Sweden has always been a relatively calm and safe country; the only concern for tourists has been long lines at the new ABBA museum. But that all changed with the recent sighting of a pacu, a fish that’s closely related to the piranha.
While the waters of Øresund, the strait that separates Denmark and Sweden, are normally still and relaxing, the sighting has prompted the nearby Natural History Museum of Denmark to release a serious warning: “Keep your swimwear on if you’re bathing in the Sound these days — maybe there are more out there!”
The fish is more often found in warmer climates — in fact it’s the first time that it has been reported in Scandinavian waters — and while it’s not lethal, it doesn’t have a good reputation. Henrik Carl of the Danish museum pointed out that, “the pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea, where some men have had their testicles bitten off.”
The pacu can grow to 25 kilograms (about 55 pounds), and in large parts of the USA and Asia it’s considered an invasive species. So how did it end up in Scandinavian waters? It is thought that the fish may have escaped from a nearby aquarium.
A huge crotch biting fish? Keep your swim trunks on gentleman.
Backpacking in Yellowstone? Be aware of grizzlies.
Vacationing in Florida? Look out for pit vipers.
Exploring the Australian Outback? Know your venomous spiders.
Hiking in the Pyrenees? Stay away from cows. That’s the lesson learned recently after an 85-year-old hiker tragically died in the French Pyrenees after being charged by a herd of cows. The man was neither gored nor trampled, but was knocked to the ground by a cow and her calf, resulting in his death. Four other hikers were injured in the attack.
Many hiking areas around Europe are often near agricultural lands, and walking close to livestock is a common occurrence, but the accident is a reminder that even though cattle are a domesticated animal, they are not to be provoked and passing near them should be done with care.
As is proved by cow fighting in Switzerland, cows are far from a calm animal, especially if they are with their young which they will aggressively work to protect, and locals are known to complain about travelers who provoke their herds, treating them like pets.
Moral of the story: keep your distance from cow herds when exploring the rural landscapes of Europe.
There are many ways to road trip. The first is in a car, paired with dodgy motels along the highway. The second is more picturesque and for the outdoor lover, packing a tent in the trunk and pitching it at camp sites along the way. The third is a combination of the two, driving a vehicle that allows for mobile sleeping options. Some go for a motorhome, some a camping trailer, some a Winnebago and some a vintage Airstream.
But if you though that mobile camping vehicles had to be large and bulky, think again: you can now buy your very own Mini Camper. Thanks to the British subsidiary of BMW Group there is a new trio of cars, all in the Mini family, intended for the weekend warrior. A pop-up camper on one of the smallest cars out there? Yes. Hey, if your kayak fits in the back, even better.
Compared to a traditional RV or Airstream, it’s good for the budget. Depending on the size of an RV, you’ll get somewhere between 6-10 miles per gallon. Newer Airstreams will do slightly better, and even more so if you run them on diesel, but that’s nothing compared with a Mini. The new Mini Countryman All4 Camp is quoted at about 40 miles per gallon, and even if you’re driving it hard and getting half of that, you’re still well beyond the classic mobile camper options. And you can still make it your city car.
Will the new miniature sized camping vehicles win over the Airstream and combi van lovers? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, better start downsizing your camping gear.
Warm days, balmy nights and time off. Summer is prime time for getting outdoors and exploring. Backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, walking, running; whatever your sport of choice, this is the season to be doing it.
Need some inspiration? This photo taken on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters by Flickr user Adam Baker should do it. Sunset on still water from your seat in a boat – what could be better?
Have a photo you want featured on Photo of the Day? Submit it to the Gadling Flickr Pool to be considered.
Camping is a fun summertime activity, and everyone who cares about the outdoors wants to reduce their impact on the environment as much as possible.
That’s why many people burn their used toilet paper. Dirty toilet paper is ugly and unhygienic. It takes a long time to decompose too, and in the meantime the rain turns it into an unsightly mass as shown here.
Burning your bog roll may not be the best way to spare Mother Nature, however. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has issued a warning not to burn your toilet paper because it increases the risk of wildfires. Scotland had several bad wildfires earlier this year, and the annual wildfires in the United States have caused widespread destruction.
With dry summer conditions, even a stray spark can cause a major conflagration if it isn’t caught in time. The organization also warns of the dangers of campfires. Fires can often smolder undetected along root systems, flaring up hours after campers have doused their campfire and left. The organization suggests using cooking stoves and packing out your used toilet paper.