When it comes to travel, think outside the book

Self-mummified monks; a house built of paper; a museum filled with the genitals of every known mammal.

Self-mummified monks; a house built of paper; a museum filled with the genitals of every known mammal. The world is full of breathtaking places nobody has ever heard of.

“Dylan and I both travel often, and anytime we do, we’re always on the lookout for the sorts of weird places that are left out of traditional guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist,” says science journalist Joshua Foer, 26, speaking of himself and his friend Dylan Thuras, also 26.

So they launched www.atlasobscura.com, which features such destinations.

“If you live in Massachusetts, you might know that there’s an incredible 70-year-old house built entirely out of paper in the town of Rockport. But if you’re visiting Massachusetts for the first time, how are you going to find out about it?” adds Thuras, a filmmaker who recently spent a year in Budapest.

“Most of the places in the Atlas are submitted by users who live nearby.”

At Spain’s Gomera Island, residents use a “whistling language.” Vocabulary: 4,000-plus words. The Czech Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus is a church decked out with human bones.

For culinary pleasures, try Austria’s Starkenber Beer Myth Resort, which offers the world’s only beer swimming pools, or Paris restaurant Dans le Noir? where diners eat in total darkness, served by visually impaired waiters. Here are Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras’ top destinations, which you can see at www.atlasobscura.com:

• The Gates of Hell, Derweze, Turkmenistan: A giant hole in the Karakum Desert that’s been burning for four decades.

• The Paper House, Rockport, Maine: A 70-year-old structure built entirely out of paper.

• The Icleand Phallological Museum, Husavik, Iceland: A museum filled with the genitals of every known mammal in Iceland.

• Don Justo’s Self-Built Cathedral, Mejorada del Campo, Spain: A huge cathedral single-handedly built by an eccentric ex-monk.

• Musee Mecanique, San Francisco, CA: An incredible collection of automatons and mechanical orchestras.

• Bochnia Salt Mine, Bochnia, Poland: Poland’s oldest salt mine has nearly everything one needs to live underground forever.

• Mini-Paris, Vaissac, France: A miniature model of the City of Lights built out of garbage.

• Siriraj Medical Museum, Bangkok: An incredible anatomical museum

• Eisinga Planetarium, Franeker, Netherlands: The world’s oldest functioning planetarium.

 
 
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