World’s quirkiest rental home: The Balancing Barn




For travelers who want to have a rustic experience in the English countryside while also experiencing modern innovations, you may want to look into reserving a stay at The Balancing Barn, a unique rental home in Thorington, Suffolk, in England that defies the laws of nature. Created by Netherlands-based architectural firm MVRDV, half of the barn sits precariously over a descending slope with no ground underneath as the house actually shifts and balances. For an immersive experience in the outdoors, guests have the opportunity to literary soar over nature via a swing hanging from the bottom of the structure, just as if they were hanging from a tree. Moreover, the reflective sheet metal covering the structure responds to nature, causing the optical illusion of changing with the seasons.

For more information on how to book and what’s included, click here. To get a better idea of the project, check out the video above and the gallery below.

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5 train trips everyone should experience

the blue train in south africa While some train routes can seem long and boring, there are many that allow for great views of unique landscape or luxury service. Still, there are some train rides that go above and beyond your wildest imagination. Check out these five train trips that everyone should experience in their lifetime.

The Blue Train
South Africa

The Blue Train travels approximately 1,000 miles between Pretoria and Cape Town and is one of the most luxurious train journeys in the world. Some of the amenities include butler service, two lounge cars (one smoking, one non-smoking), an observation car, and sound-proofed carriages with gold-tinted picture windows, full-carpeting, an en-suite bathrooms (many of which include a full bathtub). Both kings and presidents have made this journey, as the train is marketed as a “magnificent, moving 5-star hotel”. Along with luxury, the Blue Train also takes passengers through unique countryside scenery. Rolling vineyards, pristine coastline, and jagged mountain faces are all right outside your luxurious, gold-tinted view.the west highland lineThe West Highland Line
Britain

The West Highland Line links the ports of Mallaig and Oban and is thought to be one of the most scenic train routes in Britain. In fact, in 2009 the West Highland Line was voted the Top Rail Journey in the World by Wanderlust Magazine, just beating out the Trans-Siberian and Cuzco to Machu-Picchu lines. The West Highline Line not only accesses the remote west coast of Scotland, but also views of numerous sea loches including Gareloch, Loch Long, Loch Lomond, and Glen Falloch. See Rannoch Moore, a National Heritage site, Loch Treig, a steep, freshwater lake, and the narrow Monessie Gorge.

the glacier expressThe Glacier Express
The Swiss Alps

This express train links the two major mountain resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. For the main portion of the journey, the Glacier Express passes through the Rhaetian Railway, a World Heritage Site in the Albula/Bernina regions. Passengers will also get to see untouched mountain landscapes, lush meadows, seductive vineyards, deep gorges, refreshing lakes, quaint hamlets, and impressive valleys while traveling through 91 tunnels and across 291 beautiful bridges. Some specific Swiss Alps mounains travelers will encounter include the Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps, and the Dom, the tallest mountain to sit entirely on Switerland soil.

machu picchu PeruRail
Peru

The scenic PeruRail lines make trips from Cuzco to Machu Picchu with three choices of train for passengers to choose from. If you’re looking for a sensory experience there is the Vistadome, surrounded entirely by glass and giant panaramic windows for a closer connection with nature as well as opportunities for amazing photographs. For the luxury traveler there is the Hiram Bingham, with cozy intertiors, elegant upholstry, two dining cars, an observation wagon, a bar, and a kitchen. The service includes brunch, dinner, entrance to Machu Picchu, afternoon tea at Machu Picchu, and a guided tour in the citadel. For adventure travelers, there is the Expedition, with backpack racks, seating designed for interaction and mingling, and Andean music to fill the car with cheer. For travelers wanting to visit Lake Titicana from Cuzco, there is the Andean Explorer, a luxurious train ride featuring an observatory car to see mountainous and rolling plain landscapes and Andean entertainment on board as musicians and dancers create a lively atmosphere.

southwest chief trainThe Southwest Chief
The United States

Ever wonder what it must have felt like to live in the Old West? The Southwest Chief can give you a taste of what you’ve seen in classic films. Running daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, passengers will traverse through the mighty Mississippi, take in the Grand Canyon, pass by wheat fields and ranches, ride over dessert landscape, photograph mountains, and see pueblos right outside the train window. Lounges, sleeper cars, and sightseeing decks enhance the journey just that much more.

Mystery mound in England turns out to be ancient monument

England, Silbury Hill
England’s prehistoric landscape has a new addition.

Marlborough Mound in Wiltshire has long been a mystery. The flat-topped cone of earth looks like a smaller version of Silbury Hill, pictured here. The bigger mound was finished around 2300 BC at a time when Neolithic farmers were erecting stone circles such as Stonehenge and Avebury. Now archaeologists have taken samples from Marlborough Mound and carbon dated them to 2400 BC.

Carbon dating, which measures decaying carbon isotopes in organic matter, has a slight margin of error that increases the older the sample is. Thus Silbury Hill and Marlborough Mound may have been finished simultaneously, or at least in the same generation. The two mounds are only about 20 miles apart, a day’s walk for a Stone Age farmer or excited archaeologist.

The mound was reused several times. The Romans had a settlement next to it and the Normans built a castle on top of and around it in the late 11th or early 12th century. Early Norman castles were wooden palisades around an artificial mound. In this case their prehistoric predecessors saved them some work. The wooden walls were later replaced with stone ones but the castle has long since vanished. In the 17th century the mound was turned into a garden. The mound stands on the grounds of Marlborough College and is off-limits to visitors. Hopefully that will change now that its true importance is understood.

The London homeless thrive as tour guides

I have hired some strange tour guides. One was a Balinese man that cackled like a quick fire dub step remix of the word “huh.” One was a spy for the Myanmar government whose eyes widened in the car’s rear view every time I fumbled with my iPod. One made me promise that I would marry my girlfriend when I returned home. Others still furthered strange agendas upon my explorations.

Never though, to the best of my knowledge, have I toured under the guidance of a homeless person.

Thanks to a group called the Sock Mob, the London homeless are taking to the streets and finding a calling as tour guides. The Sock Mob is a volunteer organization that interacts with the city’s homeless or “rough sleepers.” They engage the homeless in agenda-free conversations, distribute socks, and generally commit altruistic deeds. They also have spearheaded a tourism program called “Unseen Tours” that allows travelers to take in some of London’s sights with a homeless tour guide. The lens of homelessness provides a unique perspective on landmarks such as London Bridge, and the guides also showcase hidden corners of the city that a conventional tour may miss. The tours meet every Friday at 7pm and every Saturday at 3pm. Cost is roughly $10, “depending on your circumstances.”

Video of the Day: The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England

Have you been to England? What about Great Britain? How about the United Kingdom? Perhaps you just have no clear idea how to use those terms properly. Lest you tick off an Irishman or embarrass yourself at a pub, you may want to take a gander at the video above that quickly and humorously explains just what England, Great Britain and the UK are.

There’s no shame in not understanding the difference between these three terms. Heck, I learned a view things from this video and have Gadling’s own Jeremy Kressmann to thank for that. He tweeted this video last week. See, it pays to follow us Gadling folks on the ol’ internets.

If you have a great travel video that you think we might enjoy, share the link in a comment below. We could feature it as our next Video of the Day!