Is This The Death Of The College Visit?

YouVisit.com

Would you enroll at a university without ever setting foot on campus? A new website, YouVisit.com, is making it easier to scope out colleges by offering virtual guides and professional photos for hundreds of campuses. Prospective students and their parents can scope out everything from the college green to the inside of dining halls — and they don’t have to pay a penny for the service (or, for that matter, travel expenses). It’s kind of like other armchair travel websites, except aimed at aspiring freshman.

Will the website completely replace college visits? Not likely. There’s just something missing from the tours that one can only get when actually on campus. But it might make the process of choosing a college a whole lot more affordable. The website can certainly make it easier for prospective students to narrow down their choices. Right now, 400 campuses in the United States, Europe, Africa and Latin America are online — so if you’ve been dreaming of getting a degree overseas, here’s your chance to take a look.

[via Los Angeles Times]

Will Hostels Ever Catch On In America?

nest hostels valencia, Flickr

Ask an average American if he or she would stay at a hostel and you’ll probably get a puzzled look. If Americans even have a clue what hostels are, they probably associate them with young budget travelers looking to party. On top of that, they probably think hostels only exist in Europe.

But the reality is, there are approximately 350 hostels in the United States, and they are geared toward people with varying ages and interests. The number might seem surprising, but it still pales in comparison to the more than 51,000 hotels across the country.

Budget accommodations seem like a no-brainer. So what’s holding the United States back from becoming populated with hostels? Lots of things, the biggest of which is simple: demand. Americans and visitors travel differently in the Land of Opportunity. Unlike Europe, where close cities and sophisticated rail lines provide the perfect incubator for backpacking culture, major cities tend to be more spread out in the United States. It’s no coincidence that most hostels are found on the Eastern Seaboard and in central and southern California, where hopping from place-to-place is more economically viable.

Still, there is an up-and-coming type of hostel that might work in the United States. “Boutique hostels” offer the same cheap, often dormitory-style accommodations, but in a design- and tech-savvy environment. These types of places are generally geared to millennials, who desire amenities like free WiFi and on-site nightlife over free cable and luxurious rooms. And to ward off any stigma, marketers don’t usually put the word “hostel” in their name.

So what do you think? Can hostels make it in America, or are the impediments too big? Weigh in below.

World’s Worst Artist Set To Make A Fortune

artist
Wikimedia Commons

Cecilia Gimenez became a laughing stock last year when her bungled attempt to restore a 19th century painting went viral, but now it looks like she’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

The 82-year-old tried to fix the flaking fresco titled Ecce Homo by Elías García Martínez at her local church, the Santuario de Misericordia in Borja, Spain. The result was something that looked like the love child of Justin Bieber and Bigfoot.

The “restoration” became a worldwide sensation and has led to a flood of 57,000 visitors to the once-obscure church. The town, which owns the church, started charging one euro ($1.33) entry, with the money going to the upkeep of the painting and to charity. Now Borja town officials are negotiating with several companies for permission to use the image on everything from wine bottles to coffee mugs, with the artist getting 49 percent of the profits, Art Daily reports.

A spokesman for the town stated that Mrs. Gimenez will donate her portion to charity.

May I suggest she sets up a scholarship for struggling artists with actual talent?

Tourists In Venice Shocked By €100 Coffee Bill

Caffe Lavena Venice Italy
Richard, enjoy my life! Flickr

It’s no secret that Europe is an expensive travel destination, but sometimes even Europeans are shocked to discover just how pricey their homeland can be.

A group of tourists from Rome got a nasty shock after enjoying a caffeine fix at a café in Venice. The travelers had taken a seat outdoors at the well-known Caffe Lavena in St. Mark’s Square where they drank four coffees and three liqueurs as they listened to live chamber music. However, things turned sour when the bill arrived, showing the group of seven owed €100 (about $134) for their drinks. The frustrated tourists say they didn’t realize that a €6/person music surcharge would be added to their check, resulting in a bill €42 higher than they were expecting.The café defended themselves by saying that all the prices were clearly listed in their menu, including the music surcharge and the €6 cost of a coffee.

This isn’t the first time tourists in Italy have been outraged by an unexpectedly high bill. Earlier this year, a group of British tourists were blindsided by a €16 charge for gelato at an ice cream shop in Rome – the story garnered so much attention it prompted the city’s mayor to apologize for the incident. And a few years back, a restaurant in Rome was actually shut down after it charged a Japanese couple €695 ($930) for a meal. Their receipt listed pasta dishes costing €200 and an obligatory tip of €115.50.

Have you ever been ripped off during your travels?

Why Do We Give Countries Different Names?

Endonym map of country names
EndonymMap.com

You booked a trip to Germany, so why does your passport stamp say Deutschland? Your name didn’t change from John to Johann, so why should the country’s name change? If you’ve ever wondered why countries go by different names in different languages, you can check out the Endonym map, that displays each country by their own name. Endonyms are a country’s name within its own borders (see: United States of America, Detschland, Estados Unidos Mexicanos), while exonyms are what it’s known by in other languages (a.k.a. Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika, Germany, Mexico). Many of them are similar-sounding cognates that are easier to say or spell in our native language (Brazil/Brasil or Italy/Italia), or some are descriptive and sometimes derogatory names for a place (see this literal Chinese translated map of Europe, like Italy/Meaning Big Profit).

Can you figure out some of the more difficult English exonyms with a hint?Elláda: You might recognize this name better from its ancient pronunciation: Hellas, named for a famously beautiful resident.

Hrvatska: Such a combination of consonants might be familiar from one of their famous islands: Hvar.

Miṣr: You’ll read this name now in Arabic, not hieroglyphics.

Suomi: The more commonly known name for this country was found on rune stones in nearby Sweden.

Zhōngguó: Our name derives from Persian and Sanskrit, and now also describes a certain kind of porcelain dishes.

*Answers: Greece, Croatia, Egypt, Finland, China