I fancy myself an adventurer of sorts and have many places I would love to visit like every other traveler out there, yet my love of the bizarre and unique keeps drawing me toward more unusual destination spots where tourist are the least likely to be found. The places I have taken the time to find here are places of religious, spiritual and superstitious origins which make for a great story to tell if you dare to go. The stories are what have intrigued people for generations making them forbidden spots of legend and folklore. These places feel like another world completely as relics of a forgotten time and place as well as remind us of a world that was.
Steeped in myth and immortalized in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler has left quite an impression on the people of the world. The man that became myth ruled Wallachia in the mid 15th century who had a propensity to punish victims by impaling them on stakes then displayed them publicly to frighten enemies and warn transgressors of his strict moral code even being credited with killing 40,000 to 100,000 people. Vlad received his surname Dracul in 1431, after being inducted into the order of the Dragon founded in 1408 as part of a design to gain political favor with the Catholic Church to aid in protection of Wallachia against the Ottoman Empire. Even though Vlad never resided in the castle that was notoriously named after him, some say Transylvania sits on one of the Earth’s strongest magnetic fields making people extra sensitive to their surroundings. The local legend says vampires hang around crossroads on St. George’s Day April 23, and the eve of St. Andrew, November 29. It is easy to get caught up in the tale while driving the winding roads through the dense, dark, ancient forests and over the mountain pass.
Do you dare to walk in the footsteps of Dracula?
The Chernobyl disaster forever changed the landscape of Ukraine and to this day still devastates the lives of those who lived through it as well as those born after the catastrophic nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine under the Soviet Union incurred substantial damage when an explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere spreading over the Western USSR and Europe leading many to flee the area overnight and creating what are now ghost towns in the area near the plant. The disaster is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history at a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale with the other being Fukushima in 2011. The catastrophe ultimately cost 18 million rubles and 500,000 workers to contain the contamination with 31 deaths and long term effects such as cancer and deformities. Years after the devastation, it is now possible to safely tour Pripyat and exclusive zones surrounding the Chernobyl power station as nature has taken over the area and silence echoes in this unusual tourist destination.
Do you dare to take a walk through history?
Besides the historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, Aokigahara also called the Sea of Trees, Suicide Forest and Japan’s Demon Forest is a 35 square kilometer forest at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan containing rocky and icy caverns few of which make it a popular tourist destination and due to the wind blocking density of trees and no wildlife the forest is exceptionally quite. Called “the perfect place to die”, Aokigahara is well known in the world as one of the most popular places to commit suicide (the Golden Gate Bridge is the first) with 500 confirmed suicides since the 1950s despite numerous signs in Japanese as well as English urging people to consider their actions. Hundreds upon Hundreds of Japanese people have hung themselves as this is the most popular method used and one strange fact in common with most victims is the fact that Wataru Tsurumui’s 1993 bestseller, The Complete Suicide Manual which describes various ways to kill yourself and recommends Aokigahara as the perfect place to die, is found next to or near each victim. The forest is rumored to be home to ghosts long abandoned by their families who sent them their during famine to die slow painful deaths in order to save their families from a similar fate. Besides the many bodies and nooses found in the dense forest, signs have been placed by the police to discorage suicide such as “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult with the police before you decide to die.” Many photos and experiences have been recorded in the dark forest with ghostly encounters and whispers of people long gone.
Do you dare to be alone with just your thoughts?
If these don’t spark your imaginations of other worlds and locales of the past, then let this site inspire you by helping you find the right fit for you. Odd Inns is a collections of the truly unique, bizarre, unusual, and sometimes frightening places that will add some spice to any vacation destination. They pretty much cover all of your needs for adventure and provide a unique experience not everyone can share in. As the site says: “There’s nothing that spells getaway like plunging into an exotic vacation experience, climbing into a bed made by someone else or being served fabulous caviar on ice. Let’s be clear, though — we’re talking literally plunging, actually climbing and really, truly on ice. If what you need is not just a break from routine, but from routine vacations or cheap hotels, how about a cozy undersea suite? Or a room with a view…from a lighthouse, tree house, or fire tower? Would you like a yurt or a yacht, a vast castle or a snug little haunt? Are you looking for a weird, unusual, bizarre hotel or inn? The site itself is an escape. Even if staying in an ice hotel isn’t something you would actually do, it’s fun to look at the surreal photo of the Snow Castle in Finland or read about the amazing art carved from the walls at the Ice Hotel in Quebec. And when stress at work really piles up, with a simple click you can gaze at an unbelievably snug “den” in a cave at Kokapellil’s Cave Bed and Breakfast in New Mexico or fathom a fully appointed underwater suite at Jules’ Undersea Lodge (no extra charge for a water view, complete with fish). Did you even know that you can experience your castle fantasy without going abroad? That you can feel like King Arthur…in Iowa? Time travel back to 12th Century Norman in…Ohio? Cross moats, scale towers and gaze upon gargoyles in…Texas?
Do you dare to enter?
Have you always wanted to know what it feels like to be in the Walking Dead, 28 Days, Later, Resident Evil, etc.? Well count your lucky stars and get ready to run because so far 70,216 have been infected and 37,804 people have survived the terror of the 5K run that puts you squarely in the middle of a zombie feeding ground. The event will test your speed, strength and endurance through miles of man-made and natural obstacles while being chased by hungry, merciless zombies. Your reward? Waiting at the end if you survive is an apocalypse party to end all apocalypse parties to celebrate the survival or imminent zombie transformation complete with food, bands, DJ and beer. The great part is you can participate either as a runner or join the other side and be a zombie who chases down the runner. Sound fun.
Do you dare to run?
The inn located 3 meters below the surface of Lake Malaren in Vasteras contains only a single room with twin beds, a table and panoramic windows in all directions. Guests are taken to the Inn via the port of Vasteras where they take a boat 1km out to the hotel on lake Malaren provided with only an inflatable boat and instruction then left alone. If you want the deluxe version then dinner will be brought to you later. The inflatable canoe gives you the opportunity to explore the closest uninhabited island or for those more adventurous you can swim or sun bathe upstairs even watch the fish from upstairs or downstairs. As you spend the night downstairs find comfort that the fish are watching as if you were in an aquarium while you sleep and if you feel lonely while staying remember that boats often come quite close to check out the unusual dwelling. So why not take the plunge and make this vacation the one to remember.
Do you dare to sleep with the fishes?