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Lawyer Visits Every NYC Subway Station in Record-Breaking Speed

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Matthew Ahn had a lot riding on a recent summer commute. The 25-year-old lawyer set out to break his own Guinness World Record for the fastest time spent traveling to every single subway stop on 24 train lines in New York City’s sprawling 469-station system throughout five boroughs. In July, he succeeded with a total time of 21 hours, 28 minutes, and 14 seconds—and he recently received official confirmation as the record holder, according to The New York Times.

Armed with a GoPro strapped to his chest, an iPhone, five granola bars for an energy boost, and numerous bottles of water, the aspiring cartographer created a detailed spreadsheet and itinerary of subway timetables and routes (which he’s keeping to himself as a secret) to help him break the record. His journey started at 2:02 a.m. at Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue on the A train and ended more than 21 hours later at Flushing-Main Street on the 7 train, both in Queens.

Ahn tried to adhere to Guinness’s strict rules—which include witness signatures, time-stamped photos, and a detailed log of the opening and closing of each subway door—all while trying to complete the world-breaking journey on one of the hottest days of the summer, with temperatures reaching a scorching 93 degrees. He also had to run a total of eight miles between stations to get the most out of his time, instead of waiting for out-of-the-way transfers.

Ahn was in a race against himself. His previous world record, totaling 21 hours, 49 minutes, and 35 seconds, was nullified when the 34th Street-Hudson Yards subway stop in Manhattan was opened in September 2015. This time he managed to shave 21 minutes and 21 seconds off his previous total time.

“I would like all the food, and then I would like to sleep,” Ahn said as soon as he completed his trip. “That would be great!” Watch Matthew Ahn in action in the video below.

[h/t Travel+Leisure]

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Big Questions
How Are Rooms Cleaned at an Ice Hotel?

Cleaning rooms at Sweden’s famous ICEHOTEL is arguably less involved than your typical hotel. The bed, for example, does not have traditional sheets. Instead, it’s essentially an air mattress topped with reindeer fur, which sits on top of a custom-made wooden palette that has a minimum of 60 centimeters of airspace below. On top of those reindeer hides is a sleeping bag, and inside that sleeping bag is a sleep sack. And while it’s always 20ºF inside the room, once guests wrap themselves up for the night, it can get cozy.

And, if they’re wearing too many layers, it can get quite sweaty, too.

“The sleep sack gets washed every day, I promise you that. I know it for a fact because I love to walk behind the laundry, because it’s so warm back there," James McClean, one of the few Americans—if not the only—who have worked at Sweden's ICEHOTEL, tells Mental Floss. (He worked on the construction and maintenance crew for several years.)

There isn’t much else to clean in most guest rooms. The bathrooms and showers are elsewhere in the hotel, and most guests only spend their sleeping hours in the space. But there is the occasional accident—like other hotels, some bodily fluids end up where they shouldn’t be. People puke or get too lazy to walk to the communal restrooms. Unlike other hotels, these bodily fluids, well, they freeze.

“You can only imagine the types of bodily fluids that get, I guess, excreted … or expelled … or purged onto the walls,” McClean says. “At least once a week there’s a yellow stain or a spilled glass of wine or cranberry juice … and it’s not what you want to see splattered everywhere.” Housekeeping fixes these unsightly splotches with an ice pick and shovel, re-patching it with fresh snow from outside.

Every room has a 4-inch vent drilled into the icy wall, which helps prevent CO2 from escalating to harmful levels. Maintenance checks the holes daily to ensure these vents are not plugged with snow. Their tool of choice for clearing the pathway is, according to McClean, “basically a toilet brush on a stick.”

When maintenance isn’t busy unstuffing snow from that vent hole, they’re busy piping snow through it. Every couple days, the floor of each room receives a new coat of fluffy snow, which is piped through the vent and leveled with a garden rake.

“It’s the equivalent of vacuuming the carpet,” McClean says.

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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Rent an Incredible Harry Potter-Themed Apartment in the City Where the Series Was Born
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The Muggle city of Edinburgh has deep ties to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling wrote much of the book series while living there, and there’s even a pub in Edinburgh that named itself after the author for a month. Now, fans passing through the Scottish capital have the chance to live like their favorite boy wizard. As Digital Spy reports, a Harry Potter-themed holiday home in the city’s historic district is now available to rent for around $200 (£150) a night.

Property owner Yue Gao used her own knowledge as a fan when decorating the apartment. With red and yellow accents, a four-poster bed, and floating candles adorning the wallpaper on the ceiling, the master bedroom pays tribute to both the Gryffindor dormitory and the Hogwarts Great Hall. The Hogwarts theme extends to the lounge area, where each door is painted with a different house’s colors and crest. Guests will also find design aspects inspired by the Hogwarts Express around the apartment: The second bedroom is designed to look like a sleeping car, and the front door is disguised as the brick wall at Platform 9 3/4.

Pieces of Harry Potter memorabilia Gao has picked up in her travels are hidden throughout the home, too. If visitors look closely, they’ll find several items that once belonged to Rowling herself, including the writer’s old desk.

Take a look at some of the photos of the magical interiors:

The apartment is available to rent throughout the year through canongateluxuryapartment.co.uk. And if you can tear yourself away from the residence for long enough, there are plenty of other Harry Potter-themed attractions to check out in Edinburgh during your stay.

[h/t Digital Spy]

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