Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category
November 5, 2013 | Lists
When it comes to crime, it’s not something most want associated with hotels, or motor lodges (hotels whose rooms one can accidentally crash a vehicle into).
That goes for whether it’s your things being pilfered – say, by someone you might’ve tipped in the currency of junk food, unaware of local custom – or accommodations steeped in historical morsels like “this is where so and so met a gruesome end in the bathroom” that might make one forget about the ring left around the tub.
Some travelers amazingly, don’t even think of a hotel room that “looks like the inside of a prison cell” as a pejorative and want as close to the prison experience as is socially acceptable and without having to threaten a celebrity on Twitter to do it. Morbidity sells and that bit of apocrypha that Fatty Arbuckle might’ve nearly drowned in a bidet can’t compete with hotels with the history and bad Mojo that can only come from having been the kinds of places where you can check out and never leave – prisons (even worse, prisons that play Eagles’ music 24/7). .
Here are some popular hotels/hostels that were once prisons.
The Långholmen Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden.
It’s easy to mentally recreate the experience of being locked up 23 hours a day and looking askance at Q-Tips that could be fashioned into shanks, at this former hoosegow which was closed in 1975.
Now it’s a swanky hotel and there’s still the option of a single or double cell and the thick cell doors remain from the original structure. The accompanying visual says, if this room is a-rockin’, please come a knockin’ as someone is being smothered with a pillow.
Built on an island, one that was not the kind populated with bikini-clad sportswomen with which Sweden’s popular culture has graced us, this island was originally rocky and barren. Inmates in the 18th century covered it with mud dredged from nearby waterways. If this sounds too austere for your liking, the hotel website promises “daring design solutions and free access to wireless broadband.”
Jailhotel Löwengraben, Luzern, Switzerland.
We’re neutral when it comes to riffs about the Swiss, but not about this jail, built in 1862.
The “unplugged” room gives the visitor as close to an experience of incarceration as you’d want and with the added bonus of not being strangled with gift twine. There’s even a prison library, where you can pretend you’re scouring precedents for that obscure legal loophole required for the governor to spring you before your omnipresence in the library confers a reputation that’s nearly impossible to shake behind bars: the guy who’s always in the library and plum pickings for an easy beating.
In keeping with the incarceration theme, you can knock back drinks in the Alcatraz Club, pretending you’re Clint Eastwood escaping the eponymous prison, but then realizing you’re in Central Europe and the name makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Pension Unitas, Prague Czech Republic.
In this Russian interrogation cell-cum-hostel, you can rest your head in the very same iron bunk bed that once housed Czech freedom fighter and former president Vaclav Havel.
Havel, who may or may not have signed the pension guestbook (he was the subject of a documentary shoot there), told The Independent when asked about the accommodations, offered an explanation you wouldn’t want proffered by a key character witness: “I live in the present…I have no time to return to the past…details of times best forgotten become hazy if you want them to.”
The former KGB crowbar motel cheekily bills itself as “unfriendly, unheated, uncomfortable and open all year round”.
As an added bonus, a concierge dressed in dark blue Soviet naval attire, barks out orders as you’re processed through booking, given a medical exam, identification and hunks of stale rye bread. For kicks, dress the same way and get tourists to hustle your luggage to your room.
Interestingly, it’s staffed by hacks – real prison guards that is, in big-house parlance – not terrible comedians.
Jail Backpackers, Mount Gambier, Australia.
Actual metal toilets in this joint down under conjure up the lengths inmates would’ve gone, to distill “pruno,” or prison wine (For more on pruno read the Wikipedia entry at your own peril).
If you wish to distill pruno authentically, you have our blessing and let us know how it goes with a quick email, unless you go blind in which case, please refrain from phoning us.
Proprietors of the 1866 structure, “spent much time and effort cleaning, renovating and re-furbishing”, as evidenced here by the touch of plant life gracing the prison yard.
HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel.
Originally the Carleton County Gaol, the top floor of this 1862 structure served as the jail’s death row. There are some who’d rather be dead than spend a night in a hostel, and the four bunk bed accommodations don’t seem much roomier than what inmates would’ve experienced.
