The world’s most unusual restaurants

Sometimes eating out can get a bit boring, the same old boring tables and chairs, human waiters. How dull. If you’re looking for something a little more interesting, maybe you should try one of these:

Hospitalis, Riga, Latvia

You could be forgiven for heading here if you were unwell, but you’ll find that you’ve stumbled into a hospital themed restaurant. Waitresses dressed as nurses will serve drink to you in flasks more at home in a laboratory and food on dishes native to operating theatres; the barmen look like mad scientists, and you can even be spoon fed your meal whilst being tied up in a straight-jacket.

Hospitalis
Image: jasminejennyjen

Greenhouse, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In 2001 the greenhouse at the Amsterdam Municipal Nursery, dating back to 1926, was converted into a restaurant by Michelin Star chef Gert Jan Hageman. It has a large greenhouse for growing tropical produce, and a field near Amsterdam ensures that only the freshest herbs, vegetables and edible flowers make it to the dining table.

Dark Restaurant, Beijing, China

Your meal is served to you by waiters wearing night vision goggles, and you’re not allowed to use your phone as they don’t allow ANY light in here. It’s a bit of a mystery trying to work out what you’re eating, and stumbling your way to the toilets may be  challenge.

Modern Toilet, Taipei, Taiwan

It would certainly appear less sterile than Hospitalis, but this is probably one of the more niche dining experiences you’ll have. You sit at your table on a toilet bowl, curry is served to you in a mini version of your seat and you’ll be served food that looks like it should belong in the restaurant’s “facilities.” Speaking of which, you might want to make sure you’re not going to ruin somebody’s lunch when you go to relieve yourself.

Modern Toilet Restaurant
Image: riNux

Dinner in the Sky, all over the world

Originating in Belgium, this is a phenomenon that took-off, as it were, a couple of years ago. A table which seats eight people, costing £850 per head, you’re strapped into a chair and the whole shebang is hoisted 50 metres into the air by a giant crane. Presumably you’d maybe want to check the weather forecast before you book, and the price doesn’t include your meal.

Kaybukia Tavern, Tokyo, Japan

This is your  typical restaurant in Tokyo serving local cuisine – apart from the fact that the waiters are a couple of Macaque monkeys called Yat-chan and Fuku-chan. I wonder what they’ll accept as a tip?

Dalu Robot Restaurant, Jinan, China

Those of a science fiction persuasion will love this. Opened in 2010, it is a restaurant staffed entirely by robots. The faithful servants circulate around the restaurant pushing trolleys of food and drink. They stop moving when a sensor pick-up that their path is blocked by a customer, who can then choose something to eat.

El Diablo, Lanzarote

If you were struggling to define what might constitute an extreme barbeque, this is it. On top of the Islote de Hilario volcano, the restaurant itself is perched over a well of lava. That should be enough cooking power to last them, well, forever.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, North Male Atoll, Maldives

This is a truly unique experience, fine dining in the world’s first all glass undersea restaurant. 16-feet below sea level, you’ll get 180-degree views of the marine life this spectacular environment has to offer while sipping champagne and eating the finest Western fusion cuisine. After long flights to Male, Rangali Island where the restaurant is situated, is just a 30-minute ride away in a sea plane. To eat here is almost the only reason you need to go!

Courtesy of Christian Steen
Courtesy of Christian Steen

Kalin Tavern, Obrezje, Slovenia

Nothing like sparking an international incident to keep your dinner exciting. 180-years-old and renowned for its roast pork, one half of the Kalin Tavern is in Croatia and the other half is in Slovenia – with separate doors into each half. This wouldn’t be a problem in many places apart from the fact that only Slovenia is in the EU. Stumble out the wrong door and Croatian border control might want a chat.

Have you eaten in any of these restaurants? Or maybe there’s an even stranger dining experience I’ve not mentioned? Tell me about it in the comments below!

The World’s Best Sailing Holidays

Sunshine, salt water breezes, fresh seafood, quaint fishing villages and stunning port cities all wrapped up into one exhilarating holiday; could anything sound more wonderful? Chartered sailing holidays may sound like something for the rich and famous, and that’s because they are. However, if I’ve learned anything in my 25-years it’s that expensive things are usually awesome, and I’m sure sailing holidays are no different.

So, start saving now for the ultimate sailing holiday along one of the worlds most beautiful coastlines.

The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

The Eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea pretty much has it all- crystal clear blue waters, frequent sunshine, quaint historic villages and stunning mountains that rise up from sandy beaches.  During your journey, you can stop-off at trendy Hvar island for an espresso and some ice cream at one of its harbour cafes. Or, spend a few nights in Split for a taste of  Croatia’s metropolitan nightlife. Of course, don’t forget Dubrovnik; the historic walled city nestled into the hills of Southern Croatia.

For more information about sailing the Dalmatian Coast, check out Dalmatian Coast Sailing.

The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Image by Alex E. Proimos via Flickr

Nova Scotia, Canada

One of the most pristine coastlines in the world, the shores of Nova Scotia are truly a sight to behold. The region has a long enduring maritime culture, and pleasant port towns like Lunenburg exemplify the beauty of Nova Scotia’s east coast. For an unparalleled urban sailing adventure, go for a cruise around the province’s capital of Halifax.

For more information about sailing in Nova Scotia, check out Star Chaters or Murphy’s Cable Wharf.

