The small community of Solothurn, Switzerland, is having a crisis, and maybe you can help. You see, there’s a cave just outside of town, the Verena Gorge Hermitage, which for the past 600 years has been inhabited by a hermit (not a single immortal hermit, obviously, but a succession of hermits). The current hermit recently had to step down for health reasons (perhaps related to not getting enough sunlight? Just a thought) and now the town is scrambling to find a replacement to keep the hermit tradition alive. Unfortunately for introverts who are salivating at the prospect of getting paid to live in a cave and never talk to anyone, this hermit job is a decidedly social one. According to an ad the town placed in a local newspaper, “The new hermit should have a religious background, have an idealistic attitude, be willing to speak with the visitors and answer to their questions or give them advice.” But! If you can put up with advising tourists about the meaning of life, the gig does come with a free cave, a monthly salary of $1,140, and paid vacation. As far as hermit jobs go, this seems like a great one. [The Daily Beast]
No, Jessica, you’re not dreaming. What you’re looking at are 1,600 papier-maché pandas meant to symbolize the remaining great bears still alive in the world. Inspired by the World Wildlife Fund, whose symbol is a panda, the 1,600 bears are a project by the French artist Paolo Grangeon. Featuring both adult pandas and babies, they’ve traveled to 20 countries over the past six years. The next installation will be in Hong Kong, where i09 reports that Grangeon will leave behind four additional pandas permanently. I should probably never see this public art installation because I will get arrested for trying to steal all of them. [Papier-Mache.co.uk; i09]
I’m a travel writer. I’ve visited Seoul, Santiago, and Vancouver in the past few months alone. My job sounds pretty glamorous on paper: I get to sample exotic foods, visit locations that others own dream about, and meet people from all over the world.
But there is a less glamorous side, too. I usually either travel solo or with a group of other travel writers on an organized press trip — that means that I am spending the majority of my time by myself or with a bunch of people I barely know. Given these circumstances, the number one question people ask about my job is whether I have had any hot vacation hookups. Here’s the sad and possibly surprising answer: nope. While I might stay in hotel rooms with heart-shaped bathtubs, I sleep in their king-sized beds alone.
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My current strategy for identifying my unremarkable black suitcase at baggage claim consists of picking up other people’s unremarkable black suitcases, realizing it’s not mine when someone yells, “Hey, that’s my suitcase!” and then repeating the process until, by process of elimination, I’ve alienated everyone at the conveyor belt and am triumphantly holding my own bag. This is a terrible system, but I’ve been putting off buying luggage tags because I wanted to find the perfect ones. I think I finally have: these Flight Libs luggage tags and passport holders, which are not only bright and easy to spot, but so cute and clever, adorned with travel-themed Mad Libs sentences. And at less than $20 a pop, you can buy a tag for every piece of luggage you own, an unforgettable passport holder, and still afford to order an extra bottle of wine at your first dinner in Rome. Check out all the designs at Flight 001!
My favorite thing about traveling is eating, and my favorite thing to eat is cheese. If I won the lottery tomorrow, my next big trip would be a cheese-themed world tour, stopping off in every country to sample their best fromage, sip expertly paired wines, and go to bed every night bloated and blissfully happy. Care to join me? To get started, let’s drool over six of the finest cheese shops in the U.S. and Europe, shall we?