4 Mediterranean Islands You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Mediterranean Islands You’ve Never Heard Of

The Mediterranean islands are steeped in rich historydelicious food, and wondrous natural beauty. They comprise one of the world’s most unique biospheres and attract visitors from the world over. However, some islands are better known than others. The following four Mediterranean islands are well worth a spot on your bucket list, and you’ve probably never heard of them.

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Hvar, Croatia

Aerial photo of the island of Hvar
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Off Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in the Adriatic Sea lies the island of Hvar. Hilltops are littered with pine forest, and olive groves and lavender fields overlook the pristine waters of the shore. Unlike a few of the more popular places in the Mediterranean, Hvar has a reputation for its lack of paparazzi and is therefore a popular destination for celebrities looking for quiet luxury.

The island has an ancient history with inhabitants on the islands since the Neolithic period. In later times, the location of the island made it a critical port for ships passing between Italy and the larger Mediterranean, allowing the island to flourish from trade. Its rich history isn’t far from reach as cobblestone squares and medieval architecture provide contrast to the wide selection of hotels, restaurants and nightlife.

Corsica, France

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The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica sits between the Southeast coast of mainland France and the Western coast of the Italian peninsula. Due to its location, the island and its inhabitants have adopted cultural heritage from both countries, having been under the control of each throughout varying periods in history. Italian influences are seen in the Baroque churches, Tuscan influences in cuisine, and Genoese influences are seen in various fortresses. In the present day, Corsica is a territorial collectivity of France, granting it a higher degree of political autonomy.

Though two-thirds of the island consists of mountain ranges, the beauty of coastlines is renowned: white-sand beaches with pristine turquoise waters. The mix of geography makes it an ideal destination for lounging on the beach as much as adventurous hiking. However you choose to spend your days in Corsica, sampling the local cuisine is a must.

Corfu, Greece

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The Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea is another Mediterranean locale with rich history extending to antiquity.  Then ancient Korkyra was a powerful force among the Greek city-states and was one of the few regions in Greece that was never captured by the Ottomans. It is this fact, along with later conquests by the French and British, that ensured Corfu remained steeped in Western tradition rather than Levantine tradition.

Byzantine churches, Greek temples and ancient ruins are scattered throughout the island. One of its crown jewels is the Old Town district, a UNESCO Heritage Site, where Renaissance, Baroque, and classical influences shine brightly. However, it’s far from the only site visit on the island with countless museums, historical buildings, and the waterfalls of Nymphs, all sharing the rich history and extensive beauty of the island.

Nisyros, Greece

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A hidden gem of the Greek coastline, Nisyros is a volcanic island in the Aegean Sea. The wealthy island presents a tantalizing juxtaposition of high art, natural beauty and culture.

Mountain villages overlook the pristine coastline, one of which (Emporio) is invisible from the sea, which allowed it to thrive when piracy plagued the Mediterranean. Artists and musicians in modern times have flocked to the island to take in its beauty, earning it the nickname of “island of the arts.” Furthermore, festivals, feasts and celebrations of the island’s longstanding Christian Orthodox faith attract pilgrims from around the country. Finally, the island’s active volcano is one of the most accessible in the world, a short drive from the major towns for any tourist to take in.

Adrift in Wonder

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Whether you’re a gourmand, a person of leisure, or a passionate naturalist, the Mediterranean is a destination that you will not regret. If you’ve already visited the bigger names, don’t hesitate to venture off the beaten path.

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

There are numerous myths, legends, and folk stories surrounding the history of Ancient Greece. Greek mythology is renowned for its bizarre creatures, powerful Gods, and epic battles—though some of these tales are stranger than others. While most of us are familiar with the stories of the “classic” monsters — the Hydra, the Minotaur, the snake-haired Medusa — there are plenty of other bizarre beasts populating these Greek stories.

The Nemean Lion

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One of the mythological creatures on this list, the Nemean Lion was a gigantic beast, armed with razor-sharp claws and adorned in golden fur said to be impervious to mortal weapons.

This seeming-immortality was put to the test when Greek hero Heracles was ordered to slay the Nemean Lion as the first of his 12 famous Labors. As the story goes, Heracles attempted to shoot the lion with arrows before realizing that its fur was impenetrable. When this didn’t work, Heracles took a different approach. Different versions of the tale offer two possible outcomes:

  • Heracles shot an arrow into the lion’s unprotected mouth, killing it instantly.
  • Heracles used rocks to trap the lion in its den and proceeded to grapple with it by hand, eventually using his godlike strength to strangle the beast to death.

