Ripley’s Believe it or not London

Ripley's Believe it or not London
Vampire woman and Lizard man

If you’re in London and looking for something weird and wonderful to do then look no further than Ripley’s Believe it or not at Piccadilly Circus.

Ripley’s is home to over 700 artefacts, many of which were collected by Robert Ripley himself who was an explorer, collector, presenter and cartoonist! Ripley travelled to 201 countries collecting exotic treasures – everything from tribal masks to shrunken heads – all on display right here!

Portrait of Robert Ripley made from candy at Ripley's Believe it or not London
Portrait of Robert Ripley made from candy

There are also many modern exhibits such as a portrait of Kate Middleton created from lipstick kisses on canvas, Michelle Obama from bottlecaps and a portrait of Amy Winehouse produced from broken CDs which actually looks alot like my A level art project (just the concept, that is, Amy wasn’t famous back then).

Amy Winehouse - A Shattered Life by Victor Ramos. Portrait of Amy Winehouse created from CDs on display at Ripleys London.

You can also find a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted onto a grain of rice, images created on burnt pieces of toast and there’s even a painting done by a horse – it doesn’t get much more random!

As well as quirky art, there are also animal oddities such as a two-headed calf. Plus there’s a chunk of the Berlin wall and the world’s oldest beer, brewed from 5000 year old hops found in an ancient Egyptian tomb!

The World's Oldest Beer - brewed from 5000 year old hops found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb!

There are wax figures of astonishing people like Johnny Eck – a talented man whose torso ended just below the waist, Earl Hughes – the heaviest recorded man in history and Robert Wadlow – the tallest human being ever.

Figure of Ribert Wadlow - tallest man ever. Ripley's Believe it or not London.

You can also find a container filled with ice cold water which you can dip your hand into to experience the temperature of the water when the Titanic sank, which I mentioned in my Wonderworks Orlando post. Another thing similar to Wonderworks is The Black Hole, which is basically a tunnel you walk through but while the bridge is still, the surroundings spin making you feel all kinds of dizzy and sick.

Ripley's Believe it or not London

There’s something for everyone at Ripley’s, one of the coolest things in the culture collection is the Eagle Coffin. In Ghana, funerals are colourful celebrations of the deceased person’s life and coffins are custom designed to represent a person’s hobbies, job or even status. Eagle coffins are reserved for the most honoured chiefs.

Eagle coffin from Ghana - on display at Ripley's in London.

There are many many other weird and wonderful things to see here which I haven’t mentioned but I will say, make sure you visit the Mirror Maze and the Impossible LaseRace at the end!

Mirror Maze at Ripley's London
Mirror Maze selfie!

Also, before you go, check out some different ticket websites online as there are discounts to be had!

If you liked this post then I guarantee you will want to know about Wonderworks Orlando and Puzzling World Wanaka.

My birthday weekend

Hello April, so far you’ve been fabulous.

I’ve had a fun 3 day weekend, kicking off with my birthday on Friday when I received lots of lovely presents, including that amazing Alice in Wonderland pop-up book I raved about when I went to the exhibition at the British Library (I have the best husband!). I did take some photos of it but they just don’t do it justice so I will try again another time.

Another really cool gift I got (because I am a massive nerd) was this Pan Am pilot wings pin. I love vintage travel and I enjoyed the Pan Am tv series, just gotta work out what I’m gonna wear this beauty on!

Pan Am Junior Clipper Pilot Wings

Then our day out in London was filled with some of my favourite things, namely Japanese, weird and cake.

Japanese food at Inamo Soho – an Asian fusion restaurant with cool interactive tables.

Cocktail and beer on the interactive tables at Japanese/Korean restaurant, Inamo in Soho, London

A world of weird and wonderful at Ripley’s Believe it or not at Piccadilly Circus.

Giant rocking chair at Ripleys Believe it or not in London

Ending the day with some tea and cake at Crumbs & Doilies cake shop in Soho. I chose a Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcake with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on top (LOVE Reese’s!). My husband opted for a slice of the Raspberry Bomb cake which was so huge that I had to help him eat it! Normally it’s the other way around!

