We brought you some good European trivia in a previous article we published about the topic but that doesn’t mean we were done. No ma’am. In this second part, we have a whole new host of cool European details that will make you look like the most worldly person at your next cocktail party.
Tuscany Used to Have Prisoner Waiters
Housed in the town of Volterra, Italy, inside the town's Renaissance-era fortress, The Fortezza Medicea is an occasional restaurant that uses inmates of the prison as staff. Bet you didn't expect that. Customers of the restaurant must first pass a background check and make it through several checkpoints. Oh, and there is only plastic cutlery.
It is primarily a rehabilitation scheme, but the restaurant also pulls in some money. The restaurant proved to be surprisingly successful, with many guests raving about the food and the service. As of 2007, tables had to be booked far in advance, so if you are planning to pay this place a visit, act fast.
Babies Sleep Outside
In most Scandinavian countries, babies are wheeled outside to take a nap outdoors, and Iceland is no exception. Parents believe that the fresh air helps to prevent illness, with some sleep experts maintaining that the cold air can induce a deeper slumber. The more the body has to deal with and the colder it gets, the healthier the baby will eventually be.
So next time you take your baby out in the cold, and your mother-in-law has something to say about it, tell her what we have just told you. Or move to Europe. We can guarantee you will be able to take your baby out in any weather.
No McDonald's in Iceland
Iceland is a special place on the planet with a steady population of less than 400,000 and not one McDonald's. That's right, the last McDonald's closed in 2009, and a new one hasn't opened since. It's not that Icelanders don’t like fast food, as they dine out quite often.
But despite that, McDonald’s just couldn't figure out how to survive among Iceland's volcanoes, hot springs, and fjords. So, if you're visiting Iceland and fancy a Big Mac, you will have to travel to the nearest country for your daily load of fast food. From experience, if you buy your favorite Mac in Belgium or The Netherlands, it will arrive in Iceland in a fairly edible condition.
While sport-hocking is referred to as "extreme sitting," this German sport is anything but relaxing! You might recognize the people of Germany being content and calm; however, this support breaks all boundaries and shows that the German people are just like anyone else. It has players performing various physical stunts and tricks using a rubber-based stool.
This is unique to Europe as we have looked for another continent that hosts this and came up with nothing. Sporthockers will only take a seat on the stool once they complete their routine. The more tricks performed before taking a seat, the better.
The Mountain Border of Andorra
Nestled away in a valley ten thousand feet atop a mountain range between France and Spain is the microstate of Andorra. The minuscule border of Andorra runs for fifty-seven kilometers along the French side to the north and sixty-four kilometers along the Spanish side to the south. This place is so remarkable that plays, songs and stories have mentioned this place and built a plot around it.
The country itself forms a sort of border between France and Spain as it is not a member of the European Union. Andorra is the second microstate with which France shares a border – the other being the Principality of Monaco.
Portugal Has a Palace That Is Colored Like a Toy
Atop its mountain outside Lisbon, a Romanticist castle from the middle ages brims with color. King Ferdinand II of Germany built this residence for Queen Maria II of Portugal. He placed it in a beautiful spot that allows not only a good look at the countryside but also a panoramic view of Portugal's Riviera.
With bright yellows, vivid reds, and even cool, soothing blues, the exterior design of this castle catches the eye and demands attention. Completed in 1854, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It's available to tour and is also used for state functions.
Stand in Midair
Well, almost. In a crevice between two cliffs in the Norwegian Lysefjord near Stavanger lies “Kjeragbolten,” a boulder wedged and immobile. If you have the guts, you can clamber down onto it, which is about as close as you can naturally stand in thin air.
While the hike doesn't require any special equipment, it's still a long and difficult hike that requires good boots, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Conquer it, and you can stand almost a full kilometer over the ground. Talk about a memorable photo. American metal band Dream Theater has even used an image of the boulder as an album cover.
Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Of course, we weren’t going to have a list about Europe without including the giant geothermal Icelandic hot springs! If there is one place you must visit in your life time, it has got to be this. Just outside of Reykjavik, there lies the Blue Lagoon Spa, which is most famous for its soft white silica mud and steaming mineral-rich water, both of which have healing effects on the skin.
It is considered Iceland's wonder of the world. The hot water pools are known for rejuvenating the skin and healing the soul. Mountains decorate the views on the horizon, completing an overall supernatural experience.
The Icelandic Red Heart Traffic Lights
After the economic crash in 2008, Iceland's citizens were devastated; the contry lost all of its positive and uplifting vibes and became cols and miserable, not only in temperature wise. The town of Akureyri decided to lift everyone's spirits by adding heart fixtures to the traffic lights. Of course, many years have passed, but this symbol is still there as a reminder to stay positive.
The city's mayor was not going to lose his optimism and adopted this beautiful strategy to help keep the people in good spirits. This unexpected display of love really is the only piece of investigative journalism you need today.
Bank of England Vaults
The Bank of England is one of the UK's most powerful institutions due to its size, responsibilities, and holdings. They hold 5,134 tonnes of gold, which is estimated to have a market value of £200 billion. The value suggests that the vault could hold as much as 3% of the world's gold mined throughout human history. Deprecations and recession have not influenced this place significantly, and it holds its prestige.
With the way, the economy keeps being unstable not only in the UK but the entire world, these bundles of gold might be useful soon; however, the world has seen dark days and the place has remained the same for years.