The Stymphalian Birds

Credit: Albrecht Dürer / Public domain

Denizens of the ancient Greek city of Stymphalia, these monstrous birds were pets of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt. According to the story, the Stymphalian Birds had beaks made of bronze that were strong enough to pierce the iron plate of Greek armor. Their feathers were supposedly made of metal, used as projectile weapons that could be launched at victims, and their dung was toxic to mortals.

Again, Heracles was set to the task of eradicating these creatures as the sixth of his 12 Labors. However, Heracles didn’t do it alone. With the help of Greek Gods Athena and Hephaestus, and using the poisonous blood of the already-slain Hydra, Heracles was able to rustle the birds from their nest and shoot them down with his toxic arrows. And though many of the birds escaped the purge (later to encounter Jason and the Argonauts), Heracles was able to accomplish his task.

Pegasus

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We’ve all heard of Pegasus: The majestic winged stallion that Poseidon created from the magical blood of the slain Medusa.

In texts, Pegasus was a valuable ally to Poseidon’s son, Bellerophon, in his epic battle against the Chimaera, and later, the Amazons. Bellerophon shortly thereafter met his end (he fell off Pegasus while trying to ascend to Mt. Olympus), and Pegasus would join the pantheon of the immortals in service to Zeus, who charged the stallion with carrying his thunderbolts into battle. Eventually, Pegasus would be immortalized as the constellation that shares his name.

Pegasus is one of the most popular icons for in Greek Mythology, with frequent depiction on coins, in sculpture, pottery, and other artistic works. More than many other Greek creatures, Pegasus has become ingrained in Western culture, so much so that the word “Pegasus” now refers to both the mythological figure and the entire species of winged horses that we often see in fantasy stories.

The Mares of Diomedes

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Marking another of Heracles’ legendary Labors, (most of which involved mythic animals in some way), his eighth task was to recapture the lost Mares of King Diomedes.

The only problem? The horses were consumed by madness, trained to eat human flesh instead of regular feed and even thought to breathe fire. Though the story differs amongst versions, it’s generally accepted that Heracles was able to calm the horses enough to be tamed and kill the mad king Diomedes of Thrace, leaving Heracles free to rescue the horses and complete his task.

Carcinus

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Carcinus played an important role in Heracles’ battle against the Hydra. Not in favor of Heracles, of course — Carcinus is yet another mythical creature sent by the Gods to kill Heracles. And while the Hydra is certainly the headliner in that battle, the crab Carcinus fought bravely against the Greek hero, despite the fact that Carcinus had no impenetrable fur, fire breath, or toxic dung. So says the text:

“Then a giant crab (karkinos) came along to help the Hydra, and bit Herakles on the foot. For this he killed the crab.”

Yes, brave Carcinus did not last long. However, the Goddess Hera (who hated Heracles, incidentally) was moved by the crab’s bravery, and immortalized him as the constellation Cancer (pictured above).

Bizarre Greek Animals

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Yes, Greek mythology is full of strange tales and bizarre creatures. But that’s what makes the stories so much fun. The fantastical elements, epic poetry, and otherworldly monsters have captured the imaginations of cultures across the world. And given that these are just a few examples of the strange and bizarre Greek creatures that exist, it’s not hard to see why.

5 Unique Greek Islands You Need to Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Unique Greek Islands You Need to Visit

Greece is home to thousands of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Since you probably don’t have time to visit hundreds of islands, here are the five unique Greek islands you should start with.

Santorini

Santorini

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The first island on our list is one that most people have heard of. In fact, when you think about the stereotypical white-washed houses packed close together on the rolling hills looking out over the turquoise waters of Greece, you are most likely thinking of Santorini. Santorini is actually several islands in one, and many of its incredible beaches are not covered in golden sand, but in black volcanic ash, thanks to the active volcano on the island. This volcano is reportedly the only one in the world whose crater is under the sea.

Mykonos

Mykonos

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Mykonos is unique in that it is referred to as a “party island.” This is the place for vacationers who really want to let their hair down and have a good time. Surprisingly, though, all this rowdiness hasn’t led to any deterioration of the island’s beautiful natural scenery. The golden sand still looks gorgeous against the turquoise waters, and the beautiful purple bougainvillea still decorates the surrounding village. If you aren’t a party animal, don’t worry, there is still plenty for you to do here. The city is full of interesting historical sites and shops to explore, and there are many secluded parts of the beaches where you can relax and take in the view.

