Lángos, the beloved Hungarian Street Food

We are in Hungary. Whether you’re at the market, at the train station, on the beach or just walking down a commercial street, sooner or later you will smell the greasy invitation of the lángos, the ubiquitous local deep-fried flat bread. You might even encounter it in neighboring countries in Central and Eastern Europe like Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Serbia, or Romania, despite It’s part of what Hungarians broadly consider “Hungaricum”: those things made special by being uniquely Hungarian. Either way, some assume that it appeared in the Hungarian kitchens…

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Nikiszowiec: Katowice’s old mining district

Katowice is a city of more than 300,000 inhabitants, at the centre of one of Europe’s principal coal-mining and iron-making regions. In the nineteenth century it was part of the Prussian province of Silesia, but from 1922 was incorporated into Poland. Nikiszowiec is a part of an administrative district Janów-Nikiszowiec of the city. Initially it was coal miners’ settlement of Giesche mine built on the land of Giszowiec manor between 1908–1918 on the mining metallurgical concern initiative Georg von Giesches Erben, a Silesian mining corporation that originated in the early…

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September 22: Happy National White Chocolate Day!

When most people think of chocolate, they think of the classic brown color of milk or dark chocolate. However, during the process of making, there’s a point when two options are available: the rich dark of traditional chocolate, or the path of white chocolate. White Chocolate Day is the perfect opportunity to learn about the origins of this delicious treat. And It seems that this day has been created so that we can celebrate it, and for eat it as much as we want without feeling guilty! Sounds fantastic, right?…

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The owl of Cwm Cowlyd and the oldest animals in the world

In Welsh folklore the Owl of Cwm Cowlyd lived in the woods that once surrounded Llyn Cowlyd, the deepest lake in northern Wales, that lies in the Snowdonia National Park. Even if today the woods are gone, the legends live on in two tales that feature a search for the oldest and wisest animals in the world. In the first the owl is said to be among the oldest animals in the world, while in the second the owl is really the oldest. The first story is “Culhwch and Olwen”,…

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Mittie Manning’s Tomb: one of Mississippi’s most unique tombs

Holly Springs is a small town that’s big on history, and boasts several homes from the past, as well as the historic Hill Crest Cemetery. Deemed literally “one of the finest historic cemeteries in north Mississippi”, it was established in 1845, but some graves date back to 1838, suggesting that the grounds served as a burial ground prior to its official creation. One of the most popular graves in the cemetery is that of Mittie Manning, the daughter of Van and Mary Manning. The Mannings were a regular family living…

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September 19th: Ahoy, maties! It’s Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Ahoy there ye lily livered blaggards! Today It is the Talk Like A Pirate Day, and that means it’s time for pillaging and drinking rum! Pirates have been all the rage in recent years and out of that particular fascination came a completely insane and idea: that there should be a day dedicated to keeping the piratical language alive and, more importantly, the tradition of all things related to pirates. So Talk Like a Pirate Day was invented, and now it’s time to celebrate with all of the pirate talk…

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Meet the Bull Sharks of Carbrook Golf Course!

You’ve probably heard of crocodile-infested golf course ponds before, but there is a golf course in Australia that is home to an even greater threat that makes water hazards truly dangerous: sharks. The 14th tee at the Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane is a tricky one, as it’s close to a 21 hectare, 14-meter deep lagoon that happens to be the home of a dozen full-grown bull sharks. They’ve been around since the late 1990s and, even though they are notorious for its aggressiveness especially against humans, the bull sharks…

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Lobster Ice Cream: disgusting or delicious?

In an era of limitless ice cream flavors, including charcoal black ice cream, gorgonzola ice cream, and unicorn ice cream, “Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium” is a must: the seaside institution, located in Bar Harbor, an island town that is home to beautiful Acadia National Park, Maine, has been serving vanilla scoops churned with real lobster meat since 1988. And, at the time, putting real seafood in ice cream was nothing short of extreme. According to company lore, the owners invented the flavor either to prove to a patron that…

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“The Lost XVII”: a missing Roman legion was recreated in sculpture along a Scottish cycling route

Founded by the roman emperor Augustus around the year 41 B.C., Legion XVII (Seventeenth Legion) of the Imperial Roman Army disappeared in the year 9 A.D. after being sent to deal with troubling tribes in Germanica. But, what happened to them has always been a bit of a mystery. According to an urban legend, they went onto Scotland after Germanica and disappeared around the area of Dunbartonshire. This myth has now become cemented in history thanks to popular fiction such as “The Eagle of the Ninth” and films like “Centurion…

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The Sluagh: Celtic spirits of the unforgiven dead

Celtic folklore has given us some of the darkest and most frightening stories in history including three-headed monsters, headless horsemen, famine-spreaders, and a variety of creepy spirits. One of the most fascinating are probably the Sluagh na marbh (host of the dead), or “Fairy Host”, spirits of the unforgiven or restless dead who soared the skies at night searching for humans to pick off, and especially the dying. Some believed them to be Fallen Angels, while others thought them the spirits of unbaptized children who had returned to earth to…

