of the Catlins features sandy beaches, blowholes, a petrified forest at Curio Bay, and the Cathedral Caves, which visitors can reach at low tide. The caves are only accessible 2 hours either side of low tide and are one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand.

The Catlins Coast consists of high cliffs, up to 200m (660 ft) in height. For this reason, many of the area’s rivers cascade and form large waterfalls, most notably the iconic Purakaunui Falls on the short Purakaunui River. The falls are isolated by native bush and fall 20m (66 ft) in three tiers. The landscape of the Catlins is featured in many poems by celebrated poet Hone Tuwhare and is like nothing found in other parts of the world.

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During World War II, the people of New Zealand felt safe in the fact that they were isolated and a long distance from the war in Europe. However, in the summer of 1940, the German merchant cruiser Orion was ordered to place 228 mines in four separate areas around New Zealand. At this time in history, the RMS Niagara was an ocean liner that maintained a service from Auckland, New Zealand, to Suva and Vancouver, Canada. The vessel was initially launched on August 17, 1912 and given the nickname of “the Titanic of the Pacific,” but after the RMS Titanic sank, it was renamed “Queen of the Pacific.” RMS Niagara was just 55m shorter than Titanic.

On June 19, 1940, the RMS Niagara was hit by a mine near Auckland and sank in 121 meters (397 feet) of water. No lives were lost, but a secret and large consignment of gold and weapons from the Bank of England sank with the ship. Also, the passenger’s valuables were lost. In the early 1940s, a series of recovery attempts were made to locate the gold. In one case, the Claymore successfully recovered more than eight tones of gold. In all, 555 gold bars were found by the Claymore. As of 2011, five gold bars remain in the wreck, estimated to be worth $1.2 million New Zealand dollars. People have attempted to recover the gold, but it remains lost.

New Zealand is officially recognized as an island country, but it sits on a massive submerged continent known as Zealandia. The New Zealand continent is a nearly submerged fragment of land that sank after breaking away from Australia. New Zealand is the largest part of Zealandia above sea level, followed by New Caledonia. The sunken continent is larger than Greenland or India, and almost half the size of Australia. It is unusually slender, stretching from New Caledonia to beyond New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Zealandia supports inshore fisheries and contains New Zealand’s largest gas field, near Taranaki.

In 1768, Captain Cook received specific instructions to find the fabled land of Terra Australis Incognita, the great southern continent thought to be hiding somewhere in the South Pacific. History says Cook failed, finding only the finger of New Zealand. However, GNS geologist Hamish Campbell says Cook might have succeeded and found the sunken land of Zealandia. This is a controversial claim because it says that the entire continent of Zealandia and New Zealand was once underwater. To support his theory, Campbell used evidence from the Ruahine Range, which used to be submerged.

The theory would disprove important facts surrounding the creation of New Zealand. It would help answer the question of what happened to the mammals absent from New Zealand’s native fauna. “What we’re saying is that it is possible that New Zealand’s native flora and fauna is derived from ancestral stock less than 25 million years old.” Many people have dismissed the theory for a number of reasons. Some have cited the history of the tuatara, which is a reptile alive in New Zealand, thought to be a rare remnant of the dinosaur age.

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In 1977, Air New Zealand decided to offer an Antarctic sightseeing flight from Auckland Airport to Antarctica and then back via Christchurch. The flight gave individuals the opportunity to view unexplored portions of Antarctica. Many people in New Zealand and around the world saw TE-901 as a great opportunity and quickly signed up for the voyage. On November 28, 1979, the fourteenth flight of TE-901 collided with Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board.

The initial investigation into the accident concluded that it was caused by pilot error, but it was later determined that the flight crashed after its coordinates were adjusted and the crew was not informed. Had the pilots been informed of the changes, the crash could have been avoided. The unexpected flight plan adjustment caused the aircraft to be manually re-routed into the path of Mount Erebus. After a long search, both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were discovered. The voice recorder indicated that the crew believed they were flying over McMurdo Sound, well to the west of Mt Erebus, when in reality they were flying directly at the mountain.

A collection of pictures were taken seconds before the collision that show the mountain with clear visibility and well beneath the cloud base. This fact has confused some people, as the pilots of the aircraft should have been well aware that they were in danger. A conspiracy has evolved around the case and some people in New Zealand feel the government has kept important facts secret. After the crash, the phrase “an orchestrated litany of lies” entered New Zealand popular culture. Stories emerged of passengers who won tickets to the ill-fated flight or received them as gifts. The accident remains New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime disaster.

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When searching for the most famous person born in New Zealand, Edmund Hillary stands out. In 1919, Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand. While in secondary school, he became interested in mountaineering and made his first major climb in 1939, reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier. On May 29, 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest and survived. The feat propelled Hillary to international stardom and he was named one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Following his ascent of Everest, Hillary devoted most of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal. He funded many schools and hospitals in the area. In his career, Hillary scaled ten other peaks in the Himalayas. He also reached the South Pole and was the first to reach the Pole overland since Amundsen in 1911 and Scott in 1912. Despite the danger of climbing enormous mountain peaks, Hillary’s most notorious near-death experiences have come from plane crashes.

Edmund Hillary narrowly missed becoming a victim of the 1960 New York air disaster, having been late for his flight. Between 1977 and 1979, Hillary commentated aboard several Antarctic sightseeing flights operated by Air New Zealand. He was scheduled to commentate on the November 28, 1979 flight that crashed into Mount Erebus, but was instead replaced by his close friend Peter Mulgrew, who died in the accident.