Serifos

Serifos

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This circular island is full of rocks — rocks said to be the old inhabitants of the island. Legend has it that the original residents of Serifos were turned to stone by looking at the snake-haired Medusa, and now these stones remain on the island for visitors to see and explore. If you don’t feel comfortable examining rocks that used to be people, there are plenty of other things to do on Serifos, like climbing the hills and mountains to get to the beautiful beaches beyond. Just watch out for Medusa on your way!

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Samothrace

Samothrace

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Samothrace is another island that can bring you into contact with the history of Greek gods and goddesses. It is home to Mount Saos, the tallest mountain in the Aegean sea, which is where Poseidon once sat to watch the Trojan War play out. This island is truly stunning. With its lush greenery, pebbles, streams and natural hideaways, it seems like a veritable Eden. Visitors can also spend some time at the museums and other historical sites, including a medieval castle and the ancient Sanctuary of the Great Gods.

Tilos

Tilos

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This quiet, “unspoiled” island is home to tons of incredible natural wonders like flowers, streams and lush hilltops. But the thing that makes it the most unique is its exotic wildlife. On any given day, you will come across several varieties of birds and other animals you might never see anywhere else. The beaches here are a bit rocky, but that only helps to keep this island free of overcrowding, so that visitors can truly enjoy being in touch with the island in its wild, natural state.

7 Crazy Laws From Countries Around the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Crazy Laws From Countries Around the World

Laws enacted by government officials are supposed to keep citizens safe and countries in order. But what happens when some of these laws are completely crazy? From laws prohibiting the use of undergarments to laws about life after death, here’s a list of some of the craziest laws from around the world.

Italy

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In the city of Rome, goldfish are not allowed to live inside bowls. In order to keep pets healthy and happy, a law was created to ensure better treatment of dogs, cats and even pet goldfish. As a result, goldfish must reside within a full-sized aquarium, a luxurious upgrade from the traditional goldfish bowl.

Scotland

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In Scotland, choosing to wear underwear can have consequences. According to The Scotsman, if you are wearing underwear beneath your kilt, you can be fined two cans of beer. It’s safe to say that this isn’t a strictly enforced rule, but Scots may want to stock up on beer, just in case.

Portugal

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Portugal, a popular seaside destination, has a law against urinating in the ocean. Presumably, this law was made to protect the quality of the water at crowded beaches, but we have to wonder how this law is enforced? If you find a short line at the beach bathroom in Portugal, there may be some lawbreakers in your midst.

Singapore

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Since 1992, gum chewing has been banned in Singapore. The country has also banned littering and jaywalking. Oh, and when you use a public toilet, you are legally required to flush it. All of these laws are an effort to keep the country clean and welcoming for its residents and visitors, so we can’t complain about them too much.

Poland

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Winnie the Pooh, the beloved storybook character, was banned from a public playground in Poland due to the bear’s crude way of dressing. This is because Winnie the Pooh does not wear pants. Pooh’s outfit was deemed “inappropriate” by city council members, and children are no longer allowed to bring any items bearing Winnie the Pooh’s likeness to the town playground.

Japan

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In Japan, those extra pounds you gain around the holidays could get you into big trouble. This is because it’s illegal to be fat in Japan. In order to enforce the law, Japanese higher-ups have a mandatory waistline maximum for anyone over the age of 40. According to Pri, a man’s waistline measurement cannot exceed 33.5 inches, while a woman’s waistline cannot exceed 35.4 inches.

Greece

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In 2009, Greece went as far as creating a law to ban certain types of footwear. High heels are not allowed to be worn at archeological sites around the country. Apparently, the fashionable ladies’ footwear was causing major damage to the Odeon in Athens and lawmakers decided to take a precautionary measure to protect the country’s historical monuments.

5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Old Olympics Facilities You Can Still Visit

The Olympic Games are the leading international sporting events that still bring the world together. Thousands of athletic competitors from more than 200 nations participate and compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Media coverage is intense, sports records are broken, and stories of hope, despair, and triumph generate both empathy and world acclaim.

Since the ancient Olympics games held in Olympia, Greece, the winter and summer Olympics evolved into the modern versions we know today, which have taken place at elaborate facilities across the globe. Here are a few you can still visit to relive the glory.

Olympia, Greece: Ancient Olympic Games

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The roots of the Olympic Games are religious and athletic festivals held in honor of Zeus in Olympia on the Peloponnese Peninsula. During classical times, athletics and combat sports such as wrestling, javelin, and horse and chariot racing events were common.

