The Daily Traveler: Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Trivia

Sochi Trivia: Olympic Fun Facts That'll Make You Sound Really Smart

From the craziest stops on the torch relay to the future of Sochi's newest venues, here's your guide from Marisa LaScala to this year's Olympic trivia.

Say Hello to the Newbies

A number of countries are headed to the Winter Olympics for the very first time. East Timor, Paraguay, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe are among the debuting nations—and their athletes bring some of the most incredible stories of the Games with them.

Take, for instance, Paraguay's Julia Marino, who will be competing in the new slopestyle skiing event. How did she come to represent a country that's more likely to see its residents on jet skis than downhill skis? She was adopted by Americans when she was six months old and raised in ski-savvy Massachusetts—but chose to compete for her birth nation.

Then there's Tonga's Bruno Banani. If you'd checked in with him before 2008, you'd have found him playing rugby under the name of Fuahea Semi. In the ensuing years, he headed off to Germany, changed his name to that of a famous brand of German undergarments, learned how to luge, and will be carrying the flag for Tonga for the first time.

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


Photo © Jens Büttner/dpa/Corbis





The Daily Traveler: Free NYC

Even if you spend every last dime traveling to the New York area for the Super Bowl, you can still enjoy a multitude of activities in the city free-of-charge.

Laugh at Your Future Favorite Comedians

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater—UCB for those in the know—is a training ground for some of the best comedians out there: Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, and a bunch of the Saturday Night Live performers are all alums. The theater hosts comedy shows every night of the week, and most of them cost $10 or less—and a few will cost you nothing. At the UCB's Chelsea location, you can find free shows on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, but the theater's signature free show, ASSSSCAT 3000, happens every Sunday at 9:30 pm. There, on a small stage surrounded by seats on three sides, some of the best improvisers in the area perform an unscripted show, and some big names often drop by to join in. (In the past, Lena Dunham, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and even Mike Meyers have been spotted here.) Warning: You might not need to spend your cash, but you will need to invest your time; the line starts forming in the late-afternoon, early-evening for an 8:15pm ticket distribution. If you can't stand the idea of entertaining yourself in line, you can always buy a ticket in advance for the 7:30pm ASSSSCAT—but it'll cost you $10. 307 W 26th St (212-366-9176; ucbtheatre.com).

Click through to read the full article at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Pete Titmuss/Alamy


The Daily Traveler: The Scariest Drives in the World

Extreme Drives: The 10 Scariest Highways for White-Knuckle Road Trips

Buckle up for a tour of highways with hairpin turns, steep cliffs, narrow lanes, extreme weather, and dizzying heights.

North Yungas Road
Bolivia

Risk Factor: This route's nickname really says it all — sometimes, it's simply called "Death Road." And, with no guardrails along the 12-foot-wide roadway protecting drivers from a 2,000-foot plunge off a cliff, it's easy to see why. (To make matters more confusing, drivers drive on the left to better see the cliff's edge.) "Death Road" isn't just a nickname, either: It's estimated that the highway is a site of 200 to 300 deaths per year.

Why you might be tempted to drive it anyway:
No one says you have to do it in a car. Cyclists have found it easier to manage the narrow lanes and steep curves, and the road often hosts tours of adventurous bike enthusiasts.

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

Photo: LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy


The Daily Traveler New York: NYC's Flatiron Building Becomes a Monument to Math

The Museum of Mathematics in New York City got New Yorkers armed with glowsticks to prove that the Flatiron building is really a right triangle.

NYC's Flatiron Building Becomes a Monument to Math

..."We wanted to show that math is all around us, even in places we wouldn't expect," says Cindy Lawrence, MoMath's co-executive director. It was also a chance for math fans—yes, they're out there—to show off their stripes. Approximately 2,000 people attended, sporting right-triangle-themed T-shirts, hats, face paint, and even tattoos. "There's a social barrier out there that tells people it's not okay to like math," says co-executive director Glen Whitney. "We want to get over that barrier."

Click through to see the full story on the website of the Condé Nast Traveler.

The Daily Traveler: The Queens Museum



Is This New York's Most Underrated Museum?

For years, the Queens Museum has been one of New York City's most underrated institutions. But thanks to a huge renovation that showcases its fascinating history, it's about to get noticed. Brush up on its secrets before all the tourists rush the place.

You can buy a (mini) piece of New York City real estate here.

And it's affordable, too. The Queens Museum is known for its Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,935-square-foot architectural model that recreates the city in a scale of 1:1200. (Tiny, two-inch airplanes even take off and land at the mini LaGuardia.) But did you know that, through the Adopt-a-Building program, which started in 2009, you can actually own one of the buildings in the panorama? You even get the deed. Buildings can be purchased for as little as $50—and you can't say that's true anywhere else in the city.

It's lit by a 70,000-pound "lantern."

