The Golden Boy: world’s most expensive burger that costs 5.000€

The Golden Boy, a delicacy made with 100 percent Wagyu A5, Beluga caviar, king crab, white truffle, among other premium ingredients, has broken the record for world’s most expensive burger, with a price of about 5,000 euros ($6,000). The burger was created by Robbert Jan de Veen, owner of Dutch restaurant De Daltons, who came up with the idea while sitting in his restaurant pretending to get some work done. It seems that, as he browsed the internet to pass the time, he stumbled over the previous record for the…

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Thann, Alsace and L’œil de la Sorcière (The Witch’s Eye)

The little town of Thann lies on the eastern slopes of the Vosges, in the département of Haut-Rhin (Alsace). A historic town which once belonged to the Habsburgs in the Middle-Ages, it is renown for its remarkable Gothic church and the Rangen vineyard and, in fact, it is also the southern gate to the Alsace Wine Route. According to the legend, the town originated from a miracle attributed to St. Theobald, the Bishop of Gubbio (Umbria, Italy). In 1160, Ubald (or Theobald) saw his death coming soon and promised his…

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The Spirit of the Grain Fields

Harvest is the most important time of the agricultural calendar. Not only in past, the fortunes of farms, families, and even entire communities were tied to its outcome. And thus, unsurprisingly, harvest has developed its variety of deities, traditions, and superstitions which are found in almost every farming culture worldwide. Ever since the first farmers planted their crops over 10,000 years ago, people have had an anxious wait for summer. Will there be enough hot weather to ripen the corn? Will an unlucky spell rot the grain in the fields?…

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Sivas and the mysterious grave in the road

One of the last thing you expect to see in the middle of a regular urban paved street is a grave complete with a large tombstone. But that’s exactly what you’ll see when driving through Sivas, in central Turkey. Yeni Mahalle Hamzaoğlu is one of the several streets that traverse the relatively new Şarkışla district but, at one point, motorists need to make sure that they don’t drive straight into a grave located right in the road. It’s been there for several years now, but only recently gained national attention,…

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Devil’s Pulpit: a strange rock with a sinister reputation lurks within the crimson waters of this Scottish glen

The real name of the gorge in Scotland is Finnich Glen. The name Devil’s Pulpit comes from a rock formation that looks similar to that of a church pulpit, even if the red coloured water seemed more satanic than saintly, to early visitors. Originally, the name “the Devil’s Pulpit” referred only to the rock that sometimes pokes above the rushing stream, and some say it is where the Devil stood to address his followers, with the crimson current swirling at his feet. Others say Druids held secret meetings there, hidden…

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The remains of Buchanan Castle in Scotland

The eerie remains of Buchanan Castle are located west of the village of Drymen in Stirlingshire, central Scotland. Interestingly, although it bears the name of the Buchanan Clan, none of the Buchanans ever lived there. And in fact it is not even related with them, except that the original castle on the site (Buchanan Auld House) was the ancestral seat of Clan Buchanan for several centuries. Historically, the old house and surrounding lands had been the property of the Clan Buchanan but passed to the Clan Graham in the late…

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St Ninian’s Cave

St Ninian’s Cave stands at the rear of a collapse in part of the rocky headland at the north western end of the stony beach at Physgill, that looks out over Port Castle Bay,some three miles south west of Whithorn. To reach it, there is a car park at Kidsdale, which is signed for St Ninian’s Cave. The walk begins along the path which is signed from a corner of the car park. It then runs down the wooded Physgill Glen. At one point the path divides, with a higher…

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The War Rubble of Crosby Beach

Crosby Beach, about five miles North of Liverpool, is basically a stark reminder of World War II. What remains of the city before the conflict that destroyed the world in the middle of the 20th century is literally strewn across these two miles of coastline: from pebble-sized remnants of bricks eroded by the adjacent Irish Sea, to graves, or large keystones of major civic buildings. Historically, Liverpool was one of the most heavily hit British cities by the German Luftwaffe, the Nazi air force. It was the second most bombed…

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The secret history of Closeburn Castle, one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Scotland~

Closeburn Castle is a tower house and one of the oldest continually inhabited buildings in Scotland. It is located 1 km east of the village of Closeburn, in the historical county of Dumfriesshire. The lands were granted to the Kirkpatrick family back in 1232, with the likelihood that the ancient fortalice was built thereafter. The tower house was probably built in the late 14th century, although some sources give a date as early as 1180 or as late as 1420. In any case, everything about the building was designed for…

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Medb’s Cairn: the grave of a mythological Irish queen?