Starting in 776 BC, they continued every four years through Greek and Roman rule until AD 393 when Theodosius suspended them to enforce Christianity. You can immerse yourself in ancient history by exploring the remnants of the once-grand Stadium at Olympia.

Olympia is located a 3.5-hour drive from Athens. Now transformed into a tourist destination, there is plenty to see and do. The archaeological site itself is surrounded by the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity, the Museum of the History of Excavations in Olympia, and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

The ancient site lies a brief five-minute walk from the main entrance. The sanctuary includes the gymnasium, the Temple of Hera, the Philippeion, and other fragments of buildings, statues, and monuments.

Berlin, Germany: Olympic Village (1936)

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This is where the Jews were barred from participating in 1936 during the Nazi rule. Berlin was awarded the Olympic contract two years before being taken over by the Nazis. They were the first Olympic games to be broadcast worldwide, and the competitions were not just for athletes but political messages, as well.

The Olympic village was built approximately 20 miles from the western edge of Berlin. The venue includes training facilities, a swimming pool, and low-level dormitories. The 1936 Olympics saw African-American Jesse Owens make history, earning four gold medals in the track and field events and setting three world records in the process. After the Olympics, the facility underwent renovations and became a hospital, then a Soviet military camp. Tours are available; however, be aware that the center is in decay.

Beijing, China: Birds Nest Stadium (2008)

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Designed for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the National Stadium—perhaps better known as the Bird’s Nest—was the largest facility created for the games. The one-of-a-kind architecture interprets nature in its rendering of a bird’s nest.

The specifications were daunting: The structure needed to be earthquake-proof, with 111,000 tons of steel and struts, yet visually lightweight, airy, and inspiring. As one of Beijing’s top landmarks, it has hosted many competitions and events. Weight throw, discus, track and field, football, and other sporting events were held at the Bird’s Nest.

For the full visual impact, plan your trip at night to see the artistic illumination. Currently, it is used as a soccer stadium but is open for visitors and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Athens, Greece: Panathenaic Stadium (2004)

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Located on an ancient stadium site from the fourth century, the Panathenaic Stadium is a famous cultural and historic landmark in Athens, Greece. It is built entirely of marble and shaped as a parallelogram. It hosted the first modern games in 1896, and more recently, the 2004 games in Athens. This is where the iconic Olympic flame begins its trek to the new host city for every winter, summer, and youth games.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee owns, operates and manages the Panathenaic Stadium. Its mission is to advance, sponsor, and guard the Olympic Movement day and night, and to encourage the sporting spirit among the next generations. The modern-day stadium accommodates multi-purpose events for conferences, seminars, and athletics. You can take in classical history on a breathtaking tour with a certified guide, audio guide, or interactive nature journey.

Vancouver, Canada: Olympic Village Condos (2010)

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In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The Millennium Development Group built one thousand units to accommodate close to 3,000 athletes and visitors. It is touted as the greenest, most environmentally-friendly complex in the world. The structures use natural solar heating, green roof practices, and other sustainable advances.

Do not expect to see artifacts of the 2010 Olympic Games as the property was re-purposed into a mixed-use community and open-space development. This compound is located on the southeast corner of False Creek, which has hiking, biking, shopping, and dog walking paths in a park near the Olympic Village. Vancouver’s famous (and protected) beaver community has taken up residence in the area.

10 Etiquette Rules to Know Before Visiting Europe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Etiquette Rules to Know Before Visiting Europe

As the majority of Americans are the descendants of European immigrants, you’d think there would be more cultural similarities between the two. But thanks to a few centuries of separation, there are certain differences that have cropped up that are always getting American tourists into trouble, as well as ruining our reputation abroad. Bone up on your European etiquette by following these 10 tips.

In General | Don’t Tip Like an American

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Tipping culture in America is out of control. Put simply, we’re entrenching ourselves in a custom that shortchanges (pun intended) everyone. In contrast, most countries in Europe operate without tipping, so while staff are aware that Americans are prone to tipping, they’re neither expecting it nor depending on it. Instead, use tipping the way we say it works here at home, by which we mean throw a bartender or waiter a few extra euro only when the service is truly exceptional.

In General | Don’t Rush Your Meal

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On a related note, since waitstaff isn’t working for tips, they’re not focused on turnover and won’t check in on your meal as often as someone might in America. That creates a certain amount of dissonance between the paces of American and European meals. We don’t mean to insult American waitstaff, but the emphasis on tips also emphasizes turnover, which can rush diners. European staff is more focused on doing a good job than a fast one, so relax and enjoy your meal.

