EP 39: The Most Forbidden Places Part I

This is Part I of our Forbidden Places Series, where we dive deep to explore some of the most mysterious locations around the world. Hit play to check out the podcast episode, or keep reading below:

NORTH SENTINAL ISLAND

 The Sentinelese protecting their island.

The Sentinelese protecting their island.

If you show up to this first place on our list, the locals will most definitely kill you. That’s one of the reasons why the Government of India has banned people from venturing to North Sentinel Island.

This small 23 square mile island is located on the Western side Indian Ocean and is a part of a larger group called the Andaman Islands. 

 North Sentinel Island

North Sentinel Island

It’s almost entirely covered by trees and inhabited by anywhere from 50-400 indigenous people called the Sentinelese. For hundreds of years, this tribe has violently rejected nearly all contact with outsiders.

Although it’s illegal to get within three miles of the island, it hasn’t stopped the curious from trying to visit. Scientists and Indian government representatives have made attempts, but almost all were met with threatening gestures, with tribesmen shooting arrows and throwing stones at them.

 Sentinelese Tribesman

Sentinelese Tribesman

As recently as 2006, two fishermen from a nearby island wandered too close to the shores of North Sentinel Island. They were immediately captured and killed. Later a helicopter crew arrived to recover the bodies but were stopped by an attack.

Today, the Sentinelese remain one of the few uncontacted tribes of the world.


AREA 51

This next place draws a lot of attention. It’s not uncommon that people get arrested for trying to get close to this secret military installation. On Youtube, you can watch a handful of videos of people getting detained and held at gunpoint, like this one below:

Part of the larger Nellis Air Force Base Complex in Nevada, Area 51 has a famously strict zero access policy; And anything that happens here is considered top secret by military and government officials.

The base is so secret, that the CIA didn’t acknowledge its existence until 2013.

Some people believe that Area 51 is home to the bodies of aliens and their spaceships. Like the supposed spacecraft that crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.

 A sign warning people about the restricted area.

A sign warning people about the restricted area.

What is known for certain about Area 51, is that it’s the test site of experimental aircraft, like the A-12 Spyplane. It’s also where the Air Force tested captured Soviet planes during the Cold War, like the MiG21 fighter jet.

One of the most secret planes developed in Area 51 was the F-117 Nighthawk. It was so secret that even after entering military service, it took five years for the attack aircraft to be revealed to the public.

What other secrets do you think they’re hiding at Area 51?


BRAZIL’S SNAKE ISLAND

This next place doesn’t attract the same kind of attention as Area 51.

21 miles off the coast of Brazil, is Snake Island, home to so many snakes that it's believed to have at least one per square meter.

 Golden Lancehead Pit VIper  (p hoto by Mark Mannetti)

Golden Lancehead Pit VIper (photo by Mark Mannetti)

These aren’t just your garden-variety snakes, these are venomous, like the Golden Lancehead Pit Viper. These endangered snakes can grow to be nearly four feet long and have a poisonous bite.

That’s why Brazil’s Snake Island is completely shut off to the public. It’s illegal to step foot here without a waiver and so far they’re only giving those to scientists.


FORT KNOX

 Fort Know Bullion Depository  (photo by  Michael Vadon )

Fort Know Bullion Depository (photo by Michael Vadon)

This next place is probably one of the most publicly known protected places. The United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox has more gold than anywhere else in the world.

With several layers of security, it’s nearly impossible for someone with unauthorized access to reach the gold. But if you tried, you’d first have to get into the 100,000 acre Fort Knox Army Base in Kentucky. Once inside, you need to sneak past the motion sensor wire fencing around the perimeter of the depository. If you still haven’t been caught, you’ll then have to walk across an open field where you can easily trip a sensor.

 Security Fencing at Fort Knox

Security Fencing at Fort Knox

Next are the two ten-foot-tall electric fences topped with barbed wire. In between those two fences are armed guards. If you make it over without getting shot, you’d be standing in front of the main vault door, a door that weighs more than 20 tons.

Now here’s where you definitely can’t get through, because, to get inside you’ll need several people, each with their own secret code, to dial them in.

If you somehow managed to sneak your way inside the vault, you’ll need to go down to the two-story basement and unlock the separate storage vaults protecting the various piles of gold. These vaults are also designed to be flooded with water in case they’re breached.

The depository was strategically built over 1,000 miles from the coastline. The airspace over Fort Knox is also highly restricted. It’s 4-foot thick granite walls can withstand heavy explosives and the blacked out windows are bullet and fireproof.

The Bullion Depository was designed to protect against attack from a foreign military.

It’s so secure that during WWII the vaults held the original copy of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. It even held the gold reserves of allied European countries and key artifacts from their history. Like the Crown of St. Stephen, which has been used to crown Hungarian kings since the 12th Century.

Only twice in since it first opened in 1936, have they allowed civilians inside. The first was in 1974 after rumors spread widely that the gold had secretly been removed by wealthy elites and that there was no gold inside. A few Congressmen and a team of reporters were allowed in to disprove that rumor.

The second visit took place last year when the newly appointed Treasury Secretary inspected the facility with other members of Congress.

Apparently, the vaults are under such tight lock that billions of dollars’ worth of gold haven’t been recounted since 1953.

United States Mint Police

There’s even a special division tasked with protecting the gold called the United States Mint Police. Established in 1792, they’re one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country.

The Mint Police is responsible for protecting over $300 billion in Treasury and other government assets.


THE ROYAL LIVING QUARTERS

 Buckingham Palace  (photo by  Valdiney Pimenta )

Buckingham Palace (photo by Valdiney Pimenta)

If you could access one of the world’s most forbidden places, which one would it be? Area 51, Fort Knox? What about the heavily guarded Queens bedroom at Buckingham Palace?

Well, that’s just what one man did in 1982 when he snuck into the Royal living quarters.

One night in June 1982, a man by the name of Michael Fagan hopped over a security fence, climbed a gutter up to the roof and snuck in through an unlocked window. He spent the next half hour sitting on the throne while dining on the finest cheese and white wine, before leaving.

 Inside Buckingham Palace

Inside Buckingham Palace

A month later, Mr. Fagan might have had a craving for the Queen’s cheese, because he broke in again. This time he triggered several alarms, but guards thought they were faulty and silenced them.

 Don't steal the Queen royal cheese.

Don't steal the Queen royal cheese.

It wasn’t until the Queen herself reported to guards that a strange man was inside her bedroom at 7am, that they went into action.

Fagan was arrested and since then, the Queens guards have made it a lot harder to break in.

The palace, which has over 775 rooms, a post office, and a movie theater, has been home to the head of the monarch since 1837. The palace does have a section for visitors, but the living quarters are off limits.

Do you have a place in mind that you want us to cover in the next episode?

Let us know by contacting us on the contact page or via social media.

 

EP 38: The 1 Dollar NYC Pizza Challenge with Jon Barr and Other Cheap New York City Foods.

Pizza, it’s the go-to party food. The Ninja Turtles love it, Pizza rat loves it, and humans love it too. We’re heading to the Big Apple and joining us is Youtuber Jon Barr, to talk with us about his one-dollar pizza challenge, dumpling, and other affordable foods.

1 Dollar Pizza

EP 36: Star Wars, The Last Jedi Film Locations and More.

To keep fans and paparazzi off their trail, crew members of the new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, referred to the movie as Space Bear.

But now that the movie it out in theaters nationwide, producers are starting to confirm the real-life locations where the movie was filmed.

I don’t know if you’re as excited about The Last Jedi, as I am, but I hope you are. Because in this episode we’re going to explore some of The Last Jedi’s filming locations, and how you can visit them for yourself. Click play above to listen or keeping reading below:

 
Star Wars, The Last Jedi

Our first and the easiest filming location to recognize is the iconic Skellig Michael island in western Ireland.

This towering sea crag is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that juts steep out of the ocean. In the Star Wars franchise it represents Ahch-To, a fictional planet that is covered almost entirely by water. Here is where Star Wars character Rey, accompanied by R2-D2 and Chewbacca, traveled to in search of the reclusive Jedi, Luke Skywalker.

You get a short glimpse of the island in the last scene of The Force Awakens, which came out in 2015.

    Beehive Huts of Skellig Michael  (Photo by  Arian Zwegers )

 

Beehive Huts of Skellig Michael (Photo by Arian Zwegers)

The real-life Skellig Micheal had actually been inhabited by reclusive monks for hundreds of years. This monastic site dates back to the year 588 and several stone structures called beehive huts are still remarkably intact.

 Beehive Hut on Skellig Michael  (Photo by  highlander411 )

Beehive Hut on Skellig Michael (Photo by highlander411)

The island was abandoned in the twelfth century but is still home to an abundance of Puffins. 

 Puffins on Skellig Michael  (Photo by  Maureen )

Puffins on Skellig Michael (Photo by Maureen)

If you want to see the site yourself, you have to go between May and September. The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes to reach the base of the island and to reach the top you’ll have to climb 600 steep and slippery steps, without any guardrails.

The stones structures and remote location made it the perfect atmosphere for the reclusive Luke Skywalker to call home.

But the production crew faced a lot of restrictions during filming around the 1,400-year-old structures.

To get around this, they recreated the entire monastic settlement on mainland Ireland.

 Replica Skellig Michael's Monastic site

Replica Skellig Michael's Monastic site

The replica was built on a golf course in the Dingle Peninsula, of western Ireland. The intricate structure consists of eight stone beehive huts, right above a dramatic cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

 Life-size Replica Skellig Michael's Monastic site

Life-size Replica Skellig Michael's Monastic site

The closest you can get to the site is probably with playing a round of golf at the Dingle Golf Club for anywhere between 30 and 75 Euros.

The second scene in the official trailer for The Last Jedi shows massive vehicles that look like Imperial Walkers in a white-sand desert.

 Updated Imperial Walkers for The Last Jedi

Updated Imperial Walkers for The Last Jedi

In the latest film, these vehicles are the updated AT-M6 Imperial Walkers and made to look even more menacing than their predecessor. You might have also noticed that the scene was filmed in the world’s largest salt flat: the Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia.

 Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia.  (Photo by  Yellow531 )

Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia. (Photo by Yellow531)

The flats represent the fictional planet of Crait, a red mineral world covered with a layer of white salt. It’s the home of an old Rebel Alliance Base, and hosts an incredible battle scene involving villain Kylo Ren, in the upcoming movie.

The real-life salt flat is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and located in the Daniel Campos Province of Bolivia. National Geographic considers it one of the most extreme and remarkable places in South America. The flats cover more than 4,000 square miles and is home to the only hotel made completely out of salt blocks.

Traveling here is difficult, which makes it an ideal spot for filming a blockbuster movie in secret.

It’s also rumored that parts of the battle scene on the fictional salt planet were also filmed in the US.

 Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.  (Photo by  GPS )

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. (Photo by GPS)

The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, is home to the Bonneville Speedway, an area of the flats that are marked out for motor sports. The smooth even surface is perfect for racing and breaking land speed records, which is the highest speed achieved by a person in a vehicle on land. 

The flats are open to the public year round and it’s conveniently located an hour and a half drive west of Salt Lake City.

Filming Star Wars in remote areas were easier to keep under wraps than in busy city streets. But scenes that require a more urban feel are much harder to pull off in secret. Here’s where the name Space Bear came into use.

The Mediterranean city of Dubrovnik, Croatia was the site of filming for several scenes in the Last Jedi.