Imga via Nyss.com
Imga via Nyss.com

Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

For a truly rustic sailing experience, you can’t do much better than a cruise along Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago in a traditional dhow boat. As you journey along the African coastline, you can take a pit-stop to go snorkelling in the bright blue waters or go fishing for you dinner. After a long day on the water, you can find a sandy beach to camp on for the night and enjoy a fresh meal prepared by your on-board chef.

For more information about sailing in Mozambique, check out Mozambique Dhow Safaris.

Image by babasteve via Flickr
Image by babasteve via Flickr

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Located in Eastern Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is one of the prettiest and most unique places to sail in the world. With its tall, limestone islands, hidden caves, peaceful inlets and mysterious grottos, the legendary Ha Long Bay is like something out of an ancient myth. You can cruise around the Bay in a traditional East Asian ‘junk’ ship. Though these vessles may seem prehistoric on the outside, they’re very luxurious on the inside.

For more information about sailing in Ha Long Bay, check out Indochina Sails.

Image by David McKelvey via Flickr
Image by David McKelvey via Flickr

Which sailing spot do you find most alluring? Let us know where in the world you’d like to go sailing in the comments section below.

Are you a battlefield tourist?

Vimy Ridge
Craters at Vimy Ridge – Image via nicksarebi on Flickr

For many people, battlefields hold an immense fascination. The knowledge that these unassuming stretches of ground were the scene of immense tragedy and destruction seems to captivate the minds of anyone interested in history or human drama.

This intense interest has led to the rise of battlefield tourism, a huge industry which specialises in tours of battlefields, cemeteries, memorials and related historic sites all around the world. It’s a form of travel particularly worth considering in the run-up to Remembrance Day on 11th November.

Battlefield tourism is subtly different from war tourism, which involves visiting active war zones –  often at great personal risk – and usually has a touch of thrill-seeking or voyeurism about it. Battlefield tourism, on the other hand, focuses on historic battlefields where the fighting is long past, and is much more strongly linked to heritage and commemoration.

Still, it could be argued that battlefield tourism evolved out of war tourism, which was much more common in the 18th and 19th century than it is today. In fact, in the past it was quite fashionable for members of the elite, including ladies, to attend a battle as a fun day out, watching the action unfold from a safe (or not so safe) distance.

The earliest battlefield tourists were those who did not attend the actual battle, but hastened to view the scene almost as soon as the fighting ceased. There’s a kind of overlap with war tourism in that frequently the battlefields had not yet been cleared of bodies, rubble, and unexploded ammunition, a process which could take months or years. The view was pretty grim, and there was still an element of danger to it.

Battlefield visitors (often on organised tours) have been reported following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and the battles of the American Civil War in the mid-19th century. Their motivation at this stage seems chiefly to have been curiosity or an interest in souvenir hunting. However, battlefield tourism really gained momentum in the wake of the First World War, at which point the visitors’ motivations grew considerably more complex.

The first wave of pilgrims to the battlefields of Northern Europe were mostly relatives who came to search for the grave of a loved one. The purpose of their visit was to mourn, seek closure, and honour their dead. Some paid their own way, while others went through charities such as the St Barnabas Society, which subsidised no-frills visits to overseas war graves or laid wreaths on behalf of those unable to travel.

By the late 1920s, the St Barnabas Society’s tours had been edged out by a range of commercial tour operators catering to the public’s intense interest in the battlefields. By this point bereaved family members had been joined by ex-serviceman coming to pay homage to fallen comrades or find closure of their own, as well as members of the public who simply wished to see and experience the atmosphere in the various locations of which they’d heard so much.

The practice of battlefield tourism grew along with the tourism industry itself, with greater access to affordable travel creating the potential for tours to ever more far-flung battlefields. Today, a quick internet search reveals countless tour companiesthat specialise in guided visits to cemeteries, battlefields, and other locations of historic interest around the world. Some of the most popular destinations include the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium, including the beaches of Normandy, and the Civil War battlefields of the United States.

While a few people may seek a morbid thrill in paying these visits, the mood of modern battlefield tourism seems to be predominantly one of respectful observance. Especially around Remembrance Day or the anniversaries of important battles, many people pay visits to commemorate the dead and reflect on their immense sacrifice. Others wish to remember the contributions of specific family members who fought and perhaps died in these wars.  Others simply hope to make history seem real, and gain greater perspective on the events that shaped our society today.

Have you visited a famous battlefield or war cemetery? What were your impressions?

Ski Scotland

Although the UK is not well known for its snow sport potential, Scotland definitely has some distinct advantages as a Ski destination.

For winter sports enthusiasts living in Britain, indulging in their hobby often means a costly and troublesome trip overseas. While winter sports resorts in the Alps are certainly very special, they are far from the only option for those looking to slide down a mountain.

Skiing
CC ‘bob the lomond’ (Flickr)

The ski areas in Scotland are not as large as those in other countries. While this means that it may not be as rewarding for a long trip the ease of access means it is great for a short break, such as an impromptu weekend. What better way to liven up winter than a trip to the slopes?

The main winter sport hotspots in Scotland are Nevis Range, Glencoe, Glenshee, Cairngorn & The Lecht.
Prices are very competitive with beginners packages (covering equipment hire, lift passes and instruction) being available from under £55 pounds at the Nevis Range. Lift passes are generally in the £20 -£30 range for adults, while being much cheaper for juniors.

Skiing is very much dependent on there being not only snow, but also the right kind of snow. In recent seasons there has been an abundance at the Scottish resorts, while many continental resorts were left high and and dry. There has been a scheme where you can register for alerts as to when is a good time to ski in Scotland.

Where are your favourite ski spots?