G'day folks,

Numerous sculptures set along hiking trails symbolize and idealize the relationship between man and nature in Spain. 

Intricate faces sculpted into the natural facade of the environment merge with the already-beautiful and symbolic landscape of the swamps of Buendia in a place known as the Ruta de las Caras. The name translates to “Route of the Faces,” where a series of hiking trails or “routes” take visitors along a cultural and artistic journey of spiritual discovery.

The Buendia swamps are thick with dense pine forests and sandstone rock, into which some 18 sculptures and bas-reliefs have been carved. Several artists have combined over the years to create the impressive collection, which features works ranging from 1 to 8 feet high.

Art and nature lovers alike come from miles away to enjoy these sculptures, which break the bounds of traditional museums and leave more commonly artistic urban areas behind for the quiet serenity of the forest. The art serves to explore and magnify the deeply complementary relationship between sculpture and nature, forth both artist and viewer.


Reflection on this symbiosis is enhanced by the spiritual nature of the art, as the faces have a mystical-religious meaning. The concept of human forms written onto natural contexts, fully integrated into sandstone in this case, is a notion deeply rooted in the human condition. Cultures have always considered our relationship with the wider world by trying to integrate the two, often through artistic sculpture, found all the way from Pharaonic Egypt to these modern-day statues.

Buendia, Spain is a municipality in the province of Cuenca, near Madrid. This was a perfect location for such a sculpture park, as Cuenca and Guadalajara already offered an ideal environment for hiking. Hiking trails include some for children, taking over 1 scenic hour to complete but having a lower difficulty as hikes go, and flanked by unique artwork all along the way.

For the more advanced, the Buendía swamp and other nearby trails along the Sierra de Altamira offer long-distance views and lovely scenery. Some of these trails are developed to connect the town directly with the Route of the Faces, surrounded by the incomparable landscape of the Sea of Castile, which in times of drought is more like a swamp. In either case, the landscape offers waterways where one can practice watersports, sailing, jet skis, motorboats, fishing and even bathe in its waters, as so many locals do on their way to end from enjoying the faces oddly, yet comfortingly, set in stone.



16 June 2022 - THE JESUS TREE in MALTA





G'day folks,

The Jesus tree of Malta bears a striking resemblance to Christ on the cross. 

According to Maltese legend, a local tree was struck by lightning many years ago, and changed in appearance. Its contorted bark metamorphosed into an image of Jesus hanging from the cross.

Although the Catholic Church officially recognizes miracles, it has declared that these types of apparitions are no longer worthy of “public revelation.”

The issue of public vs. private revelation has been a contentious one for the Church, but was recently clarified by the current pope, Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger declared that public revelations (essentially big, flashy miracles), ended with the death of the last living Apostle in 100 A.D.


Apparitions, even though officially recognized by the church, are now deemed to be “private revelations,” which means one doesn’t have to believe in them. Such revelations are binding on whoever has them, but not upon all Catholics.

Of course, for non-believers the tree is neither public nor private revelation, but rather an example of the psychological phenomenon of pareidolia, the perception of meaningful significance in a meaningless, random stimulus. Regardless of religion, these sorts of images of Jesus, Mary, the name of Allah, or a Singaporean monkey god, continue to appear in the oddest of places, and to intrigue the faithful.

The Jesus Tree of Malta is located right off the main road from Zebbug to the walled city of Mdina, the former home of the Knights Hospitalier.






G'day folks,

Burial grounds for more than 1,000 bodies are deep under the modern town of Rabat. 

From the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, the Roman city of Melite developed a complex system of burial grounds on its outskirts under the modern town of Rabat, a village outside of Mdina, the medieval capital of Malta. Roman law prohibited burials within the city, which derives its name from the Arabic word for suburb.

Known today as the St. Paul and St. Agata catacombs, the burial grounds form an important part of Malta’s early Christian history. The catacombs include tombs for more than 1,000 bodies in 2,200 square meters.


The organizational and architectural complexity of the catacombs points to the ritual importance of burial grounds in early Christianity. The catacombs were planned in a centralized manner, providing private space for numerous family units, while leaving a lot of communal space for festivals and rituals. The entrance to the main complex of St. Paul’s leads to two large halls, adorned with pillars made to resemble Doric columns and painted plasters. The main hall is equipped with large circular tables and couches, carved out of rock. They were probably used during burial rituals and festivals of the dead. In some places the burial corridors were cut in three subterranean stories.

The catacombs were abandoned sometime in the 7th century during the later stages of the Byzantine Empire. They were reopened during the re-Christianization of the Island after 220 years of Fatimid rule. The catacombs became a popular site for religious pilgrimages in the 12th century and a Christian shrine was recut in the 13th century.