 Dubrovnik  (Photo by  Bracodbk )

Dubrovnik (Photo by Bracodbk)

The Medieval European city depicts the desert city Canto Bight in The Last Jedi. This fictional place is known for its casinos and lavish wealth.

It’s really cool how they actually transformed Stradun Street, one of the main streets in Dubrovnik. The original buildings here are built with tan and light brownstone. So to make the scenes appear like they weren’t filmed on Earth, the production team added round stone doorways with futuristic lights to many of the entryways.

 Dubrovnik Transformed into Canto Bight  (Photo by Starwarsdubrovnik.com)

Dubrovnik Transformed into Canto Bight (Photo by Starwarsdubrovnik.com)

The outside walls were fitted with stone features that look completely alien.

With about five days of shooting, the crew filmed what they were telling locals was Space Bear, in various sites throughout Dubrovnik.

 Dubrovnik Transformed for Star Wars

Dubrovnik Transformed for Star Wars

The scenes depicted here is also where Carrie Fisher’s dog Gary Fisher, supposedly makes a cameo appearance.

 In the background you can see Gary Fisher as an Alien Dog.

In the background you can see Gary Fisher as an Alien Dog.

Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful small cities in Europe. The easiest way to get there is to fly directly into the city’s airport. Round trip tickets from New York are going for under $600.

Star Wars, the Last Jedi comes out on December 15th.           

Be sure to subscribe wherever you’re getting your podcasts, tell a friend or family member about us, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where you can find more of our content.

 

EP 35: Closed Cities - Classified Towns and Cities You’re Not Supposed to Know About.

Most of our episodes deal with places that you can travel to, like Iceland or Cuba. But what about the places you’re never allowed to explore? The places that are closed off the public, off-limits and top-secret?

In this episode, we’re going to tell you about Closed Cities, also known as secret cities or forbidden cities. These are places on the planet, where thousands of people can live but no one’s allowed in and no one’s allowed out.

Click play above to listen to the episode. Or listen on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, GooglePlay and more.

 Closed Cities of Russia

Closed Cities of Russia

Have you ever heard of a closed city? In many ways, it’s a lot like a normal city. You have thousands of people who pay taxes, have jobs, and fall in love. The only difference is, it’s shut off from the rest of the world.

“The first closed city was built in Washington state,” says Samira Goetschel, who spoke with Cinema Sophistry about her movie City 40.

Zac Fanni of Cinema Sophistry was kind enough to let us use this interview with Goetschel in our episode, you can check out more of their content here.

“That city which was closed, meaning, no one had access. The closest thing would be a high-security military base,” she explains.

And no one is allowed to leave.

These places are sealed from outside access. They’re meant to protect secrets of sensitive military research, with much of the residents working on those project. Most of the closed cities in the US were created for the top-secret Manhattan Project which led to the development of the first nuclear bomb.

 Closed City in Tennessee

Closed City in Tennessee

Places like Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee were closed to outsiders and placed under the control of the US Military. In 1941, the government chose the town of Dugway, Utah as a closed city where they could house researchers and their families. Its remote location made it the best place to study biological and chemical warfare agents.

Keeping the city closed could prevent any accidental biological contamination from spreading to the rest of the country.

Although many of these formerly closed cities now allow public access, a few still remain.

 Government provided photo of Mercury, Nevada.

Government provided photo of Mercury, Nevada.

Like the town of Mercury, Nevada, which once had a population of over 10,000. It housed the scientists who tested the first nuclear bombs. Mercury was a thriving secret city with a school, movie theater, bowling alley, and everything else you’d find in a 1950s American town.

Today, you’re still not allowed step foot here, unless you have a clearance and orders from the government. The current population numbers are classified, but it’s rumored that at least 500 people still live here and they’re mostly researchers.

Not much else is known about any other cities like this existing in the US, but we do know that in Russia there are dozens of active closed cities.

 Entrance to a closed Russian city.

Entrance to a closed Russian city.

Under communist rule, these places were so secret that they weren’t even placed on Soviet maps. Some cities had populations as large as 100,000 people.

Residents here were forbidden from leaving or even writing letters to family.

“The relatives of these people who were relocated to this city, they considered them as missing; they disappeared,” said Goetschel.

Hundreds of thousands of people simply disappeared after they moved to these cities. Hiding their whereabouts also served another grim purpose.

“They also, I’m talking about the Soviet Union at the time. They didn’t put aside the idea that maybe there would be a nuclear accident that would actually kill these people, so what they decided to do was erase their identity. Meaning they didn’t exist outside of the city.”

Like the Manhattan Project in the US, Soviet closed cities were created to protect nuclear secrets.

But today many of these places are changing, with Russia now publicly admitting of their existence.

Like Ozersk, once codenamed City 40.

 Russia City Guard

Russia City Guard

“It still remains a closed city, however it’s no longer a secret, it still remains a forbidden city,” according to Goetschel.

Constructed in 1947, City 40 was the birthplace of the Soviet Nuclear Weapons Program. To keep this project secret and to keep residents from fleeing, the USSR told them that they were ‘the nuclear shield and saviors of the world,’ and that everyone outside was a potential enemy.

They also provided them with the best perks and jobs in Soviet Union.

“They created a paradise for these people, so they didn’t want to escape,” Goetschel explained, “They had everything they needed and more.”

Residents had nice apartments, plenty of food, good schools and healthcare, as well as a ton of entertainment options.

But most outside information was restricted from entering City 40. During the Cold War, residents were unaware that most of the Soviet population was suffering from famine and living in poverty.

“These people who had absolutely nothing outside, they had everything and beyond, like an episode of Twilight Zone or a science fiction film,” she said.

Today, there currently 44 publicly acknowledged closed cities in Russia, with over 1 and a half million people living in them.

“Today they have a certain access to the outside world, but they have to get outside visas.”

 Double Barbed Wire Fencing

Double Barbed Wire Fencing

These cities are surrounded by double barbed wire fencing, to keep people without authorization from leaving. The ones that can leave have to promise not to talk about their home city.

“You do not talk to anybody about City 40 because then you are accused of being a traitor.”

If you want to go to a closed city, you’ll need an invitation from an existing resident. And even that might not get you in. Foreigners and non-resident Russians need special permission from the Russian secret police.

It’s believed that an additional 15 or so closed cities exist in Russia, but their names and locations have not been publicly disclosed.

Could you live in a closed city? Would you consider visiting one? In Russia, they’re viewed as these utopian bubbles, with many residents choosing to stay in these secretive cites, even though they don’t have to.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast, hit play below to check it out. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you’re getting your podcasts, tell a friend or family member about us, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where you can find more of our content.

 

EP 34: Mysteries of the Vatican, their Secret Archives, and more.

Did you know that during the American Civil War, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis wrote letters to the Pope trying to get him on their side? These letters are now stored in the Secret Vatican Archives, deep beneath the surface of Vatican City.

What else does the Catholic Church keep in these archives? And what are some other mysteries surrounding the smallest country in the world?

Hit the play button above to listen to the episode. You can also find us on iTunesAndroidStitcherGooglePlay, or RSS. Or keep reading below: 

 
 The Vatican City  (photo by  Diliff  via   Wikimedia)

The Vatican City (photo by Diliff via Wikimedia)

To understand why the Vatican can get away with being so secretive, you first have to understand how it's governed. It's not your typical government with checks and balances.

The Vatican is an absolute monarch, and the Pope serves as its leader for life.

Located within the Italian City of Rome, the holy city covers an area of 109 acres or about an eight the size of New York’s Central Park.

For much of its history, it fell under the rule of Rome or Italy, but in 1929, the city became its own independent nation.

 Signing of the Lateran Treaty

Signing of the Lateran Treaty

Surprisingly, it was Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini who signed the Lateran Treaty, granting them independence.

Being such a small nation, today they only have around 590 citizens, and most of them are ordained clergymen.

The small country acts like most other nations, in that they issue passports, stamps, and license plates. But they don’t collect any taxes, so much of the Vatican City’s revenue comes from tourism.

And business is going well.

 Inside Peter's Basilica  (photo by MarcusObal via Wikimedia)

Inside Peter's Basilica (photo by MarcusObal via Wikimedia)

Over six million people a year come here to visit sites like the famous St. Peter’s Basilica.

The historic chapel was constructed about 500 years ago. And deep underground, beneath the alter of this grand basilica is the Vatican Necropolis, one of the most sacred sites of the Catholic Church.

It’s believed that at this very location is the gravesite of St. Peter, an important figure of the Christian faith and the first Pope.

 Vatican Necropolis

Vatican Necropolis

The Necropolis, excavated in the 1940s, revealed a series of Mausoleums and the narrow alleyways between them.

Protected by Swiss Guards, the nearly 2,000-year-old site is a little known part of the Vatican.

The church limits visitors to the tombs, allowing only 250 people a day to go inside. I would say, this a must see for anyone going there.

To qualify, you’ll have to make reservations in advance, you also have to be 15 years old or older, and you have to dress appropriately.

 Inside the Sistine Chapel

Inside the Sistine Chapel

If you don’t like underground grave sites, maybe the Sistine Chapel is more your style.

The extravagantly painted 14th century church was designed by renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Over the course of four years, he painted the massive ceiling. One particular section contains the most replicated religious works of art in the world, which you’d probably recognize. The Creation of Adam, as it’s called, depicts God reaching his finger out to Adam’s.

 Creation of Adam Michelangelo

Creation of Adam Michelangelo

Also in this very building, is where leaders of the church vote for the new Pope after he’s died, or in very rare occurrences, resigns.

The last Pope to resign was Benedict the 16th in 2013. Today he’s considered the Pope Emeritus and lives in retirement. Before his resignation another pope hadn’t resigned in 598 years.

Now the men who get to choose the next pope are cardinals within the church. When voting for the new leader, they’re basically locked inside the chapel until one of them become Pope with a 2/3 majority vote.

 Garb worn by Cardinals

Garb worn by Cardinals

In the latest election, the Sistine Chapel was swept for surveillance and listening devices, and Wi-Fi jammers were deployed to block any signals.

In one of the stranger instances of church history, a Cardinal became Pope by complete accident. This happened with in the year 1335.

Pope Benedict XII

Each Cardinal voted anonymously by writing their pick on a slip of paper.

But in many cases, when cardinals cast their first vote, they pick an unlikely candidate, to find out who the other cardinals are voting for. And they keep having votes until one of them has over two thirds support. 

In 1335, several of the men cast what they thought was a throw away vote to a little known Cardinal from France. The man was considered the least likely candidate to become Pope, mainly because he wasn’t wealthy or very well connected. But in the first round of voting, he received the two-thirds majority and became Pope Benedict the XII.

 Vatican Swiss Guards

Vatican Swiss Guards

With the Vatican being such a small country, the local Italian courts and prisons handle almost all the crimes committed there.

Except for five very special cases.

For that there’s the very secretive Apostolic Penitentiary.

Created in the year 1179, the court was established to deal with the church’s 5 worst offenses. And for over 800 years, the penitentiary was shrouded in mystery.

That is until 2009, when details surrounding these tribunals were revealed.

Of these five offenses, three can only be committed by priests. The first is if he reveals a sin confessed by someone else. The second is if he offers a confession service to their sexual partner. The third concerns a priest who’s been directly involved with an abortion, like paying for the procedure.

The other two sins can be committed by anyone. The first is desecrating the Eucharist. The Eucharist is typically blessed bread and wine that Catholics consider to be the actual body and blood of Jesus. The final sin is killing or attempting to kill the Pope.

 Pope John Paul II with Former US President Jimmy Carter

Pope John Paul II with Former US President Jimmy Carter

The last assassination attempt took place in 1981, against Pope John Paul the II.

