Tunnel of Love

Walking along a track in the Tunnel of Love is (apparently) quite romantic!

  • The Tunnel of Love covers a portion of an industrial railroad track, found in the north-west of Ukraine in Europe, near the town of Klevan.
  • The Tunnel of Love railway passes through arches of lush vegetation, particularly trees.
  • The length of the Tunnel of Love is disputed, although most cite between 3 to 5 kilometres (1.9 to 3.1 miles) of the total 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) of track.
  • The train track along the Tunnel of Love was initially used in the Cold War to transport military equipment to a nearby secret military base, and the trees were planted beside the track to provide ample coverage so the operation would remain secret.
  • The Tunnel of Love is popular among lovers, and they will sometimes walk, or have photographs taken, along the track.
Tunnel of Love, Green, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Track, Railway, Ukraine,
The Tunnel of Love
Image courtesy of Marcin Grabski/Flickr
  • Up to three or more trains per day may pass through the Tunnel of Love, carrying loads of plywood from a nearby factory, although some days there are none.
  • Incidents have occurred in the Tunnel of Love, one of which was in 2015 when a Japanese women was hit by a train and as a result was injured.
  • The Tunnel of Love was made and is maintained by the trains clipping the forest trees when they travel along the railway.
  • When the Odek plywood factory removed some trees from the Tunnel of Love, many objections were made by the local people, and the factory hasn’t interfered with the trees since.
  • The Tunnel of Love was relatively unknown to the general public until it became widely popular on the internet in 2011, and as a result of its publicity through social media, it has since been visited by people from all over the world, and tourist numbers have significantly increased during the past few years.
Bibliography:
Lisa A, Ukraine‘s Leafy Green ‘Tunnel of Love’ is a Passageway for Trains and Lovers, 2016, Inhabitat, http://inhabitat.com/ukraines-tunnel-of-love-is-a-natural-passageway-for-trains-and-lovers/
Tunnel of Love (Railway), 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_of_Love_(railway)
The Story Behind Ukraine’s “Tunnel of Love”, 2016, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2016/04/the-story-behind-ukraines-tunnel-of-love.html
The Surprising Story Behind Ukraine’s ‘Tunnel of Love’, 2016, RadioFreeEurope, http://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-tunnel-of-love-cold-war-history/27700972.html

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Waffle

The mouth-watering fragrance really lifts from the waffle iron.

  • Waffles are relatively flat baked goods, with an embossed lattice-like pattern, made of flour; and they are often associated with Belgium.
  • ‘Waffles’ have also been known as ‘wafles’, while variants include ‘Belgian’, ‘American’, ‘Brussel’ and ‘Flemish’.
  • The ingredients of waffles are usually a cooked batter of wheat flour, eggs, salt, milk, sugar and sometimes yeast.
  • Waffles are commonly spread or covered with cream, butter, icing sugar, fruits including berries, syrup, jam or ice-cream.
  • The term ‘waffle’ was derived from the Dutch word ‘wafel’, which itself came from the Proto-Germanic word ‘wabila’, meaning ‘web’ or ‘honeycomb’.
Waffles, Maple Syrup, Stack, Dessert, Food, Breakfast, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Delicious, ButterWaffles
Image courtesy of TheCulinaryGeek/Flickr
  • Waffles typically have a light or airy feel with a crisp texture, and are golden brown in colour and are cooked in a variety of shapes, including squares and hearts.
  • Waffles are cooked by pouring the batter in a patterned waffle iron that generally has a base and a lid that encloses the batter, and when heated, cooks the batter.
  • The ancestor of the waffle was the ‘obleios’, a wafer cake from Ancient Greece, which from the 1200s AD became a patterned form similar to the modern one.
  • The earliest known printed recipe of the waffle can be found in the late 1300s book Le Ménagier de Paris.
  • The waffle’s correlation to Belgian culture was created in the World Fairs of 1962 and 1964, where Belgian cooks would serve delicious Belgian-style waffles, which became popular in America.
Bibliography:
Han E, From Wafers to Cones: A Short History of the Waffle, 2010, Kitchn, http://www.thekitchn.com/from-wafers-to-cones-a-short-h-113627
The History of the Waffle, 2015, Hub Pages, http://hubpages.com/education/The-History-of-the-Waffle
Waffle, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waffle
Waffle History, 2016, Lifestyle Direct Inc, http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cereals/waffle-history.asp

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Apple Strudel

Apple strudels with their juicy apples and crispy pastry are mouth-watering delights.

