Tag Archives: Places with a View!

San Francisco’s Hotel Zephyr is a Playground for Adults

And it’s Awesome!

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We thought we saw it all when we walked into the micro hotel at London Gatwick Airport (which was really freaking cool!), but Hotel Zephyr captivated us in a different way. The rooms resemble staterooms on a cruise ship, complete with porthole windows and private balconies with spectacular views. The lobby and common areas have circular benches, murals with a modern twist (like Popeye the Sailor with tribal tattoo sleeves), games galore, and walls lined with the doors of old shipping containers—a fitting touch for the Bay Area.

But it wasn’t until we ventured out to the hotel’s courtyard that our flashback to childhood was complete. From the oversized game of Connect Four to a Ping-Pong table that’s not actually a table—but a giant pipe straight out of Super Mario World—to the periscope that provides guests with a view over the hotel’s fence, this is truly what Hotel Zephyr is all about (and markets itself as): a playground for adults! It’s a really great way to unwind after spending the day exploring this magnificent city.

Oh, and the food is great, too!

Located in San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, Hotel Zephyr is only a short walk to Pier 39, which we also found time to explore later on that evening.

LINKS
Hotel Zephyr
Pier 39

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The Elusive White Deer of Upstate New York

Brought to You by the United States Army

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A very special thank you to Seneca White Deer, Inc., the  nonprofit that works tirelessly to preserve this piece of nature and wildlife, and who are responsible for organizing these white deer tours. The people working for Seneca White Deer were amazingly helpful to UWanderings as we got to know the history of the Seneca Army Depot and see the furry critters that call this place home.

Our recent trip to see this elusive white deer population was nothing short of amazing. This is the world’s largest population of white deer. They aren’t mutants, they aren’t albinos…they’re actually just white tailed deer. But they’ve been enclosed in a 10,000 acre compound for almost 80 years, relatively undisturbed, so they’ve had a chance to breed and pass on this rare, recessive gene that makes them primarily white in color without too much in the way of natural predators.

The site of the white deer is also of major historical significance. They live on what used to be the Seneca Army Depot, a munitions depot built by the U.S. Army in the summer of 1941—in anticipation of America’s likely looming involvement in World War II. Though useful for the war effort, the construction of this giant project came at a sad cost: over 100 families–many farmers–were given short notice to vacate. In other words, they were evicted and poorly compensated. The remains of some foundations are still visible today. However, the end of the Second World War didn’t mean the Depot was obsolete. The Cold War was just heating up, and this place was anything but redundant.

The Seneca Army Depot, or “the Depot”, as it was locally known, was a large repository of Cold War era weapons when it was still active. But the absolute secrecy of the place, coupled with the government barely acknowledging its existence in the first place, contributed to its mysterious nature and an uncomfortable level of anxiety by the community. It was Upstate New York’s Area 51.

Officially, the U.S. government kept a tight lid on the Depot’s inventory—and what went on there—by confirming nothing. But it was widely believed that aside from traditional munitions like bullets and artillery, the Depot was also home to a fairly large stockpile of nuclear weapons, ready to be deployed anywhere in the world at a moments’ notice. And because of the perceived nuclear inventory, it was also thought that the Seneca Army Depot was a top target on the Soviet hit list in the event of a nuclear exchange, so the site was not without controversy.

Interior of one of the more than 500 concrete igloos at the former Seneca Army Depot, likely packed to the top with munitions during the Cold War.

The secrecy and denial by Uncle Sam didn’t stop the countless anti-nuclear weapons protesters from demonstrating right outside its gates over the years, with many getting arrested for disrupting operations or even trying to break in by scaling the fence. There was even a well known group of anti-war women who continuously camped out adjacent to the Depot grounds so as to permanently remind the U.S. government that not everyone was comfortable with having nukes in their backyards.

Despite the mysteries that went on behind the fence, the white deer well known due to their occasional appearances at the border fence for passersby. The deer were protected by the soldiers that were based there, thanks to an early base commander who, in 1949, saw the first white deer on the Depot grounds and ordered all personnel to leave them alone. They were not to be hunted or bothered. The orders stood for the rest of the time the Depot operated. They even become an unofficial mascot of the Depot and the people who worked there. Now that the base is inactive, declassified, and in private hands, locals are flocking to see these white deer up close and, because it was forbidden for so long, the base itself. 

This tour was awesome, not just because of the deer, but also because of all the other wildlife we saw. It’s a virtual nature preserve. Osprey, eagles, beavers, wild turkeys, turkey vultures…and so much more. And of course, there’s plenty of normal colored deer with fluffy white tails. They’re actually pretty cute.