A Ghost Town in Italy
Don't you just love ghost towns? We are Halloween lovers, so when it comes to places like this, we are first in line to research. There's just something about looking at old buildings and imagining the life people led there. The medieval ghost town of Craco is located on a hilltop in the Basilicata region in Italy, overlooking the Cavone river valley.
Due to its location in a seismically active region, the town was highly prone to natural disasters. In 1991, when a number of landslides threatened Carco, its people ran away, and the town remained unpopulated since. These days, it resembles a stalactite cave more than anything else.
Amazing Autumn in Germany
This is the Rakotzbrücke Devil's Bridge which is located in Gablenz, Germany. It was built in the 19th century, and when the light hits the water in the right way, it forms a perfect circle. This is a favorite spot for photographers and artists. It would make for a romantic moment sailing down the river with this view.
According to legends, the bridge was built by the devil itself, as no mortal could possibly build such a fascinating piece. The myth says that the devil agreed to construct the bridge over the water only if he would get in return the soul of the first person to cross it.
The World's Biggest Art Collection
In the early 1600s, in the Vatican, Pope Julius II established one of the world's biggest art collections. Among the highlights are the Museo Pio-superb Clementino's classical sculpture collection, Raphael's frescoed apartments, and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel paintings. The chapel's walls are frescoed. A renaissance team painted them in 1481–82, including Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, Perugino, and Luca Signorelli.
The Sistine Chapel is where the conclave gathers to pick a new pope, as well as a showcase for precious art. Today it is considered one of the most populated tourist attractions in the whole of Europe, and it atracts art lovers from all over the wordl, 365 days a year.
Cars Left By US Soldiers in Belgium
In a small village in southern Belgium called Chatillion, there is a graveyard of old cars that once belonged to the US Army. Their soldiers were given these cars during World War II. What, then, are the cars still doing there? Why aren't they with their soldier owners? Are they there to blook the rode that led to knowwhere? (you wouldn't find us hanging about there).
Well, unsurprisingly, once the soldiers returned back to America, they were not interested in shipping a car from Belgium. Beaurocracy and shipping costs must have gotten in the way and the vehicles were abandoned in what looks like a car graveyard.
Innsbruck in Austria Is a Perfect Skiing Destination
The perfect time to go skiing is in the winter, and although there are so many countries with tall mountain ranges covered in snow at this time of the year, there is one place that stands out as the perfect location for your vacation. Welcome to Innsbruck, Austria.
This Austrian city is practically the home of skiing, and you will be thrilled to find out that it has successfully hosted the Winter Olympic Games, not once, but several times. Apart from skiing, the area will take care of all your sporting needs as it can boast of popular resorts that do just that.
The Sheep Population of Iceland
If you are anything like us, you like nothing more than fascinating facts. So, here's another — the sheep population in Iceland doubles the human population in Iceland. To be honest, that makes sense. For everyman ( or woman) there are two sheep, so warmth and coziness during the cold winter Icelandic month are guaranteed.
With temperatures that low, Icelanders are going to need all the sweaters they can get their hands on, and what better way to do it than keeping all those sheep around? Also, it's pretty easy to be outnumbered by sheep when the whole population adds up to a little more than three hundred thousand people.
Slovenia Has a Castle Built Into a Cliff Cave
The Predjama Castle in Slovenia is built into the mouth of a cave. This Renaissance-style castle appears in writing as far back as the twelve hundreds, and it's one of the most famous attractions in Slovenia. It's unique and looks like no other, and turnes Slovenia into a castle lovers heaven.
It has a substantial legacy as the largest “cave castle” in the world. The underground tunnels – used by plundering knights in the Middle Ages – add even more to this castle's history. As a balance, a natural vertical shaft was enlarged, which allowed for the castle to be secretly resupplied during times of siege.
In Oslo, You Can Visit the Man Who Changed Theater
You can't actually visit him since he passed away more than a hundred years ago, but you can see his home. Norwegian Henrik Ibsen lived across from Oslo's Royal Palace in a rather nondescript building, which is now a beautiful museum. He's the most performed playwright in the world after Shakespeare and is considered the founder of modern drama.
If you're a theater fan, you can step inside the very same room where he wrote his last two plays and spent the last eleven years of his life. The room has been completely restored to its original state, and you can feel the words around you if you concentrate.
It's Abandoned, But It's Beautiful
The Valley of the Mills in Sorrento, Italy, gives us a clue as to what life would be like without humans. The mills have also been separated from the sea by the construction of Tasso Square, which increased the humidity in the region, causing people to leave in search of a more livable climate.
This magnificent place goes back to the 13th century; however, the site was abandoned in the 1940s following WWII. No one paid any attention to the magnetics vies this place had up until recent years. These days, it can only be viewed from the top, and it's impossible to enter. (Unless you fall in, that is.)
Iceland's Favorite Food
Hot dogs were definitely not what we expected to be one of Iceland's favorite foods. To us, they are always known as one of America's icons. These local hot dogs are special because Icelanders use lamb meat instead of pork or beef.
Famous people like Bill Clinton and Kim Kardashian have visited Bæjarins Beztu, a famous Reykjavík hot dog stand, and tasted the famous dish. Owned and operated by the same family since 1937, the stand makes its own ketchup with apples as an ingredient. You can have a hot dog with sweet mustard, along with raw or crispy onions and ketchup, with apples, of course!