In 1992, Edmund Hillary appeared on the New Zealand $5 note, making him the only New Zealander to be on a banknote during their lifetime. In 2006, Edmund was highly critical of the decision not to try to rescue David Sharp, an Everest climber who died on the mountain, saying that it is unacceptable to leave another climber behind. On January 11, 2008, Edmund Hillary died of heart failure in Auckland City Hospital. He was 88-years-old.

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Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand, is considered the world’s steepest residential street. It is located in the suburb of North East Valley, 3.5 kilometers (2.2 mi) northeast of Dunedin’s city centre. Baldwin Street runs east from the valley of the Lindsay Creek up the side of Signal Hill towards Opoho. The road has an average slope of slightly more than 1:5 at its maximum. The slope of Baldwin Street rises about 1:2.86 (19° or 35%), which is an elevation change of 1 meter for every 2.86 meters traveled. The street was developed in the middle of the 19th century as part of a wider grid system.

Baldwin Street is the venue for a collection of annual events in New Zealand, including the Baldwin Street Gutbuster, which involves running from the base of the street to the top of the hill and back down. Since 2002, Baldwin Street has been the site for an event which involves rolling over 30,000 Jaffas (little chocolate balls) down the hill. The road has become an area for thrill-seekers and dangerous stunts. In March 2001, a 19-year-old University of Otago student was killed when she attempted to travel down the street inside a wheelie bin. The bin collided with a parked trailer, killing her instantly. On January 2, 2010, Cardrona stuntman Ian Soanes rode down Baldwin Street on a motorcycle on one wheel.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/04/05/15-interesting-places-and-events-in-new-zealand/

Top 10 Amazing Cities You Will Never Visit

For thousands of years cities have been the manifestation of humankind’s artistry, imagination, and instinct to succeed. They embody our strong social desires and longing to create grand masterpieces. London, Constantinople, Paris, New York, Ancient Rome, and Tokyo have been just a few of the dazzling trophies mankind has built. But there have been many cases in which someone’s vision for a better, more efficient, or more fantastic city collapsed into a heap of broken dreams. These are ten cities that were never built, ten cities you will never visit.

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Just a couple of months ago it was reported that China’s planned city of Dongtan would not become a reality. It was highly publicized and anticipated since it was to be the first mega eco-city of its kind.

Slated to be twice the size of Manhattan, the site was an island near Shanghai and was to change the way humans interacted with their environment. The exodus of individuals from the countryside to cities in China, therefore creating more environmental waste, spurred a movement for more environment-friendly projects, and Dongtan was by far the most ambitious one.

The self-sustaining city would have produced its own energy from solar, wind, and bio-fuel power, and recycled city waste. Public transportation would have been powered by clean technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells, and a vast network of foot and bicycle paths would have substantially cut down on vehicle emissions. In addition, organic farming methods were to be used inside the city limits.

It was to be a green model for the entire world, but, like most projects of this scale, resistance and problems arose. Many considered it a pipe dream which was never really plausible, while others claimed China’s rapidly developing cities would negate any benefits Dongtan presented. When Shanghai’s mayor (the project’s biggest supporter) was arrested for property-related fraud in 2006, the plan fell into further disarray with permits lapsing and enthusiasm waning.

Eventually, the global recession all but sank the undertaking and the innovative ideas planned will have to be put on hold.

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Buckminster Fuller was a brilliant visionary, scientist, environmentalist, and philosopher who, in the 1960s, developed a bold design. It was dubbed Triton City and was intended to be a floating utopia for up to 5,000 residents. His giant, floating city was designed to encourage people to share resources and conserve energy.

Fuller was initially commissioned by a wealthy Japanese patron to design a floating city for Tokyo Bay. He died in 1966, but astoundingly enough, the United States Department of Urban Development commissioned Fuller for further design and analysis. His designs called for the city to: be resistant to tsunamis, provide the most possible outside living, desalinate the very water that it would float in for consumption, give privacy to each residence, and incorporate a tetrahedronal shape which provides the most surface area with the least amount of volume. Everything from education to entertainment to recreation would be a part of the city. Fuller also claimed that the low operating costs would result in a high standard of living.

HUD eventually sent the plans to the U.S. Navy where they were dissected and analyzed even further. The city of Baltimore, upon hearing of the project, became interested and petitioned to have Triton City moored off of its shores in Chesapeake Bay. However, as municipal and federal administrations changed, the project languished and was never brought to light. Today, there are derivatives of Triton City, such as the artificial island Kansai and its airport in Osaka, Japan, but they pale in comparison to the scope of Triton City.

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Originally designed by one of the most famous and respected architects in history, Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1932, Broadacre was meant to be a “New Town” utopia. It did not fit into its own category because it had many characteristics of a conventional city of the time as well as incorporating the principles of an agricultural nation which Thomas Jefferson championed. In essence, he wanted to abandon the crowded, machine-age, industrial city, but avoid a rural community.

Just like Jefferson believed every citizen should have their own “vine and fig tree”, Wright planned the city so that each denizen would grow their own food on their one acre plot of land. In what was a controversial characteristic, citizens of all social classes would intermingle much more than in any other city or town of the day. Wright also despised centralization so it was essential that the city be sprawling and widespread, which severely differentiated itself from a city. In Broadacre, homes, factories, offices, and municipal buildings would all be separated by large expanses of parks planted with lawns and trees. Cleanliness was paramount and there was to be only light industry and all utility wiring would be buried underground.

Opponents of Wright’s city were vociferous however. Because he believed that the automobile was “the advance agent of decentralization” he envisioned extremely little mass transportation which many city planners vehemently disagreed with. Wright’s vision never was realized, and the closest thing we have today are the sprawling suburban communities that blanket much of our planet.

