Running Of The Bulls Comes To America

klmcmahon, Flickr

Daredevil tourists no longer need to head to Pamplona, Spain to be chased by bulls. A company called The Great Bull Run is bringing a stampede of Spanish-inspired bull runs to ten cities across the United States. About 5,000 people have already signed up to take part in the first festival, which will take place later this month just outside of Richmond, Virginia.

These bull runs, however, are nothing like the original Running of the Bulls. The bulls won’t be running through streets to a stadium: instead, they’ll chase people sprinting down a quarter-mile track. Those who don’t want to risk being marred by bulls can watch their matador wannabe friends from the stands, or take part in the capitalization of another tradition. The company is also hosting a tomato fight inspired by La Tomatina (which actually takes place in Valencia, Spain). For a fee, participants can join a massive food fight and not have to worry about cleaning up afterward.

“This is the real deal, modeled after the famous San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, but without all the time and money required for a trip to Europe,” boasts the creators of the event on their website. But really, there is nothing real or authentic about this.

Abandoned Airports Brought Back To Life

Abandoned airport
Travis Estell, Flickr

We’re used to thinking of airports as places that flurry with activity no matter the hour. Much like a big city, they tend to be bustling hubs that never sleep. But all around the world, there are a number of airports that have been abandoned — vast structures that became ghost towns after economic problems caused them to fail and shut down.

The good news is that some of these zombie airports are now being given a new lease on life as they’re transformed into attractions like amusement parks or repurposed into places like schools.

In Sweden, the former Bulltofta Airport was turned into a park and entertainment zone. In Denver Colorado, Stapleton International Airport has been redesigned into a mixed-use housing community. And in Madrid, Spain, the Ciudad Real Central Airport is currently being used as the set of a film. So it got us wondering — what kinds of cool things would we like to see airports turned into?

  • A restaurant district. Just imagine all the quirky little places you could set up a restaurant. Sushi conveyor belt at the security checkpoint? Meals with a view in the air traffic control tower? It would sure beat the current airport dining experience.
  • Go kart racing tracks. How much fun would it be to whizz around on miles of airport tarmac? I mean, really, do we even need to sell you on this idea?
  • A hotel. Old airplanes and airport facilities would make a great site for a concept hotel. In fact, the Jumbo Stay hotel/hostel in Stockholm has already seized on this idea, turning an old Boeing 747 into a funky place to crash for the night.
  • A fitness center. Dragging ourselves through vast airport terminals is an absolute chore when we’re jetlagged and running late for our flight, but all that space is ideal when the goal is working out. And those moving walkways? Yup, they’re perfect built-in treadmills.

What else would you like to see old airports transformed into? Let us know in the comments!

Can We Please Keep Phones Away From Drivers?

Investigators in Spain are saying the driver of the train that derailed last Wednesday, killing 79 people, was using his cell phone at the time of the accident. It has also become clear that the train was going 94 mph on a sharp bend of track where the speed limit was only 49 mph. It doesn’t matter if a driver is operating a train, car, tour bus, airplane, tug boat or bicycle — I think we can all agree he or she should be giving their undivided attention. In this instance, it appears the driver received a call on his work phone to take direction on an approach to the train’s final destination, and it seems he was also consulting a paper document. It’s still unclear whether a computer failure is partly to blame for the accident, especially since the brakes should have been applied 2.5 miles before the train hit the dangerous curve. Either way, the train company should have had procedures that would have prevented this from happening.

Territorial Disputes Over Tourist Attractions

Gibnews.net, Wikimedia Commons

Spain is being accused of intentionally holding tourists in long lines as they make their way back from day tripping in Gibraltar. The British Overseas Territory claims the traffic jam — which has so far affected more than 10,000 vehicles — has been deliberately orchestrated because of a disagreement over a creation of an artificial reef in territorial waters. Of course, this isn’t the only territory in the middle of a tug-of-war match by two — or sometimes more — countries. Here are just a few of the dozens of places with disputed borders where you may find yourself stuck:

  • Mont Blanc Summit (France vs. Italy): Both countries have had a long but peaceful dispute over ownership of the summit of the highest mountain in the Alps.
  • Liancourt Rocks (Japan vs. South Korea): this group of small, craggy islets has become a tourist attraction in recent years, but its sovereignty is still being disputed.
  • East Jerusalem (Israel vs. Palestinian Authority): Jerusalem’s Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are just a few of the attractions that lie in this hotly debated territory.
  • Ceuta (Spain vs. Morocco): the majority of this city’s population are ethnic Spanish who are opposed to the idea of being ruled by Morocco.
  • Tennessee River (Tennessee vs. Georgia): Georgia lawmakers claim surveyors who mapped out the border between these two states in 1818 got it wrong, and part of the Tennessee River should actually belong to Georgia.
  • Paracel Islands (China vs. Taiwan vs. Vietnam): three countries lay claim to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The islands have the potential to become a popular tourist attraction because of their large reef system, but currently tensions between the countries are too high.
  • Southern Half of Belize (Belize vs. Guatemala): All of Belize was formerly part of Guatemala, and today the debate still continues over who is the rightful owner.

Tiny Spanish Village Hopes to Profit From Antiquities Thief

ARANDA DE MONCAYOShould a town have the right to display looted antiquities stolen by one of its residents? According to an intriguing piece by Suzanne Daley in The New York Times this morning, the mayor of tiny Aranda de Moncayo, Spain, population 200, thinks they should. A 60-year-old village resident named Ricardo Granada unearthed some 4,000 antiquities using primitive implements, like a metal detector and a backhoe, from a 2,000 years old settlement called Aratikos near his home.

Granada was arrested in March after Spanish authorities were tipped off about two bronze helmets he tried to sell at an auction in Germany. The mayor of the village told The Times that she wanted to see a full archeological excavation of the site, followed by the construction of a small museum, which she believes would draw tourists to the village. It isn’t clear from the story whether the museum would display only newly unearthed antiquities or also the ones already plundered by Granada, but the story raises the murky ethical question of what type of artifacts museums should be allowed to exhibit.Scores of world-famous museums, including the British Museum, New York Museum of Metropolitan Art and Malibu’s J. Paul Getty Villa, have been ensnared in controversies surrounding the provenance of some of their antiquities. According to an estimate by the Archaeological Institute of America, published in a story on the Verge earlier this year, some 85-90 percent of “classical and certain other types of artifacts on the market do not have a documented provenance.”

But is there any difference between items plundered by an invading army or colonial power versus antiquities nabbed by a guy out wandering around after dark with a metal detector? It may not seem very fair for a village to profit from the fact that one of its residents was a thief, but I would visit this museum if it opened. I like to see treasures where they were actually unearthed rather than in a big city museum, far away from their origin. Would you have any ethical qualms about patronizing a museum exhibiting looted antiquities? What do you think Spanish authorities should do with the treasures Granada unearthed?