Photo of the day – street art in Taiwan

There’s a lot happening in this photo: some street art, an intriguing flavor of popsicle, cool sneakers, flammable substances near a lit cigarette, the Asian art of effortless squatting. Overall it’s a very interesting street scene, captured by Flickr user marisoleta in Taipei, Taiwan. Looking at more of her photos, it seems like a fun destination, full of temples, tall buildings, and weird foods we all love to photograph on our travels. It’s always great when a travel photo makes us want to learn more about a place.

Have you taken any good street scenes to get us curious about a destination? Upload ’em to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use it for a future photo of the day.

VIDEO: Chinese popcorn cannon

Don’t have 5 minutes (cooking times may vary, wait until you hear 2-3 seconds between pops) to wait for microwave popcorn? Perhaps this Chinese popcorn cannon from the streets of Shanghai is fast enough for you – it just takes a few seconds, provided you have a serious pressure cooker. This ingenious contraption can also be used for puffed rice or other grains, though we wonder how clean the bag is which holds the resulting treat. China isn’t the only place with popped street snacks: here in my city of Istanbul, you can get fresh popcorn made over hot coals from many wandering street vendors.

Have you seen this popcorn maker in action? Leave us your theories (and taste impressions) in the comments!

Bragging about Gran Via on its centennial

Around August last year, I was living in Valencia and went to Madrid for the weekend. As I was aimlessly walking down Gran Via — the main commercial street in Madrid’s city center — I distinctly remember thinking “I could live here”. A few months later I moved and it was one of the best decisions I made.

Being someone who lately has been repelling anything big and mercantile, it’s funny I had that thought on Gran Via, of all other places in the city.

There’s this inanely rare charm that street eludes.
It’s high-street-big-city-for-tourists bustling, but it also radiates something that pins it down as being traditionally Spanish.

Often referred to as the ‘Spanish Broadway’, perhaps it’s early 20th century buildings, no skyscrapers, and nonchalant nature dampens it’s commercial side, making it an unexpected representation of Madrid as Spain’s traditional capital.

I can’t put my finger on what exactly allures me about this street, but it’s the reason I moved here.

On the 100th anniversary of Gran Via’s conception, the newspapers splattered the history and development of the street over the last century.

Haven’t seen it in the international press, but for those interested who don’t speak Spanish, you can check out this “Madrid in Black and White” gallery of the Gran Via that takes you through its historical significance.

[Via El Mundo]

Detour Worth Making: The Crookedest Street in the World

San Francisco’s Lombard Street is widely thought to be the World’s Crookedest Street. But did you know that Burlington, Iowa’s “Snake Alley” was officially named by Ripley’s Believe It or Not? as the “Crookedest Street in the World”?

Built in 1894, Snake Alley was conceived as a “more direct link” between Burlington’s business and shopping districts. Working together, three public-spirited German immigrants designed and installed the winding hillside street, reminiscent of the vineyard paths in their homeland. At the time, local newspapers proclaimed the street “a triumph in practical engineering.” However, after testing the roadway with teams of fire department horses, the switchback design proved to be a bit of a problem. The bad news: lots of broken horse legs. The good news: today, Snake Alley helps make bike races devilishly evil.

Consisting of five half-curves and two quarter-curves over a distance of 275 feet, the drive time from top to bottom: 36 teeth-chattering, head-bumping seconds. This sounds like a good time to have both hands on the wheel.