Wonders of the Ancient World: 5 Architectural Marvels from Antiquity

wonders of the ancient world

Built into cliffsides and atop mountains, these gravity-defying marvels are true wonders of the ancient world. Of all the wonders of the ancient world, faith-related architecture is perhaps the most formidable. Irrespective of religion, ancient places of worship were such remarkable feats of ingenuity that one questions if there was some sort of competition to see who could build the most awe-inspiring complex. If that were the case, the architects of temples and monasteries surely would have won. Some of these were built in the most hostile, inaccessible places: into mountainsides above the clouds, on the peaks of rock monuments, and on the edges of sheer cliffs. The purpose was twofold: to isolate the faithful from the world of sin and temptation, and to elevate them to a higher place — both physically and spiritually. Not to mention such locales would separate the wheat from the chaff: only the most        …read more

8 Strange Homes You Have to See to Believe

strange homes

From a spaceship to a pickle barrel, these architectural wonders have just one thing in common: they’re very strange homes. Explore eight of the weirdest homes in the U.S. and learn how they came to be. 1. Haines Shoe House (York, Pennsylvania) It’s literally a house that looks like a massive shoe — you can’t really get a home that’s stranger than this one. Haines Shoe House was built by a shoe salesman in 1948 and was supposed to look like a work boot. This house has five stories and is situated on Shoe House Road. The living room is in the toe, the bedrooms are in the ankle, the kitchen is in the heel, and there’s an ice cream shop open to the public in the instep. You can also take a tour of the shoe. 2. Mary’s Gone Wild (Supply, North Carolina) In 1998 Mary Paulsen had a vision        …read more

Take a Front-Row Seat at the ‘Super Bowl of Snow Sculpting’

snow sculpting

Check out the stunning work on display at the International Snow Sculpting Competition. Snow can be shoveled, piled and plowed, but it can also become a gorgeous form of art. Using the simple, pure medium of frosty precipitation, snow sculptors manage to capture the beauty of winter in a unique way. Snow sculpting competitions bring a sense of joy and friendly rivalry to the picture as artists compete to make unforgettable works, creating a special experience for both sculptors and spectators alike. Every January artists gather at the International Snow Sculpting Competition — an annual event that’s been held for 28 years in the picturesque, serene mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado. It’s one of the world’s most prestigious snow sculpting events, and tens of thousands of visitors come out to watch the sculptors at work during the five-day competition. Two hundred and fifty teams apply to participate, and only 16        …read more

More U.S. Students Than Ever Take a Gap Year to Travel and Serve

gap year

Many students choose to take a gap year between high school and college to see the world and, often, lend support to worthy causes while they’re at it. As everyone else was heading to Bed, Bath & Beyond to stock up on dorm room supplies last year, Palmer Skudneski was packing his bags for an epic trip across 22 countries. As soon as he graduated from high school, the Denver, Colorado, man took off to climb the mountains of China, search for the Milky Way in the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and watch the sun set in Ecuador. Skudneski is one of a growing number of students in the United States choosing to take a year off before college — AKA a gap year — to travel the world, work or have a life experience. Malia Obama made the gap year conversation mainstream when she announced last year she’d        …read more

Wanderlust: 8 Beautiful Spots to Add to Your Bucket List Now

bucket list

You’ll want to start checking these photogenic locations off your bucket list immediately. For those of us with a serious case of wanderlust, it’s hard to keep track of all the places we want to visit. Traveling to an exotic location, especially one that’s a little off the beaten path, allows us to immerse ourselves in a culture that’s completely different from our own. If you can’t get enough of art museums during your travels, think outside the box when it’s time to update your bucket list — because certain beautifully decorated communities and villages are works of art themselves. From Europe to Asia to Africa to South America, these eight sites have earned a place on the ultimate travel bucket list for people who love being immersed in beauty. 1. Tunnel of Love (between the villages of Obreja and Glimboca, Romania) This hidden European gem of tree canopies is        …read more

