Robert Reid is one of my favorite travel experts in print or in person, even if he rarely manages to ever stay true to the title of his “76-Second Travel Show.”
Last year he wrote a story for our big sister site Skift about the trends driving different publications’ picks for their respective 2014 top destinations lists. It boiled down to three main angles:
The most popular pick for editors is a place linked to a specific event, anniversary or news-related topic, like the World Cup or the 100th anniversary of WWI (almost half of the total). Next are secondary destinations that appear overdue for a shout-out (over a quarter of the total, including destinations like Nicaragua’s Little Corn Islands, …
West Virginia has been defined by the coal industry in many ways. While the industry still employs miners all over the state, abandoned coal mines are remnants throughout the area of a booming past. Exploring the abandoned coal mines is highly dangerous, but the hobby attracts the likes of spelunkers and urban explorers and it’s easy to understand why-the mines are mysterious places that provide a gateway to how life used to be in West Virginia.
According to the website for Coalwood, W.V., the number and location of the abandoned mines is largely unknown. Open shafts and horizontal openings to these abandoned coal mines are often difficult to spot amid the overgrowth. Once inside, abandoned coal mines pose the threat of rusted machinery, dangerous bodies of water and even explosives that are now defected.While the videos and photos available online of these abandoned coal mines are impressive, explorers put themselves at great risk to obtain this kind of footage. What do you think West Virginia officials should do with the abandoned coal mines?
Dudleytown, Conn. (also known as Village of the Damned) has been touted as a ghost town for years. The only trouble in seeing it for yourself is that it’s on private property, and fines for trespassing are commonly handed out by the police who regularly patrol the area. When I visited the area years ago, this was a concern and it still is today. But the story behind the ghost town is compelling enough that the cryptically curious continue to take the risk.The story begins with an English nobleman named Edmund Dudley. Legend has it that he was beheaded for treason and the Dudley family was put under a curse. When the family settled in Connecticut, it’s said that the curse followed them across the ocean. Some members of the family went insane and a couple committed suicide. Although it is speculated that the real reason behind the crazy spells was probably unclean water, explorers have reported and still do report ghost sightings in the area.
More on Halloween
If luxury horror is your thing, look no further than haunted hotels this Halloween. As rounded up in a spread on USA Today, several hotels across the country are incorporating their own tales from the crypt into their businesses this time of year. A couple examples of haunted hotels participating in the spooky season:
The Biltmore Coral Gables in Miami has been everything over the years from a speakeasy during Prohibition to a hospital ward for World War II soldiers to the murder scene of a gangster. Guests have complained of visions and other kinds of ghostly disturbances-including getting dropped off at the 13th floor form the elevator despite the button not being pressed-since the building reopened as a hotel in the 1980s.The Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans once served as a ballroom and theater, but was then turned into a girls’ school, orphanage and medical ward. Guests routinely complain of hearing voices that sound as though they belong to children.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And if you can’t convince them your hotel isn’t filled with ghosts, convince them of the opposite instead.
More on Halloween
Israel is a country filled with ancient sites. One of the more popular ones to visit is the Herodium, the palace of the infamous Herod the Great, now part of a national park just outside Jerusalem. Herod was a lavish builder and created quite the crib between 23-15 BC. The historian Josephus, writing half a century after Herod’s death, says that when the king died in 4 BC, he was laid out on a gold bed in a tomb at the site.
Back in 2007, an archaeological team uncovered a tomb at Herodium and proclaimed they had found Herod’s final resting place. Ever since it’s been a popular stop for tourists who wander about the ruins of the palace, baths, and synagogue of the Jewish king who pledged allegiance to the Roman Empire.
Now another group of archaeologists say that it’s not the tomb of Herod. They say the 32×32 ft. tomb is too small for a king, especially one famous for his grandiose building projects such as the desert fortress Masada and the rebuilding of the Second Temple. Most royal tombs were larger and included coffins of marble or gold rather than the local limestone found in this structure. Royal tombs also had large courtyards in front of them so people could come pay their respects, something lacking in the Herodium tomb.The researchers suggest it was the tomb of one of Herod’s family.
Archaeologists have been quick to discover the tombs of famous people in recent years. The discoveries of the tombs of Caligula and the Apostle Philip have both been disputed. Now it appears that Herod will return to the long list of famous people for whom their final resting place remains a mystery.