Weird Haggis Only the Scots Can Eat
There is not alot known about Scotland. We are all familiar with the Scottish quilt, Scottish whiskey, and William Wallace, but what do you know about their kitchen? Imagine watching a chef cooking in an opened-up sheep. Its heart, lungs, and liver are detached, placed in a heap, and soon to be served garnished with oatmeal and onions.
It is sprinkled with spice after being seasoned with salt, so it appeals to your senses at first sight and the smell of it. It's considered a savory pudding, and these days, it's prepared with an artificial casing. It goes back to ancient days when all animal parts were used, and nothing barely ever went to waste.
The Best Airports in the World
Germany (or Germans) is known for providing precise, exact, and perfectly designed items, and it is also known for many other things. Munich's airport is huge and one of the best in the world. It hosts mountain bike events, indoor surfing, an Audi Showroom, Airbräu, and an on-site brewery.
How's that for an airport? Schiphol's airport doesn't fall far behind. It is home to a library and two 24/7 mini museums: the Nemo Museum of Science and the Rijksmuseum of Art. Did we mention they have an oxygen bar with aromatherapy you can enjoy? Just make sure you don't forget about your flight!
Climb the World's Longest Staircase
Next to a building that used to be a power plant and is now a hostel (unique in its own right) is a set of wooden stairs that total four thousand four hundred and forty-four steps. Better warm up those quads because they will burn by the time you reach the top. This is the longest staircase in Norway and in the entire world.
The town it's in, Lysefjord, has no roads (it's also been called a hamlet), and it's right next to a huge mountain that is a popular hiking spot. Still, to get up to the start of the trail, you'll have to brave THE STAIRCASE. We wonder if it was an inspiration for a certain Led Zeppelin song.
We will save tourists the disappointment now and inform you that the famed Hadrian’s Wall does not, in fact, create the border between England and Scotland. The wall was constructed almost eight hundred years before the nation of Scotland even existed when Britain was still “Britannia” — a province of Rome!
It is, however, a UNESCO heritage site and one of the best-preserved ancient borders in the world. Not too many people ( and places) manage to look after our planet. The stone wall runs almost eighty miles across the north of England and lies roughly twenty miles away from the actual England-Scotland border.
Svalbard Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a seed bank located on Spitsbergen, an island that belongs to Norway. It is located in the middle of the Arctic and situated close to the North Pole.
The vault stores multitudes of seeds in the chance that a global catastrophe wipes out most of the earth’s crops. The vault is built 390 feet deep into a sandstone mountain. These seeds will be kept safe for an estimated couple hundred years. It’s fully computerized and is monitored remotely. The vault opens only to special visitors and only for a few days a year when it receives new seeds.
Conker Smashing in the UK
England has alot of weird things going for it, and there is another explanation to prove that although they speak English over there, that is basically the only thing we have in common. The nut inside the shell of the horse chestnut tree is known as a conker, and by now, you must be wondering what this European sports game could possibly be.
The game was first played in the UK, with each player holding a conker threaded onto a piece of string. The players compete by trying to break each other's conker by repeatedly striking it with their own. This game has grown into a worldwide sensation and is currently practiced in many countries; however, it still preserves its British roots.
The Fence of Gibraltar
England and Spain are separated by over a thousand miles, with Andorra, France, and the English Channel between them. How is it, then, that the two nations share a border? Successive wars in middle-aged Europe eventually led to a concession by Spain to give a tiny chunk of land to England in 1713, making it a British Overseas Territory on mainland Spain.
The border became extra complicated when Britain decided to abandon the European Union. A treaty was signed that allows for Gibraltar to fall under Schengen rules, which means crossings between the Territory and Spain remain unhindered for citizens.
The World's First Female President
Iceland's fourth President and first democratically elected female President was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. She was the world's first female president and paved the path for many other women in the world who followed! This happened during the 1980 presidential campaign when she ran against three male candidates and won 33.6% of the votes.
She was very popular, and after four years in office, she was elected again and again in 1988 with 94.6% of the votes! After her retirement, she became a UNESCO ambassador for languages, and over the years, she has received many honorary degrees from universities all over the world.
Not Baseball, It's Bossaball
This weird competition combines three different sports! Originally developed by Belgian athlete Filip Eyckmans, this weird blend of activities involves volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics. They wanted to include skating, golf and rugby, but it never worked out.
For the uninitiated, Bossaball might seem more like a funfair of acrobatics than an actual sport, but it's taken very seriously in and around Europe, and there is no room for joking. Although this sport originates in the South American continent, these days, it is mostly associated with Europe. The true meaning behind the word Bossaball is expressing sport, music, and positive vibes.
Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery in Madrid
The numbers at this cemetery are incredible: 4 million graves, which is more than the current population of Madrid. It’s a reminder of the passage of time and that we dedicate a lot of land to burying our fellow humans. It was the main cemetery for the entire city from 1884 to 1973, and from the 1920s was almost the only one for the majority of the population of Madrid.
Set in Spain's capital and most populous city, it is now known as the largest cemetery in Madrid and one of the largest in Western Europe. Throngs of visitors, especially on All Saints’ Day, on November 1, navigate the burial ground through streets with names and changing sections that vary like different neighborhoods.