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These are not cities by definition, but anyone who has been to a Disney resort knows that they are basically self-sufficient cities in their own right. Considering the amount of real estate the conglomerate already owns and operates it’s amazing how many other things they planned that never came to fruition. It’s also interesting to realize what we could have had from the world’s largest entertainment company since most of these would have been great places to visit:

Mythia: A Greek and Roman myths and legends-inspired park planned to be built near Disneyland.
WestCOT: A West Coast EPCOT Center planned for California.
Disneyland East: A large park to be built on the site of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, NY.
Port Disney: An American version of Tokyo DisneySea planned for California.
Disney’s Asian, Venetian, Persian, and Mediterranean resorts to be built near Disney World.
Disney America: A patriotic theme park that was to be built in Virginia.
Discovery Bay: A land inspired by Jules Verne‘s various works. Some ideas were later incorporated into Disneyland Paris.
Beastly Kingdom: A mythical beings land planned near Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Dark Kingdom (Shadowlands): A park near Disney Word that would have showcased all of Disney’s villain characters and be the antithesis of the Magic Kingdom. Maleficent’s Castle would have been in the center of the park.

Sci-Fi City: Planned for Tokyo Disneyland, this would have been an immense park with an endless amount of science fiction rides and attractions. If built it would have been the most extensive and impressive “tomorrowland” ever created.

Disney’s Snow Crown: A Disney-themed ski resort situated at the Mineral King glacial valley in northern California which was ultimately prevented by preservationists.

These are the biggest resorts and parks that were conceived by Disney but never built. There are hundreds more attractions, rides, restaurants, etc. whose ideas were put to paper but never became reality for a multitude of reasons.

Garden City Concept By Howard

Sir Ebenezer Howard was the father of the garden city movement, which is a suburban town near a large, metropolitan city that is designed to not be reliant upon its bigger neighbor. Garden cities were intended to provide a pleasant environment with open public land while at the same time contain industry and agriculture. He succeeded in spearheading the building of many garden cities, beginning in the United Kingdom, to mixed results. But his vision of the slumless, smokeless cities model has gone unbuilt.

His design is very interesting, and if one is to peruse his self-drawn diagram, the aesthetics appear quite pleasing. A number of characteristics are notable. The entire design resembles a big wheel, with the Central City being the hub with six smaller, surrounding garden cities. Each city is surrounded by a circular canal, and one large circular canal, the Inter Municipal Canal, connects each of the six outer cities. Continuing with the canal theme, independent straight canals cut through all six cities and run directly into the Central City. Roads also ran along these straight waterways. Running inside the outer towns would be the Inter Municipal Railway. Inside the Railway, Howard planned for such things as farms, an insane asylum, reservoirs, an agricultural college, industrial homes, cemeteries, and a “home for waifs”.

The overall design was to relieve the huddled crowdedness and dirtiness of big cities but still have the feeling of connectivity. Since it would have been such a daunting project, and there wasn’t quite enough support for Howard’s plan, these connected cities never materialized.

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While this is a city that you can visit, you will never see its original plan fulfilled. Nat Mendelsohn was a developer who had a dream of developing a city that would rival Los Angeles in terms of grandeur. He ambitiously began building on a 320 square kilometer piece of land in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert complete with a huge park and artificial lake. If one were to look at a satellite picture of the city it may seem like Mendelsohn had at least come close to realizing his dream. However, if you are to look closer you would notice something conspicuously missing – houses.

Although hundreds of streets, complete with cul-de-sacs, crisscross in one continuous, gigantic grid, the network is just one, prodigious ghost town. But at least ghost towns have structures; these streets are lined with absolutely nothing, not even a telephone pole. It kind of looks like an intricate crop circle mysteriously made in the middle of the desert or threadbare hiking paths run amok twisting through the dirt and sand.

Mendelsohn had the same idea as many real estate developers of the time. He would buy a vast amount of land, divide it into thousands of home plots, then sell them to families who longed for a piece of property to call their own. The gamble did not pay off for him however, because 50 years later decaying streets still lie there empty. One reason is that dust storms are a common occurrence in the area, but he mainly overestimated demand.

The city is not empty though. It has a population of roughly 14,000 people comprising a small town. The entire town, however, only takes up a small corner on the outskirts of the boundless, barren grid. Although it’s a town with services, it will never be a large city the likes of Los Angeles that Nat Mendelsohn conceptualized.

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The Minnesota Experimental City (MXC) was the brainchild of a private partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Federal Government in the 1960s and would be intentionally open to observation and evaluation by urban studies experts. Like its name suggests, the city would be a combination of experimental ideas never before tried on such a large scale.

The city would accommodate about 250,000 people, and it would focus on open spaces such as parks, farms, and wilderness. Only one sixth of the area would be paved and the city would be partially covered by a geodesic dome (designed by Buckminster Fuller). This design is extraordinarily strong, is hurricane and tornado proof, and is widely used today. The city would be car-free, with cars parked at the edge and people-movers whisking people into the center of the city. A futuristic and highly advanced automated highway system, in which magnetic, driverless cars were used, would connect people to the outside world.

Perhaps the most drastic and controversial departure from conventional cities was that there would be no schools. Instead, the practice of lifelong learning would be practiced. Lifelong learning states that everyone is a teacher as well as a student and that education takes place through social interactions, observations, and joining groups and clubs among other things.

Budgetary problems as well as logistics quashed the city’s groundbreaking.

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Welthauptstadt Germania (World Capital Germania) was to be the jewel of the Third Reich. Adolph Hitler, unmatched in his hubris, was convinced that Germany would become the center of Europe, and perhaps the world, and had begun to plan his capital city, which was a rebuilt Berlin, even before World War II began. His goal was to exceed the quality and splendor of other world capitals such as London, Paris, and Washington D.C.

