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15 of the World’s Most Beautiful Passports

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Your passport is the one thing you always have with you when you travel around the world, so it might as well be beautiful. These 15 countries have transformed their passports into works of art.

1. NORWAY

Norway’s new passport shows off the Aurora.

Norway’s passport, which was redesigned in 2014, is a celebration of Scandi minimalism. The inside pages depict Norway’s natural landscapes using clean lines and shades of teal, grey, and orange. The illustration are gorgeous enough in normal light, but they really come alive when you shine a UV light on them: The colors turn dark, and the Northern Lights appear as dazzling ribbons across the night sky.

2. FINLAND

No more twiddling your thumbs in the customs line! Finland’s passport, redesigned in 2012, doubles as a flipbook. When you thumb through the document, an illustration of a moose at the bottom right hand corner appears to saunter across the page. 

3. AUSTRALIA

Kangaroos, emus, platypuses: the Australian passport has them all. The illustrations inside pay tribute to the country’s distinctive biology. And beneath the pretty pictures, a host of hidden security features—including an image of a kangaroo that appears to float above the page when tilted—make Australia’s passports extremely difficult to forge.

4. CANADA

Canada’s new passport looks fairly ordinary in the light of day. But when you shine a blacklight on the inside pages, they transform into glowing illustrations of iconic Canadian scenes and symbols, from Niagara Falls to Technicolor maple leaves. 

5. CHINA

Like Canada’s passport, China’s passport has an ultraviolet secret. Pass a UV light over the inner pages, and illustrations of landmarks like the Great Wall of China burst into colorful life.

6. NEW ZEALAND

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As a remote nation surrounded by water, New Zealand has always been a nation of travelers—from the early Polynesian explorers who first sailed to the island, to modern-day Kiwis who travel thousands of miles beyond their borders. Each page of New Zealand’s passport—one of the world's most powerful—tells the story of the many journeys that New Zealanders have taken throughout history.

7. HUNGARY

Like many of the world’s most beautiful passports, Hungary’s passport comes alive under UV light. A blacklight reveals part of the musical score of the second Hungarian national anthem, the Szózat.

8. INDONESIA

The 48 pages of Indonesia’s passport feature brightly colored drawings of the island nation’s impressive flora and fauna, including a turtle, a bird of paradise, and a Rafflesia, one of the world’s largest flowers. 

9. IRELAND

The Irish passport, redesigned in 2013, is a lovely tribute to the music, architecture, and natural beauty of the Emerald Isle. The illustrations inside depict landmarks like the Cliffs of Moher and Dublin’s iconic River Liffey, woven through with Celtic designs.

10. SWEDEN

The Scandinavians seem to know something the rest of us don’t when it comes to stylish passport design. Sweden’s passport, redesigned in 2012, features unusual birds-eye-view illustrations of famous Swedish landmarks and neighborhoods. And yet again, the whimsical drawings take on a whole new life when you slip them under UV light.

11. UNITED KINGDOM

The UK redesigns its passport every five years for security reasons. The most recent design, unveiled in November 2015, celebrates the past 500 years of creativity in Britain. The inside pages feature illustrations of British innovators, including the modern artist Anish Kapoor and the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace. Also, a watermark of William Shakespeare graces every page. 

12. UNITED STATES

America’s passport is full of colorful illustrations of classic American landscapes, paired with inspirational quotes from U.S. leaders. But the current look may be on its way out; the U.S. passport is getting a makeover, and will debut later this year, or near the start of 2018.

13. PHILIPPINES

The new Philippine passport, which was released in 2016, features colorful illustrations of the country's tourist destinations, natural landmarks, and animals. The most dramatic rendering shows the wings of endangered cockatoos framing the face of the national bird, the Philippine eagle.

14. MEXICO

Each page of Mexico’s colorful passport features a different coat of arms to represent Mexico’s 31 states and Federal District. 