Fenian sympathizer Patrick Whelan was hung here in 1869 and it’s said that his ghost (and probably the ghosts of filthy backpackers who’ve had unprotected carnal relations), haunts the hostel halls (for more, please see our list of Non-Boring Moments in Canadian History over at Mental Floss).
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July 1, 2013 | Lists
Canadians enjoy a good quality of life when the heating is working properly, the people are in the main easygoing and our banks even managed to withstand the financial crisis (imagine the financial savvy required to succeed in an enterprise where people give you money. Then again, there is the government…) And if you break your leg, you won’t get a fractured arm to match as the hospital throws your non-insurance carrying ass out the door.
However, the place is by no means perfect. In Ontario, for example, you have to buy beer from an arms-length government cartel called The Beer Store, the name of which reflects the pinnacle of government creativity. And a restaurateur daring to grace an Italian menu with say, Italian, is liable to be prosecuted by some linguo-fascist hired to preserve French culture, and in a place as unlikely as, say, an Italian restaurant.
So, while the country is great in many ways that distinguish us from the US other than the lack of Chinese food takeout seen in TV sitcoms, we concede that there are some areas that could stand improvement. Here we offer ways to improve things in Canada beyond the obvious such as allowing beer and liquor to be sold to people as if they were rational adults and not forcing language laws on a populace that couldn’t give a big bucket of merde. Here are our Top Ten Ways to Improve Canada:
1. Throw the French/English debate off balance by introducing Portuguese as a surprise third national language.
2. Snow days might become increasingly rare due to global warming. Keep the tradition of fun alive by introducing “Sure, we screwed up, but your children won’t even have it this good” days”.
4. Come to grips with the fact that even though they were born here, there is basically dick all Canadian about someone who made his fortune abroad at an early age never to return.
5. Find a way to speed up the sap coming out of a maple tree.
6. Seal clubbing in the maritime provinces gives our country a bad name. Resolve this by encouraging the impoverished people trying to scratch out a living in that economically ravaged part of the country, to sell foodies on the concept of seal sashimi. That way, when someone does the ol’ angry Fred Flintstone on such a cute creature, it’ll have a second life on a dinner plate and on the web via Yelp.
7. Rig cholesterol tests to give bacon eaters a false sense of security and convince them to continue on as they are.
8. Canadian politics can be difficult for newcomers to follow as it’s often difficult to identify what, if anything individual politicians stand for and who they represent. It’s much easier with sports — the New York Yankees and Manchester United are globally recognized brands. We propose that politicians adopt uniforms according to party affiliation:
NDP: armbands and Red Guard uniforms make them easily identifiable them as anti-initiative, cultural Marxist wealth re-distributors that they are. No need for campaign literature!
Conservatives: Tennis sweaters, polo shirts, and similarly obnoxious garb worn to suggest nonchalance regarding both the big sell-off of the country’s natural resources and the actions of their mendacious, entitled, thieving senators.
Bloc Quebecois: Pantalons and berets.
Green Party: Birkenstocks, Saris – basically anything that wouldn’t need to be taken to the cleaners if a baby spat up on it.
Liberals: Since they have no distinct political identity to call their own, they switch back and forth between the four sartorial choices.
9. Introduce prime ministerial term limits. As it stands a prime minister could, if he’s healthy and doesn’t mind those horrible Ottawa winters, be re-elected right up until he pulls that final poll both lever into the great beyond. This makes for stale politics. We propose for elections to be held every year, though if the governing party wins a challenge — for example, its leader beats a super computer in chess — that group wins immunity and can stay on until the next round of voting.
10. Eliminate the beaver as national icon. The beaver used to be on the heads of Canadian frontier folk and later was featured on the nickel due to its status as one of the country’s iconic creatures, right up there with Canadian geese and Howie Mandel. Beavers played an early role in luring in explorers keen to track them down and slaughter them for their pelts, but they haven’t done much for us since. As a recent beaver mauling of a Belarussian man makes clear, they can be dangerous, but more than that beavers have become an unwelcome font for tawdry sexual innuendo. The connotation was so common that the historical magazine formerly known as The Beaver (perfectly acceptable when they named it) had to change its name because spam filters thought a rather crude lesson in anatomy rather than history was on offer.