Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the germiest tourist attractions

I just read a hilarious article on the 5 germiest tourist attractions - a list compiled by editors at TripAdvisor.com.

1. Blarney Stone in Blarney, Ireland

So, let me get this straight. This rock is kissed by up to 400,000 people a year (source). Gross. And it doesn't appear to be an easy task. According to the main site, "Once upon a time, visitors had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements. Today, we are rather more cautious of the safety of our visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence." Eloquence? Fortunately, you are unlikely to catch anything from kissing this rock, unless you follow an exceptionally sloppy, saliva-dripping kisser.

2. Market Theater Gum Wall in Seattle, Washington

This one is the worst of the five, in my opinion. I've been to Pike Place Market - it's a cool place. However, I must have missed the Market Theater. Apparently, starting in the 1990s, people found it amusing or otherwise necessary to stick their gum to the wall while waiting for the tickets. The management tried scraping the wall clean a couple of times, but it didn't work. So now, the happy ending is that this disgusting tribute to inappropriate gum disposal has now become a tourist attraction?! Do I really need a picture of this?

3. St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy

I like birds. But 130,000+ is a lot at one time. No one would let pigeons land all over them in say, Chicago, but for some reason, it seems that everyone that goes to Venice takes a picture covered in birds. In early 2008, Venice began banning the feeding of the birds: "Venice has long been concerned with the potential hazards the birds pose to human health, not to mention the damage caused by their guano and taste for marble." (The birds like to peck at the exposed marble of the buildings in order to consume calcium carbonate for their egg production.) Apparently, there are 40 TIMES the number of birds per square foot that " international studies propose as the optimal concentration per square kilometer." This can't be healthy.

4. Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California

As an elementary school teacher, this one bothers me the least. We touch dirty things all the time. According to the article, "the sidewalk is littered with 246 celebrity hand and footprints that draw in 4.5 million visitors a year, many of whom put their own hands and feet on them. The site began as an accident in 1927 when Norma Talmadge, a famous actress 1920s, stepped into wet cement. Creator and owner of the theater, Sid Grauman, decided to make the hand and footprints a tradition."

5. Oscar Wilde's Tomb in Paris, France

What is the obsession with kissing rock?

Monday, July 13, 2009

swerple - the photo-uploading bike!

Sunday, I went on this amazing SF Bike Coalition ride, a tour of 5 local ice cream shops - by bike! That was entertaining enough. 100+ bicycles riding down the street behind a lead bike with strapped-on sound system... landing like a flock of pigeons at various ice cream shops around the city.

One of the many bicycles I "met" that afternoon was the Swerple. Swerple is one of the bikes from the Purple Pedals Project.
Yahoo created a small fleet of purple bicycles equipped with a camera, GPS receiver, cell phone and (solar) power for this gear and deployed the bikes around the world to chronicle their journeys. The cameras take a photo every 60 seconds and post them automatically with geo tags to Flickr. (Commute by Bike blog)
Check out Swerple's Photostream on Flicker. You can even check out its current location using the "maplication" on the Purple Pedal's blog. (You can also track the other 5 bikes -Purple Reigns, Yodelicious, Purple Shutter, Shoot n' Roll, and Billyburg.)

This bike really amazed me. Yahoo made 20 of these bikes back in September 2008. You can read the first blog post or watch the video below to learn more about it. Fascinating!