Part of the fun with this tour is keeping a keen eye on the scenery to spot the white deer. Sometimes they’re obvious; other times, you have to intently look around as the bus moves through the terrain, so don’t be shy about shouting out “There’s one!”, at which point the bus will stop or back up so everyone can get a better view. You can really get into it. On the cold, overcast day we visited, the deer weren’t in the mood to come right up to our bus, as they sometimes do, but the sparse spring foliage made them easy to spot through the trees. But they moved fast, so our photography was a little shaky. 

Although there are some small developments here and there, most of the former Depot is still either wild nature or nature that’s slowly reclaiming the land from manmade structures, which gives the whole base a sort of zombie apocalypse vibe. And since Zombies are cool right now, that definitely makes this tour much more interesting. For all the military buffs out there, there are over 500 weapons storage bunkers, otherwise known as igloos, that still stand to this day. Talk about Cold War relics. We even got to go inside one. It was pretty cool–check out the video above for more on that.

Seneca White Deer has been running these tours for about six months now, and they’re catching on fast. Since people from all over the world visit the Finger Lakes region for the wine, it’s only a matter of time before they come to see the deer, too. White deer simply don’t exist in such large numbers anywhere else in the world.

It’s human nature to explore things that are rare and unusual. Perfect for us, perfect for the curious travelers out there like you.

So we welcome you to join us as we discover the white deer of the Finger Lakes, and do be sure visit for yourself someday. The deer will be here to say “hi.”

LINKS
Seneca White Deer, Inc.


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More to Explore in Northern Manhattan. Meet The Cloisters.

Welcome to The Cloisters!

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Nestled into the woods of northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park is a place that looks out of place for a city like New York. At first glance, The Cloisters—officially, The Met Cloisters, under the Metropolitan Museum of Art—could easily make you think you’ve arrived at an ancient Italian villa. But no, The Cloisters was built in modern times, borrowing heavily from medieval European influences.

Home to countless pieces of medieval art and artifacts, The Cloisters is a sight to be seen inside and out. Need a break from the museum? The gardens and views of the Hudson River are astounding on a nice sunny day.

We’ll save the pieces of art and artifacts for you to see for yourself–the stunning views at The Cloisters should be enough to entice you to visit. The pieces on display are centuries old.

You’d never think that this place is just a short subway ride away from Midtown.

LINKS
The Met Cloisters official website


Become an UndiscoveredWanderings Guest Poster! We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

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It’s a Guten German Christmas in Goslar

Another Year Over, Another Year Begins 

UndiscoveredWanderings would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. We’ll be back soon with only the best in unconventional travel.

For our final post of 2017, we wanted to share a wonderful Christmas experience we had in Germany a while back at the invitation of friends. Nothing like festive European Christmas markets and picturesque centuries-old houses to celebrate this time of year. 

The photos, taken on Christmas Day, are of our visit to Goslar, Germany some years ago, before we were UndiscoveredWanderings. Goslar is a small, historical city with lots to explore. Offbeat, to be sure.

We spent Christmas day observing, reflecting, and looking forward to the many adventures ahead as we strolled through town in the calming cold and crunchy snow, talking to perfect strangers along the way. We were even lucky enough to ride in a horse-drawn carriage and get some great views from the bell tower (notice the old stairs we climbed, below) Christmas in Goslar was one of our best ever.

Map Link 

 


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A Walk in the Park in Luxembourg

Walk Among the Ruins

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For our peeps in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is well on its way with all the joys that freezing cold, ice and snow bring to us each year, so it’s easy to feel like the travel season is officially over. Let’s prove that myth wrong once and for all, because we here at UndiscoveredWanderings have found some of the best places to explore during the season of freezin’.

Enter Luxembourg, a small country in Europe bordering Belgium, Germany and France. We made a point to visit this place because so few outsiders have. It’s unfortunate that Luxembourg is frequently overlooked by backpackers and people on holiday; even fewer go to Europe to visit only Luxembourg. But, being us, we didn’t wind up there by accident.

No matter the season, Luxembourg is a BEAUTIFUL country. In fact, it was this time of year that we visited. While there’s plenty of countryside, old buildings, and Christmas markets to explore, our focus today is Luxembourg City, the capital. And in this city is a place called Vallée de la Pétrusse, home to the Pétrusse Parks. This is no ordinary park landscape. It takes a few minutes of walking the footpaths to realize that it’s not level with the rest of the city–it slopes down to where you’ll find yourself under a couple of bridges, surrounded by ancient city walls. When you get to the bottom, you’re literally looking up to the cityscape. That’s a first for us!

Even if Luxembourg isn’t your primary European destination, a quick day trip there is an easy train ride away.

LINKS
Learn more about Pétrusse Parks


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