There are a number of smaller catacombs dating back to antiquity in Malta. One was rediscovered within a traffic roundabout close to the Malta International Airport in 2006. The Hal Resqun tomb was originally excavated in 1912. Soon after its discovery, the catacomb was covered up by a road surface, following the development of the Luqa Airfield.







The world's largest cave was only discovered in 1991, and now offers tours to the public since 1991!!

Hang Son Doong — which roughly translates to Mountain River Cave — is the world’s largest cave and it is so large that it could hold a modern-day skyscraper inside of its caverns, and has its own small jungle.

Located near the Vietnam-Laos border, the cave was found by a local man named Ho-Khanh in 1991. The locals, it is said, were too afraid of the cave to go exploring because of the sound coming from the fast-moving underground river, as well as the huge vertical drop. 


In 2009, a group of scientists from the British Cave Research Association began an extensive survey of the cave’s depths. According to Howard Limbert, the man leading the survey, the cave is five times larger than Phong Nha, which once held the title of the largest in Vietnam. The biggest chamber, his team found, is over five kilometers long and 200 meters tall.

The jungle found inside of the cave has formed underneath a collapsed roof in one of the caverns. After the roof collapsed, enough light spilled into the cavern that vegetation was able to creep in slowly from outside. As the vegetation took hold, larger and larger plants began to grow, and now hornbills, flying foxes, and monkeys dwell in its branches. 

In 2013, public visits started to be offered by Oxalis that offer the chance to spend days inside exploring, as well as camping, in this massive cave. 







G'day folks,

Welcome to the "World's Largest Underground Business Complex," a 55,000,000-square-foot city underneath Missouri. 

There are a number of advantages to keeping things underground. The temperature remains near constant, energy costs are lowered, and—in the massive, 55,000,000-square-foot space known as Subtropolis—there is a whole city of workers who can keep your goods safe.

Subtropolis stores everything from a USPS collection of millions of postal stamps and the original film reels of Gone With the Wind, to a series of artificially lighted, manmade habitats used by Earth Works to demonstrate science to students.


Mining in SubTropolis began in the 1940s, and the empty space grew under the limestone bluffs on the Missouri River. By 1960, the owners realized that they had an enormous area they could rent out for business operations. The dubbed their underground city “SubTropolis” and called it “the World’s Largest Underground Business Complex,” a phrase that Hunt Midwest has trademarked. SubTropolis sports nearly seven miles of illuminated paved roads, and semi-trucks drive throughout the underground.

“We load and unload our trucks in perfect weather conditions,” said Joe Paris, co-founder and principal of Paris Brothers, a national specialty foods company headquartered in SubTropolis. “It’s truly a green environment. We’re probably using about 75 percent less electricity underground than we would in an above-ground facility. Whether it’s electronics or whether it’s food, you don’t have temperature and humidity fluctuations and so you don’t have any condensation, moisture building up in anything. From that standpoint, in my opinion you can’t beat it.”


11 June 2022 - 100,000 SOLDIERS OF TRABUC CAVES - FRANCE


100,000 SOLDIERS 



G'day folks,

This army of concretions is an unexplained geological phenomenon unlike anything else in the world. 

There are countless caves around the globe, but the Trabuc Caves in southern France are unique among them all, due to a mysterious and stunning geological oddity known as the “100,000 Soldiers.”

This unexplained natural wonder stands out within the all-around beautiful Trabuc Caves, the largest network of underground passages in the Cévennes. Thousands upon thousands of strangely short concretions are clustered together in a small area; standing side by side, they resemble an enormous silent army of soldier figurines. The first explorers to come across this awesome site called it an army of 100,000 soldiers, and the name stuck.


This kind of geological formation has not been found anywhere else in the world. And still today, geologists don’t know how these formations were created. Stalagmites (on the ground) and stalactites (on the ceiling) are commonly found in pairs; the dripping water from the ceiling creates stalactites that fall to the ground and create stalagmites. But in the case of the 100,000 Soldiers, the concretions blanket the cave floor without any stalactites above. Scientists have posed theories over the years, but none ever sufficiently explained the geological anomaly. Its origin remains a scientific mystery to this day.

The splendor of the Trabuc Caves doesn’t stop at the 100,000 Soldiers. The network is adorned with a colorful rainbow of minerals, waterfalls, and pools, and it has a long and rich history. The caves have been known and used since antiquity, though it wasn’t until the 1950s that an artificial tunnel was dug allowing easy access into the cavern. The underground tunnels provided shelter for smugglers in the Middle Ages, and Huguenots during the religious wars in the 18th century. Scientific exploration of the caves started in 1823. By now, around six miles of caves have been explored, but speleologists expect the subterranean network to cover two or three times that size, as the limestone rock here is just an incredible maze.







