Quirky Places to Visit

Quirky Places to Visit Worldwide

These days it’s increasingly difficult to surprise tourists. Many feel they’ve seen it all. But dig a little deeper and a world brimming over with weird and wacky places can be found. From natural sites to museums and amusement parks, here are some places that truly fit the definition of quirky.

If you have not recently had the opportunity to see a broom standing up by itself or a ball rolling uphill, than The Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Oregon is for you. The proprietors claim that this is due to a whirlpool of force, a vortex of energy, while others attribute the strange phenomena to optical illusions. In any case, for about the price of a movie ticket (plus a long drive up a rural road), you can observe a reversal of perspective where a person receding from you appears taller, or you can watch magnets fall down a pipe in slow motion, or you can observe a 7 degree tilt to anyone standing inside a ramshackle shack called the mystery house. It’s mind-boggling, and a little eerie.

The Oregon Vortex

flickr image by James Wellington

Another eerie place that’s a bit of a head scratcher is the Socotra Archipelago in Yemen. Described as the most alien-looking place on earth, the Socotra is a remotely isolated island that broke off from the mainland millions of years ago and developed its own biological species. Here, and only here, will you find strange umbrella-like trees that ooze red sap, poisonous cucumber trees, pink flowering pomegranate trees and several unique species of birds and aquatic life. Enormous caves with towering stalagmites and a forbidding gray limestone terrain contribute to the otherworldliness of the place. A visit to Socotra is like a visit to another planet.

If you have not satisfied your passion for the otherworldly after a visit to Socotra, you might drop by Goreme National Park in Turkey. Weird pillars of rock sculpted by centuries of erosion dot the landscape. It’s as if a giant child constructed fanciful sand castles and left them to be eroded by the sea. What makes it even weirder is that the early Christians who inhabited the region in the 4th century turned many of the pillars into churches and monk’s cells and connected them with a network of underground tunnels. Today some of those dwellings are still inhabited and outfitted with all the modern conveniences like a swank apartment in a modern city.

The lengths people will go to live where they want is truly astonishing. Perhaps that is nowhere more true than at Neft Daslari in Azerbaijan, a city of 5,000 built on oil platforms and trestle bridges 34 miles out in the Caspian Sea. After oil was discovered there in 1949 the first platform was built and a path was constructed out to it over the backs of sunken ships. With the passing of years, more ships were sunk and additional bridges built until a fully functioning city took shape. Today Neft Daslari boasts hotels, cultural centers, factories, schools and even a city park, most of it on stilts above the sea.

You will have to venture beneath the sea if you want to enjoy on of the most popular new attractions in Cancun, Mexico. The Underwater Museum is a free sculpture museum made up of 400 life-sized human sculptures spread out over 150 square meters and submerged beneath the waters of the Caribbean. Planned by English artist Jason Decaires Taylor as a way to promote coral growth and conserve marine life, the museum is accessible by scuba divers and snorkelers. If all goes according to plan, the museum will draw some of the roughly 750,000 visitors away from the hurricane damaged Manchone’s reef nearby, giving it a much needed rest from tourists and allowing it to resurrect itself.

If state imposed atheism is more your thing, Grutas Park in Druskininkai, Lithuania, also known as Stalin Land, gives visitors a taste of Soviet era Eastern Europe complete with commanding political posters, plenty of propaganda, watchtowers, barbed wire and Soviet marching music. The main attraction, however, are the Soviet era monuments scattered throughout park. All those imposing statues of Lenin, Stalin and the gang weren’t toppled when the Soviet Union collapsed. Many survived and found there way here where visitors can take a stroll down memory lane before stopping for the Soviet themed lunch comprised of the sort of bland, tasteless fare the proletariat used to enjoy.

Eating too much off the Soviet menu at Grutas Park could prime you for our next quirky location, the Museum of Toilets in New Dehli, India. Their website asks the leading question: Ever wondered what a museum dedicated entirely to the history of toilets would be like? Actually, um, no. But as long as they are going there anyway you might be interested to know that the first toilet dates backs to 2,500 BC or that King Louis XIII’s throne actually doubled as a loo, thus the term “throne”. The museum is actually striving for more than being the willing butt of jokes, its mission is to bring much needed attention to issues related to health and sanitation in India.

The world is full of weird and wacky places. With the advent of the internet, these oddball attractions are not so hard to find. If you are growing tired of the usual thing, consider something a little out of the ordinary. If you are going out there, you might as well go to a place that’s out there.


Date posted: 10th June, 2011

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