The Cofusing Bastei Bridge
Walking across the Bastei Bridge is sure to cause geographic confusion. The bridge itself runs along the Bastei ridge, a natural rock formation in Germany. However, the region is in an area of Germany called Saxon Switzerland – almost one thousand kilometers away from Switzerland!
Walk a distance over the bridge, and you will find yourself in Bohemian Switzerland, which, confusedly, happens to be in The Czech Republic! The borders in central Europe can be confusing sometimes. The Bastei trails lead between the borders of Germany and The Czech Republic, very far away from anything Swiss. The bridge draws thousands of tourists a year.
McDermott’s Castle in Ireland
This is McDermott’s Castle, which is situated in County Roscommon, a small island, given the apt name of Castle Island, located on the southwest corner of Lough Key in Ireland. In 2014, the castle appeared in an episode of "Moone Bay," and in 2018 was put up for sale for $102,000. This castle still preserves its medieval windows and arrow slot.
The legend of a Una, the daughter of McDermott chief, who falls in love with a pauper and is kept locked on the island until their love vanishes, is passed down by generations until this very day. A piece of history preserved.
Witness Europe's Tallest Waterfall
Norway is filled with waterfalls. Three hundred of them, to be exact. The tallest waterfall in Norway, and indeed all of Europe, is Kjelfossen, which falls a total of eight hundred and forty meters – that's more than twenty-seven hundred feet. Nearly half a mile!
The view from either the top of the waterfall or the bottom is breathtaking, and many have lost a heart beat just by looking at the nature wonder. Be sure to relieve some stress and let you experience the natural beauty of Norway. Even if you don't get to see it that close, just glimpsing it from the nearby highway is sure to be special.
Take in the Fjords of Norway
If you're in Norway, you aren't going to be able to get away from the fjords, so why not make the most of it and take advantage of one of the most beautiful places on earht? Plan a road trip through southern Norway, and you'll be driving alongside fjords, driving over fjords, and staying near them, too.
Take a few hikes for breathtaking views and pictures you will be showing all of your friends for years to come. You can even find a number of cruises that will take you through a number of fjords for a more laid-back approach to seeing the natural beauty of Norway.
The Olza River Is a European Source of Inspiration
In Eastern Europe, the Olza River flows between Poland and the Czech Republic, creating a natural border as it snakes between the two countries. The gentle river has been a muse for several artists, poets, and musicians throughout the ages and has inspired songs, poems, and even an anthem. The place is full of culture, enough to spread away the whole continent.
Like most borders, the river generated some internal conflict between Poland and the Czech Republic. The Poles and Czechs disagreed on the proper pronunciation of the name Olza until a linguist established that the word predated both Polish and Czech!
Iceland's Glacier Rivers Are Both Beautiful and Educational
Iceland is a land of staggering beauty, with ancient bejeweled rivers originating from the country's most famous longtime residents — glaciers. The country has magnificent landscapes that cannot be seen in any other contry. There is much more to Iceland than just ice and apparently, more to the land , then just land.
This intricately flowing Glacier river travels all the way to Thórsmork, Highlands. It’s almost as if Mother Nature tried bringing the starry night sky closer to home. These rivers are considered the laboratories of the world. They are nature's science room, as these rivers' response to climate change is crucial.
Witness the World's Most Powerful Whirlpool in Norway
Whirlpools are magnificent creations of nature, and the Saltstraumen Maelstrom in Norway is the planet's most powerful example. It's found in Nordland, thirty kilometers east of the city of Bodø. It's in the middle of a narrow channel connecting the outer Salfjord with the larger Skjerstadfjord. It's the strongest tidal current in the world, reaching thirty-seven kph, or twenty-three mph.
The whirlpool has existed for over two thousand years and is one of the most unique things you can see. Huge vortices and foamy waves are formed at the strongest tides, making for unforgettable experiences. This is for sure a place you must visit once in your life.
Polish and Ukrainian Fish
European cartographers have been kept very busy over the last few centuries as the continent went to war with itself and redefined territories consistently. Poland and Ukraine have traded blows more than once in the previous century and have often tried to redefine their borders. At present, the current border has remained in place and peacefully agreed upon since 1992.
In a gesture of peacekeeping efforts, an artist from Poland named Jaroslaw Koziara carved two gigantic fish into the grass on either side of the country’s borders as a symbol of unity. Why a fish, we ask? Whatever happened to a full meal of fish, chips, and vegetables?
Norway Has the World's Largest Bonfire
You can only do this during one day of the year, but if you happen to be in Norway on June twenty-third, you can't keep away from Ålesund, which boasts the world's largest bonfire.
June twenty-third is midsummer, and plenty of people celebrate with some drinks and a casual bonfire, but not Ålesund. It's so big that they show the bonfire on television every year. It's so big it looks like a lighthouse that has been made to guide vessels into port. It has to have constant attention from the fire department and is set up on an island to make sure there's no danger.
Finnish Hobby Horsing
When we imagine the idyllic countryside of Finland, hobby horsing is not the first thing that might come to mind. Also, on the flip side, when thinking of hobby horses, you don't really imagine them being involved in an actual sport. This strange competition does have some merit, though; it's quirky, safe, and in true Scandinavian fashion, it's simply good for kids.
