You've got vacation time coming up. How are you going to spend it? Reclining on some exotic beach, drunk on fruity liquors and the mad power of a favorable exchange rate? Touring the cultural heart of Europe, in the mistaken hopes that it will get you laid? Sitting on your couch, power-binging seasons of shows that you don't even really like, because real vacations cost money? If none of those sound appealing, you could always visit one of the following locations, where the very word "vacation" is leant a sinister irony ...
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
A tour guide on the Israeli-Syrian border described it best: "People come here every day to see the show. For people visiting the area, it's interesting. They feel that they are a part of it. They can go home and tell their friends, 'I was on the border and I saw a battle.'"
Gil Eliahu / Haaretz
"It was a blast! Literally!"
Touring war zones is now a bona fide option for tourists who have (we're guessing) exceptional travel insurance. Offering destinations ranging from Mexico to Africa to the Middle East, companies like War Zone Tours lead thrill seekers directly into actual battles for the actual hell of it. On the Iraq trip, for instance, you can visit "the site of one of the largest car-bomb explosions in history," while those in Beirut may spend a day "driving through a Hezbollah rally" and rubbernecking "destroyed buildings from car bomb assassinations."
If you prefer a more hands-on war experience, Israel has a number of options to satisfy your unhealthy priorities. Lionops Military and Extreme Tourism offers a variety of programs led by former members of the Israel Defense Forces, in which you can learn everything from hand-to-hand combat techniques to guerrilla warfare strategy. Participants also get to fire M16s, Jerichos, Uzis, and whatever other weapons untrained civilians should never be handed, ever.
Karolyn Coorsh / The Jerusalem Post
The faces of terror: ISIS, Al-Qaeda, drunken bros in chinos with socks and sandals.
In 1892, Lizzie Borden was infamously tried for murdering her father and stepmother with a hatchet -- the worst thing associated with the Borden name right up until the '80s glam rock band.
The Borden family was quite affluent, so naturally, their swanky home in Fall River, Massachusetts has become a bed and breakfast. Specifically, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. Yes, it's devoted to the murders. Among the bookable rooms are the one in which Mrs. Borden was butchered, as well as Lizzie's own bedroom, complete with romantic double bed. When you're not busy testing the absorbency limits of the linens, you can tastefully recreate the crime scene photo of Mr. Borden's body on the couch in the sitting room.
Oh, and don't forget to pick up your Lizzie Borden bobblehead on your way out!
Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
You'll get to make the same face as she watches you sleep from the shelf.
The next stop on your ax murder road trip is the rather self-explanatory Villisca Ax Murder House in Villisca, Iowa.
Jennifer Kirkland / Flickr
It's this one. Can't miss it.
We've already covered the gory details of the massacre, in which eight people -- six of them children -- were hacked to death in their beds. But now for the good news: You can spend the night at the crime scene!
It'll set you back $428 for up to six guests -- a little pricey, considering there's no electricity, plumbing, or fun novelty bobbleheads. On the other hand, there are also no judgmental eyes watching as you playfully desecrate a murder scene. When you rent the place, the owners simply hand you the keys and take off, only returning to collect the pieces in the morning.
Karosta Prison in Liepaja, Latvia was used as a military prison from 1900 to 1997. At any given point in its history, you might find Nazis executing military deserters, Soviet troops executing political dissidents, or somebody else executing somebody else for something else! That's about it, though. Nowhere in that 97-year history would you find somebody throwing a torture-themed birthday party or LARPing as a brutal prison guard.
But after 1997, the sky's the limit!
Not that anyone who stayed here for real ever saw the sky.
You can now stay the night in a dismal, atrocity-laden prison for the bargain price of 15 euros! While that is a bit more expensive than the old rate -- which was a stay of "life" for the low, low cost of "having the wrong opinion" -- you have to account for inflation. Plus, if you're with a group of 10 or more and willing to sign a worrisome consent form, the staff will give you the full Eastern Bloc prisoner treatment.
Vides Filmu Studija / YouTube
"OK, but this counts as your birthday and Christmas gifts."
According to one travel blogger, this meant being forced to scrub shitty latrines with a toothbrush, doing military drills while wearing a gas mask, submitting to verbal harassment and humiliation, and sleeping on bare plywood. In short, you pay for the privilege of being mentally and physically broken ...
You'll definitely return from your vacation free from all the cumulative stress of work. You will instead have all the cumulative stress of a political prisoner. But really, life is all about variety.