Peanut butter cupcake from Crumbs and Doilies in Soho, London

Raspberry Bomb cake from Crumbs and Doilies in London
My hubby had a slice of this – not this actual chunk!

Saturday then treated us with even more cake when we took our mums out for a belated mother’s day gift – afternoon tea at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent.

Afternoon tea cake selection at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent, England

In the evening we played a game of Catopoly – my most random and quirky birthday present. It’s basically Monopoly for crazy cat ladies. I’m pleased to say that I thrashed my husband in what shall henceforth be known as ‘The Revenge of Ragdoll’ BAHAHA!

FYI – you know you’re old when your Saturday is spent having afternoon tea and playing board games rather than partying until 3am.

Catopoly - a monopoly style board game for Crazy Cat Ladies

Sunday has been all about cats and coffee. I did my volunteering at the Cats Protection in the morning and then in the afternoon, hubby and I popped out for a free Starbucks, discussed our possible 2016 travel plans and I bought myself a new face cream because I’m thinking now is probably about time I develop some sort of skin care regime. I think I will, but probably won’t.

Stay tuned for some more in depth posts!

How was your weekend?

WonderWorks Orlando – going upside down in Florida!

As I’m in a #throwbackthursday kinda mood I thought I would write about a place I visited on holiday in Florida a few years ago. If you read my post about Puzzling World in New Zealand, then I guarantee you will like this!

WonderWorks is the famous upside down house situated on International Drive in Orlando. It’s a weird, crazy, educational and fun indoor “amusement park for the mind”. It’s open from 9am until midnight so makes for something perfect to do if you have kids to entertain in the evening. Or in my case, friends who just wanted to visit the awesome cool upside down house.

WonderWorks - the famous upside down house on International Drive in Orlando, Florida

WonderWorks is an exciting and interactive adventure, where we got to experience an earthquake simulator – feeling the power of an earthquake reaching 5.3 on the Richter scale and a hurricane simulator with winds rushing at 74 miles per hour!

We also dipped our hands into icy water at -2 degrees celsius, which was as cold as the water when the Titanic sank. The challenge was to see how long you could keep your hand in the water for. Let me tell you, I couldn’t manage more than a few seconds!

There are loads of things to see and do in WonderWorks, we played with giant bubbles and laid on a bed of nails… 3500 nails to be precise and all in the name of science of course!

Make giant bubbles at Wonderworks on International Drive in Orlando

Test your endurance on the Bed of Nails at Wonderworks, Orlando

There was also a tube filled with one million beads. One of the beads was purple, the rest were pink or yellow. The challenge was to find the ‘one in a million’.

Find the one in a million at WonderWorks Orlando

And you know what, we only blooming found it! I even took a picture to prove it (although it is a tad blurry).

One million beads, one of them is purple - we found the one in a million! WonderWorks Orlando

We also got to go into a 2-seater simulator which tipped us upside down and threw us about. There was also an indoor ropes course – a bit like a neon glow treetop adventure kind of thing, except indoors. From the ground up it looked pretty easy and not too high although it’s a different story when you’re up there!

And just for your sheer enjoyment, here is a picture of me looking goofy in a spacesuit and my hubby who completely lost his head in the madness of it all!

Looking goofy at WonderWorks Orlando

As well as interactive spectacles, there are also crazy mirrors and random artwork, including these Gum Blondes – celebrity portraits made purely of bubblegum!

Gum Blondes artwork at WonderWorks

All in all our visit to WonderWorks Orlando lasted a couple of hours and offered us something a little different to rushing around the theme parks or lounging by the pool.

If you enjoyed this post, then why not check out my quirky travel board on pinterest or read about my visit to Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand.

