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Spend the Night in Paris's Bone-Filled Catacombs

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Lodging website Airbnb isn’t hurting for unusual accommodations: Travelers booking rooms can arrange to stay in a teepee on Idaho’s Snake River, a treehouse in France, a cubehouse in the Netherlands, a seashell house in Mexico, and even a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. But none of these places packs the spook factor of Airbnb’s latest listing: Paris’s Catacombs.

Initially a series of stone quarries, the Catacombs became the final resting place to bones from several Parisian cemeteries beginning in 1786. Officials moved the bones there after overcrowding in cemeteries, combined with improper disposal techniques, led to the spread of disease in the city. The last bones were placed in the Catacombs in 1859. Today, the Catacombs are a macabre but popular tourist attraction, drawings thousands of people every year.

Airbnb Ireland is giving two lucky winners a chance to spend Halloween night among the bones of six million Parisians. The listing description promises “a dazzling culinary experience,” a personal storyteller who “will have you spellbound with fascinating tales from the catacombs, guaranteed to produce nightmares,” and a private concert “in the most incredible acoustics under the earth.” (This is a throwback—the underground crypts hosted small concerts in the late 1850s.) Finally, the winners will "enjoy dawn with the dead, as you become the only living person ever to wake up in the Paris catacombs."

But there are a few rules the winners must abide by, according to the listing:

No tricks. But plenty of treats.
Please respect the Catacombs as you would your own grave.
Be mindful of your Parisian neighbors, both the living and the dead.
No bobbing for apples in the Catacomb pools.
Don't forget your toothbrush and pajamas. Bonus points if they glow in the dark.

Does this sound like your ideal Halloween night? Then prepare a 100-word essay that explains why you deserve to stay in the Catacombs. (The originality and creativity of your story—"Does it surprise and delight us?"—is weighted 70 percent, while the remaining 30 percent is all about spirit: "How does your submission relate to the Paris Catacombs and Halloween?") Participants must be 18 years old and signed up with Airbnb. Entries are due by October 20; you can submit them here.

All images courtesy of Airbnb
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National Geographic Ranks The 25 Happiest Cities in the Country
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Feeling unhappy? Maybe it's time to move. National Geographic recently released rankings of the 25 happiest cities in the U.S. The results: Eight of the 25 locations are in the Golden State, but the honor of No. 1 happiest city goes to Boulder, Colorado.

The rankings are based on 250,000 interviews conducted in 190 metropolitan areas between 2014 and 2015. The survey—developed by Dan Buettner, author of the new book The Blue Zones of Happiness, and Dan Witters, a senior scientist at Gallup—looked for data points that are correlated with life satisfaction and happiness, like whether or not you exercise, if you feel safe in your community, whether you feel like you live within your means, and whether you feel like you are reaching your goals.

A map of the U.S. showing which cities made the top 25 happiest cities index.
Courtesy National Geographic

Of course, all that isn’t necessarily the result of your geographical location. But you don’t see cities like Los Angeles or New York—where wealth is also clustered—on the list, so presumably San Franciscans are doing something a little differently.

Take a look for yourself. Here are the 25 happiest places in the U.S., according to the results.

1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California
6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut
9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
13. Salinas, California
14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
21. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia/Maryland/West Virginia
22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin
23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
24. Portland-South Portland, Maine
25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

You can grab a copy of November’s National Geographic to read more about the world’s happiest places.

The cover of Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones of Happiness and the cover of November 2017’s National Geographic.
National Geographic
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Here's How to Turn an IKEA Box Into a Spaceship
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Since IKEA boxes are designed to contain entire furniture items, they could probably fit a small child once they’re emptied of any flat-packed component pieces. This means they have great potential as makeshift forts—or even as play spaceships, according to one of the Swedish furniture brand’s print ads, which was spotted by Design Taxi.

First highlighted by Ads of the World, the advertisement—which was created by Miami Ad School, New York—shows that IKEA is helping customers transform used boxes into build-it-yourself “SPÄCE SHIPS” for children. The company provides play kits, which come with both an instruction manual and cardboard "tools" for tiny builders to wield during the construction process.

As for the furniture boxes themselves, they're emblazoned with the words “You see a box, they see a spaceship." As if you won't be climbing into the completed product along with the kids …

Check out the ad below:

[h/t Design Taxi]

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