This game is wildly reminiscent of equestrian sport, save for the fact that there are no real-live horses involved ( we dare them), just kids running through a series of obstacles and hurdles while holding onto their hobby horse.
Take a Trip to Rocca Scaligera Castle in Sirmione, Italy
Rocca Scaligera is one of Italy's best-preserved castles found on Lake Garda. It sees more than three hundred thousand visitors a year! The castle has been around since the thirteenth century and is one of Italy's most popular tourist destinations. It features a notable wet dock, a fortified port built in the fourteenth century, stylistically unique ramparts, and crenelated towers.
The waters of Lake Garda creep into the castle's thick walls – by design. The castle was built with numerous passageways that allow boat travel while also defending the castle. Due to this feature, it looks as if the lake is slowly swallowing the castle, giving it another moniker: the Sinking Castle.
A Dutch Sport Called Fierljeppen
Also known as far-leaping, this Dutch sport is like pole vaulting, but competitors hurl themselves over a random river instead of being vaulted across a stable surface in an arena. The Dutch have their own way when it comes to many things, apparently.
What's truly remarkable about this sport that keeps amazing us is the extreme distances they jump, with some vaulters reaching up to 70 feet! Many parts of The Netherlands are below sea level, which is assumably how this sport started. It dates back to 1771 when people presumably had to jump their way from one place to another.
The French Château de Chambord
The epitome of a beautiful French residence, this castle at Chambord combined the need for defense with a style that would take the world by storm. Construction began in the fifteen hundreds, and today is one of the most recognizable châteaus in France. It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle has been owned by royals, fallen into decay, and was reestablished thanks to Gaston d'Orleans, who carried out extensive restoration work. This site is now visited by thousands of people every year, and there's plenty of space for all of them. It is huge and a must.
You Won't Find Any Mosquitoes in North Europe
Despite there being over 1,300 types of insects in Iceland, there's not one mosquito. Even at the peak of summer, when everyone fights the bites, northern Europe is Mosquitoe-free. This is due to the low temperatures, which can't accommodate a mosquito's lifecycle. It is so cold the bothering bugger has departed altogether.
Now, that might sound wonderful, and we can only envy them, but not having mosquitos around doesn't mean you're free of bites or annoying flying creatures. Locals and visitors still have to deal with other insects, like midges, which are similar to mosquitos, and they also bite. You can't have it all.
Caber Tossing the Scottish Way
Hurling a massive tree trunk is an athletic event that is quite possibly one of the most macho sports the Scots could indulge in. And without fail, they still do this every year, no matter what. It's one of the most anticipated competitions of the Highland Games.
This sporting event is like the Scotland Olympics, featuring very specific types of sports like caber tossing. It's like haggis, the traditional Scottish dish or the famous Scottish quilt. What's more, participants probably have to eat haggis (a traditional Scottish dish) afterward, which many will admit is almost as painful, but still, many perform admirably.
Oia, Greece Has One of the Best Sunsets In the World
When it comes to Greek island paradises, you can’t do any better than Oia. It is a scenic village with whitewashed houses and cobbled streets located on the famous Santorini. It’s a traveler’s favorite for sunset viewing. Think sunsets with pink streaks across the sky and the shimmering waters of the Aegean Sea.
It is known that this part of Europe is one of the most trendy ones, which turns it into a ridiculously expensive one; however, if you are longing to dine with the best view in the world, this is the place for you. The food is expensive; the view is expensive; however, the memory is priceless.
The Dresden Frauenkirche Church Is a Living Piece of History
A real-life example of the great atrocities of war is the German city of Dresden, which was almost ruined in 1945. Despite the country’s regime's refusal to rebuild the historic landmark, great efforts to reconstruct the Dresden Frauenkirche were carried out. As a result, the ruins of the Frauenkirche church remained untouched for years.
Today, most of the center's buildings are occupied by shops, museums, hotels, restaurants, and office spaces. Though a large part of the city has, in fact, been successfully restored to its pre-WWII glory, this restoration is far from over. Upon visiting the city today, visitors will still find a myriad of construction sites scattered throughout many areas and streets of the city.
The Iberian Stripe
The ultra-cool sounding “The Stripe” is a demarcated strip of land that runs between and separates the European countries of Portugal and Spain. Known to the Portuguese as “a Raia” and the Spanish as “la Raya,” the dividing line is the oldest border in Europe. To take another title, “The Stripe” is the most continuous border in the European Union, with no breaks in it for almost eight hundred miles.
As both countries, Portugal and Spain, are members of the European Union, border crossings have remained largely neglected and unchecked between the two nations, operating again only in 2020 and 2021.
Between Two Continents
Believe it or not, Europe is the only place in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates, with some openings so narrow that you can touch both sides at once — which means you're touching two continents (North America and Europe) at once!
This is a crack between continents formed because of the tectonic plates pulling apart. Not only that, but it’s also where you’ll find some of the cleanest water in the world, which is surprising. If these waters don't belong to anyone, who is responsible for ensuring they stay clean? We mean, who pays the taxes?
Amsterdam Is One of the Best Places on Earth for Fall Watching
In the Netherlands, people care about the planet a lot. This is why most of them move around on bicycles instead of driving around in automobiles. As a result of this, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam is an excellent place for people who want to enjoy the fall. And in the Netherlands, it is magnificent.
