Given A Map, A Lot Of People Have No Idea Where They Traveled (Or Where They Live)

While early explorers may have spent countless weeks plotting their journeys on maps and charting the best course to get to their destination, it seems many modern day travelers don’t have a clue about where they’re actually going.

A new study has found massive numbers of travelers can’t find their vacation destination on a world map. When asked where Cyprus was located, 53% of respondents were stumped, pointing to countries like Greece instead. This is despite having traveled to the Mediterranean island within the past year. Turkey also had recent visitors scratching their heads, with around half of those surveyed hard-pressed to locate the nearly 1,000 mile long country on an atlas.What’s most bizarre, however, is those people who seemed to have trouble locating their own country on a map. When asked where France was, a surprising 14% of French respondents pointed to their northern neighbor Belgium.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on the French. After all, remember this famous gaffe a few years back, when a Miss Teen USA contestant was asked why a fifth of Americans couldn’t locate the US on a world map?

But it’s not just beauty pageant contestants that are stumped by geography. Even politicians can get tripped up, like in this interview where John McCain refers to the problems at the Iraq/Pakistan border…which doesn’t exactly exist.

And then there was the time that President Obama managed to visit all corners of the US, including “about 57 states”.

Do you think it matters that so many people are confused by world geography? Or is understanding maps irrelevant in this day and age of GPS and technology?

Tourists Line Up To Sniff Stinky Plant In Belgium

Looks can be deceiving: it may be beautiful, but this giant flower smells like rotting meat. The corpse flower (or amorphophallus titanum, if you want to get scientific) is the largest and smelliest in all of earthly flowerdom. Native to the Sumatran rainforest, many botanic gardens and private collectors cultivate the plant. However, it blooms infrequently, so getting a chance to take a whiff is rare. Which is why tourists in are lining up to see it during the three days it’s blooming at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. The museum is even staying open late so more people can take in its fleshy aroma.

In case the picture doesn’t portray the plants awesomeness, here are some facts about this amazing flower:

  • It has been known to reach up to 10 feet in height.
  • Its meat-like smell’s function is to attract the carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies that pollinate it.
  • Its leaf structure can reach up to 20 feet tall and 16 feet across.
  • Its corm, or underground storage stem, typically weights around 110 pounds.
  • It only flowers for a short period of time, usually three days.
  • Its more popular name, titan arum, was invented by a BBC broadcaster who thought saying amorphophallus titanum (translation: giant misshapen phallus) would be inappropriate.

Los Angeles County Museum Of Art Inaugurates African Gallery

The Los Angeles County Museum Of Art is inaugurating its new Africa gallery with an exhibition of art from the Luba Kingdom.

“Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” examines the royal art of the powerful Luba Kingdom, which from 1585-1889 dominated central Africa. Its royal lineage was highly regarded and developed an elaborate artwork to reflect its prestige.
The exhibition includes many objects loaned by the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium, like this mask of a legendary hero. Many of the items depict women. While they didn’t rule, they were considered the spiritual guardians of the kingship and the creators of life. A Luba proverb says, “Men are chiefs in the daytime, but women are chiefs at night.” Among the works of art are masks, headrests, sceptres, thrones and cups.

The new Africa gallery is located next to the Egyptian gallery to highlight the influences the two regions had on one another. In addition to special exhibitions, the gallery will also host the museum’s permanent collection.

“Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” runs until January 5, 2014.

Interactive Website Shows Cleanest, Dirtiest European Beaches

It’s getting to be that time of year again. People are heading to the beaches, especially around the Mediterranean.

Now choosing one has been made easier by a new interactive website by the European Environment Agency. The agency has released its 2012 figures for water quality of 23,511 “bathing waters.” The website has them broken down by country and region. While most are beaches, popular inland swimming areas such as lakes are also included.

Some countries do better than others. Cyprus may be in economic doldrums, but 100% of their beaches have clean water. Slovenia, the subject of an upcoming series here on Gadling, gets equally high praise for its narrow strip of shoreline.

Scientists examined samples of water over several months in 2012, looking for evidence of pollution. It turns out 93 percent of sites had at least the minimum standard set by the European Union. The worst countries were Belgium, with 12 percent substandard swimming areas, and The Netherlands, with 7 percent.

Photo Of The Day: Cyclists In Foggy Bruges

Cycling is an excellent way to explore a city, and who said it had to be nice weather to do it? This photo taken on a foggy day in Bruges, Belgium, shows just what is required in order to take on a city in inclement weather. The cyclists are probably locals, but maybe it’s some inspiration for an intrepid traveler ready to commit to touring on two wheels?

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[Photo credit: celeste_redhead]