The Daily Traveler: Urban Gardens

You don't have to choose between bustling city life and serene nature. Next time you need a botanic pick-me-up, duck into one of these (gorgeous) public urban gardens—from Barcelona to Singapore, Rio to Rome. The roses and orchids are waiting...

Singapore

Orchids have been hybridized at the Singapore Botanic Gardens since 1859, and now more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids are on display in the National Orchid Garden (including one named in honor of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Vanda William Catherine). That’s just one of the dazzling sights here: There's also a Swan Lake, a Fragrant Garden (known to attract butterflies as well as visitors), outdoor sculptures and sundials, and a section of rainforest home to 314 plant species. It’s no wonder that the garden is Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site nominee.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo courtesy of National Parks Board (NPARKS)

DVD Review: Lizzie Borden Took an Axe

Taken all together, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe is unsatisfying on every level. It doesn’t dig deep enough to make Borden a deliciously evil villain that still inspires some loyalty, like Hannibal Lecter or Joe Carroll. The procedural elements detailing the trial amount to dueling monologues from the prosecution and defense, making them more dry than dramatic. (And shallow, too: You see the hoards of press and gawkers at the trial, but their impact is never explored.) It doesn’t shed any new light on the century-old case. And the camp doesn’t go over-the-top enough to fulfill any kind of cheesy midnight-movie craving.

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

The Daily Traveler: 10 Weird Tourist Attractions


An homage to Stonehenge made of classic cars. A museum devoted to instant noodles. A gnome reserve. We track down some of the world’s wackiest tourist attractions, for our amusement and yours.

Thailand’s Hell Garden
Saen Suk, Thailand
The sign that greets visitors entering this sculpture garden pretty much says it all: “Welcome to Hell.” The Wang Saen Suk’s “hell garden” depicts, in garish detail, the punishments in store for those who transgress in life. If the statues are to be believed—with impaling, transfiguration, and disemboweling all represented—the tortures for sinners are pretty gruesome, so you might want to bank a few good deeds before you visit.

Click through to see the full slideshow at The Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Amos Chapple / Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images




The Daily Traveler: Amazing Observation Decks

These incredible viewing platforms located atop soaring skyscrapers offer 360-degree views over cities like Paris, New York, and Shanghai.

London
Opened in February 2013, the main observation gallery at this Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper is 800 feet high—the tallest in Western Europe—which is enough to see 40 miles around the city on a clear day. (And, if it's really foggy, you'll be able to return for free). Can't tell what you're looking at? High-tech digital telescopes come with touch screens that'll give you information about 200 London attractions below. When you're finished, you can ascend even higher to the 72nd floor, which is open and exposed to the elements so you can hear the din of the city below.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: The View from The Shard 2014




The Daily Traveler: Glass-Floor Attractions


Embrace the vertigo—the view from these skywalks, glass bridges, and see-through observation decks are worth it. Check out the slideshow for dizzying images of the Alps, the Grand Canyon, New Zealand, and more.

Chamonix, France
Okay, you may not be stepping into the void, per se, but this outing does require an extra bit of courage. Visitors enter a glass cube the size of a phone booth that extends off the edge of Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. The elevation: a staggering 12,605 feet. From there, you can see Mount Blanc and other alpine peaks, the mountain climbers trying to summit—and a 3,300-foot drop immediately below. 

Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo © Robert Pratta/Reuters/Corbis

The Daily Traveler: The World's Most Beautiful Cemeteries

Cemeteries So Beautiful, You Wouldn't Mind Spending Eternity in Them


CIMITIRUL VESEL
Săpânţa, Romania

When you put the words "death" and "Romania" together, it usually conjures up images of dark, gothic, Dracula-inspired scenery. But Săpânţa's Cimitirul Vesel—or the "Merry Cemetery" in English—is actually anything but gloomy. The sky-blue graves here are marked with hand-carved, intricately-painted crosses, then adorned with an image of the person below and a poem about his or her life.

But there's no hagiography here: the poems seek to represent the true life of the deceased, and drinking problems, infidelity, and other less-than-flattering traits are fair game for Dumitru Pop, the crosses' creator.

Tour: The Merry Cemetery is often a stop on larger tours of Romania; visit romaniatourism.com for more information.


Photo: Funky Food London/Paul Williams/Alamy 

The Daily Traveler: Amazing Observatories Around the World Perfect for Stargazing

Amazing Observatories Around the World Perfect for Stargazing

If Cosmos has piqued your interest in the stars, then you need to add one of these incredible observatories to your bucket list. Perched upon mountaintops and even volcanoes, these high-tech towers are perfect for studying the heavens from behind a telescope.

Antofagasta, Chile
Chile has become a hotspot for the science, and there are at least a dozen observatories—at various levels of tourist-friendliness—working within the country's borders. Operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), Paranal is open to weekend visitors, who come to see the simply named Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT is actually comprised of four smaller telescopes—named Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, Yepun, meaning Sun, Moon, Southern Cross, and Venus in the indigenous Mapuche language—which can be used in tandem to create an interferometer that allows astronomers to see details up to 25 times finer than they could with individual telescopes.
Visit: Free, guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 10 am and 2 pm. There is no charge, but reservations are required.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Gabriel Brammer/dpa/Corbis




The Daily Traveler: Inactive Volcanoes You Can Visit


Enjoy the drama of nature's violent geological history—without the fear of molten lava—by visiting one of these extinct, inactive, or dormant volcanoes. Plus, they're all just stunning.

MOUNT EDEN
Auckland
Mount Eden, also known as Maungawhau, is the tallest of Auckland's 50-plus volcanic peaks. From the 643-foot-high summit, you can get a 360-degree panorama of the city and harbor. You can also see a now grassy, well-preserved crater, along with the ruins of a Maori settlement. Locals use this as a fitness trail, so suit up and join them for a jog to the top. Others say that the best views are had at night, with the illuminated city below.


Photo: Doug Pearson/Jai/Corbis