Perched atop the monolithic Irish hill Knocknarea west of Sligo town, lies Medb’s Cairn, in Irish Miosgán Médhbh, a 5,000 year old burial mound, even though no one is quite sure whose it is. It is about 55 metres wide and 10 metres high, making it the largest cairn in Ireland outside the Brú na Bóinne complex in Meath. It is believed to date to around 3000 BCE, and it is a protected National Monument. In recent years, archaeologists have warned that the ancient cairn is being eroded by hikers…

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The forgotten Benbulben Barite Mines – Ireland

In a beautiful and remote area of Ireland are the remains of Benbulben Barite Mine. The once industrious mine was used to unearth barite ore, a naturally occurring mineral used in cement as an aggregate, or ground down and used as a filler or extender. It’s an agent in the sugar refining process, a white pigment in paint and paper, and used as a weighting agent in oil and gas exploration mining, among many other industrial-type things. Due its chemical stability it can be used to give added value to…

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Grave of W. B. Yeats at St. Columba’s Church, Drumcliffe, Ireland

In the churchyard of St. Columba’s Church, a few miles north of Sligo town, Ireland, William Butler Yeats lies under a remarkably plain gravestone bearing his name, birth and death dates, as well as the last three lines of one of his poems: “cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by.” He was one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets, and explained the plans for his final resting place the best way he knew how, through poetry. The final verse of “Under Ben Bulben” details the way he…

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Pescarenico: the fishing village which has kept intact its charm over time

«È Pescarenico una terricciola, sulla riva sinistra dell’Adda, o vogliam dire del lago, poco discosto dal ponte: un gruppetto di case, abitate la più parte da pescatori, e addobbate qua e là di tramagli e di reti tese ad asciugare.» Alessandro Manzoni, I promessi sposi. Alessandro Manzoni mentioned Pescarenico in his most famous work, “The Betrothed” and, thanks to the story of Renzo and Lucia and the ingenious pen of their creator this Lecco’s district, in Northern Italy, has become famous. Manzoni wrote that the monastery of the Capuchins, in…

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The Hartest Stone

If stones could talk – what stories could they tell? Hartest is a small village south of Bury, Suffolk, England, located in a deep dale. At its North end lies its silent stone sentry, a limestone boulder with an interesting past. And, of course, there are different versions of its story. Just as the Treaty of Utrecht brought Britain the Rock of Gibraltar, it is also said, in at least one story, to have brought it this more humble roughly one metre cube rock, dragged to its present spot in…

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Amalia Eriksson: the trailblazing Swedish businesswoman who created a beloved minty candy called polkagris.

It was 1859, when a new confection emerged on the market in the small town of Gränna, Sweden. It was a hard, minty candy with whimsical red and white stripes. Called polkagris, it soon became one popular and beloved sweet. The treat was the work of Amalia Eriksson, born in 1824 and grew up in Gränna, who ended up marrying a tailor. The poor woman was only 34 years old when became a widow shortly after giving birth to her daughter Ida. Her husband died in dysentery only four days…

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The incredible (unsolved) mystery of Kaspar Hauser

Nuremberg, May 26, 1828: a mysterious boy, about 16 years old, wanders in search of the Captain of the 4th Esgataron of the Shwolishay regiment, to whom he has to deliver a letter. Obviously, no citizen of Nuremberg is aware of the boy’s identity. The letter explains that, from 7 October 1812, the boy had been entrusted to the mysterious author and, among other things, instructed the captain that “…if he isn’t good for anything [the captain] must either kill him or hang him in the chimney.” Apparently Kaspar Hauser,…

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Cereseto castle and its secrets

Cereseto is about 50 kilometres east of Turin and about 30 kilometres northwest of Alessandria, Northern Italy. Probably established around 500–600 AD. and mentioned in records of the Bishop of Asti from around 957 AD., it is perched on a hill, and is dominated by its castle. The town was the property of the Graseverto family of Asti, who probably built the first castle around 900–1000 AD, but completely demolished in 1600. It was 1910 when the financier Riccardo Gualino and his wife launched construction of a new castle with…

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An Irish (true) story: the Enniscorthy poltergeist

You want to exange this life of the modern journalist for the dashing life of an Edwardian hunter news? Well, a century ago, back in 1910, one of the local reporters for County Wexford, Ireland, was one Nicholas Murphy, a man of the Roman Catholic faith who lived at George’s Street in the town of Enniscorthy. He was aged in or around forty at the time, when the call came to cover a most unusual event just a short stroll from his house. The scoop was that an upper room…

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South Stack Lighthouse: one of Wales’ most visited and spectacular lighthouses

South Stack is one of Wales’ most visited and spectacular lighthouses. It is located about 2-3 miles west of Holyhead, on a tiny islet just off Holy Island on the North West tip of Anglesey. It has been a warning beacon for passing ships since it’s construction over 200 years ago, cautioning them of the deadly rocks below. The lighthouse helps guide shipping in the busy channel into the Mersey and is a waymark for local seafarers, but also for coastal traffic crossing the Irish Sea too and from the…

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Sibiu, the romanan city where the roofs don’t sleep.