A man shot him four times in Vatican City, among a crowd of thousands, who were there to hear the pope’s weekly sermons.

He survived the attempt on his life, then later met with the assassin in prison and forgave him. John Paul II continued to serve as Pope for another 24 years.

As leader of the Church, the Pope isn’t technically allowed to own any possessions. But he does control all the assets of the organization. So anything he needs or wants is provided for him.

One of the things under the Pope’s control is the Secret Vatican Archives. This underground library contains over fifty miles of shelving. For centuries they were off limits to outsiders, but now only select scholars, journalists, and other academics are allowed inside.

And on the archive's 400th anniversary in 2012, they made 100 items available for public viewing for the first time.

 Inside the Vatican Secret Archives

Inside the Vatican Secret Archives

These documents spanned 12 centuries of church history.

They include letters by the artist Michelangelo, as well as the decree excommunicating the founder of the protestant church, Martin Luther. There’s even correspondence regarding the trial of Galileo, who went against the churches official stance that the Earth was the center of the universe.

There are some people who suspect the Secret Vatican Archives contain evidence documenting the existence of demons and dark spirits. Also rumored to be hidden in there are additional books from the Bible written by Paul the Apostle, who authored 13 of the 73 books in the Catholic Bible.

The Vatican is also loaded with museums. They have over 20,000 items on display, so you’ll never run out of things see there.

Be sure to subscribe wherever you’re getting your podcasts, tell a friend or family member about us, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where you can find more of our content. You can also find us on iTunesAndroidStitcherGooglePlay, or RSS.

 

EP 33: Thanksgiving Special. Travel, History, and Turkey Pardons

Hit play below to listen to the episode. Or subscribe on Apple, Stitcher, TuneIn, RSS, or wherever you're getting your podcasts.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel week of the year. Over 42 million Americans travel over 50 miles or more for this holiday.

But did you know it’s also the busiest week for plumbers? Thousands of emergency calls are made to get sinks and toilets unclogged this time of year. So don’t put your potato peels down the garbage disposal like I did.

 A depiction of the first officially recognized Thanksgiving

A depiction of the first officially recognized Thanksgiving

The first officially recognized Thanksgiving took place almost 400 years ago in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts. But it wasn’t until 200 years later, in 1863, that Abraham Lincoln signed it into law as a national holiday.

For that, you can thank Sarah Josepha Hale, who for over the course of 17 years, wrote letters to five different presidents urging them to make it a national holiday.

But even before 1621, Europeans and settlers in America celebrated the years harvest with an autumn feast. This particular one in Massachusetts stands out because it included 50 settlers and 90 Wampanoag Indians. They also celebrated it a little different than we did.

For one, it lasted three days long. There also wasn’t any turkey. Instead, they probably had a lot of vegetables with venison, duck, oysters, lobster, or fish.

Today the town of Plymouth is home to the Plimoth Plantation. A living history museum that attempts to replicate what life was like in 17th century America. Every year they host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but tickets sell out fast.

This holiday has its traditional dishes like cranberry sauce, stuffing and of course turkey.

We probably wouldn't each so much turkey if Benjamin Franklin had his way. He wanted this bird to be the National Bird of the United States, instead, that went to the Bald Eagle.

Americans now we eat over 46 million turkeys each year, but one of these lucky birds gets a second lease on life.

 President Barack Obama pardoning a Turkey

President Barack Obama pardoning a Turkey

Presidential pardons are a tradition that’s been going on since 1989.

A lot of people think it started in 1947 under Harry Truman, when the first official presentation of a turkey, to the president, began. But the Truman Library says the president never pardoned them, instead, he ate them.

Some try to credit John F. Kennedy with the first pardoning when he spared the life a huge 55-pound turkey. He wanted to let the bird live and said it’s his thanksgiving present to the bird. Newspapers reported that Kennedy ‘pardoned’ the turkey, but the first President to actually use that phrase for a turkey was Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Reporters asked him if he would consider pardoning people accused of wrongdoing in the Iran Contra scandal. They then joked wondering about the fate of the turkey, to which Reagan said that the turkey would get a pardon.

 President George HW Bush pardoning a turkey

President George HW Bush pardoning a turkey

Two years later, George HW Bush made it an official White House tradition. And in 1999, Bill Clinton pardoned Harry the Turkey, starting a new tradition of giving them names.

Two birds are actually pardoned by the President every year. A backup is kept on hand incase the official one gets sick or, I don’t know, runs away or something.

President Trump has kept the tradition alive by pardoning two turkeys this year.

Another tradition this week is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade  (photo by  martha_chapa95  from Flickr)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (photo by martha_chapa95 from Flickr)

It began in 1924 with 400 Macy’s employees marching down the streets of New York City. They didn’t have any large balloon or live performances like they do today. Instead, they featured animals from the Central Park Zoo.

Today, it’s one of largest parades in the world. It starts at 9 am Eastern time on Thanksgiving Day.

Now, if you’re watching the parade and you have some questions about cooking your turkey this year, you can always call the experts at Butterball. Their Turkey Talk-Line (1-800-butterball) answers almost 100,000 calls every Thanksgiving.

 Thanksgiving Travel

Thanksgiving Travel

If you’re not cooking this year and plan to travel this holiday, remember, it’s the busiest travel week of the year.

If you’re flying, try to take a direct flight. All planes are going to be full so if you miss a connecting flight it won’t be easy to just hop on the next one.

Also, try to pack light enough so you don’t have to check in luggage. Most airlines let you bring a free carry on and one personal bag like purse or backpack.

If you can, sign up for TSA Pre-check. It could save you a lot of time and hassle when going through crowded security lines.

And remember the flight attendants.

They’re probably going to be more stressed than you are. A lot of them won’t be seeing their family this week. If you can, bring some chocolate bars to give them as a holiday gift. They might keep you in mind for a free upgrade if one opens up.

Don't forget to listen to the episode by hitting play below:

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, RSS, or wherever you're getting your podcasts.

Be sure to subscribe wherever you’re getting your podcasts, tell a friend or family member about us, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, where you can find more of our content.

 

EP 32: The Secret Room Inside of Mt Rushmore.

Hit the play button above to listen to the episode, or find us on iTunesAndroidStitcherGooglePlay, or RSS.

 Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore

The original design for one of America’s most recognized monuments was very different from its finished product.

Lead sculptor Gutzon Borglum meant to depict the four presidents from the waist up and Susan B. Anthony was almost added to the landmark.

In this episode, we exploring the obscure history of Mt. Rushmore and the secret room built beneath the granite. Hit play to listen to the episode below:

Located in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore is visited by over 2 million people a year. That’s more than double the population of the state itself. jThis massive monument depicts the faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson.

 Mt Rushmore before the carving

Mt Rushmore before the carving

Completed in 1941, each face stands at 60-feet tall.

One unusual fact about this nearly 1-billion-dollar project is that it suffered no casualties. A very rare occurrence for a job of this size and this time in US history.

 The face of Jefferson covered in scaffolding

The face of Jefferson covered in scaffolding

Lead sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers took 14 years to carve the faces of these former Presidents. This huge undertaking went through a series of unforeseen changes. For example, the head of Thomas Jefferson was supposed to appear on the right side of Washington’s but the rock where it was to be carved was too unstable.

 A smaller version of one of the intended designs

A smaller version of one of the intended designs

Instead, Jefferson appears on the left side of Washington, where a large outline of the Louisiana purchase was supposed to be carved. The outline was to include an inscription with 8-foot-tall letters, commemorating the Louisiana purchase and seven other US territorial acquisitions, like the purchase of Alaska and the annexation of Texas.

In 1937, famous women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony was also added to the list of faces to appear on the cliff side. But with the onset of WWII, Congress scrapped the idea.

They also scraped another major addition to the monument.

Deep behind the enormously carved head of Abraham Lincoln is a secret room. Originally intended to be an 80 x 100-foot long chamber, it was designed to hold some of America’s most treasured historical documents and artifacts.

 An aerial view to the entrance of the Hall of Records

An aerial view to the entrance of the Hall of Records

Inspired by the mystery of the Egyptian Pyramids and other man-made wonders of the world, Borglum was concerned with leaving four faces carved into a cliff without any context.

Plans for the Mt. Rushmore Hall of Records as it’s known, was supposed to be a time capsule for future civilizations to discover. Inside, the walls would be carved with depictions of pivotal moments in US history. It would also house the original declaration of independence, the constitution, and more. It would even include smaller busts of famous Americans and a list of U.S. contributions to the world.

 A sketch of the orginal plans for the Hall of Records

A sketch of the orginal plans for the Hall of Records

A grand chamber entrance marked with a huge bald eagle carved above its doors would be accessed by an 800-foot granite stairway starting at the base of the cliff.

Workers in the 1930s, hollowed out a 70-foot-long room into the rock when their lead sculptor died, halting the project indefinitely. Borglum’s grand scheme for the hall never came to be and the unfinished room was left empty for decades.

That is until 1998 when a repository of records was placed into the floor of the hall of records entry. The repository consists of a wooden box, inside a titanium vault, and covered by a half ton granite capstone.

 The current entrance to the Hall of Records

The current entrance to the Hall of Records

In the vault are sixteen porcelain panels containing inscriptions that detail the story of how Mt Rushmore came to be. As well as the reasons for selecting the presidents depicted and a short history of the United States.

The 800-foot-tall stairway was never built and so the hall of records is not accessible to the public. Instead, it’s left for people thousands of years from now, who might wonder about the carvings in the same way we wonder about the pyramids of Egypt.

For now, visitors are only allowed to view the impressive monument at a distance. Climbing the cliff face is prohibited and so is summiting the mountain. If you do see any climbers on the monument, they’re probably a maintenance crew. Every year, climbers from the National Parks Service monitor and seal cracks in the rock.

The monument itself is not without controversy.

The land it sits on was seized from the Lakota Tribe in 1876, despite a treaty 8 years earlier, granting them the land. Some Native Americans consider the carvings offensive, and in response, the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation began construction on a monument of their own.

 A bust depicting what the completed monument will look like

A bust depicting what the completed monument will look like

Near Mt Rushmore, a huge Native American monument has been in the works. When completed, the project will depict war chief Crazy Horse on horseback.

In 1998 the massive face of the chief was finished, but it’s still a long way from completion.

 The completed face of the monument

The completed face of the monument

If the entire monument was completed today, it would be the largest in the world.

You can easily visit both Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. They’re only a 20-minute drive away from each other.

The grounds at Mt. Rushmore’s are open from 5 am to 9 pm every day except on Christmas. There isn’t an entry fee, but parking is ten dollars.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is open every day from 8 am to 4 pm. Except on Native American’s Day. Admission is $12 dollars per person and parking is free.

Don't forget to hit play and listen to the episode below:

Be sure to subscribe wherever you’re getting your podcasts, tell a friend or family member about us, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where you can find more of our content.

-

Music: Words by Jason Shaw and Running Water by Jason Shaw

 

EP 31: The World’s Most Dangerous Border - The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Did you know that North and South Korea are still technically at war? The Korea Armistice Agreement, signed in 1953, was only supposed to be a temporary ceasefire until a proper treaty came along. Over sixty years later and there is still no treaty.

Instead, we have two nations locked in a standoff.

 South Korean soldiers stand guard at the DMZ

South Korean soldiers stand guard at the DMZ

It’s one of the tensest military situations in the world, where it all comes to a head at the Demilitarized Zone or as it’s better known, the DMZ. It's a place you can actually visit and see for yourself.