In General | Dress Yourself Up a Bit

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To the untrained eye, it might seem like most Europeans are on their way to some kind of meeting, with most people in pants that aren’t jeans and shirts that aren’t T. If you’re abroad in Europe, it’s best to take a cue from this and pack clothes that fit the setting. Button-downs, nicer pants and more formal footwear are a good idea. In fact, on that last point, Americans take a lot of flak overseas for our proclivity for sneakers. Unless you’re doing a lot of outdoorsy walking or playing a lot of sports, you might be best served leaving the Nikes at home.

Continental Europe | End Your Meal at 5:25

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Apparently there’s an American dining style, which, for all the jokes we hear about Golden Corral and cheeseburgers, we think might just be Europeans making fun of us again. Instead, we think it’s safer to go with the Continental style. When you’ve finished your meal, place your utensils at the 5:25 position on your plate.  Traditionally, the fork’s tines would be facing down, but modern dining etiquette allows them to be left up as well. That will show your server you’ve eaten everything you want to and they can come to clear your place, all without interrupting the flow of your evening.

Portugal & Rome | It’s Not Rude to Refuse Extra Snacks

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It’s not a guarantee that someone’s going to do it to you, but sometimes servers will bring unrequested snacks to the table in restaurants in Rome and Portugal. If that happens in America, in our experience at least, it’s on the house. Not so much overseas. You’ll probably find these on the bill at the end of your meal, which could potentially cause some problems, particularly if you’re traveling on a budget. Don’t feel too bad about refusing these dishes, since you’re going to be paying for them anyway. On the flip side, you could eat them too. But again, don’t feel bad saying no.

France | Put Your Bread Right on the Table

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You might think going out to a French meal means you’re going to have more knives, forks, bowls, glasses and plates than you know what to do with. That might be true for all but the last, as you’ll at least be lacking a bread plate. The French place their bread right on the table next to their plates in all but the fanciest dining experiences. It’s weird at first, but by the end, you’ll probably be wondering why you were scared to do it in the first place.

Great Britain | Don’t Mess With the Tea

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While it might be the Irish who have the British beat on per capita tea consumption, the British are the sticklers for how people should take it. You’ll have it with milk and no sugar and be thankful for it, especially since it was a Brit who made it for you and offered it to you in the first place.

It’s also understandable if you want to ignore this particular piece of advice if you find yourself having tea in the U.K. Just know you could get some looks.

Norway | Don’t Talk to People You Don’t Know … Unless They’re Drunk

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Norwegians are a surprisingly reserved nation. We say surprisingly because their major claim to fame is the Viking penchant for outgoing behavior. But a modern Norwegian has assured us it’s a bad idea to talk to people we don’t know in virtually every conceivable situation. Buses, trains, walking around, in shops, they’re pretty much all off limits for the kind of random amiability Americans are reasonably accustomed to. Though, they did clarify that all bets are off once alcohol’s entered the picture. Evidently the only thing standing between us and being friends with any random person in Norway is a few pints.

Ireland | Buy Your Round

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Essentially, when a small group of friends or family goes out drinking and plans on staying out for some time, it falls to each person to buy everyone else’s drinks, but usually only once. To put a finer point on it, if you go out with five friends, each friend should expect to buy five drinks. If you try to skip one, or genuinely don’t know what’s happening, you’ll find some bad blood with people who are otherwise hard to upset.

Greece | Nodding Means No

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Nodding is such a common behavior for us that it almost feels like a human instinct instead of invented behavior. But the people of Greece basically switch our “yes” and “no” head movements, which we assume has led to many a misunderstanding between American tourists and Greek locals. We commend anyone for trying to adjust to the new head indicators, but it might be better to simply switch to verbal responses while you’re there.

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 most bizarre Greek myths about animals

There are numerous myths, legends, and folk stories surrounding the history of Ancient Greece. Greek mythology is renowned for its bizarre creatures, powerful Gods, and epic battles—though some of these tales are stranger than others. While most of us are familiar with the stories of the “classic” monsters — the Hydra, the Minotaur, the snake-haired Medusa — there are plenty of other bizarre beasts populating these Greek stories.

The Nemean Lion

Credit: ANGHI / iStock

One of the mythological creatures on this list, the Nemean Lion was a gigantic beast, armed with razor-sharp claws and adorned in golden fur said to be impervious to mortal weapons.