Plans for this grandiose city included a stadium that could house 400,000 spectators, a Chancellery with a lavish hall twice as long as the one at the Palace of Versailles, the Triumphal Arch (based on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris but much, much larger), and a giant open square to be surrounded by large government buildings. The centerpiece of the new city would be the Volkshalle, or People’s Hall, which would include a humongous domed building designed by Hitler himself and chief architect Albert Speer. If this domed building was built it would still today be the largest enclosed space in the world, being sixteen times larger than the dome at St. Peter’s.

Even though the War began before construction could begin and put a halt to commencing building, all the necessary land was acquired and engineering plans were developed. Hitler’s plan was to win the war, finish construction on Welthauptstadt, hold an extravagant World’s Fair there in 1950, then retire. Needless to say, the crushing of the Nazi regime and Third Reich at the hands of Allied forces put an end to the future of the great city.

One humorous aspect of the planning of Welthauptstadt is that the marshy-like ground of Berlin never could have supported the monstrous structures Hitler wanted as the showpieces of his city.

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A planned city across the bay from Anchorage, Alaska, the name was a reversal on “Seward’s Folly” which was the name bestowed on the transaction that Secretary of State William Seward made when he purchased Alaska from Russia. It was to be a city unlike any in the world.

First and foremost, it was to have a colossal, glass dome covering it which made it completely climate controlled. The city would have amenities for 400,000 citizens including a sports arena, mall, schools, and petroleum center. Transportation would be quite innovative and included moving sidewalks and an aerial cable car line that would shuttle people around the city and to nearby Anchorage. Skylights and large windows would give people the sense of openness but would not compromise the climate-controlling properties of the dome. Cars would be nonexistent inside because it was a city “for people, not cars”, and all energy used in the city would be provided mostly by natural gas. Later, plans called for a subway under the bay that would also lead to Anchorage.

Failure to make lease payments on the land, and the impracticality of it all, ensured that Seward’s Success would, in the end, not be such a success.

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No, this was not an insincere idea concocted by someone just to garner attention. Back in the 50s it was the dream of one man who doggedly fought to make it an actuality. It was to be a resort city completely centered around the culture of drinking, where alcohol would be embraced, loved, and revered.

Mel Johnson loved to drink. As a young man he traveled the world to see the great drinking cities: Dublin, New York, Havana, Rio, Barcelona, New Orleans, and Paris. But the drinking culture of these cities just wasn’t enough for him; he wanted something more. He was a very intelligent man who dropped out of Harvard University and served in the armed forces, but after World War II he had his epiphany and set out to create BoozeTown.

His city would be comprised of dozens upon dozens of bars and nightclubs, all with different themes. He was meticulous in his planning and fleshed out every detail. Street names would allude to alcohol, such as Gin Lane, Bourbon Boulevard, and 21st Amendment Ave; there would be a moving sidewalk and an electric trolley system which would help escort staggering drunks home (or to another bar); much of the alcohol would be brewed or distilled inside the town which would produce revenue; every bar and liquor store would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; drinks would be allowed everywhere, even banks and places of worship; the city would have its own currency, BoozeBucks; there would be a police force, the Party Police, but instead of harassing drinkers they would be there to assist them; the BoozeTown Bugle would keep citizens abreast of the current news; and no children would be allowed inside. There would be a big daycare just outside city limits for visitors. Johnson figured that the permanent populace would consist of “retirees, artists, and goof-offs”, people who wouldn’t be responsible for children in the first place. He believed that famous artists, writers, and actors would in time flock to the city to live. In the middle of the city would be a towering building shaped like a martini glass in which Johnson would have his home and headquarters.

He scouted out areas for BoozeTown, such as somewhere in Middle America, northern Nevada, and an island off of the western coast of Mexico. Johnson had money from the death of his wealthy father but he needed much more capital and held numerous, lavish fundraisers in order to raise it. He printed up a plethora of trinkets such as maps, postcards, and matchbooks with BoozeTown’s logo on them to help persuade investors. At times, he believed he had enough money and set various opening dates for his city. However, very few people were actually serious about ponying up the money Johnson needed. This, added to the fact that he was acting increasingly more erratic and eccentric, and that the press was vilifying him, basically ended his dream of BoozeTown. In 1960 he gave up on the dream and was later committed to a hospital and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He died just a few years later.

You can almost picture yourself driving down an open stretch of road in the middle of nowhere then, suddenly, seeing a titanic martini glass pop up on the horizon beckoning you to come experience BoozeTown, “Where It’s Always Happy Hour”.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2010/02/13/top-10-amazing-cities-you-will-never-visit/

10 Unusual Japanese Fashions and Subcultures

Japanese fashion usually brings to mind kimono, yukata, or the sailor school uniforms. And for many people around the world who are interested in fashion, the lesser known styles and subcultures of Japan are becoming more widely recognized. The fashions on this list were worn at different times in Japan during the twentieth century and today. With some groups of Japanese teenagers these styles were extremely popular. They were viewed as creative and influential to fashion by some, and looked on with confusion and amusement by others.

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Suke means female, and Ban means boss. Sukeban were known for forming all girl gangs, and then committing acts of violence and shoplifting. Sukeban gangs first began to appear in the 60s. They were inspired by the gangs of boys known as Bancho, who hoped to one day join the yakuza. There was quite a range in size for the Sukeban groups, but the largest was known as the Kanto Women Delinquent Alliance, which included 20,000 girls. Rival groups would often get into fights. The Sukeban girls followed strict rules within their own groups, and breaking them would result in lynching. Getting burned with a cigarette was considered only a mild punishment. Sukeban were always seen in their sailor uniforms. They would wear pleated skirts that went down to their feet, and would custom embroider their uniforms.