We are in Sibiu. Geographically, it is located in the southern part of Transylvania, close to the Carpathian mountains. Built in the 1100s by the Saxon settlers invited by the Hungarian King in Transylvania, Sibiu, also named Hermannstadt, managed to preserve untouched most of its architectural heritage. While walking around the Romanian city, you’ll start to notice something a bit odd, and you may even get the sense that someone, or something, is watching you. And, wnhile you gaze at the city’s architecture, you’ll start to realize are the houses…

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Alvastra Abbey: the first Cistercian settlement in Sweden

The ruins of the oldest and most important Cistercian monastery of medieval Sweden preserve a part of local history from before the Protestant Reformation, when people donated land or money to gain easier access to heaven after their deaths. This monastery was founded in 1143 when King Sverker the Elder and his queen, who wanted to gain favor with the church, donated land to the French Clairvaux monks and invited them to come and build the sanctuary. Monks, who belonged to the influential Cistercian Order, brought from Clairvaux modern methods…

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The Vestalia: Celebrating Vesta and Purifying Rome

Vesta was an ancient Roman goddess of the domestic and civic hearth whose annual festival, the Vestalia, was celebrated in this period, between the 7th and 15th of June. The Vestalia marked a pause in everyday life as the Romans honoured Vesta and purified her shrine. It was also a time to commemorate the benefits the goddess had brought to the city, and to ensure the continued safety and well-being of Rome and her people. Vesta was an Italic deity whose cult was popular in Pompeii and Latium before either…

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The Folklore of Bees

In the middle of spring, outside, in addition to the greening of the earth, we notice a change in the local wildlife. Suddenly, squirrels are everywhere, birds are twittering away madly in the trees, worms are popping in the soil and, everywhere you look, life has returned. Among others, you’ll see bees buzzing around your garden, partaking of the rich pollen in your flowers. The plants are in full bloom at this time of the spring, and the bees take advantage, buzzing back and forth, carrying pollen from one blossom…

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Cabo da Roca: the most westerly point of mainland Europe.

We are in Portugal. The diverse heritage and stunning architecture make it a must-see for history lovers, while its very good cuisine is a foodie’s dream and the coastline attracts surfers and beach-goers from all over the world. If you’re planning a break to this fantastic country, don’t forget to stand on the Most Western Point in Europe Okay, technically just continental Europe, but that’s still pretty cool. To do this, you’ll need to head to Cabo da Roca, in the municipality of Sintra. The beautiful coastal trail offers stunning…

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Malte Stierngranat: the man who did what he wanted

Locals in Sweden have a nickname for the eccentric nobleman who built himself a pyramid tomb in the middle of the south highlands: “Mannen som gjorde vad som föll honom in”. Literally: “The man who did what he wanted.” The curious character certainly carried around a lot of names. His name was Georg Malte Gustav August Liewen Stierngranat, and was born in 1871 on an estate called Nobynäs, outside of the small city of Aneby. Because he was the oldest son, he was expected to stick around the manor house…

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Kissel: the dessert that’s also a meal

Depending on the person you ask and what part of Eastern Europe he hails from, kissel is either a thick juice, a dessert soup, or a gelatinous porridge. Just one thing is certain: it is a veritable medley of forest-born ingredients and a constant presence at the dessert table. Traditionally, Kissel is a soft, fruit-based dessert, generally made from berries, sugar and either cornstarch or potato starch. Its name comes from the Russian word “kisliy” meaning ‘sour,’ because sour fruits are traditionally favored. Its recipe varies from country to country,…

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Salice Terme: the sad story of a beloved tourist destination and its decline

Hotels no longer have a single free room, streets and nightclubs are overflowing with tourists, while flocks of photographers swarm from one limo to another in search of some VIPs. Who will be the winner this year? The jury is hard at work and will soon issue the verdict. It seems like the description of one of the highlight days of the Venice or Cannes Film Festival. But no, we are in Salice Terme, in the heart of the Po Valley, in the mid-1960s, when the spa town in the…

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The Month of June 2021: holidays, curiosities and folklore

“It is the month of June, The month of leaves and roses, When pleasant sights salute the eyes, And pleasant scents the noses.” –N. P. Willis (1807-67) The month of June brings beautiful flowers, delicious fruits and vegetables, and an urge to get out there and enjoy the sunshine. June was most likely named for the Roman goddess Juno, patroness of marriage and the well-being of women, or from Lucius Junius Brutus, the one who drove out the last king of Rome and founded the Republic. Another version says that…

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The legend of Richmond’s phantom Drummer Boy~

It seems there is a particular charm that attaches itself to the world of hidden tunnels, especially to ones that are held to possess ecclesiastical associations. Somewhere deep in the English imagination there seems to lurk the suspicion that the monks of yore, dispossessed and done away with during the years of Henrician terror, held close a knowledge of secret subterranean networks that connected their abbeys to other centres of worldly power and, in some instances, to realms neither secular nor holy. Hidden treasures, madness, slumbering knights and kings: these…

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Rathlin West Lighthouse: a beloved upside-down beacon off the coast of Northern Ireland

A trip to picturesque Rathlin, the only developed island off the coast of Northern Ireland, offers several things including wildlife, a medieval history and more. Three lighthouses guide boats along Rathlin, and the seafaring excitement begins as soon as you leave the shores of Ballycastle. The island is home also of one of the largest seabird colonies in the UK. Every year over 250,000 seabirds such as guillemots (which only come on land to nest and can dive to a depth of 180 metres underwater), razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars (a grey…

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