This seeming-immortality was put to the test when Greek hero Heracles was ordered to slay the Nemean Lion as the first of his 12 famous Labors. As the story goes, Heracles attempted to shoot the lion with arrows before realizing that its fur was impenetrable. When this didn’t work, Heracles took a different approach. Different versions of the tale offer two possible outcomes:

  • Heracles shot an arrow into the lion’s unprotected mouth, killing it instantly.
  • Heracles used rocks to trap the lion in its den and proceeded to grapple with it by hand, eventually using his godlike strength to strangle the beast to death.

The Stymphalian Birds

Credit: Albrecht Dürer / Public domain

Denizens of the ancient Greek city of Stymphalia, these monstrous birds were pets of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt. According to the story, the Stymphalian Birds had beaks made of bronze that were strong enough to pierce the iron plate of Greek armor. Their feathers were supposedly made of metal, used as projectile weapons that could be launched at victims, and their dung was toxic to mortals.

Again, Heracles was set to the task of eradicating these creatures as the sixth of his 12 Labors. However, Heracles didn’t do it alone. With the help of Greek Gods Athena and Hephaestus, and using the poisonous blood of the already-slain Hydra, Heracles was able to rustle the birds from their nest and shoot them down with his toxic arrows. And though many of the birds escaped the purge (later to encounter Jason and the Argonauts), Heracles was able to accomplish his task.

Pegasus

Credit: ezypix / iStock

We’ve all heard of Pegasus: The majestic winged stallion that Poseidon created from the magical blood of the slain Medusa.

In texts, Pegasus was a valuable ally to Poseidon’s son, Bellerophon, in his epic battle against the Chimaera, and later, the Amazons. Bellerophon shortly thereafter met his end (he fell off Pegasus while trying to ascend to Mt. Olympus), and Pegasus would join the pantheon of the immortals in service to Zeus, who charged the stallion with carrying his thunderbolts into battle. Eventually, Pegasus would be immortalized as the constellation that shares his name.

Pegasus is one of the most popular icons for in Greek Mythology, with frequent depiction on coins, in sculpture, pottery, and other artistic works. More than many other Greek creatures, Pegasus has become ingrained in Western culture, so much so that the word “Pegasus” now refers to both the mythological figure and the entire species of winged horses that we often see in fantasy stories.

The Mares of Diomedes

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Marking another of Heracles’ legendary Labors, (most of which involved mythic animals in some way), his eighth task was to recapture the lost Mares of King Diomedes.

The only problem? The horses were consumed by madness, trained to eat human flesh instead of regular feed and even thought to breathe fire. Though the story differs amongst versions, it’s generally accepted that Heracles was able to calm the horses enough to be tamed and kill the mad king Diomedes of Thrace, leaving Heracles free to rescue the horses and complete his task.

Carcinus

Credit: Roman Voloshyn / Shutterstock.com

Carcinus played an important role in Heracles’ battle against the Hydra. Not in favor of Heracles, of course — Carcinus is yet another mythical creature sent by the Gods to kill Heracles. And while the Hydra is certainly the headliner in that battle, the crab Carcinus fought bravely against the Greek hero, despite the fact that Carcinus had no impenetrable fur, fire breath, or toxic dung. So says the text:

“Then a giant crab (karkinos) came along to help the Hydra, and bit Herakles on the foot. For this he killed the crab.”

Yes, brave Carcinus did not last long. However, the Goddess Hera (who hated Heracles, incidentally) was moved by the crab’s bravery, and immortalized him as the constellation Cancer (pictured above).

Bizarre Greek Animals

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Yes, Greek mythology is full of strange tales and bizarre creatures. But that’s what makes the stories so much fun. The fantastical elements, epic poetry, and otherworldly monsters have captured the imaginations of cultures across the world. And given that these are just a few examples of the strange and bizarre Greek creatures that exist, it’s not hard to see why.