Quirky things to do in wonderful Wanaka

Quirky Wanaka New Zealand

We had arrived in sunny serene Wanaka after a 3 and a half hour drive from drizzly dreary Franz Josef (do you like my use of alliteration there?). We parked up, checked in at our hostel and took a short walk into town where we were greeted by scenes such as this…

Gorgeous Lake Wanaka in New Zealand

It was gorgeously warm and sunny so we decided to have some lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the lake. We ate at a place called Trout, where I had a chickpea, halloumi and pesto burger with chunky fries. I am telling you – New Zealand make the BEST burgers!

Chickpea, halloumi and pesto burger at Trout restaurant in Wanaka, New Zealand

Unfortunately, we were only in Wanaka for 1 night but it was the perfect place for a little relaxation before we hit the crazy adrenalin capital of New Zealand aka Queenstown.

So what are the quirky things to do in Wanaka?

1. Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka New Zealand - the coolest and quirkiest cinema i've ever been to!

What’s so special about a cinema? I hear you ask. Well, this one has SOFAS and CARS inside it! Yup, hubby and I used to be quite avid cinema goers and always used to joke and say that we should have our own sofa at the cinema, well at Cinema Paradiso our wish came true. Before we even got to New Zealand, we decided that we’d go and see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – part 2 at some point during the trip and we found ourselves in Wanaka shortly after it’s release date. Perfect timing!

The cinema is small (it only has 2 screens) so advance booking is recommended. We popped in there before lunch to book our tickets for the 5pm showing and we got the last 2 tickets! You aren’t allocated seats so it’s pretty much first come first served.

Inside Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka
The array of seating options at Cinema Paradiso – including that blue car at the back!

Top tip: If you’re planning on a cosy movie experience with your significant other, choose a two-seater sofa because you may find your romantic evening for two will be gatecrashed by a third randomer when they try to squeeze the latecomers in!

My favourite thing: Besides the obvious, I loved how cheap the drinks were here, especially compared to cinema prices back home.

Something to note: There is an interval halfway through each film where you can go and buy freshly baked cookies (which are apparently very good). I found this a bit annoying as I was getting into the film and wasn’t hungry enough for a cookie.

Retro car inside Cinema Paradiso Wanaka
You can choose this retro car to sit in instead of a sofa!

2. Puzzling World

Puzzling World is kind of hard to describe, it’s like a bizarre museum of optical illusions and madness and describes itself as Wanaka’s Wonderful World of Weirdness. You can kind of tell from how the building itself looks!

Quirky Wanaka New Zealand - Puzzling World!

There are holograms and optical illusions dotted about on the walls throughout the experience. One of the first rooms you enter is the Tilted House where the floor is at one angle, the walls appear to be slanting at another angle. There’s a chair lift which seemingly travels uphill and all sorts of other mind boggling oddities. I couldn’t actually spend too long in this room as it made me feel quite sick!

Inside The Tilted House at Puzzling World
Attempting to do the Michael Jackson lean infront of a pool table where the balls roll upwards!
Cool hologram at Puzzling World in Wanaka
From one angle the statue is there… and from the next she’s been stolen!
Inside Puzzling World - Wanaka's Weird and Wacky attraction
Sitting on a seemingly suspended bench infront of a suspended tap
optical-illusion
Do you see the word ‘optical’ or ‘illusion’?

Puzzling World is one of those places that is better seen than described. It doesn’t take too long to walk around, but it is fun and interesting, and a decent way to spend a morning (which we did before we left for Queenstown!). Even the toilets here have optical illusions on the floor and the cafe has puzzles to play with.

Top tip: Keep your eyes open in some of the tourist magazines for discount coupons. They come in pretty handy when you’re on a budget!

My favourite thing: The Ames Room is awesome. You enter one door, your friend enters the other. You are both standing in the same room yet due to some illusion and trickery, one of you appears to be a giant and the other one appears to be teeny tiny! You can get a passer-by to take a photo for you, or you can watch yourself back on the tv they have there. Check out my video at the bottom of this post to see what I’m talking about!

Something to note: There are several entry options for Puzzling World – $16 for the Illusion Rooms, $16 for the maze or $20 for both. We decided that as we had other plans later on in the day, we would just pay for the entry to the Illusion Rooms as we weren’t too sure how long we could end up in the maze for!