The DMZ stretches from the west to east coast along the North and South Korean border. This 2 and a half-mile-wide strip of land acts as a buffer zone between the two countries.

 A guard tower at the DMZ

A guard tower at the DMZ

The 160-mile-long border is littered with landmines and trip-wires. On either side are watch towers with highly trained guards, and barbed wire fencing to prevent anyone from coming in or out.

Within the DMZ is a place called the Joint Security Area. This part of the border is probably the most contentious.

 A view of the Joint Security Area from the North Korean side

A view of the Joint Security Area from the North Korean side

The Joint Security Area is a surreal place. Three blue buildings, the site of peace and hostage negotiations, rest halfway in the North and in the South.

Members of the South Korean military armed with pistols, stand guard next to the buildings, only a few feet away from North Korean soldiers. In between these buildings there is no fence or barrier.

Guards on both sides of the border (Image by Driedprawns at en.wikipedia)

The South has a thorough vetting process for choosing who can stand guard here. Along with passing psychological screenings, these elite soldiers are required to be at least 5 feet six inches tall and have a black belt in Judo or Taekwondo.

These strict standards began after North Korean soldiers grabbed the arm of a South Korean soldier from the inside of one of the blue buildings. They pulled him to the other side, where there was nothing the South could do.

 A soldier from the South stand guard as a soldier from the North peers inside

A soldier from the South stand guard as a soldier from the North peers inside

Ever since Soldiers from the south are required to grasp hands when nearing any of the border doors within the buildings.

Due to the highly restrictive nature of this place, travelers can only visit the DMZ on a guided tour. This small tour is lead by a US Soldier and you can even enter one of the blue buildings where you can briefly step over onto the North side.

 Visitors on a tour inside the Joint Security Area

Visitors on a tour inside the Joint Security Area

You’re required to book a tour here at least 2 to 5 days in advance, and in some cases, you might even need to apply for a clearance. If all of that clears and you have your ticket to go, you’ll then have to sign a waiver agreeing that the tour operator can’t be held responsible in case of accident, injury or death.

On occasion, you might see tourists visiting the DMZ from the North side. They’re closely watched by soldiers to prevent them from defecting to the South.

Like what happened 1984, during a North Korean led tour, when a Soviet citizen ran across the border to the south. 30 soldiers from the North ran after him, firing their machine guns in the process. The south captured 8 of them and killed three in the ensuing battle. The citizen ran for his life and somehow was unharmed.

The man sought asylum and soon settled in the US.

 One of the tallest flagpoles in the world is in North Korea  (Photo by Kimmo Räisänen)

One of the tallest flagpoles in the world is in North Korea (Photo by Kimmo Räisänen)

From the DMZ you can see a massive North Korean flagpole on the other side. Both sides once engaged in what’s called a flagpole war. It started when the North erected a flag just outside the borderline. The South then erected their own flag but stood it taller than the North’s flag. In response, the North built theirs even taller and now it’s the fourth tallest in the world.

If you’re planning a visit to the DMZ, modest dress is mandatory. No flip-flops, ripped jeans, or clothes with profanity are allowed. Don’t take photos of anything you’re not supposed to, or risk the military confiscating your camera or phone.

 One of several dangerous bridges connecting the Koreas

One of several dangerous bridges connecting the Koreas

on’t try to run across to the other side. South Korean soldiers won’t run after you. But if you do, and you’re not caught, watch out for mines. And don’t take any of the bridges either in the DMZ, they’re rigged with explosives.

EP 30: The Farthest Traveled Human Ever. Plus the Stories Behind Some of the Deepest and Most Isolated Humans in History.

Did you know that the furthest distance humans have ever traveled was done not intentionally, but by complete accident? Hit play below to listen to the episode and find out how:

Untethered Space Walk, NASA

From explorers like Leif Erickson, to Lewis and Clark, to more extreme methods of travel like Deep Sea Diving and Space Exploration, you might get the sense that humans are made to travel.

Today we’re going to explore the stories behind some of the deepest, the farthest, and the loneliest traveled people, ever.

 NASA rendition of an Astronaut on Mars.

NASA rendition of an Astronaut on Mars.

The first people to land on Mars will claim the title of the furthest traveled humans. But do you know who holds the current record? And why was that record an accident

Well, on April 11, 1970, Astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, departed Earth on the third mission to land humans, on the moon.

This, was the Apollo 13.Two other successful moon landings occurred within the previous year. So this mission was pretty straightforward: get two astronauts on the moon and explore its surface. While a third astronaut remains on board the  Odyssey, and orbits the moon.

The initial launch went fine. A Saturn five rocket took the men into outer space from the Kennedy Space Station in Florida. From there it would take three days to get to the moon.

 Apollo Spacecraft

Apollo Spacecraft

Apollo spacecraft came in two main parts. The first and most important was the Command Module named Odyssey. It housed the crew and supplied the equipment needed to orbit the moon and then return them to Earth.

The second, part of the spacecraft was the Lunar Module, named Aquarius. This would deliver two astronauts onto the moon and act as there home for the duration of the stay. It would then launch them back out into space, where they would rendezvous with Odyssey.

Things were going as planned for the Apollo 13 crew, that is until the start of day three.

At a distance of over 200,000 miles from Earth, a crucial oxygen tank exploded.

Alarm lights lit up as the astronauts heard a loud bang. They could see through one of the windows, that oxygen was leaking out of the spacecraft.

 A view inside the Apollo Command Module

A view inside the Apollo Command Module

Within seconds Odyssey’s entire oxygen reserves had leaked out into space.

This was a huge disaster. Not only because the astronauts needed oxygen to breath, but because oxygen was used to power the fuels cells needed for propulsion. Two hours after the tank exploded, the fuel cells completely shut down.

In a last-ditch effort, astronauts put Odyssey on low power mode and entered Aquarius, which had its own oxygen and fuel supplies.

 A view of a Lunar Module on the moon.

A view of a Lunar Module on the moon.

Aquarius wasn't supposed to be powered on until they were near the moon. It also didn't have a heat shield to survive reentry through Earth’s atmosphere. But it could keep the astronauts alive long enough for ground control to figure out a plan.

For obvious reasons, Houston canceled the moon landing and then referred to their existing abort plans, which they designed five years earlier. Those plans required that astronauts jettison Aquarius to get back to Earth. But the spacecraft was flying towards the moon at too fast of a speed for Odyssey’s limited power to change the course of travel.

Aquarius was also acting as a sort of life raft, which the astronauts would need to shelter in for the next four days if they wanted to survive.

This also posed a series of problems.

 Inside Apollo 13

Inside Apollo 13

First, Aquarius was powered by batteries and not meant to operate at full power for as long as they would need it. To get around this, Aquarius was powered down to its lowest levels possible.

It also wasn’t designed to sustain three astronauts. Although it had plenty of breathable oxygen, since it was intended to repressurize itself on the moon each time they opened the hatch, it couldn’t filter out the carbon dioxide or CO2 of more than two people at a time.

Astronauts could see the CO2 indicator rising until it finally reached critical levels.

Breathing in too much carbon dioxide is deadly. It’s a slow killer, which would first disorient the astronauts, and then cause them to lose consciousness.

Inside Aquarius were small cylinder shaped canisters that filtered the CO2, while Odyssey had the larger rectangle shaped canisters.

The large ones weren’t compatible with Aquarius, so ground control improvised a way to make them compatible. Using hoses from one of the space suits, they instructed the Apollo 13 crew how to improvise one of the canisters.

Working frantically, but at as calmly as possible, Astronaut Jack Swigert re-entered the Odyssey to remove a canister and completely shut down the larger spacecraft.

 The Apollo 13 crew assemble the improvised CO2 canister.

The Apollo 13 crew assemble the improvised CO2 canister.

Racing against time, Fred Haise and James Lovell, stayed in Aquarius, improvising the device. CO2 levels soon began to stabilize, proving the method worked.

With little fuel power to turn the craft around towards Earth, the astronauts plotted a trajectory that would use the Moon’s gravity to send them home.

In order to get swung around properly, the new path would take them to the far side of the moon, much further than any other manned space flight had ever done. On APRIL 15, 1970, at 248,655 miles from Earth, they became the furthest traveled humans in history.

 A Lunar Module in space.

A Lunar Module in space.

Now on a trajectory back home, the astronauts shut down all nonessential systems on the Aquarius. This includes the heating system. Temperatures dropped to near freezing.

As the spacecraft neared Earth, the crew moved from Aquarius to Odyssey, where they faced another challenge. They weren’t sure if the Odyssey could be turned back on from scratch after a complete shutdown. It had never been done before, so ground control had to develop a completely new procedure restart the system with limited power.

By siphoning power from the Aquarius, they were able to get Odyssey back up and running

 An Apollo Command Module

An Apollo Command Module

Moments before entering the atmosphere, the astronauts boarded the command module for reentry.

They were still unsure whether the reentry capsule was damaged during the oxygen tank explosion. At this point, the astronauts could only hope that reentry would be successful. Here’s the actual clip from that very tense moment:

Future Apollo missions carried larger batteries and bigger CO2 filters, as well as safer and separate oxygen tanks, one for breathing and one for fuel.

The Apollo 13 crew still holds the nearly 50-year record for the furthest traveled humans.

But that record is no where near as far as the furthest traveled man-made object.

 The Voyager 1

The Voyager 1

At 13 Billion miles away from Earth, and counting, the Voyager 1 is the farthest traveled man-made object. The space probe was launched in 1977, to observe Saturn and Jupiter. Traveling at 11 miles a second, it’s also one of the fastest man-made objects.

In 2012 the Voyager 1 became the only manmade object to escape the heliosphere, which is the region of space dominated by the Sun. It’s now traveling through interstellar space and continues to send data back to Earth.

 Voyager 1 Location

Voyager 1 Location

The lonely space probe is expected to keep functioning until around 2025 when its nuclear generator runs out of power.

Space can be lonely for humans too, just ask the six command module pilots who stayed in lunar orbit during successful Moon landings. Each of these astronauts was alone in the spacecraft while two other astronauts landed. They spent up to 3 days by themselves, even losing radio contact with ground control when traveling around the far side of the moon.

But you don’t have to leave Earth to be completely isolated from other humans. Just asked film producer James Cameron. Who, in 2012, descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on the planet.

Mariana Trench

At a depth of 35,000 feet, Cameron was deeper than Mt. Everest is tall. Here the weight of the ocean is over 15,000 pounds per square inch. Cameron spent a little over 2 hours at the pitch black bottom, in the Deep-sea Challenger Submarine. The multimillion-dollar craft has one window to look out of and can only fit one person.

If climbing into a cramped submarine for several hours sounds like a bad time, what about a getting on a cramped airplane?

 Qatar Airlines conducts the longest commercial flight.

Qatar Airlines conducts the longest commercial flight.

Qatar Airlines flight 921 is the farthest commercial flight in the world. Transporting passengers from New Zealand to Qatar, on a Boeing 777, this flight takes a whopping 18 hours and 10 minutes to complete.

Nothing much flies further unless you look into the animal kingdom.

Like the Arctic Tern. This small white bird claims the longest migration in the world. It spends its time in the northern hemisphere during the summer months, then flies all the way to Antarctica when the southern hemisphere has its summer months.

 Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

These birds are built for flying.

In one case scientists tagged as a chick in the northern United Kingdom. Within just three months, the bird learned how to fly, then traveled over 14,000 miles to Melbourne, Australia.