15. SWITZERLAND

Switzerland’s passport (issued in 2010) definitely makes a statement. Instead of the standard dark cover stamped with a country crest, the Swiss went bold, minimal, and modern, with an unusual off-center alignment for the text. The geometric patterns on the inner pages are just as striking.

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Courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence
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5 Frank Lloyd Wright Homes You Can Buy Right Now
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Courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence

It can be hard for homeowners to sell Frank Lloyd Wright houses, even if they are live-in works of art. Some prospective owners don't want to deal with pilgrims or rubberneckers, while others simply aren't fans of Wright's style, or his penchant for building in far-flung locations. The upside? The architect's mega-fans have a better chance of scoring a genuine Wright original, occasionally at a relatively bargain price. From suburban Minnesota to rural New York, here are five drool-worthy Wright residences that you can purchase right now.

1. THE PAUL OLFELT HOUSE IN ST. LOUIS PARK, MINNESOTA

Exterior shot of the Paul Olfelt House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
Courtesy of the Berg Larsen Group, Coldwell Banker Burnet

Address: 2206 Parklands Lane, St. Louis Park, Minnesota 55416

Asking Price: $1.3 million

History: In the 1950s, Wright designed one of his moderately priced Usonian homes for clients Paul and Helen Olfelt, who lived with their young children in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. A fan of Wright’s work, the couple had written the architect a letter requesting that he design their family one of his stylish single-family residences.

“We hoped for a refuge from the world for part of our day, a place where we could enjoy nature and the beauty of man’s creativeness in harmony with nature,” Olfelt, a radiologist, wrote in 1969 in the journal Northwest Architect. “We wanted a home that by virtue of its character would help us and our children be dissatisfied with the ordinary.”

Wright accepted the commission and briefly met with the Olfelts to discuss his vision, although he never visited the actual site—a tree-filled cul-de-sac—in person. The three-bedroom home's design was completed shortly before the architect’s death in 1959, and the Olfelts officially moved into the home in September 1960, and listed it for sale for the very first time in 2016. It’s still on the market, just waiting for a lucky Twin Cities area buyer to snap it up.

Bona Fides: The Paul Olfelt House comes equipped with a wood-burning fireplace; a fully equipped kitchen; and a master suite with both a dressing room/closet and an en suite three-quarter bath. It also includes many furniture pieces—including chairs, ottomans, desks, lamps, and tables—that Wright custom-designed for the home. Many, if not all, of these items are included the home’s sale price.

Fun Facts: The home has a basement, which is “rare for Wright homes,” a representative from Berg Larsen Group of Coldwell Banker Burnet tells Mental Floss. “He drew the line at the request for a bathroom; therefore, there’s an odd little commode in the unfinished storage area that we refer to as ‘plumbed for additional bathroom.’"

The basement also includes an office, which was designed for Olfelt; a play area for children (complete with swing); and a bar with banquette seating.

Interior shot of the Paul Olfelt House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Courtesy of the Berg Larsen Group, Coldwell Banker Burnet

Interior shot of the Paul Olfelt House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
Courtesy of the Berg Larsen Group, Coldwell Banker Burnet

2. TIRRANNA IN NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT

Exterior shot of Tirranna by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence

Address: 432 Frogtown Road, New Canaan, Connecticut 06840

Asking Price: $7.2 million

History: "Tirranna" is an Australian aboriginal word meaning "running waters"—a fitting choice, considering that the U-shaped residence sits next to a pond fed by a nearby river and overlooks a tiny cascade. The home was built in the 1950s, and was one of Wright's very last houses built before his death.

Bona Fides: "Tirranna is one of the two or three biggest homes Wright ever built or designed, just from a size perspective," Houlihan Lawrence broker Doug Milne tells Mental Floss. "As you enter the main room, it goes from very low ceilings to soaring ceilings and glass, with Brazilian mahogany walls and ceilings that are just in miraculous condition."

Tirranna has seven bedrooms, and is surrounded by 15 acres of forest. Also on the grounds are a barn and stable, a greenhouse, a guest house, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a workshop, and gardens designed by Frank Okamura, the landscape architect for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Fun Fact: If Tirranna achieves its $7.2 million asking price, it will set a record for the highest price ever paid for a Wright house. This money will go toward an important cause: mental health research.

