Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday means weird and wacky travel

For many of us, Monday means back to work, a day on which we need an escape more than most days. So what better day to launch a new weekly feature that showcases the weird and the wacky side of travel? Each Monday, I'll find a person, place or thing guaranteed to make you say "Wow!", "No way!" or simply "Huh?"

And where do I start? A man who has walked around the Earth 17 times? A gadget that will shrink any suitcase down to carry-on size? (I wish.) No, we're setting off to explore Tropical Islands.

Okay, we're not actually going to the tropics, nor will we even find ourselves on an island. We don't even need sunscreen, because there's a roof over our heads. Welcome to Tropical Islands in Brand, Germany, an abomination that more rightly belongs in Dubai or Las Vegas.

About 40 miles south of Berlin, would you expect to find a rainforest with 30,000 trees? Authentic buildings from Bali, Borneo and Samoa? A sandy beach with a "tropical sea" where you can go snorkeling? Well, that's what you'll find, all packed inside the world's largest free-standing dome that could house both the Eiffel Tower (lying down) and the Statue of Liberty (standing up).

Until I saw pictures of the indoor ski slope in Dubai, I never would have imagined something like Tropical Islands could exist outside a science fiction novel. But then again, this is the 21st century. Soon, you won't even have to leave your house to "travel."



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