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The Takenokozoku were some of the first to form Harajuku into one of the best known places to view Japanese street fashion. The style was popular in the late 70’s and early 80s, and consisted of neon colored accessories such as beads, whistles, bows, and nametags. A store called Takenoko inspired the clothes worn by the Takenokozoku, which were influence by traditional Japanese fashion. Their outfits were loose and baggy, and usually hot pink or bright blue or purple. They wore robes with kanji characters, and slippers that were comfortable for dancing. Large groups of Takenokozoku would choreograph dances in the streets of Harajuku, playing the current popular music on their boom boxes.

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Motorcycle gangs became popular in Japan in the early 60s, and became known as Speed Tribes (Bosozoku). In the 70s, girl motorcycle gangs began to appear. At the time, it was estimated by police that at least 26,000 Japanese citizens were involved in a biker gang. By the 80s, the number of male biker groups began to decrease. However, more and more girl biker groups began to pop up. Yanki, heavily influenced by both the Bosozoku and the Sukeban, often wore sarashi (white cloth wrapped around the chest), an embroidered tokko fukku robe, and a gauze mask. The Bosozoku also owned customized scooters.

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The word Gal has been used since the 80s in Japan to describe a girl who likes trendy clothing. Ko Gal was first used in the 90s by the media to describe an eighth grader who made $4000 a month for paid dating with middle aged men. Ko comes from the Japanese word for child, kodomo. Ko Gals tried to look as young as possible, by wearing the cutest accessories they could find. They wore their school uniforms with the skirts shortened, tanned their skin, and bleached their hair. And of course, the famous loose socks. Some girls would use sock glue to keep their loose socks from slipping. Although some Ko Gals of Shibuya did take part in enjo kosai (paid dating), it was not quite as popular as the media made it out to be. As the style spread from Tokyo to around Japan, Kogal movies, magazines, and TV programs became popular. Kogals were never seen without their phones, and they were some of the first avid young technology users in Japan. Ko Gal fashions has evolved into some of Japan’s present styles, such as Hime (princess) Gal. Hime Gal involves wearing expensive brand name clothing, usually of the pink and frilly variety.

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Although Ko Gals had tan skin, Ganguro girls took tanning to a new extreme. They would tan their skin every week, and then apply foundation meant for black women. Ganguro literally means “Black Face.” Besides tanned skin, the Ganguro look included platforms shoes, mini dresses, bleached hair, black ink used for eyeliner, blue contacts, and white concealer used for lipstick. A Gal magazine called Egg featured Buriteri, one of the most well known Ganguro, on its cover. The look was popular with groups of teenagers in Shibuya, however, they were often harassed, or viewed by the general public with disgust. By the end of 2001, the trend had died down and tanning salons began to close.

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The Manba style, which is still seen today, shares many similarities with Gonguro. The name comes from the word Yamanba, the name of an ugly witch in a Japanese folktale (Yamanba was a term the media used for the Gonguro). Because of the dangers of tanning, they often use dark skin foundation instead. Groups of Manba participate in Para Para dancing, or quick synchronized movements to techno music. Groups of Manba form Gal circles, the most popular one being Angeleek. Boys who spent their time in the same clubs as Manba adopted their own similar style. They became known as Center Guys (after Shibuya’s Center Street). Manba clothes and accessories vary, but are always trendy and garishly bright. Manba makeup consists of white lips and large white circle around the eyes. Colorful decals are placed around the face, and rainbow hair extensions are also popular.

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Kigurumin was a short lived (2003 to 2004) and strange fashion phenomenon. Girls who spent their time hanging out in Shibuya and wanted something comfortable to wear began sporting cheap animal costumes bought in party sections of stores. Along with a Pikachu, Hamtaro, or Winnie the Pooh costume, Kigurumin would carry animal purses, cute accessories, and wear manba makeup.

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Nagomu was an indie record label created in 1983. The label gained a large fan base. The name for fans, Nagomu Gals, first appeared in the magazine Takarajima. Nagomu Gals favored vintage clothing. They often wore long sleeved t-shirts, thick soled rubber shoes, and knee socks. The term Nagomu Gal was not exactly positive, as they were sometimes viewed as annoying fan girls. In 1989 the Nagomu label was shut down.

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Lolita is one of the most popular new Japanese subcultures, and has begun to appear in countries across the world. There are numerous Lolita brands, such as Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Metamorphose, and Angelic Pretty. Lolita fashion began becoming popular in the late 90s, and like the Nagomu style, it has been influenced by music. Gothic record labels in Japan lead to visual kei music, which helped inspire Gothic Lolita clothing. Visual kei refers to bands which wear extremely elaborate makeup and costumes. Lolita is also inspired by the clothing of the Rococo period. The name came from Mana (from the visual kei band Malice Mizer) who called the theme of his clothing line Elegant Gothic Lolita. The popular magazine Gothic and Lolita Bible came out in 2001. There are several different types of Lolita. Gothic Lolita involves primarily black frilled clothing. Sweet Lolita uses pastels, and lots of lace and bows. For punk Lolita, plaids and chains are combined with the frills. Wa Lolita incorporates traditional Japanese clothing, such as kimono, into the look. Accessories that are popular for Lolita include bonnets and headdresses, rocking horse shoes, parasols, petticoats, and frilled knee socks.

