Vacations are risky. For every pampered, life-changing, Julia-Roberts-style soulful romp, there's a Memorial Day weekend Greyhound to Jacksonville. And if the exorbitant airfare and crappy weather don't manage to spoil your holiday experience, let us ruin it for you first. At least we'll save you a couple hundred bucks you can blow someplace classier, like Amsterdam's red light district or the Corn Palace.
No real New Yorker would be caught dead anywhere near Times Square on New Year's Eve, and being caught dead is the most likely scenario. If the inch-thick layer of germs coating every surface doesn't get you, the crowds will. New Year's Eve is the culmination of New York City's tourist shitshow, where "shit" does indeed become the star of the show, thanks to the lack of bathroom access.
Time Square on New Year's Eve is like David Bowie's Labyrinth: Once you're inside, there's no getting out until you've seen it through, and there will be suspect bulges. First, all visitors have to be screened, and only after camping out all day are they allowed into the "pens" -- a few precious closed-off square blocks that they can't leave unless they want to go through the whole hours-long ordeal all over again. That's a big problem, because the organizers of the event refuse to provide Port-a-Potties, for no discernible reason besides "Fuck you, that's why."
As always, capitalism has stepped in to save the day: Restaurants in the square, like Applebee's, offer bathroom access to revelers ... as long as they buy a meal ... at $375 a plate. Literally flushing the equivalent of three whole Times Square souvenirs down a toilet isn't an attractive option to many people, so some have reportedly resorted to wearing adult diapers or bringing plastic bottles to pee in. Although you haven't really experienced NYC until you urinate in public, anyway.
For centuries, celebrities and peasants alike have visited Ireland's Blarney Stone to smooch that rock. Although the legendary piece of Irish history may not be magical, it does have the benefit of being really, really gross.
Locals and even serious journalists repeat a running joke that the castle's maintenance crew secretly pee all over the rock at night, then laugh at the idiots who lock lips with it the next day. The pee rumor might be the only lore surrounding the Blarney Stone that has any semblance of truth to it, in the same way that the high alcohol content of the average Irish teenager might be the only thing preventing an international herpes outbreak. Because they sure as hell aren't disinfecting it after each and every person. The rock was ranked as the least-hygienic tourist destination by TripAdvisor, and you'd know how impressive that is if you've ever been to Times Square.
When Pilgrim governor William Bradford first stepped foot on American soil, he did so at Plymouth Rock. Since then, that rock has taken on mythic status. But unless the boulder was transported from its original location of Provincetown, Massachusetts -- where historians know the Pilgrims really landed -- it never happened. There's no mention of the rock whatsoever in any of the primary eyewitness accounts of the Mayflower voyage.
Only after an ill-fated month in Provincetown -- dying of dehydration, robbing Indian burial sites, raiding local villages, and bumbling into impromptu battles with native tribes -- did the pilgrims wisely take off for Plymouth. 120-something years later, an old man named Thomas Faunce started babbling about the rock being the precise spot where the Pilgrims landed, and everyone just sort of believed him, despite having no evidence of any kind, because only two people knew how to read. The city quickly figured out that they could build a monument around the hunk of rock and make a tidy profit off some hopefully not too historically minded tourists.
Riding an elephant at the Angkor Wat Shrine seems like an almost spiritual moment, but that noble, majestic animal you took a prime selfie on likely suffered a lifetime of unimaginable cruelty.
Those elephants are often beaten, chained to concrete floors, and prodded with sharp metal hooks -- that is, if they don't prematurely drop dead from exhaustion first.
If you look closely and don't mind ruining your dream vacation with a sudden bout of depression, you might even see the chain marks around their legs. Animals like elephants are "broken," not domesticated, and travel agencies are beginning to refuse to promote animal-based tourism due to the secret abuse that makes it possible. By paying, you may even be encouraging the killing of rare animals, as it's frequently necessary for poachers to slaughter the mother of a young animal before training.
It's like a Disney movie ... maybe not the part you were expecting, but hey.
There are as many gorgeous medieval cathedrals in Europe as there are shady dudes in track pants. Before you plan a stop on your itinerary, however, be aware that many of Germany's meticulously crafted cathedrals sport rather ... unfortunate decorations. The Judensau ("Jews' Sow") is a wildly anti-Semitic carving archetype which looks like an erotic gargoyle carved by someone with a Porky Pig fetish.
Cities later erected plaques trying to explain the artwork, which resulted in a lot of fucking plaques. In Germany, the motif pops up as often as bad techno raves.
They are not all as uh ... artful and subtle as that first picture.
One church in Wittenburg -- the very same church where Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 Theses -- boasts this carving of a rabbi approaching a pig from behind, lifting its tail, and staring intently into its butthole.
If you asked us to create a physical embodiment of blasphemy, we couldn't do better, and we're great at that.
Planning on doing some traveling? Pick up a new bag from Herschel for your packing.
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