Norway’s Flåm Railway is considered one of the most beautiful rides in the world. Built into the mountains between Oslo and Bergen, it climbs almost 2850 feet in an hour, traveling along one of the steepest train routes in the world. You may not make it to Scandinavia anytime soon, but you can still experience Flåm’s beauty through Expedia’s Virtual Flåm project. It lets you explore the railway through either 360° video on your desktop or through a virtual reality headset. You can even adjust the speed of your virtual train (the video is shot from the perspective of the front of the train). Information about local sights passing by pop up on the left side of the screen as you go through the journey.
Susami, Japan is one of the few places on earth that people travel to just to send a post card. But there’s a good reason the town’s postal service has been attracting tourists since 1999: That’s the year former postmaster Toshihiko Matsumoto came up with the idea of installing the world’s first underwater mailbox just offshore.
Great Big Story takes a deeper look at this unusual destination in a recent video. To use the mailbox, senders must purchase a waterproof postcard from the local dive shop and write with oil-based markers. Once their parcel is ready, they have to slip into their diving gear and make the trek to the post box 30 feet beneath the ocean surface. Every day the dive shop manager collects whatever cards have been left in the box and delivers them to the post office on land.
Matsumoto originally saw the mailbox as a way to bring tourists to his small town, and his plan paid off: Nearly 38,000 letters have been sent via the undersea system to date. (The postal service in Vanuatu expanded the concept and opened an undersea branch in 2003, complete with attendant.) To see the mailing process at work, check out the video below.
When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.
Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).
No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.
The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.
Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”
Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic: