Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, USA
Bring your crazy self. This is the Redneck Riviera as they call it. It’s very welcoming and you can come to let you freak flag fly. Skip New Orleans! This is far more interesting and authentic, unpretentious fun. (You’re so welcome.)
The IceHotel Melting, Lapland, Sweden
What goes up must come down, and the original IceHotel, which goes up in early winter, entirely made of ice — sculpted by artists from around the world who design each room differently — melts in April. This, as you might imagine, they get quite gooey about, almost like it’s its own solstice.
It’s quite a beautiful and surreal (and, honestly, slow) sight. The hotel comes from the River Torne, and it very literally returns to the river. You can be on site to witness this, and even stay over while it is happening, depending on where the hotel is in its dissolving cycle. The management have to do checks before anyone can go in for safety reasons once the melting starts of course, and the final night you can sleep there is April 13th, regardless.
They also have a year-round version, ICEHOTEL 365, with 20 rooms. That, anti-climatically, doesn’t melt.
Belen Market, Iquitos, Peru
Belén Mercado, the floating market of Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon, floats or sits on the Itaya river bed depending on the season. This is a jungle market, an acquatic shantytown consisting of scores of huts built on rafts which fall and rise with the river, home to about seven thousand people.
Colorful, loud, chaotic, living, breathing, full of products you’d imagine and weird things you haven’t imagined, including all kinds of dried jungle animal heads, Amazonian home-made concoctions, roots, barks, medicinal herbs and amulets. Apparently here there is a remedy for anything. Canoes are the recommended way to get around (take that Whole Foods!). If you go to Peru, find your way to Iquitos with its unique, quixotic market.
Lake Como, Italy
I know renting a boat on Lake Como sounds like a super glitzy thing to do in northern Italy’s super-ritzy resort area, but it’s not. For around $150-200 you can captain a nice little cruising boat for a half-day. Lake Como, Italy’s third largest, is quite a sight to see from land, but out on the water, sailing past beautiful villas, hotels and hillside towns, is next level. Especially if you have zero experience driving a boat. But this is Italy, so it feels right. And they don’t seem to care.
105 Mile Hike, Red Sea Mountains, Egypt
The Red Sea Mountain Trail is just west of the beach resort town of Hurghada. It follows the ancient routes used by the local Bedouin tribes for centuries. Owned and operated by the Khushmann clan of the Maaza, Egypt’s largest Bedouin tribe, and opened in March 2019, it benefits the Bedouin community by creating jobs. You have to have a local Bedouin guide to hike the trail, and young Bedouins will work with older ones to keep the tradition and understanding of centuries of their culture going. To hike the full 105 miles takes 10 days and a route which is, in parts, strenuous with some steep bits and includes the Jebel Shayib el Banat, the highest peak in mainland Egypt. You carry your food and water. However, there are other shorter less arduous routes and these come with help carrying what you will need.