There's one heck of a skylight in the entryway. The "lantern," the centerpiece of the new addition, is made up of 264 individual sheets of frosted glass anchored into a 50,000-pound steel beam that keeps it from swaying. But it's not just there as an adornment: The glass filters natural light into the new wing, decreasing the need for artificial illumination, and keeps sunlight from hitting the artwork directly, preventing sun damage.

Click through to read the full article at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Collection of the Queens Museum.





The Daily Traveler: Botanical Garden Holiday Displays

From synchronized light displays to intricate botanical sculptures, these gardens are decked for the holidays

ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN
Garden Lights
November 16 to January 4
The Atlanta Botanical Garden brings in 1.5 million energy-efficient LEDs to create its illuminated holiday display. Many of the lights are used to transform the Garden's most famous landmarks into holiday-appropriate characters; Earth Goddess, a giant topiary sculpture in the shape of a woman, is given strands of wintry blue hair, turning her into Ice Goddess, and a pair of 15-foot-tall snakes are don red and white stripes to make them the Candy Cane Cobras. Powering the 52 miles of light strings is Georgia Power, which uses green energy produced from renewable resources like solar power and biomass.

Photograph by Chris Kozarich

The Daily Traveler: Life-Saving Travel Tech

These Travel Gadgets Will Save Your Life

Travel can be filled with danger. From shark attacks to heart attacks, these devices can keep your journey safe.

Danger: Collisions
Why should skiiers and mountain-climbers have all the fun? Bikers can get their own protective airbags, courtesy of Sweden's Hövding. The bag is worn deflated around the neck, like a big collar. Sensors can tell when the biker's involved in a collision, inflating the airbag around the head in a tenth of a second. And, because it zips around the neck, bikers don't have to worry about helmet hair, either.

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

The Daily Traveler: The World's Smallest Attractions



Tiny Tourism: 10 of the World's Smallest Attractions

Bigger isn't always better. These record-holding tiny tourist attractions prove that small things shouldn't be overlooked.

Mill Ends Park, Portland, Oregon

Size: 2 feet in diameter

If there were a park smaller than Portland's Mill Ends Park, it'd have to be a single blade of grass. The park is the creation of Oregon Journal reporter Dick Fagan, who decided to plant flowers in a hole that was originally intended for a light pole that never arrived. He dedicated the park on St. Patrick's Day in 1948, and claimed it was home to "only leprechaun colony west of Ireland."

Not everyone is in agreement about Mill Ends' title, though. Earlier this year, event organizers of "the shortest fun run" in the UK called it a "glorified flower pot" and said the site of their event—Prince's Park in Burntwood—should claim the record instead. At 34 square meters, it's at least big enough for three trees (named Faith, Hope, and Charity) and a bench, making it a little more park-like. Portlanders needn't worry too much: According to John Smith, Greens & Open Spaces Strategic Manager of the Lichfield District Council, "The council has no ambition to challenge the title of the World’s Smallest Park and is pleased to be the record holder of Britain’s Smallest Park."

Click through to see the full slideshow on the website of the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo of Mill Ends Park courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR






The Daily Traveler: Meet 10 Dream Travel Job Contest Winners

Some people have all the luck. I get to interview those people.

Meet Ten People Who've Won Those Dream Travel Job Competitions

Jauntaroo's yet-to-be-named Chief World Explorer is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Meet ten intrepid souls who have already entered contests, then campaigned, competed for, and won their dream travel jobs—filming, swimming, skiing, diving, and eating their ways around the world. Yeah, we’re jealous, too.

ASHA MEVLANA
From: Los Angeles
 
Winner: Viator's Dream Travel Job: Team Europe,July 2012–August 2012

Job duties: "Our job was to film these top-rated tours so that when someone goes to the Viator site, they can click on a tour video from our trip and get an idea of what the tour would be like."

What's one thing you learned on your travels? "Because we were only in each city for three days, we were constantly on the move and living out of our suitcases. I had a very large, heavy suitcase with a bunch of different outfits, shoes, etc. By the end, I had thrown out most of my clothes just to make it easier to run to the train, plane, or taxi because we were always running from place to place trying to not to miss our transportation to the next city. I learned to pack much lighter!"

What was the most memorable thing that on your trip? "On one of the bike tours in Amsterdam, I was filming while biking and trying to get all the shots I needed. And as I was rushing ahead of the tour one time, looking into the camera viewfinder, I crashed into a tree. I was scraped and hurting, but there wasn't time to be hurt, so I just had to keep going."

What happened after you completed the job? Did you want to stay in a related field? "I am a professional musician (electric violin), and, between tours, I have also been doing a lot of hosting work. I recently appeared on a pilot for the Travel Channel called Destination Showdown. I was hired again by Viator to film for two months in Asia and Australia this past year, which was also incredible. I even started a travel blog to start recording my journeys."