Most of Amsterdam is covered with green plants, and it has the Amsterdam Forest that offers acres of woodland to give you every leafy need you have. As you gaze up at the beautiful color of leaves, you can dip your feet in the flowing river. It is really blissful.
Pea Shooting Championships? Only in Europe
Dozens of people gather in the small village of Witcham (UK) every year to compete in this World Championship, involving competitors shooting peas as far as possible. Surprisingly, this silly sport has a crowned champion that enjoys little more than bragging rights to being the best pea-shooter in Europe.
The first pea competition was held more than fifty years ago, in 1971, and takes place every single year on the second Saturday of July, no matter what the weather is like. There are so many things that differentiate Europe from any other place in the world, and pea competition is one of them.
Santorini Island Has Its Ups and Downs
When people think of Greece, they are really thinking about the island of Santorini, with its iconic white buildings, lovely black sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters. The island offers first-class accommodations, gourmet restaurants, and the chance to hike up a volcano on the Fira trail and capture the spectacular sunset.
Your stay on the island may be a dream, however, you will have to say goodbye to a few big bucks. While it is very expensive, some say t is worth every penny. The island roads are notoriously narrow, and driving on them, especially at night during tourist season, can be dangerous, so be aware.
Abandoned Village in St. Kilda, Scotland
The image's cleits (stone huts) were part of the once-populated, medieval village of Hirta in the Scottish archipelago of St. Kilda, located in the North Atlantic Ocean. The sea cliffs in Hirta are the highest ones in the entire United Kingdom. At first they might look like a mess of stones with no meaning behind them, but like all things from the past, this has a meaning too.
The number of residents in the village varied at the time between a few dozen and almost 200 residents for a few centuries. It was finally evacuated in 1930 due to illness brought by tourists and the First World War. Nevertheless, it remains a popular destination among scientists, conservation workers, and tourists.
Before the Eiffel Tower, There Is Notre Dame
Paris has cast an enchanting spell over people, filling their heads with images of lunches on the Left Bank, strolls by the Seine, or the Eiffel tower's glittering spectacle. Situated in the heart of Paris, Notre Dame (which means “Our Lady” in French) was viewed as an architectural marvel, easily making it one of the world’s most revered buildings in the world.
In April 2019, the Cathedral was swallowed by flames as onlookers watched the horrific scene right before their eyes. Made famous by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the two towers continue to stand. Despite the recent tragedies, Paris rose above it all. Landing on its feet, it continues to prove itself as the most romantic city in the world.
The World's Most Northern Capital Is in Europe
Cold Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, is the world's northernmost capital! With a population of nearly 140,000 people, it's the home of about one-third of the country's population. But that's not all; Iceland has another city that's located even further north. It is called Siglufjörður, and it has a population of 1,300 people. Now, you can't really get any more ic(e)lated than that, can you?
Iceland has half of the world's largest puffin population, with over 200 thousand breeding pairs. The magical views are unspoiled by human hands, making this place so exquisitely unique. The white mointainj capes stay white for most of the year, preserving the contries iconic features.
San Marino Is One of the Smallest Countries in the World
San Marino is an independent country located within the borders of Italy, and it's one of a kind! Sitting on top of Titano Mountain, the country stretches over 24 sq miles but still has its own international sports teams as well as a trained army.
It is considered the oldest republic in the world and is believed to be established on September 301 (That is year 301). In 1600 it established a constitution, making it the oldest one in Europe and in the entire world. It is known for its spectacular views, bundles of history, amazing food, and great people.
Beard and Mustache Sport
When it comes to a nation's tradition, there is no room for opinion. Things are kept as they are supposed to be, and there is no room for changes, alterations, or hiccups. Advocates for facial hair all around the world gather in many cities in Germany and try their hardest to style their lengthy facial hair into elaborate displays, showcasing just how creative they can be (and how they don't care about what other nations think).
The first-ever Beard and Mustache Championship was held in 1990 in Germany and is still going strong, with competitions taking place every two years in a different country.
When You Are in Wales, You Must go Bog Snorkelling
If you ever find yourself exploring the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells of Wales (we found it hard to believe that you ever came across this place), you might want to check out their annual bog snorkeling contest. This is unique only to this part of the world and can't be found anywhere else on this planet.
The only similarity shared between regular snorkeling and this contest is the equipment that is used. In this contest, swimmers dash through a 120-yard muddy marshland while only using flippers to race through the cold waters. Things you can only find in Wales.
The Bodiam Castle in England
If you are going to visit a castle, it has to be this one. This is as much CASTLE as a castle can get. This super ancient, enchanting, breathtaking, and lovely-looking castle was built almost 650 years ago, in the 1380s, by Sir Edward Dallingridge and his wife Elizabeth, who were both thoroughly immersed in the English high society of the time.
Think Rodeo Drive of back then. Think "Bridgerton," but real. And a few centuries older. While the inside of the medieval castle was ruined, its exteriors survived wonderfully, remaining a fascinating attraction for archeologists and, later on, for tourists.
A Welsh Horse vs. Man Marathon
Like many of history's more interesting races, the Welsh Horse V.Man marathon initially began as a way to settle an argument back in the late 70s when Welsh locals wondered who would be in a race — a man or a horse. It is held annually in the town of Llanwrtyd Wells and manages to preserve years of tradition with not much effort.