Tirranna's last owner was the late businessman Ted Stanley, who died in early 2016 at the age of 84. But while Stanley became rich selling collectibles, his true passion ended up being medical philanthropy. It all started when Stanley's teenage son, Jonathan Stanley, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the late 1980s. His eventual recovery was largely due to being treated successfully with the right medicine. The experience turned Stanley into a staunch advocate for mental health research, and he spent the remainder of his life donating vast portions of his fortune to research institutions like the Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Broad Institute employs some of the world's top scientists, who research both the genetic and molecular causes of psychiatric disorders and potential treatments. “My son’s life was saved,” Stanley told The New York Times in 2014. "I would like to purchase that happy ending for other people."

When Stanley died in 2016, he left the Broad Institute much of his fortune. Tirranna's proceeds will also be directed toward the research center.

Exterior shot of Tirranna by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence

Interior shot of Tirranna by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence

3. THE LOUIS PENFIELD HOUSE IN WILLOUGHBY HILLS, OHIO

Exterior shot of the Louis Penfield House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Courtesy of Howard Hanna

Address: 2215 River Road, Willoughby Hills, Ohio 44094

Asking Price: $1.3 million

History: Designed by Wright and built in the mid 1950s, the Louis Penfield House is a nature lover's dream. The restored Usonian home sits atop a knoll overlooking the nearby Chagrin River, and across the street from protected forest, creeks, and hiking trails. The home was commissioned by high school art teacher Louis Penfield and his wife, Pauline, but has operated as a vacation rental house since 2003. New owners can opt to keep renting it or to use the home as a private residence.

Bona Fides: The three-bedroom, two-story home comes complete with Wright-designed furniture, which is included in the cost of sale. Owners can also say bye-bye to heating bills, as the home has a radiant-floor heating system fueled by one of two natural gas wells on the property. And just in case you were looking for even more bragging rights, the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plus, prospective buyers have the chance to score two Wright homes for the price of one (well, kind of): "The last original Wright building site in the world is located adjacent to the Penfield House," and is included in the sale, listing agent Karen Eagle of Howard Hanna tells Mental Floss. "The building plans for Wright’s last residential commission, called Riverrock, are owned by the Penfields. The house is historically significant. It is design number 5909, and was on Wright’s drawing board when he died. The Penfields received the plans shortly after his death in April 1959."

Fun Fact: "Louis Penfield was nearly 7 feet tall," Eagle says. "The home was designed to accommodate his tall stature. Frank Lloyd Wright's ceilings are typically low. The staircase is pretty interesting too, since it accommodates for height."

According to legend, Penfield visited Wright's Wisconsin studio and challenged the architect to build a custom home for his towering frame. Wright accepted the dare, and mailed his new client a preliminary drawing six months later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Exterior shot of the Louis Penfield House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Courtesy of Howard Hanna

Interior shot of the Louis Penfield House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Elmhurst, Illinois
Courtesy of Howard Hanna

4. THE F.B. HENDERSON HOUSE IN ELMHURST, ILLINOIS

Exterior shot of the F.B. Henderson House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Elmhurst, Illinois
Courtesy of Zillow

Address: 301 South Kenilworth Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois 60126

Asking Price: $1 million

History: Built in the early 1900s, the F.B. Henderson House is an early example of Wright's signature brand of Prairie style architecture. The architect built the home in conjunction with Chicago architect Webster Tomlinson, who briefly served as Wright's business partner. The two are both listed as the home's architects, although Tomlinson was reportedly more like the project's office manager and business agent.

Originally commissioned by client Frank Bignell Henderson in 1901, the home has been on and off the market for the past decade. That said, real estate agents tell Mental Floss that they've seen prospective buyers sniffing around as of late.