10 Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

From towering skyscrapers to the ancient Colosseum, the world is filled with architectural marvels. And since architecture is best enjoyed in person, here are 10 cities that architecture lovers simply must visit.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

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It’s called the “City of Big Shoulders” for a reason. Chicago is home to some of the oldest skyscrapers, such as the Manhattan Building, built in 1891; the Reliance Building, built in 1895; and Chicago Savings Bank Building, completed in 1905. Most of Downtown Chicago was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, but the iconic Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869, was left standing. Built solely of yellow Lemont limestone, seeing the 182-foot tower firsthand should be on every architecture lovers bucket list.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

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Rome is home to some of the world’s most photographed structures, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Trajan’s Market. Had it not been for the Romans, designs like the arch and the dome would never have come to be. Rome’s classical structures are a must see. That’s a given. But the city’s Baroque style buildings, which were mostly constructed during the 17th century, are also well worth your time. The sheer grandness of structures like St. Peter’s Basilicaand the Trevi Fountain can’t be captured in a photograph. Few things in life will leave you as awestruck as taking a stroll inside St. Peter’s, with its massive dome, and looking up. You may never want to look down again.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

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Influenced by the legendary 19th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s architecture, much like the city itself, is imaginative and colorful. One sight that’s a must see is Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. The façade of the building is constructed of broken ceramic tiles, thus creating an eye-popping mosaic that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Other structures that are inspired by Gaudi’s vivid imagination include Jean Nouvel’s Tower, which is designed to resemble a geyser of water shooting through the air, and Frank Gehry’s Fish.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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In addition to being home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyline is filled with twisty-turny steel buildings. If you find yourself wandering in this desert city, be sure to check out the Burj al Arab, which is designed to look like an Arabian dhow ship, as well as the curving Cayan, with its seemingly impossible 90-degree twist. There’s also the famed underwater zoo located in the Dubai Mall, which features 300 different species of aquatic life, including all types of fish, sting rays and sharks.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

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Fueled by government investment, Shanghai has grown rapidly in recent years. It’s almost as if a glossy new structure pops up each month. The architecture in Shanghai is modernistic, and best represented in buildings like the Hongkou Soho office building, with its pleated exterior. Shanghai is also home to the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, which features a twisted, glass façade that stretches upward for 2,073 feet.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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The birthplace of Art Deco and Gothic architecture, Paris is a city whose rich architectural history stretches back centuries. Gothic style, which is marked by colorful stained glass windows and flying buttresses, can be seen in a number of Paris cathedrals, including the Sainte-Chapelle, the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais and, most famously, Notre-Dame, which was in the news earlier this year after sustaining serious damage during a 15-hour fire. Paris’s famed Art Deco buildings, with their notable exteriors that feature numerous horizontal lines, began popping up shortly before World War I and were dominant in the ’20s and ’30s. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Rex movie palace are two prominent structures that exhibit this style. This is a small sample of the numerous architectural wonders in the City of Light.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

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The Russian capital is home to some of the most recognizable architecture in the world with a style known simply as Russian architecture. Arguably the most renown structure in the Russian style is Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Constructed in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is known for its vibrant, onion-shaped domes. Moscow is also home to more recent architectural wonders like the Ostankino Tower, which was completed in 1967 and was for a period of time the tallest building in the world, and a group of Moscow skyscrapers known as the Seven Sisters. The seven buildings, which were built during the reign of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, are wide and blocky, and scattered throughout Moscow. They were constructed in the Stalinist style of Russian architecture, which borrows elements of the Russian baroque.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

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Several ancient monuments from Athens’s classical era are still standing, most notably the Parthenon, with its enormous stone columns. There is also the Theatre of Dionysus, which was the birthplace of Greek tragedy and the first theater ever constructed. And what would a historically rich city like Athens be without its ancient temples? During its heyday, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was completed around the 2nd century, had an unthinkable 104 columns, although only a few remain standing today.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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The most populous city in Turkey is known for two distinct styles of architecture: Byzantine and Ottoman. The Hagia Sophia, which was constructed in the 6th century, is a church that is emblematic of the Byzantine style, with its massive dome and elegiac mosaics depicting Christ and other biblical figures. The Ottoman style of architecture also flourished in Istanbul. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries a number of imperial mosques were constructed throughout the city, including Faith Mosque, Yeni Mosque\ and Bayezid Mosque. The mosques all have the key features of the Ottoman style, with extensive use of domes and columns, and are an absolute marvel to experience in person.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

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From the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Chrysler Building (1930), to the Gothic Revival design of the Woolworth Building (1913), to the more recent green design of the Conde Nast Building, New York City’s skyscrapers employ a wide range of stylistic elements. The character of the city can also be seen in the architectural designs used in its residential neighborhoods. From the brownstones in Brooklyn to the tenements on the Lower East Side, New York’s five boroughs are an architectural cornucopia whose styles are as diverse as the city itself.