If you’re planning to travel that far, subscribe to our podcast to keep yourself busy. Don’t forget to tell a friend or family member about us. We have an Instagram, a Twitter, and a Facebook where you can find more of our content.

And now you can buy Go the Podcast t-shirts, mugs, hoodies and more. Go to gothepodcast.com/shop to browse. Hit play below to listen to the episode:

 

 

 


 

 

EP 29: The Most Haunted Houses in America.

In our 2nd and final Halloween edition of the podcast, we’re exploring some of the Most Haunted Houses in America. Along with the spooky stories behind each one and why you can or can’t visit them. Click the play button above to listen to the episode.

 The Most Haunted Houses in America.

The Most Haunted Houses in America.

The Logan Inn

First on our list is the Logan Inn. Built in 1722, it’s one of the oldest inns in America, and also the most haunted.

Built during the colonial era, this modest building was said to be one of many stopping points for soldiers during America’s war for independence.

  The Logan Inn

The Logan Inn

Some say George Washington himself stayed the night here in between his many battles. It was here during the height of the Revolutionary War that the inn became the eerie place it is today.

The building’s strategic location along the Delaware river made it a convenient place for wounded American troops to receive care. During the winter months, the dark and cold basement of the Logan Inn was used as a temporary morgue, being the perfect place for storing the bodies of dead soldiers.

 George Washington leading troops through the winter.

George Washington leading troops through the winter.

In the spring time the deceased were removed, when the ground would thaw enough to bury them. There was nothing unusual about this practice here, until one fateful spring.

When revolutionary soldiers arrived to remove the dead, they were shocked at their discovery. They found the bodies stacked neatly right where they left them, laying down on their backs with their arms to the side.

Except for one.

One of the bodies was discovered on its stomach at the base of the stairwell, an arm reaching out onto the steps as if he had been trying to escape.

Early that winter, believing he was dead, soldiers accidentally put the wounded and unconscious man among the deceased and locked him in the basement.

Legend has it, that the spirit of the soldier still can’t seem to find his way out of the Logan Inn.

Today, guests and staff often report seeing the apparition of a man in a Revolutionary War era uniform, wandering the narrow halls of the Logan Inn.

Other’s have even heard a shallow voice at night whispering, “I’m not dead.”

The Logan Inn is known for more ghosts than just the soldier. There’s a ghost by the name of Emily who supposedly lived and died in room six, which is now a popular go-to spot for ghost-hunters.

A little girl is also said to haunt the building. She may have made an appearance in 1946 at the annual street fair held in the parking lot. Several people at the fair heard the loud uncontrollable screaming and weeping of a child. A small crowd had gathered to try and locate the source of the crying, but no child was found.

 The Location of Logan Inn

The Location of Logan Inn

Onlookers suspect the crying could have come from the ghost of a little girl who drowned in the river nearby. She used to play in that very same parking lot.

The experience was so unsettling, that they stopped holding the fair in that location.

Guests of the Logan Inn often feel like they are being watched and in the evening, windows that were once locked, randomly throw themselves open. Nearly 300 years after it was built, the Logan Inn is still in operation. Today, you can eat and stay at the inn if you’re brave enough.

You can find more information about the Logan Inn, here and here.

If you’re not interested in spending the evening at a haunted house, the next one on our list is a place you definitely can’t stay the night in.

The Amityville Horror House

 The Amityville Horror House

The Amityville Horror House

The Village of Amityville, New York, got its name when locals declared the place as needing ‘amity’. Amity being the word for peaceful-harmony.

It seems the village had been overcompensating for what it lacked, and maybe it still does. Because Amityville is home to one of the most infamous houses in America.

112 Ocean Ave. doesn’t stand out as unusual or particularly infamous, but the neighborhood and its former occupants beg to differ.

The story starts in the 1965, when the Defeo family moved into the seemingly normal house in the affluent neighborhood.

 The Defeo Children

The Defeo Children

The family of seven lived in this home for nine seemingly normal years.

The father, Ronald Defeo Sr. owned and ran a car dealership. His wife would pick up their younger children from school and have dinner ready by 6 p.m.

They seemed like the typical 1970s suburban family.

That is, until the evening of November 13, 1974, when the eldest son, Ronald Defeo Jr, did the unthinkable.

In the middle of the night, the young Defeo went room to room, with a high-powered rifle, shooting his mother and father, two brothers and two sisters as they slept. The only survivor was the dog, Shaggy.

 Ronald Defeo Jr.

Ronald Defeo Jr.

Defeo confessed to the murders, claiming that he was possessed by voices coming from the house itself. He’s currently serving six life terms in prison.

But the Amityville home’s reputation as a horror house was just getting started. After the gruesome murders it remained empty for some time; no one seemed interested in buying the property on Ocean Avenue.

That is until George and Kathy Lutz, purchased the home a little over a year after the incident, and moved in with their 3 children.

 The Lutz Family

The Lutz Family

They bought the house at a steal, much cheaper than similar homes in the area. It was a dream come true for the family, to afford to live in such a nice neighborhood.

Being a religious family, the Lutz’s asked a priest to bless the home the day they moved in, but the blessing didn’t seem to have any positive effect on the house.

Within days they began experiencing strange phenomena, like unusual odors that came and went at random times, throughout the house. Kathy began having vivid nightmares about the murders, and George claimed to wake up every night at 3:15am. Supposedly the same time that Ronald Defeo Jr, heard the voices coming from the home. The ones that told him to kill his family, a little over a year ago.

Hit play below to listen to the episode:

Even stranger, was the presence of a swarm of flies in Defeo Jr.’s old bedroom. No matter how many the Lutz's killed they couldn’t get rid of them.

Believers in the occult claim that this is proof of a demonic presence, in particular, that of Beelzebub. The demon who makes seven different appearances in the Bible.

In fact, Beelzebub, is a Hebrew word which translates literally to, 'lord of the flies.'

Another sign of a demonic presence is the sensation of cold spots through out the house. The Lutz’s experienced this sensation almost constantly. Despite running the fire place day and night, the home was always cold.

Then Kathy began having eerie sensations that someone was touching her, and on one particular night the Lutzs' heard the beds in their children’s room slamming up and down.

That was the breaking point for the family.

 The Amityville Horror House

The Amityville Horror House

Just 28 days after moving in, the Lutz’s ran out of the home, leaving all of their belongings behind.

Things returned to normal for the family as soon as they left, leaving them to believe that the home was in-fact haunted or possessed.

They sold the home for much less than what they bought it for.

 The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror

A few years later, the best selling book, The Amityville Horror, a story based on the family’s experience was released. It has since sold over 10 million copies, and 15 film adaptions have been made.

New owners of 112 Ocean Ave, worked with the post office to change the address of the property to prevent curious on lookers from stopping by.

And unlike other scenes of mass murder, which are torn down, the house on Ocean Ave. remains standing till this day.

The Amityville Horror House is not open to visitors, but if you’re looking for a haunted house to visit and one you can spend the night in, you might want to consider this next place...

The Lizzie Borden House

 Lizzie Borden House

Lizzie Borden House

The story of this house begins with a young woman by the name of Lizzie Borden.

Lizzie had a relatively religious upbringing. For much of her life she was involved in church activities, including teaching Sunday-school to children.

So, it was quite a shock to the community when she was accused of brutally murdering her father and stepmother, in what is known as the Lizzie Borden Axe Murders.

In the days leading up to the August 4th, 1892 murders, tensions ran high in the Borden household. The patriarch, Andrew Borden, was known to be extremely frugal, despite owning several homes and properties. Lizzie began to grow angry with him after he was gifting property to his new wife’s family. Prosecutors later claimed that Lizzie feared losing the inheritance to her stepmother. 

 The Lizzie Borden Axe

The Lizzie Borden Axe

It seems like Lizzie took matters into her own hands when she took an axe to her stepmother’s head, then continued to strike her lifeless body 17 more times.

She later went downstairs and took the axe to her father’s face, who was taking a nap on the couch. Striking him 11 times.

Although Lizzie claimed innocence, police were suspicious since she was the first person to discover the bodies, and the first to notify the family’s live-in-maid.

In the official statement given by the maid, when she saw Andrew Borden’s body, he was still-bleeding from his wounds, suggesting a very recent attack.

After learning that she was a suspect in the case, Lizzie was seen suspiciously destroying a dress in the kitchen stove, claiming there was paint on it.

She was later put on trial for the murders, but was acquitted. Even later receiving the inheritance from her father. Since her stepmother died before him, her estate went first to the father and then, at his death, passed on to Lizzie.

 The Lizzie Borden House today

The Lizzie Borden House today

Today, 92 Second St. in Fall River, Massachusetts, is listed as one of the most haunted houses in America. The current owner Lee-ann Wilber, was too spooked to sleep in the home when she first bought it. Often leaving to sleep in her car in the middle of the night.

Wilber currently runs a bed and breakfast out of the Lizzie Borden House. You can stay the night here in one of nine different rooms, including the ones where the murders took place.

Guests often claim to hear strange sounds at night and see human-shaped shadows moving across the house.

What would you do if your home was haunted? Would you move out and sell the home?

In some states you’re required by law to tell potential homebuyers if your house is possessed by ghosts or demons.

 The Haunted House in Nyack

The Haunted House in Nyack

Such is the case in the State of New York, when in 1990, Jeffery Stambovsky put a down payment on a victorian home in the town of Nyack.

When he found out the house was haunted he refused to close on the sale and wanted his money back. He took the home sellers to court and the state ruled in Stambovsky’s favor.

If you come across a haunted house this Halloween, don’t go inside. If it’s your home that haunted, well... I’d make sure to sleep with the lights on.

Be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, tell a friend or family member about us, and visit our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more content.

Don't forget to hit play below to listen to the podcast:

 

EP 28: HALLOWEEN EDITION. The Real Life Dracula and Where to Find Him

Today we’re doing a special Halloween edition of the podcast, to explore the real life Dracula and the places you can visit today, to see where he once, or maybe still does, roam. Hit the play button above to listen to the episode, or find us on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, GooglePlay, or RSS.

Dracula Vlad the Impaler Travel Podcast Halloween

Some of earliest writings about this real life person, describe him as a "demented psychopath, a sadist, and a gruesome murderer."

You may know him as Dracula, the blood thirsty Vampire made famous by Bram Stocker’s novel of the same name. But his story is a bit more mysterious.

Sighisoara

Transylvania

Dracula was born in the year 1430 as Valdislaus Basarab-Luxembourg. He grew up in a medieval walled city called Sighisoara, located on top of a hill right in the heart of Transylvania.

Here you can visit the building where he was born and where he spent his first five years. 

For the early part of Dracula’s life, he was known as Vlad. And Vlad was destined for a life of conflict. When he was just a young boy his father became a first-class member of an elite society called the Order of the Dragon.

Wallachia

Wallachia Vlad Tepes III Dracula

Members were required to defend the cross and fight the enemies of Christianity. The Order gave his father the nickname, 'Dragon', which, when translated into medieval Romanian is the name 'Dracul'.

As member of the order, his father reigned as prince over a conflicted area called Wallachia, which rested right between Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. This area saw lots of war, and was often ruled by both sides at different times. Dracul in a struggle for his own grip on power, gave his loyalty to each.

But the Ottomans weren’t sure if they could trust him, so they imprisoned his two sons, the young Vlad and his brother Radu. The boys were held hostage to ensure their father, would remain loyal.

Taken from his family and homeland angered the young Vlad. And during this time is when it’s believed he developed an intense hatred for the Ottomans, upon whom he would later earn his gruesome reputation.

