Visit the world’s largest indoor rainforest resort

While Europe isn’t typically known for it’s tropical rainforests, a visit to the Tropical Islands in Germany can show you that they do indeed exist on the continent. In fact, the world’s largest indoor rainforest is located right outside of Berlin in the town of Krausnick.

Located inside of a giant, 22,000 square foot dome, the indoor tropical resort is about the size of eight football fields and wins the title of the world’s largest indoor rainforest, as well as the biggest tropical sauna and spa complex in Europe. The complex is also home to more than 29,000 plants while cocktatiels, parrots, and budgerigars provide animal life for the space.

There are many other features to this tropical paradise, as well. Visitors can relax on a man-made beach, swim in the “ocean”, go mini-golfing, or partake in some overnight camping. For those who want a short break from the natural side of things, restaurants, bars, and shops are also located in the rainforest resort.

Green travelers will be happy to know that Tropical Islands is also eco-friendly, recycling swimming pool water to feed the plants as well as using natural UV light that seeps through the dome’s massive panels. Rain showers also occur naturally inside the dome, forming from the humidity found inside the structure.

For more information, visit the Tropical Islands website.

Pipilotti Rist’s innovative video installations give audiences an “Eyeball Massage”

Don’t worry, nobody will physically be touching your eyeballs. However, you will be taken on a unique sensory journey through dazzling color, perceptible images, and hypnotic music.

Until January 8, 2012, the work of Swiss Artist Pipilotti Rist will be featured at the Hayward Gallery in London in “Eyeball Massage“. Through this exhibit, viewers can see Rita’s work from the 1980’s to the present, including videos, sculptures, and installations. Spectators will see a lot of experimental video work that plays around with color, noise, and bleeds. With sculpture, Rist combines everyday objects with video and gives them life as well as a chance to tell their stories. Moreover, her art installations are not just splashes of color and pictures to look at but instead a parallel dimension that visitors will become immersed in. According to the event page, “Rist wants the exhibition to provoke feelings of energy, serenity and enlightenment, and hopes that her work makes visitors smile”.

For a preview of what you can expect check out this video. While there’s something a bit eerie and overwhelming to it, you can also appreciate the creativity behind it:

Be a part of Christmas history in Weimar, Germany

Did you know that the first Christmas tree was erected in Weimar, Germany? Or, that one of the most famous Christmas carols, “O, Du Fröhliche” was composed there, as well? If you’re looking to have a traditional Christmas as well as be a part of the holiday’s past, then Weimar may be the perfect place for you.

In the early 1800’s, on the night before Christmas, a man named Johann Wilhelm Hoffmann decided to do something special to cheer up the poor children of the town. So, he erected a Christmas tree outside his shop in the market square for the town to enjoy.

To celebrate Hoffmann’s gesture and the holiday, the Weimar Christmas Market will take place from November 24 to December 22, 2011. During this time, the town center is illuminated by tiny lights, the air smells of roasted nuts and just-baked Stollen cake, and carolers create the background music for the cozy scene. Visitors to the market can purchase items from craftsmen and traders, such as traditional pyramids and nutcrackers, glassware, and wooden toys from different parts of Germany. An ice skating rink, mulled wine, Santa Claus and, of course, a Christmas tree, are other things to look forward to at the event.

Austria comes to New York: a look at the Openhouse Gallery’s Austrian pop-up shop

This month, the Openhouse Gallery in New York hosted a free Austrian pop-up shop, which gave visitors a glimpse into what they could experience in terms of art, food, tours, culture, hotels, festivals, museums, and outdoor spaces if they visited Austria.

While the space itself was small, it had a lot to offer. The girls who worked the exhibit were extremely helpful and were happy to walk around with me to explain exactly what everything was I was looking at.

When first walking in, I was immediately struck by a giant painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt called “The Kiss”. In 2012, Vienna will celebrate his 150th birthday with an array of event and exhibits in his honor.

If visitors needed help planning a trip to visit Austria, the pop-up shop featured a travel lounge, as well, with comfortable white, leather couches and a table of tour packets, culinary books, travel advice, and even an Austrian memory and matching game called Craz.The most interactive part of the exhibit, and by far my favorite, was the sampling station. Authentic Austrian goodies to try included:

  • Pumpkin seed oil and pieces of bread for dipping
  • Viennese cookies from the Vienna Cookie Company
  • Gðlles specialty vinegar
  • Rupp Alina cheeses
  • Zotter hand made organic chocolate

The next section of the pop-up shop expanded on the idea of art, design, and theater in Austria. Visitors were able to take a look at some Austrian craftsmanship from Wien Products, such as vases and other housewares. Pieces of outdoor furniture that are used to help create the lively atmosphere in the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, one of the largest museums quarters in the world, were also on display.

Visitors could also learn about the theater culture of Austria, with the “Sound of Music” installation. The show, which is set in Austria, will debut at the Salzburger Landestheatre this Fall from October 23, 2011 to June 30, 2012. As you continue walking, you will also be able to explore a small gallery of historical Austrian paintings by Austrian artists.

At the end of the visit to the Openhouse Gallery’s Austrian pop-up shop (or the beginning, if you wanted), visitors were invited to enjoy some traditional Viennese coffee and desert in their Cafe Sacher, which included:

  • Wiener Melange- an espresso coffee with foamed milk
  • Grosser Brauner- a double espresso coffee with cream
  • a slice of original Sachertorte mit schlag with whipped cream
  • a homemade piece of Viennese apple strudel

The waitresses were even dressed in a traditional dirndl-style costume.

Interested in booking a trip to Austria? Visit the Austrian Tourism Board website. Want to know more about pop-up installations at the Openhouse Gallery in New York? Check out Paul Gerben’s Pickers Cafe that will be going on into 2012.

Shake Shack in Brooklyn, New York, adds public art installation to their menu

A public art installation has been added to the space that will soon house a Shake Shack in the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, New York. Earlier this year, Shake Shack reps heard about the Before I Die installation in New Orleans, Louisiana, and decided that they wanted to do the same thing as it seemed true to the Shake Shack spirit.

The installation is comprised of a giant chalkboard where people can write down things that they wish to accomplish before they die. According to Amanda Kludt of the New York Eater, some of the current postings include “Make Mariela proud of me”, “Change the world”, “Inspire like Steve Jobs did”, and “Hug you heart to heart”.

While the installation has been successful so far in creating a dialogue with their new community, the idea is purely for the Brooklyn location and will not be brought to other Shake Shacks.