  • An apple strudel is an apple-filled pastry popularly eaten as a dessert or snack, and it is most commonly served warm, though it is also eaten cold.
  • ‘Apple strudel’ is also known as ‘Apfelstrudel’, which is the German term for the dessert, while ‘strudel’ is German for ‘swirl’ or ‘whirl’.
  • Apple strudels consist of a light and very thin unleavened pastry, rolled and filled with an apple mixture that commonly includes cinnamon, raisins, sugar and breadcrumbs, with the crumbs helping to soak up excess liquid during the cooking process.
  • While apple strudels are the most popular strudel, other fruits and nuts may be used, and savoury strudels can also be made that can include meat, vegetables and herbs.
  • Apple strudels are believed to have originated in the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and they were being made by the 1800s, while various strudels were produced as early as the 1500s.
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An Apple Strudel with Custard
Image courtesy of LHG Creative Photography/Flickr
  • Although it can be eaten plain, ice-cream, custard or cream are common apple strudel accompaniments, and the strudel is usually sliced into pieces to serve.
  • Once apple strudel dough is kneaded and stretched out to be extremely flat and thin (so writing is visible under it), the filling is placed on the dough and then encased and wrapped by it, after which it is cooked in an oven.
  • Apple strudels were the United State’s Texas’ official state pastry from 2003 to 2005, as it is thought to have been one of the first pastries cooked in the state.
  • The shape of an uncut apple strudel is typically a flattened cylinder, and the pastry is crispy and golden brown when cooked.
  • Due to the accessibility and quantity of apples during hard times, apple strudels were perhaps one of the earliest strudel types.
Bibliography:
Apfelstrudel, or the “Apple Whirlpool”, 2014, The Palate, https://uchicagopalate.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/apfelstrudel-or-the-apple-whirlpool/
Apple Strudel, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_strudel
Apple Strudel, n.d, ifood.tv, http://ifood.tv/european/apple-strudel/about
The History of Strudels, 2015,  Kitchen Project, http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/recipes/Desserts/Strudel/Strudel-History.htm

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Éclair

Éclairs are the favourite pastry of many French children.

  • Éclairs are a sweet pastry bakery item, particularly popular in French cuisine, and they are shaped somewhat like a hot dog bun.
  • Éclairs are made of a light dough stuffed with cream or a flavoured custard, and then glazed or iced on top.
  • The fillings of an éclair come in a variety of flavours, such as chocolate, vanilla, fruit, nut, coffee and rum.
  • The literal translation of ‘éclair’ from French, is ‘lightning’, which is thought to refer to the speed of which it is eaten, or the shine of the glaze.
  • Éclair dough is typically made by partially cooking a mixture of butter, flour and water in a saucepan and eggs are added soon after; and then they dough is piped onto a tray and baked in an oven, and is later filled with filling.
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An Éclair
Image courtesy of Stuart Spivack/Flickr
  • The invention of éclairs is often attributed to Marie-Antoine Carême, a popular chef of the royals of the time, in the early 1800s in France.
  • In the United States, the 22nd of June is recognised as the National Day of the Chocolate Éclair each year.
  • The term ‘éclair’ was first documented in the English language in reference to a bread-based item, in an 1861 edition of the Vanity Fair magazine.
  • Traditionally, most éclairs are sweet, though savoury variants have been made in more recent times, while the recipe for the dough has remained relatively unchanged since its creation.
  • ‘Éclairs’ were first known as ‘pain à la duchesse’ or ‘petite duchesse’, French terms meaning ‘bread duchess’ and ‘little duchess’ respectively.
Bibliography:
Éclair, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89clair
History of the Eclairs, 2016, Hungry Monster, http://www.hungrymonster.com/food-facts/food_facts.php?p=Breads&fid=9112
Jackson R, The Trend: Eclairs with Flair, 2013, Financial Times, http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/03/french-eclairs/
Keel M, The Eclair: A History, A Recipe, and a Nod Among the “World’s Best”, 2015, Sucré, http://www.shopsucre.com/sweettalk/food-thought-history-eclairs
Rodriguez A, French Eclairs: The Story Behind These Cream-Filled Delights, 2014, Craftsy, http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/03/french-eclairs/

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Playa de las Catedrales

The Playa de las Catedrales is a beach rich with intriguing caves and formations.