She Retired before 35 to Go on a Nomad Adventure — Here’s How

nomad adventure

Anita Dhake takes ‘carpe diem’ to the next level, taking her dream nomad adventure now rather than later. Anita Dhake retired about two years ago. Like most retirees, she spends her time reading, traveling and meeting friends for relaxed lunches. Unlike most retirees, she can fit nearly all of her possessions into a suitcase and she has no single place she calls home. She’s 35 years old, and she spent the first part of her adult life working hard as a lawyer, saving her money and investing it before selling everything she owned two years ago so she could retire and be free to embark on a nomad adventure for the rest of her life. “I really love my life,” Dhake says. “I’m so happy I don’t have to get dressed and go in to work. There’s just so much in life to see and do, and people to talk        …read more

9 Festive & Quirky Christmas Traditions from around the World

Christmas traditions

From crashing your neighbors’ homes to noshing on KFC Christmas dinner, maybe it’s time to add some international Christmas traditions to your celebrations. All across the globe, people celebrate the holidays in creative and some downright quirky ways. As you prepare your own holiday festivities this year, take note of these nine unique Christmas traditions from other countries. 1. The Gävle Goat in Sweden In 1966 a man named Stig Gavlén decided to build a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas straw goat. Ever since then, the goat has become a symbol of Christmas in Sweden, and it has even been crowned the world’s largest straw goat in the Guinness World Records. The goat is over 40 feet high, and it’s inaugurated every year on the first Sunday of Advent. However, the most interesting aspect of this tradition is another ritual that accompanies it. Every year people try to        …read more

6 Strange Jobs around the World

If you think your line of work is hard to explain at parties, imagine having one of these strange jobs. Want to make a living shoving people around? Maybe you’re looking for something more service-oriented, like helping people evade traffic tickets. One of these six strange jobs just might be for you. 1. Toqueros (Mexico) Looking for a job where you can shock people? In Mexico customers line up to pay for a shock (or toque). All you need is a box with six rechargeable AA batteries, an inverter and a transformer that controls the voltage, and you’re in business. The shock can reach up to 100 volts, and the toque is a more controlled version of sticking your finger in an electrical outlet. After having their victims grasp one handle in each hand — the positive and negative charges — the toquero flicks a switch, keeping the dial at        …read more

With George RR Martin’s Help, Artists Open Immersive Fantasy Realm

George RR Martin, Meow Wolf, House of Eternal Return

How art collective Meow Wolf convinced George RR Martin to invest $3 million and create a real-life fantasy/sci-fi world — and how it’s paid off. Imagine walking up to a beautiful, eccentrically styled home. You’re not sure what to expect, but you’ve heard odd things are going on at this house — and it’s up to you to investigate. To your right is a brown wooden staircase with numerous family portraits carefully lining its ascent to the second floor. Looking at the portraits of the Seligs — the family that allegedly resides in this home — you see parents, a boy, a girl and some curious-looking relatives. At first glance, they seem like a pretty regular American family. But there’s something odd, and you know it. A strange booming sound is coming from unseen interior areas of this house. In fact, multiple odd noises are coming from different parts of        …read more

Flame Con Celebrates LGBTQ+ Inclusive Geek Culture

Comic Con NYC, Flame Con

Flame Con, presented annually by Geeks OUT, is growing every year and illuminating the diversity of nerd culture. Brooklyn, New York, is home to many fun and strange events throughout the year, particularly in the summer. For the last three years, Brooklyn summers have been graced by an eye-catching event that’s grown in size annually: Flame Con, an LGBTQ+ inclusive geek convention presented by local nonprofit organization Geeks OUT. Founded in 2010, Geeks OUT has been promoting various events to empower and bring together the queer geek community in New York, the largest among them being Flame Con. New York City is also home to the largest convention on the East Coast (and now growing in size to fight for the largest in the United States), New York Comic Con. With recent changes to NYCC, many New Yorkers are looking for other conventions to scratch that geeky itch. New York,        …read more