Thursday, October 13, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: Five of the Creepiest Travel Destinations

Dracula's Castle (from Your Experience Days).

Have you ever entertained the idea of traveling to a scary location for Halloween?  I am not sure I could convince my husband, but I would not be averse to creating a bucket list of annual October destinations sure to send a chill up my spine!  Below is a list of five of the creepiest travel spots I could find (and if you are not thrilled with the scary stuff, these spooky spots are close to non-scary places that even the most timid would love to visit!):

1) Island of the Dolls, Mexico

From World for Travel.

I find dolls to be extremely creepy, so the Island of the Dolls, just south of Mexico City, would be especially scary for me,  However, the legend behind the devilish-looking dolls is actually quite sad and even touching.  Supposedly a caretaker on the island found the body of a drowned girl on the island.  A little while later he found a doll floating in the canals surrounding the island, and assumed it had belonged to the girl.  As a tribute to her, the caretaker hung the doll in a tree on the island.  Over the next 50 years the man began collecting and hanging more dolls all around the island for the same reason, until the day he was found drowned in the same spot where the young girl's body had been discovered.  Of course it was inevitable that the island would gain the reputation of being haunted, and as the dolls began to deteriorate from exposure to the elements they added an unsettling eeriness to the setting.

2) Chapel of Bones, Portugal

From TravelBlog.

The Chapel of Bones in Évora, Portugal, originated in the 16th century, when the remains from 43 cemeteries in the area were relocated to a single location to free up valuable land for other uses.  Rather than rebury the bones, the monks of the chapel decided to put them on display as a reminder to the population that there was more to their existence than material things.  There is even a message above the chapel door which reads "We bones are here, waiting for yours."  What a creepy thought, but probably quite effective in the presence of all those human remains!

3) Suicide Forest, Japan

From Atlas Obscura.

The Aokigahara forest, or Suicide Forest as it has recently become known, lies at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan.  The macabre popular name came about in the 1960s after a novel about a fictional couple committing suicide here resulted in the forest becoming a suicide destination in real life.  The Suicide Forest is now the second most popular place to commit suicide (after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge).  Apparently the lush and dense forest (also known as Jukai or "Sea of Trees") has very little wildlife and is thus eerily quiet, which has resulted in legends that the forest is haunted, adding to its sad and macabre atmosphere.

4) Paris Catacombs, France

From All That Is Interesting.

Skeletal remains line the Paris Catacombs, just as they do the Chapel of Bones in Portugal, but instead of filling a building these bones are found underground!  The remains, which number in the millions, were moved from cemeteries during the late 18th to the mid-19th century due to public health concerns.  Obviously the catacombs are not a destination for anyone afraid of skeletons, darkness, caves, and enclosed spaces!  Luckily, since the site is directly underneath the city of Paris, there is no shortage of attractions available for those loathe to enter this ossuary.

5) Snake Island, Brazil

From YouTube.

Ophidiophobes will want to avoid Snake Island, which is located about 20 miles off the coast of Brazil (a little over 90 miles from Sao Paolo, the closest big city).  In fact, the island is forbidden to all but those few who receive special permission.  The reason for this restriction is the presence of the golden lancehead (Bothrops insularis), a type of pit viper and one of the most deadly venomous snakes in the world.  This population of snakes became isolated when the island separated from the mainland, and a lack of natural predators allowed these reptiles to flourish.  Snake Island is now the only location where this critically endangered species is found.  An estimated 2,000-4,000 golden lanceheads live on the 110-acre island, and some estimates claim that there is one snake to every square meter.  So view this creepy destination from a safe distance, and spend your time on the relative safety of the mainland beaches!



To those who decide to visit any of these destinations, I say "Bone" Voyage, and travel at your own risk!

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