Photo Of The Day: House Of Chimeras

Matt Shalvatis, Flickr

With Halloween right around the corner, and fall afternoons providing some great lighting, Gadling Flickr Pool member Matt Shalvatis captured this image of the House Of Chimeras, in Kiev. Between the ornate architecture and dark clouds, the photo provides a slightly haunting effect.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

Serial Killer’s Home Becomes Tourist Site

Dorothea Puente home
ilvadel, Flickr

Between the beaches, national parks, vineyards and theme parks, California has plenty of tourist draw cards, but now an unlikely attraction has made the list — the home of a serial killer.

The boarding house run by Dorothea Puente, a Sacramento woman convicted of killing her elderly residents, became a tourist attraction when the city decided to add the building to its local tour of featured and historic homes.

Although the building has undergone some updates in the three decades since the gruesome murders, visitors are still able to see the room where the killer drained the body fluids from her elderly victims.While the home of a serial killer may seem like a strange attraction to visit during a vacation, macabre tourist sites are nothing new. Here are a couple other dark attractions that visitors flock to:

Choeung Ek. More than one million people were slaughtered during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, and Choeung Ek is one of the most well known Killing Fields. Nearly 9,000 bodies are buried in mass graves here, and visitors can see a giant glass memorial filled with 5,000 human skulls.

Auschwitz. This World War II concentration camp in Poland saw the deaths of more than 1 million prisoners at the hands of the Nazis. Each year, millions of visitors pass through the gates of the memorial and museum located at the site.

Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. It’s not quite an attraction yet, but a proposal is being considered to turn this Japanese disaster site into a tourist destination. Tourists would stay in hotels designed to protect them from high levels of radiation and would be able to take photos of the reactor while dressed in protective suits and respirators.

Photo of the Day (6.6.10)

If you’ve never experienced a thunderstorm as it rolls across the Great Plains, you’re missing out. During the shimmering-hot days of summer, you can hear and see these monsters coming from far away. Thunder rumbles ominously. Dark storm clouds rise to immense heights. The branches of trees flutter about in the intensifying breeze. It’s truly one of the nature’s greatest spectacles – the power, beauty and sound of these huge storms is a force to be reckoned with. That’s why Flickr user SenzEnina’s capture of one of these amazing summer storms caught my eye today. The dark wavy storm clouds and tiny farm suggest a scene with an interesting dramatic tension, right before the thunderstorm reaches the observer.

Taken any great photos of nature during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Teva introduces flip flops with lights – and you can win a pair!

With Spring hitting the Northeast early, we’re thrilled to be able to start thinking about trips to the beach, hikes in the woods and some new camping adventures. And warm weather means throwing those Winter boots aside in favor of flip flops. Our feet haven’t seen the light of day in months and it’s time to let those dogs breathe. With that in mind, we were psyched (and a tad amused) to see that Teva is launching a new flip flop with LED lights attached. We’re also pretty jazzed that we have a pair to give away to one lucky reader.

The Teva illūm is a new of sandal that gives you a powerful LED light on each foot. The 10-foot beams of light are intended to help keep you safe when the sun sets and you find yourself on the trail, looking for your campsite or seeking a clandestine spot on the beach to make out with your date. While it may seem gimmicky, we’re actually rather intrigued by the idea of having sandal-mounted lights to help guide the way. Sure, you should still pack a headlamp for any night hikes or camping trips, but extra light is never a bad thing.

The Teva illūm will be available on the Teva website beginning on May 1, 2010 and you can learn more about the sandals on their own unique site. They will be available in synthetic and waterproof leather for $50 and $60, respectfully.

But you can get your hands on a pair for free before they even hit stores. Gadling and Teva want to give to one lucky reader a pair of illūm sandals. We plan to have an official Gadling review on the site later this Spring. In the meantime, perhaps our winner can give us some feedback.

To enter to win these sandals, simply leave a comment below stating the place you’d least like to find yourself in the dark. Maybe it’s in the foggy English countryside. Perhaps it’s alone in Death Valley. Or maybe it’s just in your own attic. Wherever it is, let us know in the comments and one person will be randomly selected to win a pair of Teva illūm sandals.