Eğrigöz Fortress

Eğrigöz Fortress

For six years the boys were kept at the Eğrigöz Fortess, in the treacherous mountains of what is now central Turkey. There he found refuge in studying warfare, becoming skilled in swordsmanship.

Upon his release he returned to Wallachia to reunite with his family, but soon learned that his father was murdered just before his arrival. These pivotal moments in Vlad’s life turned him into a cold and bitter man.

With his father gone, Vlad could now try and claim the throne of Wallachia. But he would need the backing of the Hungarian Kings. They resisted at first, but once they saw his vast knowledge of the Ottoman Empire, as well as his hatred for them, they crowned him prince and included him in the order of the Dragon.

Dracula's Signature

Dracula signature

Being the son of Dracul, Vlad was given the name Dracula. The letter ‘a’ added at the end, to signify that he is the ‘son-of’ the dragon. From then on Vlad officially became known as Dracula.

As the new prince of Wallachia, Dracula ordered a purge of potential enemies. And he ruthlessly went after those suspected of murdering his father. Thousands were tortured and executed in his early days as new prince.

The Princely Court

Dracula's Princely Court in Wallachia

He gave these orders from the Princely Court, the name of the formal residence and fortress of the Wallachian Prince.

Today you can visit the remains of Dracula’s Fortress in modern day Targoviste, Romania. You can tour the building where he once lived and visit the museum that houses many medieval artifacts along with an exhibit dedicated to the legendary figure.

Impalement

Impalement in Dracula's Castle

It was here, in this very building where Dracula impaled his first victims. Impalement was his preferred method of execution and torture. This is where a long sharp stake or a pole is used to gruesomely penetrate a person’s body. The stake is then stuck into the ground with the victim being suspended several feet above the surface.

It could sometimes take days for a person to die from this method. According to stories written at the time, Dracula enjoyed impaling people in his dining room, he then washed his hands with their blood and ate his meals while, they screamed in agony. 

Accounts say that he impaled mothers with their babies on the same stake. He even boiled and skinned people alive. Impaled victims were then arranged in concentric circles on the outskirts of the cities where they could be viewed by all.

Some stories take it further and claim that he enjoyed dipping his bread in his victim’s blood, before eating it.

hit play and give the episode a listen, below:

These practices earned him another nickname at the time: Vlad the Impaler.

Dracula impaled men, women, and even children. But his most terrorizing act was yet to come.

As prince he immediately stopped paying pittance to the ottoman empire. This was a payment or a sort of bribe that kept the Ottomans happy, and secured Dracula’s grip on power.

Vlad and the Ottomans

vlad-the-impaler-holding-court

Soon an envoy consisting of a handful of Ottoman diplomats arrived to inquire about the missed payments. Dracula hosted the men in his fortress, but when they refused to remove their head coverings in his presence, he grew very angry. So to ensured that their turbans would forever remain on their heads he had them nailed to their skulls while they were still alive.

Dracula knew this would only serve to invite the wrath of the Ottomans.

And it did. Angering an entire empire, the Ottomans sent one of their nobleman, along with 1,000 skilled soldiers to ambush the prince and take him as prisoner. But Dracula caught wind of these plans and began to assemble his own troops near the Poenari Castle.

Poenari Castle

Poenari Castle

Now there are a few castles in Romania that like to claim the title of Dracula’s Castle, but don’t be mistaken. No other structure can claim the name more than this.

Resting atop a steep Cliffside in the southern Romanian mountains, the Poenari Castle towers over the Valley where it was built. It took more than 1400 steps to reach the remote castle. This resulted in its abandonment several times after it was first constructed in the 13th Century.

But Dracula enjoyed its seclusion and chose to call this place home for much of the time. Legend has it, that his first wife threw herself off the tower of this very castle. Falling to her death down into the ravine below.

Today, only a two-hour drive from Bucharest the capitol of Romania. You can visit what remains of the castle yourself and walk the many steps to reach the top.

Impaling Ottomans

Impaling Ottomans

The ambush on Dracula never took place. Instead he launched a surprise-attack and killed then impaled the nobleman sent to capture him along with the 1,000 soldiers.

For the next several years, he deflected attacks from the Ottomans. Until the Leader of the Empire himself raised an army to kill Dracula.

With a force of 100,000 soldiers this should have been an easy win for the Ottomans. But Dracula’s cruel tactics, changed the odds.

Knowing he was outnumbered, the ruthless prince conducted a scorched-earth military campaign. This strategy is typically used by a retreating army, which destroys everything in it’s path as it’s fleeing. This prevents the advancing army from using any of the available resources.

He burned his own villages, poisoned all of the wells, and locals were forced to evacuate. Except for the sick. Those with leprosytuberculosis, or the bubonic plague, were ordered to stay behind to infect the Ottoman Army.

Dracula left behind a path of death and destruction, but his worst atrocity was yet to come.

As the exhausted and dwindling Ottoman Army approached the Wallachian Capital, of Targoviste, they setup camp and prepared for their final assault.

Night Attack at Târgovişte

Night Attack at Târgovişte

With a much smaller force, Dracula resorted to guerrilla warfare tactics. Like hit and run attacks. As well as surprise raids during the dead of night, like the Night Attack at Târgovişte, where his troops killed 15,000 Ottomans in one night.

He preferred to infiltrate enemy camps while they slept. Armed with spears and swords, Dracula and his army used torches to illuminate the battle field. They killed as many Ottomans as they could, often capturing enemy soldiers, dragging them away into the dark forest. (Horse riding, screaming/dragging into forest)

Morale was at all time low in the Ottoman Army, but they pushed ahead, believing they could take on Dracula’s much smaller army head on, at the capital.

Forest of the Impaled

forest of the impaled

As they came within sight of Targoviste, they came upon one of Dracula’s most gruesome acts. Recorded accounts say that in place of a forest of trees, there was a forest of impaled men women and children.

Some were still alive, freshly impaled with a stake jammed through their body. Others had been dead for months, their rotting corpses lay limp and decaying.

Most of the impaled were Ottomans, some still in their military uniforms, suspended several feet above the ground over a fresh pool of blood.

Dracula had been stockpiling the dead from previous raids to create this brutal display. In total it is estimated that 20,000 people were impaled on the road leading to him home.

The forest of the dead struck the Ottomans with such terror that they turned around.

Dracula remained prince for quite some time. But his brutal ways made him many enemies, even at home. A former ally, the Hungarian King, betrayed Dracula and imprisoned the prince for 12 years.

Corvin Castle & Vlad's Imprisonment

Corvin Castle & Vlad's Prison

Most of these years were spent at the Corvin Castle in a small city in Transylvania. This gothic style structure is one of the largest castles in Europe. It has a larges Knights' Hall for banquets, an impressive drawbridge for defense. Inside is a large inner courtyard, as well as a chapel and 50 different rooms adorned with medieval artwork and artifacts.

Today you can visit the castle for 5 euros a person. And for 150 euros, you can even get married in the chapel. The banquet hall is also available for wedding and events.

Dracula regained the throne as prince of Wallachia for a third time. But it was short lived, he was beheaded during battle in January 1477 in southern Romania.

He is supposedly buried at the Comana Monastery, a church he founded himself. There are a few other sites that claim to house Dracula’s crypt, but none are confirmed.

For centuries his infamous stories were lost to history.

It wasn’t until 1897 that Bram Stoker wrote Dracula as a Vampire in his famous novel.

Vampire

Vampire

Vampires being the undead creatures that require blood to survive. Throughout history there have been many other cases of supposed Vampires and their victims.

As recently as the 1970s serial killer Richard Chase drank the blood of several of his victims. When police searched his apartment they found a horrific scene: The walls, floors, ceiling and all of his eating and drinking utensils were soaked in blood.

The Vampire of Dusseldorf

Peter Kuerten Vampire Podcast

Another supposed Vampire in 1920s Germany was a man by the name of Peter Kuerten. Known as the Vampire of Dusseldorf, Kuerten would suck the blood from the wounds in his victim’s neck. On one occasion he drank so much blood that he vomited.

One of the more mysterious Vampire murders took place in Sweden in 1932. The Atlas Vampire, as he was known drained all the blood from his victim’s body. Authorities never caught the man, but you can see the case file and evidence of the crime at the Stockholm Police Museum.

This Halloween, remember vampires don’t like garlic or holy water. A wooden stake driven through the heart will kill them, any other material won’t do. And they hate the sunlight.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast, tell a friend or family member about us and check out our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where you can find more content. Make sure to give the podcast a listen below:

Have a spooky tale of your own? Tell us in the comments section below:

 

Check out our other great content:

EP 27: The Most Mysterious Place in Arizona: Superstition Mountains

Superstitious Mountains

In a quest for gold, German immigrant Jacob Waltz, found a secret mine in the 1880s. Rumors are that he killed to keep it a secret, making a small fortune in the process. Now known as the Lost Dutchman Mine, know one has retuned from the mine alive.

The Superstition mountains wilderness area is located about a 45 minute drive east of Phoenix Arizona. This place was called a variety of different names throughout the years, from thunder mountain to crooked mountain top. But it wasn’t until the 1890s, when they received their final label: Superstition Mountains.

Weavers Needle

This serene mountain range includes several landmarks like Weavers Needle, a tall eroded spire formed by an ancient volcano. The severely rugged nature of the terrain contains sharp drop offs, cliffs and deep canyons. Hikers can also encounter extreme changes in temperature, harsh winds, and dangerous wildlife.

Pima Indian

A Native American tribe called the Pima’s, told American settlers stories about strange sounds coming from the mountain range. They told of disappearances, mysterious deaths, and had a general fear of the mountain. But this didn’t stop German immigrant Jacob Waltz from searching the area for gold in the mid-1800s.

Waltz immigrated to the US in the 1840s and upon hearing about gold in the West, moved to Arizona, where he spent the rest of his life searching for the precious metal.

gold mine

According to legend, Waltz found a massive gold mine in these mountains, but refused to hire any help or build a proper large scale mining operation. Part of the reason for this was that he didn’t own the land. Instead, whenever he needed money, he ventured into the Superstition Mountains alone and returned with gold nuggets that he would sell to the US Mint.

This became known as the Lost Dutchman Mine.

The Sterling Legend

According to The Sterling Legend, a book about the mine, Waltz sold $250,000 dollars’ worth of gold to the US Mint in the 1880s, which, in todays dollars is over $5,500,000 dollars.

Locals purportedly tried to follow Waltz into the mountains. Prompting him to change his routes and misdirect followers into dangerous areas. He even supposedly shot and killed two men who came close to finding the site.

Jacob Waltz

After he died 1891, those who knew Waltz began to grow suspicious of his nurse, who was with him at his death bed. Julia Elena Thomas, tended to Waltz during his final days and after his passing she spent an unusual amount of time visiting the Superstition Mountains.

Thomas and two men had teamed up locate the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Her efforts were further revealed in the Arizona Enterprise, a weekly newspaper, which claimed that moments before his death, Waltz gave Thomas information about the whereabouts of the mine.

After two months searching, Thomas gave up in her efforts.

But her failures didn’t stop prospectors Sims Ely and Jim Bark from searching for the next 25 years.

Sims Ely

Although they weren’t lucky in finding gold, they were lucky for coming out of the mountains alive. Countless men and women have gone in search of the lost dutchman’s mine, and lost their lives in the process.

Like in 1896, when the bodies of three people were found dead near the supposed location of the mine.

Then in 1910 a woman who had been searching for the mine went missing. When her body was found weeks later, she had a small bag with gold nuggets in her pocket.