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Decora is a Japanese street style popular today. In 1997, the magazine FRUiTS was created to display photographs of Japanese street fashion. Aki Kobayashi, the cover model of the first issue, wrote columns for FRUiTS about her style and how she created her own accessories. Soon, girls began making their own eccentric accessories. The style became known as Decora, and its followers traded and sold their accessories in Harajuku. Although each Decora outfit is unique, they all have the similarities of being extremely bright, decorative (hence the name), and cute. Decora girls wear an insane amount of plastic accessories and barrettes, neon skirts, colorful socks, and cute character products.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2009/04/20/10-unusual-japanese-fashions-and-subcultures/

Community Post: 10 Celebrity Mascots For Popular Travel Destinations

1. Cancun, Mexico – Ke$ha

Her life is basically one never-ending college spring break, after all.

2. New York City, New York – Leighton Meester

Nothing says Manhattan quite like Blair Waldorf’s headband.

3. London, England – Emma Watson

Both the city and the Harry Potter star are classic and timeless.

4. Amsterdam, Netherlands – Miley Cyrus

These two are a match made in heaven. La da de da de, indeed.

5. Lake Como, Italy – George Clooney

Obvious? Yes. Perfect? Yes.

6. Barbados – Rihanna

Her Instagram feed of this year’s carnival was basically one big promotion for the island.

7. Athens, Greece – Lindsay Lohan

The only thing that has crumbled more than Greece’s economy in the past few years is Lindsay’s career.

8. Disneyland, Orlando, Florida – Taylor Swift

No matter how old each get, they’ll always appeal to those who are young at heart.

9. Washington, D.C. – Kerry Washington

I mean… have you seen Scandal? Kerry pretty much owns Washington, even if it’s only fictional.

10. Paris, France – Gwenyth Paltrow

Chic, posh, and fashionable? Check. A touch of snobbiness? Check.

11. The Universe – Beyonce

Oh, the universe isn’t a feasible travel destination yet? Well, when it is, Beyonce already has dibs.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/emebis/celebrity-mascots-for-10-popular-travel-destinatio-h9wd

17 Unusual Fast-Food Items From Around The World

1. Baby Ruth Chocodilla — Taco Bell, Guatemala

WUT.

2. Rice Congee — KFC, China

It’s made with pork and thousand-year-old egg. YOLO.

3. Coconut Shrimp Pizza — Pizza Hut, South Korea

More like PARTY TIME pizza.

4. Chili Cheese Nuggets — Burger King, Czech Republic

Ho. Ly. Crud. This looks like the best drunk food to never touch American soil.

5. Dry Pork & Seaweed Doughnut — Dunkin’ Donuts, China

For those of you looking to cut back on sugar.

6. Tom Yum Crunch Chicken — KFC, Malaysia

Anything tom yum is OK in my book! (Entitled Anything Tom Yum Is OK.)

7. Green Tea Blizzards — Dairy Queen, Thailand

It’s not an ice cream party until the antioxidants show up.

8. BigSpicy Paneer Wrap — McDonald’s, India

Paneer is a soft cheese crafted by angels in the high heavens so I’m pretty sure eating this wrap may lead to otherworldly experiences.

9. Frosty Coffee Jelly — Wendy’s, Philippines

It’s a Frosty, a coffee, AND a home to bits of strange gelatinous substance: a true trifecta of fun.

10. Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream — Baskin’ Robbins, Malaysia

OMG. This is all I want in an ice cream/life ever.

11. Cheese & Marmite Sarnie — Starbucks, U.K.

Marmite is weird but I guess feeling pain while you’re eating reminds you you’re still alive?

12. Wasabi Cheese and Seaweed Cheese Doughnuts — Dunkin’ Donuts, Singapore

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Oh, you didn’t get the memo? Chocolate and sprinkles are for the weak.

13. Ebi Filet-O — McDonald’s, Japan

Basically Filet-O-Fish but with shrimp. Cool.

14. Star Pops Pizza with Mini-Hot Dogs and Mustard — Pizza Hut, Philippines

Not sure if this is heaven or hell, but hey, why not.

15. Spinach & Parmesan Nuggets — McDonald’s, Italy

Sort of looks like vom filling but I’ll bet these lil’ boogers are damn good.

16. Spicy Bean Burger — Burger King, Europe & Asia

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Because vegetarians like to get edgy too, you know.

17. Bacon Groovy Pizza — Domino’s, France

Lol @ “Bacon Groovy.” It’s made with light crème fraîche, roasted chicken, onions, bacon, and barbecue sauce. OK, well, I guess that is kinda groovy.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/emmyf/unusual-fast-food-items-from-around-the-world

Community Post: 23 Reasons That Turkey Is The World’s Melting Pot

You may have heard someone at some point mention how cool Istanbul is, or how great the beaches are in Turkey.

Jeremy Bender

And while that’s totally true, Turkey is so much more than just that. It’s a real melting pot for all surrounding cultures. For example…

1. Greeks, Turks, and Arabs all claim the gooey deliciousness of baklava as their own invention.

But really, who wouldn’t want to claim this godly food?

2. Greeks and Turks will also fight over who invented yogurt…

3. And Turkish coffee…

Coffee was originally an Ethiopian drink. The Turks changed the serving method, and then popularized it through South Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

4. And doner? Obviously Turkish.

No matter how much Greeks may call it gyro doesn’t change what it is.

5. And of course you can find kebabs everywhere.

Kebabs are the food of choice in much of Turkey, but was originally an Arab food.

And beyond just food, there’s all the history, like…

6. Abraham was born in Turkey. Obviously he knew what was up, and there’s a huge mosque complex dedicated to him

Jeremy Bender

7. Early Christians knew what was up too, and built their first cathedral in Turkey.

Fun fact! This church was set up and used by the first disciples.