  • The comment must be left before Friday, April 2 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive pair of Teva illūm sandals (valued at $50).
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.

In the Corner of the World – Cold and glowing vs. hot and bubbly

Over the next few weeks here at Gadling, we’ll be bringing you updates from our recent travels across New Zealand – in the process, we hope to offer a range of perspectives about what visiting this truly unique and fascinating country is all about. You can read previous entries HERE.

You’re standing on the edge of a ledge. Covered head-to-toe in a neoprene wetsuit, purple short-shorts and giant white rubber galoshes, and holding a large inner tube. You’re contemplating a jump into the frigid waters that slosh noisily just below. It’s pitch black, but your headlamp punches temporary holes in the emptiness, providing glimpses of other victims shouting and flailing wildly beneath you. A man taps you on the arm and pushes you forward – you hesitate, but there’s nothing to do but turn around and jump, plummeting ass-first towards the numbingly cold water beneath you, awaiting the inevitability of a painful impact.

This certainly wasn’t how I had pictured my day unfolding when it began. We were headed 2 hours south from Auckland, driving towards Waitomo, a village that is home to one of the largest complexes of underground caves in New Zealand. Caving is highly popular attraction in New Zealand, and the underground spaces like those found at Waitomo boast almost 400,000 visitors each year.

We had also heard about a peculiar Waitomo Cave phenomenon known as “Glowworms” – a unique species of bioluminescent insect that emits an eerie light in order to attract its prey. Glowing insects and cave exploring? Our interest was piqued – we wanted to see these strange creatures up and close and personal for ourselves. But how exactly does one go from a casual curiosity in glowing cave bugs to standing shivering, wearing a wetsuit in a pitch black cave? And how did we plan to warm ourselves up afterwards? Keep clicking below to see what happened.
Visitors to Waitomo caves have a huge range of options for viewing these amazing natural wonders and the strange wildlife like glow worms that live within them. Trips to Waitomo Caves range from more casual walking tours along guided underground paths to full-on spelunking and cave rafting expeditions.

Though a leisurely cave walk sounded fun, this was New Zealand after all – frequently cited as the home of “extreme sports.” We wanted a more “hands-on” experience so we opted for an underwater tubing trip which would take us on water voyage through the inner workings of the one of the caves. After suiting up in what is perhaps the stupidest outfit I’ve ever worn in my entire life (pictured left), we were ready to enter the caves.

As we entered the first narrow tunnel, icy cold water up to our waists, I began to wonder what I had gotten my claustrophobic self into – but the scenery quickly changed. After jumping through a few small waterfall pools, the ceiling soon opened upwards, revealing a massive underground cavern big enough to hold a cathedral and a meandering underground stream. Above us lay a miniature Milky Way of twinkling lights – a constellation of glowworm insects silently advertising for victims. We hopped aboard our inner tubes and floated lazily down the cave’s river as we gazed up at the artificial light show performance above us. Still under the hypnotic visual spell of such a strange sight, we soon emerged back into the midday light, none the worse for the wear but soaking wet and exhilarated by our recent adventure.

After all the freezing water from the morning’s caving activities, it was time to warm up and relax. We headed 150 kilometers east towards Rotorua, a city that lies on the edge of one of New Zealand’s more active geothermal hotspots. In addition to geysers and mud pools, Rotorua is also an outdoor activities destination offering the chance to mountain bike, raft, fish and swim. But a morning of cave-exploring had just about done us in at this point – we were ready to just hang out. We stopped by the Polynesian Spa to take a soak in their naturally heated thermal waters, renting a private pool with a view of Lake Rotorua for 30 minutes.

As we immersed ourselves in the warm embrace of the nearly 100 degree water, the starry night sky above us punctuated by the Southern Cross, we had a chance to think back. Our day had taken us across two huge extremes in temperature. From a morning sloshing through knee-deep freezing water, looking up at ghostly glowworms to a heated hot-spring pool and starlit New Zealand sky. Going from cold to hot – it was just the kind of extreme transition we’d come to find down in New Zealand, the corner of the world.