Prospect Hill Bed and Breakfast in Louisa, Virginia is a lovely old home and former plantation, transformed into a place where old people go to screw and eat scones. And they don't shy away from the whole "former plantation" aspect. You can rent out Sanco Pansy's Cottage, which they describe as "the sleeping quarters of a loyal slave who would spend four years fighting alongside his master in the War Between the States."
While you're there, maybe take a moment away from bangin' in a creaking bed full of scone-crumbs to pay your respects to the aforementioned Sanco Pansy Scott, who rests in a mass grave alongside 74 other "loyal and faithful" slaves.
If they're all booked up, head to the Caledonia Farm 1812 Bed & Breakfast. There, you can stay in the Summer Kitchen Dependency, which is now the honeymoon suite. It must make for one hell of a wedding night, plowing your new life partner within earshot of the crackling fireplace where human beings toiled for the people who claimed them as property on their tax returns.
Caledonia Farm 1812 Bed & Breakfast
But don't worry, their ghosts aren't watching. Because why the hell would they want to stick around that house?
Thanks to a sizable boost in demand courtesy of the movie Slumdog Millionaire, a whole slew of companies are now offering tours of the Mumbai slums. Finally, you too can pay an ungodly sum to see crippling poverty up close and personal! Other areas have followed suit. From Rio to South Africa, everybody's dipping their toes in the cesspool.
Julien Cassagne / Times Newspapers
"Oh my god, poor people do exist. Hollywood knows everything!"
So what's a slum tour like? According to tour operator Slumgods, "Visitors travel on foot across the slums of Dharavi ... [and] witness a secular nation with a spirit of survival through the lives of these slum dwellers ... Through the narrow alleys of the Dharavi slum, one can feel their adventurous spirit bursting open while enlightening themselves of a world beyond the cozy cottages."
Hey, be sure to bring your iPhone, so you can capture all the heartwarming moments of abject poverty and raw human suffering you encounter along the way!
"Such an eye-opener. And speaking of eye-openers, #TimeForStarbucks."
Or you could skip the voyeurism and slum it up yourself at the Emoya Hotel & Spa's shanty town -- a "resort" modeled after the very finest in slum luxury. Located in Bloemfontein, South Africa, the shanties are covered in corrugated metal and have all the hallmarks of poverty, right down to the requisite old tire out front, but without all the pesky starvation, disease, or lack of quality WiFi. It's the Walt Disney version of slum life, right down to the heated floors.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
In May of 2011, an EF5 tornado nearly erased Joplin, Missouri. It damaged or outright obliterated 7,500 homes, tossed 17,000 residents out on the streets, and tragically took the lives of 158 people.
Sounds like fun! Let's go check it out!
The Convention & Visitors Bureau of Joplin even published a helpful brochure specifically for aficionados of human misery. It comes complete with heartrending photos of the destruction and maps to the particularly awful sites.
Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau
"Hey, you know what these images of devastation could use? A fun, quirky font!"
Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau
The little blue star is where the concept of human decency crawled beneath some rubble and died. Alone.
If you like the idea of nature killing people for your amusement, but you're more of a drowning fan, just take the Hurricane Katrina tour through New Orleans. There, you can "drive past an actual levee that breached" and see "the resulting devastation that displaced hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents."
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
"And out the windows to your left, you'll see where George Bush didn't care about black people."
You know what? That's not quite right. Most of the Katrina deaths were from disease and starvation. To get your rocks off, you need real drowning victims, and you need them in the thousands. For that, you need to either head straight to Hell, or across the ocean to Japan, where the 2011 tsunami unleashed unfathomable destruction. Probably the biggest draw on the agenda is the (former) sea wall at Taro Port, where you can witness myriad gulls "roosting on the giant piles of wreckage cleared from the port."
There's got to be some sort of symbolism there, but we can't quite put our finger on it.
For more tourist attractions you should probably avoid, check out 9 Unexpectedly Creepy Tourist Attractions and The 24 Creepiest Places On Earth (You Can Visit Today).
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Last Halloween, the Cracked Podcast creeped you out with tales of ghost ships, mysteriously dead people, and a man from one of the most famous paintings in U.S. history who years later went all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on his family. This October, Jack and the Cracked staff are back with special guest comedians Ryan Singer, Eric Lampaert, and Anna Seregina to share more unsettling and unexplained true tales of death, disappearance, and the great beyond. Get your tickets for this LIVE podcast here!
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