Ever since its inception, an annual 22-mile (35.4 km) marathon has been held in this Welsh Town, with both horses and men competing. Only on two occasions had men as victors, but usually, horses win the race.
The Three-Country Cairn
A large block of cement sits in the center of the world’s northernmost tripoint. “A tri-what?” we hear you ask! A tripoint is a geographical meeting point between three different nations. The “Three-Country Cairn” is where the corners of Finland, Sweden, and Norway meet. Several rockpiles, known as cairns, were constructed throughout the centuries to mark this unique border accord, with each country donating stones to symbolize their agreements.
Sweden disputed the boundary line decided on by Norway and Russia-controlled Finland in 1897 and refused to donate a stone! This was resolved, and Sweden placed their rock on the cairn in 1901. It has been there since.
Cinderella's Castle Can Be Found in Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most famous in the world. It's nicknamed Cinderella's castle and was the inspiration for Walt Disney's Castle in theme parks and movies. But this castle isn't a fairy tale – it housed King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who died in 1886.
After his death, the castle was opened to the public and now brings in more than a million visitors every year. Nestled among the pristine, beautiful hills and mountains of Schwangau, nobody who lays eyes on this opulent construction can say much more than “wow.” It's definitely a place fitting for a Disney princess.
A Country Within a Country
This may surprise most, but Vatican City is not a city within Italy; it is actually an independent state and is completely landlocked by Italy. The tiny enclave has a number of miniature titles. It is the smallest independent nation, wracking up an area of only forty-four hectares. From the minute you enter the country's wall, it is as if you are drifted off to a different dimension, into a land of others.
Compare this with the average farm that is six hundred and fifty acres large! The Vatican’s border also holds a tiny title: the world’s shortest border at just over three kilometers in circumference
Is Iceland's Workweek Where the World Is Going?
Iceland was one of the first countries to trial a 4-day week. Even before the pandemic hit the world, from 2015 to 2019, they ran the world’s largest trial, with results showing that employees were happier, healthier, and more productive. (Honestly, it makes you wonder why they stopped the trial at all.)
These trials occurred in various workplace environments, including hospitals, preschools, offices, and social services. A three-day weekend every weekend? Where do we sign up? We are willing to work for ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day ( which we sometimes do anyway); give us 72 hours of freedom.
The Icelandic Midnight Sun
In Iceland, during the summer, an annual event happens called the ‘midnight sun.’ For a few days, the sun can be seen at midnight, and this invites many golfers from all around the world to grab their clubs and make for the course. The sun never sets, never goes to sleep, and remains up high with bursting red stripes, coloring the sky.
This group of golfers is playing at midnight in The Arctic Open at the Akureyri Golf Club in Iceland. It may seem wonderful to have light 24 a day during the month of summer; however, there is a price to pay with complete darkness during the winter.
Holland's Highest Point Is Called Vaalserberg
Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands and also serves as a tripoint for the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. We find it fascinating how four different countries, who speak different languages and eat different foods, all join in one spot and still remain so different. In an almost similar fashion to other European locations, the tripoint has seen a succession of different territories cross through it due to territorial disputes.
The remains of this history are still evident from the “Viergrenzenweg,” Dutch for “Four Borders Road.” The Four Borders Road refers to the inclusion of the now-extinct territory of Moresnet, which formed an independent condominium for over a century.
The Northen Øresund Bridge
Scandinavia has no shortage of impressive border crossings! The Øresund Bridge border crossing connects Sweden and Denmark via Malmö and Copenhagen, respectively. The impressive structure is an engineering marvel, combining a bridge, an artificial island, and a tunnel to close the fourteen-kilometer gap between the two Scandinavian countries.
The bridge section of the border is the longest road and rail combination bridge on the European continent. It has served as a symbol of how international border management can increase the net gain of both countries involved. Since the border bridge was built, each country has seen a profit of nine billion euros.
Europe’s Largest Glacier Is in Iceland
This tremendous force of nature is called the Vatnajökull (“Water Glacier”) and is the largest glacier in Europe. While this photo obviously isn't the whole thing, it's taken inside only one of its caves. This is one of the most spectacular places on the continent.
Far from being just a big block of cold and sharp ice, this glacier covers approximately 8% of Iceland's total astonishing landmass, with ravines, mountain tops, and even dormant volcanoes beneath its dense layer of transparent ice. Wrap yourselves in several layers of warm clothes before you pay the place a visit. It does not get warm no matter what you wear.
Preserve a Seat in the White Gentleman's Club
The White Gentleman's Club is the oldest gentleman's club in London, UK, and is widely regarded as the most exclusive club in the city. The club was founded in 1693. Currently, the list of members includes such men as King Charles III, Conrad Black, and Prince William. The only woman who has been in the club was the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The building has three stories, including a basement, an attic, a private dining room, and a billiard room. To be a member, you must dish out $85,000 a year. Plus, you have to be invited to get in. However, the elite rotating menu probably has the men forgetting how much they spend.
Drinking in Hungary? Don't Clink Your Glasses
Whether you're saying, "Cheers" or "Slainte," chances are good you'll clink your glasses together before drinking. You don't want to do that in Hungary, according to Lost in Budapest. Not only is it rude, but it'll likely get you yelled at, particularly by older patrons who see you do it. In Hungary, clinking your glasses is a politically-charged gesture.