Here’s a short and sweet video we made at Puzzling World. The Ames Room is at the end. Enjoy!

10 surprising things about Japan

Japan is one of my all time favourite destinations so I thought I would share some of the kooky, awesome and surprising things I learnt while I was there.

10 surprising things about Japan

1. Not everything is high-tech

So you know about the high-tech toilets right? The ones with seat warmers and sounds? Yet how come in most public restrooms they have these fancy toilets yet there are no hand dryers and quite often not even any soap?!

2. Kawaii is everywhere

Kawaii (cute) is not something just for school girls and small children, I saw grown business men (or salary men as the Japanese call them) with kawaii Pikachu phone charms.

Black Egg Kitty - a mascot at Owakudani where you can buy blackened eggs cooked in volcanic pools
Black Egg Kitty at Owakudani where you can buy eggs cooked in volcanic pools

3. Japanese people are incredibly helpful

Although English is not as widely spoken there as it is in other parts of Asia, people will still go out of their way to help you.

On our first visit to Tokyo, we were stood in a train station, slightly baffled, trying to make our way to Harajuku. A random commuter approached us, not speaking a word of English (and us not speaking much more than a couple of words of Japanese). He then proceeds to point at our map and point at the map on the wall. After alot of pointing from us and the man, we thanked him (arigato) and went on our way. We made it to Harajuku fine. I also remember having lunch one day and flicking through my Lonely Planet guidebook, when out of nowhere a young woman came up to us at our table and asked if we needed help finding anything.

On our second visit to Tokyo, a kind old lady showed us the way to our hotel, again not speaking any English, but happy to help us without us even asking.

4. Japanese people are also polite and kind

Being a tourist in a foreign city it’s easy to be wary of any strangers who approach you because more often than not, they want something. To be fair, this happens at home too. So anyway, when we were greeted by a man suddenly at Ueno Zoo who offered to take our photo and then asked us alot of questions, my guard was up. He then gave me a little leather shoe phone charm and went on his way. He didn’t want money. It was a gift. He had made it himself. I was wrong to jump to a conclusion but can you blame me? I spent the rest of the trip gushing about how nice everyone in Japan is.

5. The television is as weird as you imagine

We saw a show where they got a bunch of people to make a human table and then a girl proceeded to dance on top of this human table. We also watched a programme of people being surprised with cute animals to play with!

Bizarre Japanese television - a human table
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘bending over backwards’ !

6. They play cutesy jingles in train stations

For some reason, most of the train stations we hopped on and off at played cheeping bird noises from a speaker. I don’t know why but I kind of miss it. They also play cutesy jingles when the train is in and doors are closing. Not something I’ve ever experienced anywhere else.

7. The Japanese love a theme

Theme restaurants and cafes are all over Japan. We visited an Alice in Wonderland restaurant, a cat cafe, a rabbit cafe and a maid cafe. There are also many other places you can go and experience, from dining in a jail cell to having your food brought out to you by a ninja!

Cat Cafe in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

8. Vending machines are king

Yes they are everywhere. Most of them sell drinks but you can buy all sorts of other stuff from them. Gachapons are also quite common and mainly sell toys, although apparently there is one somewhere in Tokyo that sells wigs for dogs!

Souvenir vending machines in Japan
Souvenir vending machines

9. Gerbils are zoo animals here

I used to keep pet gerbils in the days before I had my cat. They’re not super common pets in the UK in the way that cats and dogs are but they are still pretty popular. So it came as a surprise to me to find that in Japan, gerbils are actually zoo animals!

Mongolian Gerbil at Ueno Zoo in Japan

10. Robots are for real

Imagine my excitement on my first evening in Tokyo, I headed to the Tokyo Dome entertainment complex for a bite to eat to find this robot just wandering about!

Have you been to Japan? What surprised you?

Why not follow my Japantastic Japan board on Pinterest for inspiration?