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For the very discerning traveler

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Grow-a-brain today is featuring the Hemp Hotel, an outpost in Amsterdam dedicated to using hemp "as much as possible, from mattresses, curtains, shampoo, [and] soap to a hemp roll for breakfast." There's also mention of a hotel bar, which serves hemp lollipops, hemp ice cream, hemp seeds, and 11 kinds of hemp beer (if you prefer your mind-altering substances in liquid form). I thought I'd see what other accommodations were available on Unusual Hotels of the World, aside from the usual underwater lairs and ice hotels:

  • The Dog Bark Park Inn of Cottonwood, Idaho, has all the standard features -- queen bed, continental breakfast -- with one twist: the building is a two-story-high beagle. Also, in the hotel gift shop, you can buy "whimsical chainsaw artwork," which I think means wooden sculptures, not movie massacre paraphernalia.
  • At the deceptively normal-sounding Woodlyn Park in Otorohanga, New Zealand, you have your choice of accommodations, from a 1950s Bristol Freighter Plane to a train car from the same era. Not into transportation? May we interest you in the "World's First Hobbit Underground Motels" instead?
  • Decked out with "a well-appointed kitchen including microwave and washer/dryer, cascading waterfall-style shower, and a flagstone hot tub," your room at Kokopelli's Cave in Farmington, New Mexico is sure to please, as long as you like spelunking or at least a brisk downhill walk. The one-bedroom hotel is 70 feet below ground, carved into a 65-million-year-old chunk of sandstone. Sorry, no elevators.

Of course, for the musically inclined, there's always the Hotel California in Santa Monica or Heartbreak Hotel in (of course) Memphis.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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