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A visit to the St. Simons Island Light, Georgia

St. Simons Island Light is a lighthouse on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, Georgia, United States. It guides ships into St. Simons Sound and warns of the many sandbars in the area. The original lighthouse, which was built in 1810, was a 23-m-tall early federal octagonal structure topped by a 3 m oil-burning lamp. However, during the American Civil War, U.S. military forces employed a Naval blockade of the coast, and an invasion by Union troops in 1862 forced Confederate soldiers to abandon the area. And the retreating…

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Piscatawaytown Burial Ground and the witch of Edison

New Jersey is steeped in urban legends and stories of the supernatural. There everybody has heard of the Jersey Devil, a creature with the head of a goat, the body of a deer, giant horns and wings. It is said that he was the 13th child of Mother Leeds back in 1735 and was born a demon through a curse. There have been a number of sightings of the Devil since then, one of them even being reported by the brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte. But there is a legend…

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Panta Petrović: the Serbian cave hermit that gets Covid vaccine and urged others to follow

Panta Petrović has been living in a cave on the forested Stara Planina mountain for almost 20 years, away from modern civilization and in the company of both domestic and wild animals, including a 200-kilogram boar named Mara. The man recently made international headlines after Agence France Press reported that even he had gotten a Covid-19 vaccine, even though he hardly interacts with other people. Almost twenty years ago, Panta made social distancing a lifestyle choice when he moved into a tiny Serbian mountain cave to avoid society. Last year,…

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Rotomairewhenua: the clearest body of fresh water known to man

Rotomairewhenua, also known as the Blue Lake of New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes National Park, officially holds the title of the clearest lake in the world. Literally translated as the “land of peaceful waters”, Blue Lake is spring fed by the neighboring glacial Lake Constance, and its water passes through a natural debris damn formed a long time ago by a landslide. This debris acts as a natural filter that retains most of the particles suspended in the glacial water, making Blue Lake almost as clear as distilled water. New Zealand’s…

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Wasabi Ice Cream: the cure and cause of a burning tongue!

Sushi lovers around the world know wasabi as the thick, green paste that adds pungent heat to their nigiri, sashimi and uramaki. Wasabi, or Japanese horseradish, has a unique mustard-like taste. In its highest-quality form, it is freshly grated while, most often, it’s sold as a powder or paste. But, with its vapours strong enough to wake up the sleeping or the unconscious, could wasabi really work in ice cream? Unlike the oil-based Capsaicin-heat of chile peppers, the burning sensation of wasabi is short-lived. Fused into a sweet ice cream,…

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September 9: Wienerschnitzel Day

Wiener Schnitzel is a delicious treat that is much beloved in Austria and other countries in that region. It is one of the premier examples of Viennese cuisine and was a classic of many a native’s childhood diet. Wiener Schnitzel Day celebrates this treat, its culture and its history. Basically a breaded cutlet that is deep-fried in oil, Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally made from veal, but also can be made from pork. In Australia, it might even be found made out of chicken or beef. This dish is actually named…

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The Wall of Hives: the “home of Chinese bees”

A near-vertical cliff wall in the mountains of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, China’s Hubei Province, is home to over 700 wooden boxes which make up one of the country’s last sanctuaries for native wild bees. Beekeeping has been carried out in China since at least the 2nd century AD, and about half of the world’s supply of honey comes from the Asian country but, sadly, over 80% of the native bee population is now extinct. The introduction of the European honey bee (Apis Mellifera) is considered the main cause of the…

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Folklore and magic of crows and ravens

Both crows and ravens have appeared in a number of different mythologies throughout the ages. In some cases, these black-feathered birds are considered an omen of bad tidings, but in others, they may represent a message from the Divine. But, above all, they have long been synonym of doom and devastation as they destroy crops, devour corpses, act as emissaries for soothsayers and gods, and are closely linked to human fortunes. But not only, as they have long plagued farmers and gardeners by devouring their freshly planted seeds. An old…

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Loop Head Lighthouse | Ireland

Loop Head Lighthouse (Irish: Ceann Léime, meaning “leap head”) is perched right at the end of Loop Head Peninsula in stunning West Clare, Ireland. It is the major landmark on the northern shore of the Shannon River. Weather permitting, from here you’ll enjoy fantastic views south as far as the Blasket Islands and north to the Twelve Pins in Connemara, along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s also the perfect place to spot whales, dolphins and seals from, while the rock ledges and caves of the dramatic cliffs are home to…

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Muschats’s Cairn: a stack of stones that honors a murdered 18th-century woman.