In 1848, the Austrian government suppressed a Hungarian uprising, and the Austrian leaders celebrated very publicly and toasted to Hungarian rebels' execution. Of course, they clanged their glasses together, and that serves as a reminder of a particularly dark chapter in Hungarian history.
No Last Names in Iceland
There are some exceptions to this, but in general, Icelanders don’t have surnames or family names. Most Icelanders have a patronymic last name, which means it's their father's first name with the suffix for daughter or son attached.
Women also don't change their names when they get married. But all this doesn't matter too much as everyone is always called by their first name, from teachers to doctors and even politicians! In addition, since the population is very small and last names aren't really a thing, the locals can use a special app to help them learn if any strangers they meet are possibly related to them!
Things You Didn't Know About the Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles once occupied part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles — the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Along with the thoroughly manicured lawns and elaborate sculptures, there are the fountains, which are located throughout the garden.
Dating from the time of Louis XIV and still using much of the same network of hydraulics as was used during the Ancien Régime, the fountains contribute to making the gardens of Versailles unique. In 1979, the gardens and the château were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List due to their cultural importance during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Scottish Cat Cafe
Custom-built to give cats a comfortable place to roam and give diners a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a meal, this cafe, Maison de Moggy, in Scotland, brings together two great things – cats and eating. Forget your stress and visit a place that is relaxing and full of friendly felines. Unless you're allergic to cats, in which case you should not visit.
There are plenty of cat breeds that call this place home, and the homey, cozy feel is the perfect place to relax. You can even check in on your favorite cats through the cafe's social media page.
Bosnia Has One of the Shortest Beach in the World
Thanks to Croatia, Bosnia has the second shortest beach in the world at twenty kilometers, only being beaten by Monaco’s four-kilometer-long beach! Croatia’s border runs along the inside of Bosnia, almost completely cutting it off from the coast except for a tiny gap in the Bosnian municipality of Neum. This must make the municipality a local real estate empire.
The history is far more complicated than Croatia's muscling in on the tourism industry. The area was heavily disputed and fought over for centuries as the coast was prized for its defensive, commercial, and strategic positioning. Walking along these shores, you would never thought the place used to be on flames, as these days, it screams tranquility and peace.
If you are looking for exciting and challenging sports to attend while touring the continent, the northern lands are where you want to go. In truly medieval fashion, this sport harkens back to a time when men took women from villages, and while many would consider this sport to be a joke, the competitors take it very seriously.
The aim is for men to carry their wives (or girlfriends, it doesn't really matter) through special obstacles in the fastest time. The sport was first introduced in Finland, but it has since reached the Western shores of America to the Eastern coasts of Australia.
Denmark Has the Best Restaurant in the World
Noma, the Copenhagen-based Scandinavian restaurant, has been named the "World's Best Restaurant" by a distinguished jury of 1,000 chefs and culinary experts several times. Noma won the prestigious award in 2011, 2012, and 2014. It was also awarded three Michelin stars, confirming its widespread and undisputed culinary reputation.
It's difficult to pinpoint particular meals served on the restaurant's white tablecloths — founder René Redzepi and his crew are always looking for and hunting for new ingredients, which means that very few guests will have the same meal again. Noma's meteoric success has also aided the spread of Nordic cuisine internationally.
Cheese Rolling the British Way
Unless you normally explore weird sports, we find it hard to believe that cheese and physical activity have some kind of relationship in your mind. In Europe, however, they do. Chasing a hefty wheel of cheese down the hill involves a trifling trickle of skill and a tremendous amount of risk.
The first person to reach the bottom of a steep hill is awarded the cheese as their prize. It might seem laughable, but when we took a little step back, we realized how noble this cheese race actually is. And it happens every year during the spring in the UK.
Iceland Has Europe's Largest Banana Plantation
Not to get too technical, but Spain's plantations in the Canary Islands grow more bananas than any other country in Europe. This is funny, as it doesn't seem to have the largest population of monkeys, so how does it eventually align? The only problem is the Canary Islands (while governed by Spain) are not geographically considered Europe, which means that Iceland comes in first.
With their use of geothermal energy, the Icelandic Agricultural University can grow up to 4,500 pounds of bananas every single year. Fun fact: The people in Iceland are known to consume the least bananas in Europe.
The Swiss HR Giger Museum Bar in Gruyeres
HR Giger has made some stunning, incredibly freaky artwork. He inspired the movie "Alien," he did the cover of ELP's album “Brain Salad Surgery,” and there's also a museum dedicated to him in Switzerland. The museum includes a pub if you're interested in having a drink at a place that literally looks to be made of bones.
The table, the chairs, the roof, and the walls – it's all bones. Or, if not bones, the unique details Giger put into every single one of his pieces of art. Enjoy your meal! We are unsure how much of an appetite this can arouse, but if you visit, take a photo just in case.
If You Are in Norway, Take the Atlantic Road
The Atlantic Road, or Atlanterhavsveien in Norway, has been called one of the most scenic roads in the world. It follows the Norwegian Sea, connecting an archipelago to the mainland. The sea and the road are constantly at odds, with a total of twelve hurricanes during its construction alone.
There are seven bridges, as well as four scenic viewpoints, and one of the bridges is even designed for fishing. It's a Cultural Heritage Site and was also recognized as the Norwegian Construction of the Century. Whether you're just driving down it to your next step or you want to see it in particular, it's a glorious sight.