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8. Even the Virgin Mary thought Turkey was pretty fine, and she spent her last days there near the shore.

Every year, thousands of elderly European tourists imitate Mary and flock to Turkey’s shores.

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9. There’s also the Greco-Persian smorgasburg that is the tomb at Mount Nemrut.

Jeremy Bender

10. Actually, Turkey has got tombs covered, like these Pontic ones in Amasya.

Fun fact! Amasya was also the legendary home of the Amazons – those terrifying warrior women.

11. The Byzantines absolutely adored Turkey and built wicked monasteries throughout it.

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12. Speaking of monasteries, there is also the Syrian Orthodox Deyrulzafaran Monastery outside Mardin.

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13. In fact, Mardin itself is just pretty incredible looking thanks to Arab and Kurdish influence.

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14. Of course, the Greeks and Romans also influenced places like Ephesus.

Fun fact! Ephesus was also the location of The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

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15. And the Hittites also dug Turkey… Literally. They built underground cities at Cappadocia.

Fun fact! During times of Roman persecution, early Christians used to hide in these underground cities.

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16. The former city of Harran is a treasure cove of lost civilizations – from Babylonian to Crusader.

Jeremy Bender

17. The Armenians were also all about eastern Turkey. They even had their former capital, Ani, there.

18. Kars must be the coolest damn city in the world, since the Turks, Russians, Georgians and Armenians all fought for it.

Jeremy Bender

19. Rumi, an Afghan Sufi mystic, lived, worked, and died in Turkey.

Fun fact! Pilgrims of all faiths from around the world continue to visit his tomb in Konya, as his message was one of love and inclusion to all.

Jeremy Bender

And, of course, there’s always Istanbul.

20. The Hagia Sofia always looked good, regardless if it were a Byzantine church, Ottoman mosque, or Turkish museum.

Jeremy Bender

21. Even after Rome fell, the Italians still didn’t have enough of Turkey, as the Genoese built the Galata Tower.

Jeremy Bender

22. And the Grand Bazaar takes shopping to another level.

23. And to honor their whole past, Ataturks mausoleum in Ankara features elements of all of Turkey’s past inhabitants.

Jeremy Bender

Of course, you could have always just looked at a map to get the gist of all this. Turkey even kind of looks like a bridge.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jeremybender/turkey-is-the-worlds-mixing-pot

What It’s Like When A Harry Potter Fan Makes The Journey To London

1. You book the plane ticket, and it’s official: You’re heading to London!

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2. But what that really means is: You’re heading straight into the heart of the wizarding world.

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3. There are so many big decisions to make. Do you bring the DVDs with you on the flight, or just the books? And which ones?

 

If you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can rent any of the books for free on your Kindle, which will lighten your carry-on considerably.

4. The flight can’t go fast enough, and the fact that you need a plane to fly to London makes you feel like such a Muggle.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Though you’ll admit that it is kinda magical that you’re sitting in a chair 30,000 feet above the ground as it whisks you to London. It’s not Floo powder, but it’s still impressive.

5. You land in London, and you’re ready to see EVERYTHING.

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6. You’re walking near Covent Garden, and there’s Knockturn Alley. It’s eerily quiet.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

It’s hidden here, in a tiny alleyway called Goodwin’s Court. The walkway is narrow, and there are big gas lamps on the street. There’s no way you’d come here at night.

7. And across the street: The real-life Diagon Alley. There are bookstores and antique shops all over!

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

It’s right across the street and called St. Martin’s Lane. Walking through the shops, it’s easy to tell how much this street inspired Diagon Alley.

8. Nothing can get you down — not even the Muggle sights that are way too close to such magical locations.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Honestly, who thought it was OK to put a Chipotle at the entrance to Diagon Alley?

9. You wander the streets looking for magical places. You tap every brick. Surely there must be some secret entrances here somewhere.

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10. And the signs are everywhere that the wizarding world is all around you. You turn a corner and, hey, it’s the Durmstrang ship!

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

They must be playing a Quidditch match in town this weekend.

11. You hop on the Muggle Underground — it’s what Arthur Weasley would’ve wanted — looking for more.

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12. There are a few Harry Potter walking tours, so you take one. Two hours later, you’re ready to rewatch every film in the series.

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I took a tour called the Muggle Tour. It cost £12 (about $19), and my guide knew the movies inside and out. The one downside of the tour: The little kids always got to answer the Harry Potter trivia questions. No fair!

13. But soon, you start to get disappointed by ordinary, non-magical sites.

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This is 10 Downing St., where the Prime Minister lives. David Cameron is no Cornelius Fudge, you realize.

14. And what’s with this money? Pounds and pence? Things would be so much easier if the Brits just used galleons, you think.

 

15. You crave even more, so you buy a ticket to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio tour, about an hour’s journey outside London.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Take the tube to Euston, and then take the train to Watford Junction. It’s £5 round trip, and direct trains take about 20 minutes. From Watford Junction, there’s a double-decker bus outside the station that goes straight to the studio — it’s £2 round trip, and takes 15 minutes.

Or if you want something really simple: There’s a direct bus from London that costs £29 round trip.

And then you’ve got to buy your ticket to the tour itself. That’ll cost you another £29 (about $46.50).

16. Inside, it’s all there. The doors open, and you’re in the Great Hall.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Everything on the tour is a set from a Potter film. This is the entrance to the real Great Hall that was used during the movies, and it’s amazing.

17. The tables are already set. Can’t we just stay and eat? The house-elves are probably cooking anyway!

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

18. But there’s no food, so you keep walking. Look, there’s the Gryffindor‎ common room!

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19. There’s the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets!