For the major part of tourists, this monument looks like a random pile of rocks. And, in a way, that is indeed what it is. It’s a cairn, basically a landmark constructed with irregular stones, and here there is no signage or posting to provide historical context. Instead, one has to dig deeper to realize these stones are the marker of a macabre and unscrupulous story. It was 17 October 1720 when a surgeon named Nichol Muschat lured his wife Ailie into Holyrood Park and killed her. His previous attempts…

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Sloot Motor: the motorcycle that tuns on swamp gas

Gijs Schalkx, a Dutch inventor and engineering student, modified his motorcycle to run on methane harvested from roadside bogs and ponds. Rightly named “Sloot Motor”, because sloot means ‘ditch’ in Dutch, ingenious vehicle features a modified Honda GX160 motorcycle engine, with a hole into the airbox, through which it receives the methane. The genial inventor than hooks a balloon filled with methane to the hole, which acts as the fuel tank. Of course the engine starts with gasoline but, once it starts, it uses the methane to keep going. However,…

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The river that turns On and Off: the spring that breaths!

Just east of Afton town, at the foot of a rocky mountain in Wyoming, lies one of the world’s most mysterious natural wonders: an Intermittent Spring (otherwise known as the Periodic Spring) that intermittently stops and starts flowing again around every 15 minutes. Only a few rhythmic springs exist in the world (another being the famed Gihon Spring in Jerusalem), and Intermittent Spring in Swift Creek canyon is the largest of them all. As its name suggests, this peculiar spring flows intermittently. Here you’ll see a large quantity of water…

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The “ballsiest” soup in the Philippines: Soup No. 5

We are in the Philippines. Here Soup Number Five is well-known, as are its purported aphrodisiac and healing properties. Originally served by roadside eateries, some men even believe that eating it will give them the virility of a bull: Cebuanos know it as “lanciao” and is believed to give the physical attributes of the animal to anyone willing to take a sip. Or, at least, increase their libido even if, nutrition-wise, a serving of Soup no. 5 gives less zinc (the mineral which increases libido) when cooked. According to others,…

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Te Wairoa Buried Village: a Maori village obliterated by an 1886 volcanic eruption.

Located 24 kilometres south-east of Rotorua, Tarawera is a curious-looking mountain, with several large domes and a broad, flat top. This distinctive profile formed during eruptions around 1314 AD. However, early Māori and the Europeans who arrived in the 1800s did not realise that it was an active volcano and, in June 1886, it came to life in a violent one-day eruption – the deadliest in the history of New Zealand settlement. When Mount Tarawera erupted, the surrounding countryside was completely remade. The eruption killed over 100 people and created…

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The month of September: holidays, curiosities and folklore

There are flowers enough in the summertime, More flowers than I can remember— But none with the purple, gold, and red That dye the flowers of September! —Mary Howitt (1799-1888) September, in Old England, was called Haervest-monath, literally Harvest Month, as a time to gather up the rest of the harvest and prepare for the winter months. The Anglo-Saxons called it Gerst monath (Barley month), because it was their time when they harvested barley to be made into their favourite drink – barley brew. September’s name comes from the Latin…

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Point Sur Lightstation: one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California

Point Sur Lightstation is a lighthouse at Point Sur, California, 135 miles (217 km) south of San Francisco, on the 110-meter-tall rock at the head of the point. The view there is breathtaking. The Lighthouse is perched up on a huge rock and surrounded by water on three sides, with shimmering views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California, a beacon for ships navigating some of the most treacherous waters of the California coast. Already early navigators took note of the prominent…

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The grave of ‘The Great Lafayette’ and his beloved dog in Edinburgh’s Piershill Cemetery

We are in Piershill Cemetery, located on Portobello Road between Edinburgh, Scotland, and Portobello Beach. The graveyard is known for its Jewish burial grounds, located to the south, and its pet cemetery, located to the right of the entrance, but also for the grave of Sigmund Neuberger, a popular illusionist and magician better know as The Great Lafayette. The unbelievable and tragic story of how one of the world’s most renowned illusionists and his pampered dog came to buried together in Piershill Cemetery is almost too incredible to be true.…

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August 29: celebrate National Lemon Juice Day!

As an old saying goes, when life hands you lemons…make lemonade! And we add…when life hands you a chance to celebrate National Lemon Juice Day on August 29, do it! Lemons have been used for a variety of purposes over the years, but the most popular is probably the classic lemon juice. It can be used in people’s favorite drinks, wellness products, and even some of the tastiest dishes. Lemons are now one of the main ingredients in a whole range of things, and the juice is what is used…

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Last full weekend of August: International Bat Night

Bats have many places in literature and history, and serve roles dark but not only, depending on where you find them. Probably their most common association is with vampires, but there is also the fun-loving bat from Ferngully (Batty Coda) along with a host of other characters from literature and cinema. However, “real” bats have an important role to play in our eco-system, and some of them are becoming endangered. International Bat Night encourages us to learn more about this mostly nocturnal creature, and It takes place each year during…

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Here is the story behind the Leidse Koffie!

In the Dutch city of Leiden, coffee comes in an alternative way: it begins with a base of black brew and then it gets a dash of cinnamon liqueur, usually topped off with a nice dollop of whipped cream. Now quite popular in the city, the spiced drink was born from a happenstance discovery and a very creative restaurant owner. Leidse koffie originated in Restaurant de Gaanderij in the early 1980s. Before Peter van de Hoorn bought it in 1982, the monumental building from 1558 was home to the distillery…

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