Strong Earthquake Rocks Athens Greece

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Athens, Greece – A strong earthquake hit Friday near the Greek capital of Athens, causing residents to run into the streets in fear and firefighters to check for people trapped in elevators. The Athens Institute of Geodynamics gave the earthquake a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 but the U.S. Geological Survey gave it a preliminary magnitude of 5.3.  The Athens Institute says the quake struck at 2:13 p.m. local time about 13.7 miles north of Athens.

Earthquake in Athens
Damaged buildings in city’s downtown are seen following an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS / REUTERS

The quake sparked limited power cuts and communication problems around Athens and the fire brigade reported receiving calls about people being trapped in elevators. The shock was caught live in the studios of state broadcaster ERT.

Authorities inspected areas close to the epicenter by helicopter and police patrols but no deaths or serious injuries were reported. Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said one abandoned building had collapsed in a western district of Athens and that several other abandoned buildings had suffered serious damages in other parts of the city.

“There are no reports of serious injuries … I urge members of the public to remains calm, in Greece we are well acquainted with earthquakes,” he said.

The most powerful quake to hit the Greek capital in the last 20 years came in 1999, when a temblor of magnitude 6.0 caused extensive damage and killed more than 140 people.

Gerasimos Papadopoulos, the senior seismologist at the Geodynamics Institute said Friday’s quake was felt across southern Greece.

“It had a very shallow depth and that’s why it was felt so strongly,” he said. “It is too early to say whether this was the main earthquake, but there have been aftershocks of magnitude 3.5, 2.5 and 3.2 and that is encouraging. But we need more time and data to have a clear picture.”

Earthquake in Greece
A firefighter stands next to a partly demolished structure following an earthquake, at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS / REUTERS

Earthquakes are common in Greece and neighboring Turkey.

The head of the anti-quake protection agency, Efthymios Lekkas, told Greeks to remain calm, BBC News reported. “There is no reason for concern. The capital’s buildings are built to withstand a much stronger earthquake,” he said.

greece-quake.jpg
The quake struck about 13.7 miles north of Athens.U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

5 Countries With The Most Debt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5

Countries With the Most Debt

If you live in the United States, you have surely heard a lot about the billions of dollars that America owes to other countries. This is not an uncommon thing, though, as countries loan money to and accept money from each other all the time. Just like with individual loans, accepting a lot of financial help from other countries can add up to a lot of debt. In 2017, global debt rose to an incredible 225% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to Focus Economics, which means that many countries owe a lot more money than they earn each year. Here is a look at the five countries that have the most debt, according to Focus Economics.

Italy

Italy

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As you walk the cobbled streets of Italy, taking in all the enormous, ornate cathedrals and looking at all the fashionable people, the last thing on your mind is that this country might have money problems. Like any country, though, Italy has its share of debts — and it has some pretty big ones. According to GraphicMaps, Italy has an external debt of $2,444,000,000,000 (USD), which, when put in terms of GDP, will be 131 percent of its earnings in 2019. Fortunately, though, this number is expected to fall to 128 percent by 2023, which is still high, but much more favorable.

Venezuela

Venezuela

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This is where things get a bit tricky. If you just look at the amount of money owed to other countries, Venezuela doesn’t even crack the top ten. But if you compare this debt to the country’s GDP, things look a lot worse — and the country comes in at number four on the list of countries with the most debt. Venezuela’s public debt is 152 percent of its GDP in 2019, which is more than one and a half times as much money as it brings in each year. According to World Population Review, this country is currently going through a very rough patch in terms of finances, so it is not clear at this time whether the debt will increase or decrease over the next few years.

Lebanon

Lebanon

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The winner of the bronze medal for highest external debt is Lebanon. This country has been struggling for some time, and its debt is expected to increase from 153 percent to 156 percent between 2019 and 2023. This is only barely more than Venezuela, so there could be a competition for this third place spot in the coming years.

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Greece

Greece

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Greece was one of the most successful empires in the ancient world, contributing everything from myths to democracy to our modern culture. Today, however, the country is mired in debt. Greece was required to take multiple bailouts. Its external debt currently stands at 175 percent. This debt has been steadily decreasing over the years, however, and is projected to be almost 10 points lower by 2023.

Japan

Japan

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If you were expecting the United States to be number one on this list, you aren’t alone. And technically, America does owe the highest debt in the world: 29.27 trillion dollars. But when you take into account how much money the country brings in per year, Japan takes the top spot, with a debt of $3,240,000,000,000, which is a whopping 236 percent of its GDP (the United States “only” owes 108 percent of its GDP). This number might seem incredibly high, but one must remember that Japan has one of the world’s largest economies, and has a population of over 127 million people.

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