G'day folks,

The world's tallest bridge is also possibly the most elegant. 

Millau Viaduct is the world’s tallest bridge, a claim based on the height of the towers, which are taller than the Eiffel Tower. The height of the bridge deck itself is only the 17th tallest in the world, yet driving over it still feels like you’re literally in the clouds.


This cable stay bridge is on the E11, a popular motorway route between Calais and the French and Spanish Mediterranean coasts. It’s 890 feet from the road deck to the valley below, and the views are fantastic when it is not shrouded in cloud (which it commonly is).

The architects of this bridge have created a thing of wonder. How did anybody build it? In fact many of the engineering aspects of the bridge were already worked out before the architects were given the brief to make the bridge look so good. Building this bridge really was a team effort; the list of famous engineering companies involved is too long to include here. The story of the construction process is available widely but it is a great experience to read about at the visitor centre while enjoying an excellent view of the bridge itself.






G'day folks,

 Half a century after it was abandoned, this ghost town is coming back to life. 

On the shores of the Salagou Lake, the ruins of the village of Celles are slowly coming back to life. In 1968, the village was emptied of its inhabitants to make way for the creation of the lake, which was going to rise to an altitude of 150 meters (492 feet), drowning the buildings. But plans changed, and the water never rose past 139 meter (456 feet) . Its inhabitants were kicked out for nothing. 

The village was looted and squatted for several years, and the buildings fell into ruin. But after over 50 years, three new families signed leases to move back into Celles in September 2019 and begin the process of rebuilding. 


The ruins are currently fenced off, but visitors can still walk through the village streets along the shores of the Salagou. The plan for rebuilding is ambitious. New residents were selected based on a business project or company that they will bring to the town, and being issued long-term leases designed to prevent real estate speculation. According to the terms of these leases, all tourist-facing business will take place in a single, communally run building. The town is also building social housing. 

Celles is located in southeastern France, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the city of Montpellier. In the summer, the lake is a popular local destination for hiking and swimming. But Joëlle Goudal, the current mayor of Celles, wants to make sure that the village is first and foremost a place where people live, rather than a tourist attraction. “People were expropriated for this land,” she says. “It’s out of the question to let people today make money off of the people who were forced to leave.” 






G'day folks,

This Central New York ghost town was once a prosperous railroad community.  

Located in the town of Liberty, New York, Parksville garnered substantial attention at the turn of the 20th century with the establishment of The Ontario & Western Railway (O&W). The O&W provided easy and direct transportation to the picturesque Catskill region, where the industry was booming and tycoons were building stately summer homes and hotels.

What was once a peaceful village became a bustling destination lined with high-end resorts and covetable shopping. But patrons would eventually lose interest in the O&W railroad in favor of the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore. Today, visitors to Parksville will find a quiet, withered town of mostly abandoned buildings.

Parksville’s origins can be traced back to the early 19th century when pioneering families from the New England area migrated to Sullivan County, New York. Among the earliest settlers was William Parks, who kickstarted the town’s industry by building mills and cultivating a community. Though Parks and his family were not the first to migrate to the hamlet since named Parksville—the Parksville Planning Committee lists Martin and Eber Hall as the first to have arrived—Parks’ lasting influence on the area bestowed on him the honor of the derivative name, Parksville.

Parksville attracted new residents who would continue to develop business in the region and form a small but prosperous community of merchants and mill workers. From the 19th and into the 20th century, the O&W railway line would facilitate the popularity and growth of the Catskills on a large scale, and until the Great Depression, Parksville was a preferred summer destination for city dwellers in search of a peaceful country escape. 


Soon, Parksville would no longer be so peaceful. More than 100 hotels and resorts were built, and so many visitors flocked to Parksville that traffic jams in the town center were a regular sight. A number of the hotels closed their doors in the aftermath of the Great Depression, but the largest resorts—the Young’s Gap Hotel, the Prospect Inn, and the Grand Hotel, amongst a few others—remained in operation. In fact, the Young’s Gap, a beloved Parksville mainstay, would remain open into the 1960s, even through a steep decline in tourism with the steadily decreasing popularity of the O&W railway.

Route 17, a new highway that directed traffic through town, would briefly pique renewed interest in Parksville. In the late 80s and 90s, a group of local business owners tried to revive the town with a scattering of cafés, restaurants, and shops, but their success was short-lived. Route 17 became Interstate 86 which rerouted vehicles out of Parksville, so travelers had to make the town a pointed destination rather than it being an impromptu pitstop on their way through.

Today, Parksville is all but abandoned. While none of the original hotels, restaurants, or shops that once adorned the streets are still open, passersby can pay their respects to William Parks and his family, who are buried in the 19th century Baptist Church Cemetery. 


Update as of December 2020: A restoration effort is underway at the site.