Bona Fides: Both the interior and exterior of the F.B. Henderson House have been recently restored, but the property still has plenty of original mid-century charm to spare. And if charm alone won't do, there's also three fireplaces, a wine cellar, and an expansive terrace overlooking the lawn.

"There is a real open feel on the first floor," agent Marilyn Fisher of LW Reedy Real Estate tells Mental Floss. "It’s a massive space. It has a huge foyer as you walk in, and then when you come into the main part of the house, you have a really big living room. On either side of the living room are mirror-image rooms. One side is half of an octagon, and the other side is the other half, making for a wide expanse. It's a very dramatic look."

Fun Fact: The F.B. Henderson House has more than 80 art glass, or stained glass, windows. Wright often referred to these mini works of art as "light screens," as they evoked the look of sliding Japanese shoji screens.

Exterior shot of the F.B. Henderson House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Elmhurst, Illinois
Courtesy of Zillow

Interior shot of the F.B. Henderson House by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Elmhurst, Illinois
Courtesy of Zillow

5. THE MASSARO HOUSE IN PUTNAM COUNTY, NEW YORK

Exterior shot of a home on Petra Island, in New York, inspired by designs by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Courtesy of Chilton & Chadwick

Address: Petra Island, Lake Mahopac, Carmel, New York

Asking Price: $14.92 million

History: Some Wright purists turn up their noses at the Massaro House, in spite of its spectacular location (on a 10-acre private island), its spectacular design (a 5000-square-foot home with a cantilevered deck that practically puts Fallingwater to shame), and its spectacular scenery (did we mention it's on a lake?). They say it's just "inspired" by the architect, instead of truly being his original work.

Around 1950, engineer A.K. Chahroudi commissioned Wright to design him a dream home on the island, but the client wound up not being able to afford the planned project. Instead, Wright created a small guest cottage for his client. In 1996, sheet metal contractor Joe Massaro purchased Petra Island, and he also acquired Wright's original plans for the site, intending to fulfill the famous architect's ultimate vision.

With the help of architects and scholars, the Massaro House was completed around 2007. However, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation refuses to recognize it as an authentic Wright design, as they're not happy about some controversial design tweaks Massaro made to the plans.

Bona Fides: The home has geometric windows, a wraparound patio, and boulders integrated into the walls, giving it a natural feel. Other structures on the island include the aforementioned guest house and a tea house.

Fun Facts: If you own your own chopper, look no further than the Massaro House. "It has a helipad," Chadwick Ciocci, the CEO and founder of global real estate concierge Chilton & Chadwick, tells Mental Floss. "I don’t know of any other Frank Lloyd Wright homes that have that."

"Also very important is that the home is on a private heart-shaped island," Ciocci adds. (Really? We hadn't noticed.)

Interior shot of a home on Petra Island, in New York, inspired by designs by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Courtesy of Chilton & Chadwick

Aerial shot of a home on Petra Island, in New York, inspired by designs by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Courtesy of Chilton & Chadwick
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Never Lose Your Stuff While Working Out With This Handy Storage Water Bottle
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Bindle Bottle

Workout clothes are not known for having the roomiest pockets—if they have pockets at all. But when you hit the gym, you don’t want to carry a bag. So why not stick your loose stuff in your water bottle?

The Bindle Bottle is a metal water bottle that comes stacked with an extra storage container that can fit small items like keys, headphones, Chapstick, or your swimming goggles inside.

A product shot shows a black, stainless steel water bottle twisted apart to reveal keys and a phone inside.
Bindle Bottle

The storage canister sits at the bottom of the water bottle. It has a normal screw top cap that you can use to fill and drink from the bottle. (The company also plans to offer options with straws or coffee lids.) When you want to retrieve your hidden stash of stuff below, you just have to twist off the bottom, where it stays nice and dry.

The side of the bottle meant for liquids holds 24 ounces and has a dual-wall design to keep your coffee hot and your water cold, depending on the day. The storage compartment is a little more than 4 inches deep, so it may not fit most smartphones, but it will certainly fit your gym snacks. Priorities.

The Bindle Bottle is currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter from $31.

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