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20. Look at the Hogwarts portraits!

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Why aren’t they moving? You tap someone else on the shoulder just to make sure that the portraits are standing still for everyone else too.

21. There’s a spot for you to practice your wand skills. You’re waiting in line behind an 8-year-old in a Ravenclaw scarf, and you’re just as excited as he is.

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22. After a few minutes, a strange thing starts to happen: You start to feel a sense of the history of this world.

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It seems strange to say — you are aware, after all, that Hogwarts is a place that only exists in the mind of each and every person who reads the books or watches the movies — but still, there’s a history here. You look at the Daily Prophet headlines and remember the moments that have come before.

23. Everything here — that pair of Omnoculars, the Knight Bus parked outside — they’re all a part of this world that you know and love.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

 

24. The walk continues. You step outside, and they’re selling butterbeer! Real butterbeer!

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

And you’re not just disappointed that Butterbeer is served cold here — you’re devastated.

Then you find out that the Butterbeer stand also sells Starbucks. GET OUT OF OUR MAGICAL WORLD, BRANDS.

25. You walk past Privet Drive. No one is looking at Privet Drive, because who wants to waste time there when there’s magic everywhere else?

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26. You keep walking, and you stumble into Diagon Alley. It looks so different from the one in London.

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27. There are broomsticks floating in shop windows, and gag gifts at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. It’s wonderful.

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28. And then you walk into this room, and it takes your breath away. It’s the thing you’ve been waiting for all along: Hogwarts.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

29. The room is huge, and even still, you’re looking at Hogwarts in miniature. But it’s there, every tower and bridge and doorway. You start to realize how massive this place is.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

30. There’s music playing in the background — the Harry Potter soundtrack, naturally — and you’ve got goosebumps. It’s so big, and so grand. You walk around it, and stare up at it. It’s incredible.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

 

31. You start looking around the room, and you feel a sense of timelessness to this place.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

You see people of all ages and races, people from every spot on the globe, and you realize that Harry’s world means something to each of them too. Many of the people on the tour weren’t even alive when the first book came out, and this story matters just as much to them. That’s the real magic of Harry Potter.

32. Then after three hours of history and magic and possibility and wonder… you step into a gift shop.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

It’s a bit of a downer. The cheapest thing here is — go figure — the books themselves, which cost about £9. That fake snitch? £12.

33. Some of the merchandise is really, REALLY tacky, and you’re a little embarrassed that it’s here at such a special place.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

 

34. There is Slytherin merchandise for sale, too. You can’t understand why it’s here. Who self-identifies as a Slytherin? Who is proud enough to walk around in Slytherin colors?

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

35. But you’re still in awe of this place. And you realize: Your journey into the wizarding world is just beginning.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

36. So you head back to London, and take the tube to King’s Cross. You go upstairs, into the main train station. You’re not quite sure where to look, but then there it is, right there en route to Platforms 9 and 10.

Dan Oshinsky / BuzzFeed

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/danoshinsky/what-its-like-being-a-harry-potter-fan-in-london

11 Romantic Destinations With No Cell Service

1. Lake Placid, N.Y.

 

Request the “Check-In To Check-Out Package” at the Lake Placid Lodge and leave all your electronics at the door. Spend two nights in-front of a fireplace in a cozy cabin and during the day go hiking in the mountains and swimming in the lake.

 

Escape to the remote California desert and stay at the Off-grid itHouse, which runs on solar power. Check out abandoned Pioneertown, which was built in the 1940s as a backdrop for Old West movies.

 

In Western Maine, rent a romantic cabin in the woods, overlooking a stream. Explore the area by hiking in the beautiful mountains, walking through misty lupine meadows, and canoeing on serene lakes.

4. Canyonlands National Park, Utah

 

Let go by riding rapids on the Colorado River through 2,000 foot cliffs. Contact Cataract Canyon to arrange a trip through Canyonlands National Park.

5. Chinati and Cienega Mountains, Texas

 

Stay at Cibolo Creek Ranch, which is located on 30,000 acres that spread across the Chinati and Cienega mountains. Situated in the remote Big Bend, this place offers amazing star watching at night. During the day, find buffalo, elk, and antelope, and walk through adobe forts.

6. Little Palm Island, Fla.

 

Access this remote island in the Florida Keys by boat or seaplane and then dive into a national marine sanctuary overflowing with diverse sea life and beautiful coral reefs. Sleep at the elegant Little Palm Island Resort and Spa, which features romantic bungalows.

 

Rent a rustic log cabin built in 1923 that is surrounded by the beautiful Chequamegon National Forest. Explore the gorgeous woods by foot, mountain bike, snowshoes, or cross-country skis.

8. Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.

 

Stay at the El Tovar Hotel, which was built in the park in 1905 and has hosted notable guests Teddy Roosevelt and Albert Einstein. During the day, hike the rim of the canyon and at night witness awe-inspiring stargazing.

 

Treebones Resort offers campsites, yurts, and even a treehouse nest for couples to get cozy in. Visit the California coast’s beautiful beaches and cascading cliffs.

10. Wrangell and St. Elias Mountains, Alaska

 

Stay at the Ultima Thule Lodge in the middle of the 18,000 foot Wrangell and St. Elias mountain ranges. In this remote area, powder ski on the mountains or go down rapids on the glacier-fed Chitina River.

11. Na Pali Coast State Park, Hawaii

 

Hike or take a boat into this isolated valley on Kauai. During the day explore the lush mountains and at night camp beside the beach.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/mbvd/11-romantic-destinations-with-no-cell-service