  • Playa de las Catedrales is a beach featuring numerous tall, rock cliffs and smaller formations, found in Spain’s Galicia near Ribadeo, in Europe.
  • ‘Playa de las Catedrales’ is literally the Spanish for ‘Beach of the Cathedrals’, while in Portuguese, it is known as ‘Praia das Catedrais’; though its official name is ‘Playa de Aguas Santas’ in Spanish, translated literally as ‘Beach of Holy Water’.
  • Only in recent decades has the Playa de las Catedrales been well known across the globe, and it was listed as a natural monument in 2005.
  • During low tide, various extensive caves and rock archways are visible along Playa de las Catedrales, which are mostly hidden during high tide.
  • The natural monument of Playa de las Catedrales is spread over an area of approximately 29 hectares (71.5 acres), and some of the formations reach a height of 32 metres (105 feet), with archways almost as tall.
Playa de las Catedrales, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Night, Beach, Water, Cathedrals, Night, Arch
Playa de las Catedrales
Image courtesy of Javier Bueno/Flickr
  • Playa de las Catedrales is often sited to be among the most beautiful beaches on earth, and the beach is able to be explored on foot at low tide.
  • The rock formations of Playa de las Catedrales consist primarily of schist and slate, while the shapes of the rocks have been created by wind and water erosion.
  • Since 2015, the number of Playa de las Catedrales beach visitors has been restricted to around only 5000 each day, and reservations to visit the beach itself, must be made in advance.
  • At Playa de las Catedrales, the tide is known to come in quite suddenly, as the beach itself is relatively flat.
  • Free guided tours are available at Playa de las Catedrales, and visitors are able to walk along the cliff top along the coastline.
Bibliography:
A praia das Catedrais, n.d, Xunta de Galicia, http://cmaot.xunta.gal/seccion-organizacion/c/DX_Conservacion_Natureza?content=Direccion_Xeral_Conservacion_Natureza/Espazos_protexidos/Rede_galega/Monumentos_naturais/seccion.html&std=A_praia_das_Catedrais.html
Beach of the Cathedrals, Spain, 2013, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/02/beach-of-cathedrals-spain.html
Couzens G, Want to Visit One of Most Beautiful Beaches in Spain? You’re Going to Have to Buy a Ticket, 2015, Express, http://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/585054/Cathedrals-beach-Galica-booking-system
Playa de las Catedrales, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/playa-de-las-catedrales
Playa de las Catedrales, n.d, Playa de las Catedrales, http://www.playadecatedrales.com/
Sarralde J, Cómo reservar para visitar la playa de las Catedrales en Galicia, 2016, Guías Viajar, http://guias-viajar.com/espana/reservar-visita-playa-catedrales/

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Common Pond Skater

Humans can ice-skate, but common pond skaters can water-skate.

  • Common pond skaters are insects native to Europe’s rivers and smaller water bodies, and they are known for their ability to stand on and skate across water, due to their light weight.
  • ‘Common pond skaters’ are also known as ‘common water striders’, and they are brown to black in colour.
  • The scientific name of the common pond skater is Gerris lacustris and it is from the family Gerridae, the family of pond skaters.
  • Common pond skaters range from 0.8 to 1.5 centimetres (0.3 to 0.6 inches) in length, and females are typically larger than males.
  • Each pair of a common pond skater’s six legs have a different purpose; the first pair are used to catch prey, the second pair are used like oars to propel the insect across water, and the third pair are used to steer.
Common Pond Skater, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Animal, Insect, Water, BrownCommon Pond Skater
Image courtesy of Darius Baužys/Flickr
  • Common pond skaters can jump off the surface of the water and land a distance of up to 10 cm from where they were initially positioned; while mature adults develop wings and are able to fly.
  • The front legs of common pond skaters can sense the minimal vibrations of prey that accidentally fall into the water, such as flying insects and larvae that they consume.
  • Common pond skaters are covered in minuscule, waxy hairs that keep them waterproof by trapping air bubbles, which is vital if the pond skater is to remain buoyant.
  • The eggs of common pond skaters will typically hatch some 12 to 14 days after being laid, though this is reliant on the water temperature, and sometime after hatching, the larvae go through a process of metamorphosis.
  • Common pond skaters are most commonly seen during the warmer months, and they hibernate on land throughout the winter season.
Bibliography:
Common Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/common-pond-skater/gerris-lacustris/
Gerris Lacustris, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerris_lacustris
Hu D & Bush J, The Hydrodynamics of Water-walking Arthropods, 2010, Cambridge University, http://www-math.mit.edu/~bush/striders-JFM.pdf
Pond Skater (Gerris Lacustris), n.d, Life in Freshwater, http://www.lifeinfreshwater.org.uk/Species%20Pages/Pond%20skater.jpg.html
Prigg M, How a Pond Skater Can Walk on Water: It’s All Down to HairLegs and Swirling Vortices, Reveal Scientists, 2012, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2225904/How-pond-skater-walk-water-Its-hairy-legs-oars-reveal-scientists.html

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