Adolph Ruth

But the strangest death occurred in 1931. A man from Washington DC by the name of Adolph Ruth,  left for the Superstition foothills with an old map, in search of the mine. When he failed to returned from the mountains, a search party went out to find him. They discovered his campsite which was completely in tact, but Ruth was nowhere to be seen.

Downstream from the Superstition Mountains along the Salt River, a different man found a bottle floating in the water with a note that read:

“I’m sitting under a tree in a creek with leg broke. I’ve got to have help quick. Finder of this note please give to Howard Peterson.” p.s. Have found the lost Dutchman.”

The letter was signed by Adolph Ruth.

Ruth Lost Dutchman

Six months later his skull was found high up in the mountains with two bullet holes in it.

Every few years’ afterward, similar tales had taken place in the area. All involving people who went looking for the Lost Dutchman Mine. And although in 1984 mining in wilderness areas were banned, it hasn’t stopped people from searching for this mysterious place.

As recently as 2010, three people have died in search of it. After the men went missing, a hiker happened to discover the bodies of the three. All that remained was clothes and bones.

Today you can visit the Superstition Mountain Museum on the Apache Trail where artifacts of the Lost Dutchman are on display.

If you’re not interested in risking your life to find gold you can hike one of 40 different trails in the wilderness area. Remember, the National Parks Service advises to never hike alone, let people know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Also, check the weather forecast and bring plenty of food and water.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and tell a friend or family member about us. We have an Instagram, a Twitter, and a Facebook where you can find more of our content.

Now you can buy Go the Podcast t-shirts, mugs, hoodies and more. Go to www.gothepodcast.com/shop to browse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ep 26: Shooting AK-47s with Latvian Gangsters. Plus: Tales from Chernobyl

In this weeks travel podcast episode we’re joined by James Finnerty from Lupine Travels. Finnerty is an unconventional travel agent of sorts. He takes people to Iraq, North Korea, the Chernobyl Nuclear Site, Antarctica and more. In this episode he shares a great story about shooting AK-47s in Latvia with gangsters and brothel runners.

martins-zemlickis-56647.jpg

Ep 25: Travel photography w/ Marc Silber, Drunk swims across Hoover Dam, Hurricanes and more...

travel photography podcast

Transcript:

Alex: Disneyworld is the most traveled to vacation resort in the world, and only two weeks ago, it shut down for the 6th time since first opening.

Ericka: As Hurricane Irma relief efforts are underway, what does this mean for communities damaged in its wake? Hi I’m Erick Cruz Guevarra.

Alex: And I’m Alex Cwalinski. You’re listening to Go the Travel Podcast.

Ericka: Also, the winter Olympics are set to start this coming February in South Korea.

Alex: But fears about a conflict with North Korea could be hurting ticket sales. And what are some easy ways to improve your travel photography?

Ericka: This week we’re joined by author and photographer Marc Silber, to discuss his new book.

Silber: There’s a few points that I’ve found have made a huge difference for me as a photographer.

Alex: We have a lot more stories coming up. Stay with us and we’ll fill you in on this week in travel.                                                                                             

-

Alex: This episode is sponsored by www.LocalBeyond.com Think outside the cubicle.

Ericka: Also, this is the final week of our Cocoon Innovations giveaway contest.

Alex: We’re giving away a backpack and a Grid-it organizer by Cocoon Innovations. To enter to win one, all your have to do is sign up for our mailing list at www.gothepodcast.com/subscribe

Alex: Winners will be announced September 21st.

-

Hurricane Irma

Alex: More than half of Antigua and Barbuda’s GDP is gained from the tourism. And many nearby islands in the Caribbean have similar stats.

Ericka: But after Hurricane Irma damaged much of the region, their economies could take a hit.

Nancy: Hurricane Irma was one of the most damaging hurricanes we’ve ever had. It was particularly damaging for the Caribbean. Hi, I’m Nancy Trejos, I’m a travel writer for USA Today.

Alex: Some people are saying the region could be facing billions of dollars in lost tourism business.

Nancy: Most of the money they make is from tourists like us, so it’s going to have a huge impact.

Ericka: But some nations like the Dominican Republic were spared.

Nancy: The damage varied from island to island. You have some islands like Jamaica which are fine then you have some islands like St. Maarten, which they’re pretty damaged.

Alex: Recovery efforts have begun, with the more important infrastructure elements getting repaired first.

Nancy: Some of the airports are opening up to regular traffic, but a lot of them are open to flights that are bringing emergency supplies.

Ericka: Cuba was another island hit by the Category 5 storm. Irma barreled through its northern shores, damaging over four thousand homes.

Alex: Now, how does a nation with limited internet and television access prepare for such a powerful storm?

Lori: Between 700 thousand and a million people were evacuated before hand.

Alex: Joining us to talk about Cuba is travel writer Lori Zaino.

Lori: Havana was flooded, with 32 foot waves and high winds damaging a lot of trees and such.

Ericka: Being the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is no stranger to storms.

Lori: Cuba has dealt with about 28 hurricanes and tropical storms in the last 100 years so they are very well prepared. About a week before the hurricane hit the Cuban military started informing people that a big hurricane was coming through.

Alex: Since internet isn’t as common in Cuba, especially outside Havana, the gov’t has to inform people about the hurricane a little differently. 

Lori: The way they kind of diffuse information is different than how they do it in the US. They actually go door to door. They explain to people that there is a large storm and they spread the information by word of mouth. And a lot of the information is also passed through neighbors by mouth almost like when you were a kid in school and they had a phone calling system where one family would call the other family.

Alex: Many areas in Cuba, including some parts of the capital, are still without running water or electricity.

Lori: I think that they’re going to be cleaning up for a really long time…

Ericka: The state department is advising Americans to avoid travel to Cuba until recovery efforts are complete. But Zaino doesn’t think the damage will stop some people from traveling there.

Lori: Places like Europe don’t really get the concept of a hurricane because they don’t get them. So someone from NY or Florida aren’t going to go to Cuba, but in Europe they still might.

-

Drunk Briton

Ericka: A British man, became the first person to survive a swim across the hoover dam.

Alex: 28-year-old Aaron Hughes was visiting Las Vegas for a bachelor party, when the group took a trip to see the famous landmark.

Ericka: In the one-hundred-degree heat, and after some heavy drinking, Hughes took the plunge.

Alex: Lucky for him, nine of the ten turbines that suck water from the dam to generate electricity were shut off.

Ericka: Hughes said he could feel the pull of the one turbine dragging him toward the wall. Had all turbines been on, he would have most likely died.

Alex: After a 45-minute swim, Hughes, who has a ‘no regrets’ tattoo, was met by police on the other side. He was fined three hundred and thirty dollars for trespassing.

2018 Winter Olympics Korea / Paris 2024

Alex: The 2018 Pyongchang Winter Olympics are five months away,

Ericka: But ticket sales are below average.

Alex: Could North Korea’s Nuclear Bomb testing be the problem? The site of the games is only 50 miles south of the world’s most guarded border. Japanese and Chinese tourists were expected to make up the bulk of international ticket sales. But tension in the region has prompted Japan to create a mass evacuation plan in case war breaks out. South Korean officials say that there shouldn’t be any cause for concern, considering the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 2002 World Cup in South Korea, turned out fine.

Alex: In other Olympics news, after three failed attempts over the course of twelve years, Paris, France will be hosting the Olympics.

Ericka: This week, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that the French capital will be hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Travel Photography with Marc Silber

Ericka: Need help improving your Instagram photos?

Alex: Marc Silber, photographer and author of Advancing Your Photography, gives us some tips to improve your skills. Like shooting during the golden hours.

Silber: Which is when the light is softer and warmer. And that’s half and hour before sunset and half an hour before. Same thing with sunrise.

Alex: Perspective of the camera is also important when shooting.

Silber: If you take all your photographs from eye level they’re just not going to be that interesting because we’re already looking at things from eye level. So if you mix up the angles and you get up high or come from the side, you’re going to add a lot of interest to your photographs.

Alex: Silber says that social media sites are great resources for finding out what people are taking photos of in certain locations.

Silber: Really spend some time looking around. What have other people photographed, but not because you want to photograph those things, but you’ll get some idea of two things. One, what you want to avoid, because you don’t want to fall into the same cliché, but more likely you’ll get an idea of what the place looks like.

Alex: These are important when going to places with famous landmarks.

Silber: Like, I’m going to Paris, so of course I’m going to want to take a picture of the Eiffel tower. If I take the same postcard picture of the Eiffel tower, what’s the point? I come back with something that I might as well have googled it.

Alex: But what if you want to take photos of locals or people in their environment?

 Silber: The first thing they do is they stand very stiffly…

Alex: Silber’s new book is called Advancing Your Photography. You can find it on his site at Marc Silber dot com.

Tourists Perish in Italian Volcano

Ericka: Three tourists died in a Volcano near Naples Italy last week. All were members of the same Italian family.

Alex: Two parents tried unsuccessfully rescue their 11-year-old son near the Solfatara Crater. The boy crossed a fence into an off limits area when he sunk into the soft soil.

Ericka: Signs near the crater warn that steam from the ground can reach temperatures up to 320 degrees.

Alex: The boy’s parents also found themselves stuck and are believed to have died from the fumes.

Drunk Passengers

Alex: Almost every week you can find a new story online about drunk passengers on a plane, and this week isn’t any different.

Ericka: On Wednesday, chaos broke out when a drunk couple started arguing on a British Airways flight.

Alex: Attendants on the Los Angeles to Heathrow flight had to separate a husband and wife after they began shouting and screaming at each other.

Ericka: Passengers claim the duo had to be restrained in their seats.

Alex: Police were called to remove them from the plane after arriving, but the couple was let go.

Ericka: On a different flight this week, another drunk passenger was met by police after landing.

Alex: A disruptive 22 year old man was reportedly singing loudly with his headphones on during the entire flight. Passengers say he was uncooperative with the crew and refused to leave the plane.

Ericka: That’s when another passenger took matters into his own hands.

Alex: The unnamed passenger can be seen in a video posted on youtube and now on our website, putting the disruptive passenger in a chokehold and rendering him unconscious.

 

Highway 1 south of Big Sur

Ericka: Earlier this year a part of California’s highway 1 was damaged in a massive mudslide.

Alex: An area just south of big Sur experienced its largest mudslide ever, sending more than 5 million cubic yards of rock and dirt onto the highway.

Ericka: State officials said this week that the iconic highway won’t be open until the end of summer, 2018.

Alex: Repairs are expected to cost roughly 40 million dollars.

-

Alex: And that’s our Go the Podcast episode for this week. I’m Alex Cwalinski

Ericka: And I’m Ericka Cruz Guevarra. Subscribe to Go the Podcast wherever you’re getting your podcasts.

Alex: Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Ericka: And don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list to enter our giveaway contest.

Alex: Thanks for listening.

 

Episode 24: Save Money While Traveling with Home Exchange. Plus the Latest in Travel.

Emmanuel Arnaud joins us to talk about the cost saving benefits of home exchanging. Also: Hurricane Irma, State Drivers Licenses and  why a passenger was ordered to pay $100,000 to an airline. Find that out and more.

Hit play below to listen to the latest episode, and subscribe to us on iTunes,  Stitcher,  TuneIn, or  Acast.

Paris Podcast

TRANSCRIPT:

Alex: Finding a place to stay is often the most expensive part of travel.

