TripAdvisor 2017: A Year in Review

It’s always fun to see the end of the year statistics from TripAdvisor. More than 820,000 properties around the world received their first TripAdvisor review in 2017. London was the city with the most reviews and the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana received the most reviews of any hotel. Who wrote the most reviews? Japanese travelers did.

One interesting fact – Pasteis de Belem is a bakery in Lisbon that received more than 10,000 reviews and had the most of any eatery in the world. Eritrea won as the least reviewed country.

Find out more details and have fun on your travels in 2018!




China’s Toilet Revolution

If you were in charge of the tourism industry in your country, promoting the bathrooms probably wouldn’t be your top priority. But for China, this is actually the angle they are taking. President Xi Jinping actually makes it his business to inspect toilet facilities in rural homes and areas, and he has now announced that he is increasing the campaign for a Chinese “toilet revolution” that he first launched in 2015. A toilet revolution – that’s right.
He wants clean toilets to help to boost travel to China and to improve the hygiene of the people. China has apparently opened about 68,000 new and improved toilets in tourist areas around the country since the campaign started in 2015. The Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve has recently welcomed a series of new eco-toilets. In Yunnan province they held a competition to select the best toilets to attract tourists.

An Entire Town On The Move

If you haven’t heard of Kiruna, a town in northern Sweden, you’ll want to read this. The town and its 18,000 residents is moving. That’s right, the entire town is relocating to New Kiruna which is two miles to the east of the original town. They are undertaking this monumental task over the course of 20 years. Learn more about this fascinating story and why it’s taking place.

The Art of Japanese Vending Machines

You’ve probably never given much thought to Japanese vending machines, but if you’ve visited Japan then you might know what we mean. There are over 5.5 million vending machines in Japan – one for every 23 people! This is the highest ratio in the world and you can find machines that sell just about everything. The machines include vibrant colors and bright lights that really stand out at night. Now, photographer Eiji Ohashi has created a book showcasing these machines at night. The book is called “Roadside Lights.”

As Ohashi said, “I started this project nine years ago, when I noticed a shiny vending machine near my home as I was coming back from my night shift. At the time, I was living in a town in the north of Japan that would get hit by terrible blizzards during the winter months. I’d drive my car in (these) conditions and use the light of the vending machines to guide me.”

The crime rate is also very low in Japan, allowing the machines to stand in rural areas without being vandalized. As Ohashi said, “You can put them anywhere and they won’t be stolen or harmed. Furthermore, they work even when they’re buried in snow as they are maintained regularly — something which shows how methodical Japanese people are.”

His exhibit is at Galerie &co119 in Paris from Dec. 7, 2017 to Jan. 18, 2018.

A Hot Spot in Iceland

If you’re looking for a unique and exciting place to vacation, this is it. Located at the 5 Million Star Hotel in Skalholt, which is near the river Hvita, each room includes a clear pod for sleeping and eating. There are five variations including the Una, Asta, Thorunn, Vladis and Maria pods and they have slight variations – but accommodate two people in a double bed in each.

There is heating, of course, so that the bubble will stay warm and the structure is kept inflated by a slight over-pressure from a ventilation system. The price starts at (£135) for each pod, per night. The place was founded by Robert Robertsson when he spoke with travelers who didn’t enjoy staying in the cold to see natural phenomenon.

Can Chocolate Help Prevent Heart Attacks?

Could eating chocolate actually help you to prevent a heart attack? The new research comes from the VA Boston HealthCare system’s analysis of 148,465 US veterans who were part of the Million Veteran Program. This program monitors their health over time. 90% of the participants were men, and the average age was 64. What they found was certainly surprising. Overweight people who eat chocolate at least five times a week are less likely to have a CAD (coronary artery disease) episode such as a heart attack. Those who never eat chocolate, in contrast, are more at risk for having a CAD-related episode.

The strangest part of the study is that they found that the positive effects don’t occur for people within a healthy BMI range or who are underweight. The US researchers hypothesized that this might be because the impact of eating this amount of chocolate is small so it only impacted those who have a higher risk of a CAD event.

The participants were followed for 2.5 years and were asked how many times a week they eat 28 grams of either milk or dark chocolate without extra flavorings added. The results showed that overweight people who had five or more servings of chocolate a week had the least amount of CAD related events.