Not only are you paying to stay somewhere else, but you’re also paying rent or a mortgage. But what if you could figure out a way to travel to, say Spain, without paying for a place to stay? And at the same time, someone from Spain could travel to your city, without having to pay for a place to stay either?

Hey guys, it’s Alex Cwalinski here and you’re listening to Go. A podcast about travel, places, and adventure. Today we’re going to talk about a really cool website called Homeexchange.com. They’re helping people bring the cost of travel down. So you’ll have more money to spend on other things like exploring and trying the local foods. Stay with us to find out more.

(Music Begins)

I also want to let you guys know about a contest we’re starting this week. We’re giving away two prizes, the first is a cocoon innovations backpack, that retails for 80 dollars. It’s perfect for the organized traveler. It can hold a 15 inch laptop, it has a water-resistant shell and waterproof zippers. The second prize is a grid it organizer, that retails at 20 dollars. it’s great to keep your backpack in order. It can hold all of your cables, wires, and accessories. To enter to win one of these prizes, all your have to do is sign up for our mailing list at go the podcast dot com. Winners will be announced on September 21st. Only available to those in the US.

(Music Ends)

Alex: A lot of people stay at hotels or motels when they travel, (“We’ll leave the lights on for you.”). Some stay at a hostels or campsites. But now with the internet and the sharing economy, people have much more options.

Emmanuel: Hi my name is Emmanuel Arnaud and I’m CEO of Home Exchange dot com. So Home Exchange is in 154 countries. There’s 65,000 homes

Alex: The concept is really simple. You basically swap homes with another home exchange dot com user. First you sign up on the website, you create a profile, take pictures of your home and then list the dates that you’re available to travel. The concept is really cool, that’s why I reached out to Emmanuel, so that you, the listener knows what other options are out there.

Emmanuel: Besides the cost of travel, home exchange doesn’t cost you a penny more. So that’s really incredible, especially when you think about all the amazing locations you can get to with a low cost flight or a long car drive.

Alex: So what are some of these incredible places?

Emmanuel: I know that there’s some sort of hacienda in Mexico with a staff of 30, where there’s maids and cooks and a driver/chauffeur.

Alex: Imagine getting driven around by a chauffeur, having all your meals cooked, and your laundry done? Of course, you’d need to convince the people that live there that your home is worth staying in. Now, as CEO of Home Exchange, Emmanuel has exchanged homes with a lot of people.

Emmanuel: In the last 5 years since I created the company, probably 25-30 times. The most luxuries home exchange is when I stayed in a Riad, which is the local architecture in Marrakesh

Alex: A Riad is basically a beautiful two story Moroccan home with a large courtyard in the middle and a wrap around balcony on the second floor.

Emmanuel: It had a swimming pool right in the center of Marrakesh.

Alex: Marrakesh is the 4th largest city in Morocco and was the once the capital. In fact, Morocco used to be called the Kingdom of Marrakesh up until the early 1900s, and in some languages the country is still referred to by it’s ancient name. But it you’re looking to exchange homes with someone in a larger city, Paris has over 4,000 options, here you can stay in the historic Le Marais District, where you can visit the Picasso museum that houses 5,000 works by the artist. The famous Notre Dame Cathedral is only a 10 minute walk from here, a place were hotels cost 120 – 480 dollars a night. But it won’t cost you anything if you’re exchanging homes with someone.

Alex: Now, swapping homes isn’t always, just about the home, it can include other things too.

Emmanuel: And you can even save on some other things that you would probably not guess. A good one is the car rental. 15 – 20 percent of our member will lend you their car when doing the home exchange.

Alex: This can work out really well, especially if you have kids and are home exchanging with another family.

Emmanuel: Once I did a home exchange and I arrived and it was a great apartment in the south of France. They had a pool and they let me use their car and the car had the perfect seats for my kids age. So it was so perfect because I saved on the car and I didn’t have to bring kid seats. There’s really more benefits than just the accommodation savings.

Alex: There’re a lot of different people on home exchange. From couples to single people, to families with kids or with just cats.

Emmanuel: As part of home exchange, since you’re changing homes with people that are like you. It makes things so convenient. So if you’re thinking of families, and you’re exchanging homes with other families, well the home where you’re going there will probably be toys that your kids can play with. What ever your thing is in life, so if you’re a surfer and you exchange homes with another surfer then you’ll probably be next to a cool surfing spot.

Alex: If you’re a surfer, or just like the beach, Hawaii has over 400 properties on Home exchange (FX-music) a lot of the homes listed have ocean views and are near Bonzai Pipeline or A-Bay, both great surf spots. Other places with great surf like San Diego, has over 300 homes, and Australia has over 2,000. And if your schedule is flexible you can arrange long term home exchanges.

Emmanuel: As a matter fact I’m moving to the US this summer and I’ll be doing a one-year home exchange. It’s so convenient, so the great thing is you don’t need to sell your furniture, rent your home or whatever, you just take your kids and your clothes.

Emmanuel needs to be in the US for work, so he found a couple with a home that are looking to live overseas for a while.

Emmanuel: They want to live a French typical Parisian experience and we want to live a family experience in the US. And it’s really great because homes in Paris tend to be smaller than in the United States, and they just had their twins graduate and are going off to college this summer so they have an empty nest. And I have a full nest, I have three kids and they have a family home with a garden, so hopefully it will be really great for our families.

Alex: The become a member of Home Exchange, there’s a sign up fee of 150 dollars, which, if you think about it, it’s cheaper than getting a hotel or an Airbnb during your vacation. But its not for everyone.

Emmanuel: There’s a lot of fears out there, from people who imagine that if they open their doors to people then people would take advantage of them, or not respect their home. And if that’s a strong fear of yours then maybe home exchange is not for you.

Alex: So, during my video chat his Emmanuel, we were having some technical issues? I guess you’d call it. So there’s this neighborhood cat who comes by my house almost everyday, and as anyone with a cat knows, they like to walk on the keys of your laptop.

Emmanuel: I see a cat walking on your keyboard and your picture freezing. And that’s another group that we have. We have a group for cat lovers and people that need their gardens watered. Beyond the fact that it’s a great deal to stay for free. There’s also the thing that when you’re leaving your home with people that you trust, they can take care of your cat, they can take care of your dog, they can take care of your garden. They can scare burglars away.

Alex: And if anything goes wrong with something in your home, like a leaking roof or an electrical issue, the people you’re hosting can take care of the problem before it gets any worse. Emmanuel once had something like that happen.

Emmanuel: The family called me and the family that was staying in my home, as it turned out that one of the electric heaters in my home had turned on like crazy, at the maximum level. And we were in August. And because they were in the home they were able to call someone to fix it.

Emmanuel: He had a lot of stories to share from Home exchange, but I asked him if he had a favorite.

Emmanuel: Truthfully, my favorite home exchange story, is once when I came back home and there was this thank you message from this Spanish family and they had drove all the way from Madrid to Paris. It was a couple with two kids and their grandmothers.

Alex: The Spanish family left them a few gifts, including a pop-up children’s book with castles.

Emmanuel: And the note said, thank you for letting us stay in your home, our kids told us it was the best vacation in their life. And They insisted that we buy this book so that you could give it to your kids as a thank you because my kids could play with your kids toys and they were really thankful for that.

Emmanuel: You know there’s just that great feeling of being a good human being, and that a family had a great time in your home and it didn’t cost you anything and that you’re teaching the next generation how to share.

Thank you Emmanuel for sharing your stories and experiences. If you want to know more, visit www.homeexchange.com

Coming up next:

What State Drivers Licenses Won't Work for Air Travel Next Year?

And

What kind of impact is Hurricane Irma having on travel?

And

Why was a passenger was ordered to pay an airline 100,000 this week?

Find that out and more of what’s happing after this:

SPOT: The landscape of work is changing. Instead of being stuck in a cubicle, you can work virtually anywhere. Why not live, work, and play in exciting Budapest, Slovenia’s untouched Ljubljana, and more? Local Beyond makes that possible. Their experts help you prepare for the life you'll live abroad. When you arrive at your destination, you’re welcomed by your very own Local Beyond Rep who’ll take you to your centrally located apartment, decked out with everything you need to transition seamlessly. If you run into any hiccups, Local Beyond will help, either online or onsite--so you can enjoy living as a local. Think outside the cubicle. www.localbeyond.com

PNW Fires

Thinking about traveling to the pacific northwest, well, you might want to postpone that trip. Massive Wildfires there have been raging for the last two weeks and they aren’t expected to let up any time soon. Smoke from the fires is effecting air quality in many cities, causing schools across the region to cancel sporting events and hold recess indoors. In some places, the Air Quality Index score, an index used for reporting daily air quality, dropped to it’s lowest rating of Hazardous. In these conditions, the EPA says to Stay indoors, like in a room or building with filtered air and to reduce any physical activity. Major cities effected are Missoula, Boise, Portland, and Seattle.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma is the most power Hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. The storm struck the small island of Barbuda this week. According to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the island is now barely habitable, with 95% of it destroyed. Irma later passed through the island of St. Maarten, destroying much of the Princess Juliana International Airport. The eye of the storm just missed Puerto Rico, causing massive power outages. Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida on Saturday night. Governor Rick Scott says the storm surges created by Irma are going to be massive. Airlines are limiting travel to the area and parks like Disneyland may have to close as the storm makes its way north. Towns and cities along the coast are being ordered to evacuate, even in Georgia. This is creating a lot of northbound traffic and filling up hotel rooms across central Florida and southern Georgia. Meanwhile, Cruise ships are busy dodging both Irma and now Hurricane Jose, which is a bit further east in the Atlantic.

TSA ID

Most people use a drivers license as ID to pass through TSA security check points. But the Department of Homeland Security is saying that next year they’ll stop accepting Driver licenses and IDs from 25 states. This all began with the Real ID act of 2005, that established standards for what the TSA would accept as identification. One requirement is having anti-counterfeit technology in the cards, and that states verify an applicant’s identity as well as conduct background checks. Most states were given extensions to adhere to the standards, but those extensions are due to expire next year. States can continue applying for extensions until October 2020. If your id cards aren’t compliant at airport checkpoints, you can always use a passport. Find out if your state is on the list by visiting go the podcast dot com and clicking on our most recent post.

Disruptive Passenger

A judged ordered a disruptive passenger on a Hawaiian flight to pay the airline nearly 100,000 dollars. Last year Passenger James August was drunk on flight from Honolulu to NY, when he began threatening his girlfriend, the crew and other passengers. The pilots had to turn the plane around back to Honolulu and make an emergency landing. August pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and attendants, and was also ordered to serve three-years probation. The 100,000 thousand dollar payment covers the cost of fuel, crew members, landing fee and maintenance.

Lyft

In San Francisco, ride-sharing app Lyft has announced that they’re going to start rolling out Self-Driving cars. A select group of customers in the SF Bay Area will be offering free autonomous rides. The company’s pilot program will be used primarily to test out its artificial intelligence software. But the robots aren’t completely taking over yet, a trained lyft driver will still sit behind the wheel to take control, just in case.

Pittsburgh Airport

For the first time since 9/11, Pittsburgh international airport is giving non-flyers access to terminal areas. Families will now be able to say goodbye or greet loved ones at the gate. They’ll still have to pass through the TSA security check point and have a valid ID. Not everyone agrees with this decision. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants says this will compromise safety and make lines a bit longer.

And that’s Go the Podcast for this week.

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, and find us on www.gothepodcast.com

Don’t forget about our contest. Sign up for our mailing list to win one of two prizes, by Cocoon Innovations.

I’m Alex Cwalinski. Thank you for listening.