Trends are a curious thing, aren’t they? As the year starts to come to a close, you’ll hear a lot of the best new such-and-such of 2018, our favourite such-and-suches we discovered in 2018, all those sorts of things. There’ll also be trends that made a comeback in 2018 conversation too, because that’s the way of things.
We’ve all looked back at old photographs of ourselves and cringed at what we were wearing, or what the heckola our hair looked like. It’s like one of those Friends flashback episodes, where Ross and Chandler have a different hilarious hairstyle each time. The thing about that is, you never know when they things are going to loop back around into fashion.
Heck, when I hit highschool, the yo-yo suddenly became the new cool toy again. The yo-yo, of all things. That was short-lived, granted, but it happened. I guess the bottom line is that people can be super fickle.
All of that bleeds through into tourist attractions, too. A resort, town, park or suchlike can be outrageously popular, only to lose its luster due to all manner of different factors. There’s a period where it starts to decay, only to become popular again among photographers and curious off-the-beaten-track tourists simply because it’s back in Mother Nature’s hands.
Join us for a look at some incredible photographs, depicting Mother Nature reclaiming Berlin’s famous Spreepark, the mysterious floating forest of Sydney and the enigmatic ‘Red Bicycle’ of the USA.
25 The Red Bicycle, USA: One Of The Most Famous Bicycles In All The Land
As we know, a tourist attraction doesn’t have to be a huge, foreboding building. Anything can become iconic and be visited by interested parties from all around the world. A certain red bicycle has certainly achieved that, from ‘within’ its tree on Vachon Island, Washington.
You’ve doubtless seen images of this odd sight before, but how did it come about? Nobody quite knows. Was it left behind in 1914 by a boy who went off to war, as is often claimed? Was it actually, as is counter-claimed, simply left by a child in the 1950s who thought they were “too big a kid to ride it?”
We don’t quite know for sure, but we do know that the famous bike was vandalised and partly dismantled in 2014.
24 Star Jet Rollercoaster, USA: Keep your hands and feet inside the ocean at all times
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy wreaked its devastation on the northeastern coast of the US and beyond. It was the strongest of the season, and the toll it had on the areas affected (in terms of lives, financially and everything else) cannot be understated.
This fateful superstorm had one effect you may not have known of: it nabbed a roller coaster and left it abandoned in the ocean.
The Star Jet coaster of Casino Pier, Sunset Heights had been in operation for a decade when it was ‘taken,’ and (as reported by Gizmodo) made a somber sight in the water before being demolished in 2014.
23 The Tunnel Of Love, Ukraine: You Know What They Say, Love Is Hard To Find
Is it as hard to find as Ukraine’s Tunnel of Love itself, though? Perhaps not.
From the images of the place, you might have a certain romantic ideal in mind. Of passing through this beautiful, natural tunnel with your partner, holding hands and posting super cute selfies to social media that nobody but your mothers want to see.
You can do all of this, for sure, but keep in mind that it’s not as easy as all that. The Tunnel of love is found in Klevan, Ukraine; a stretch of railway surrounded by forests. It’s way off the beaten track and tough to locate.
22 Chernobyl, Ukraine: An Unparalleled Disaster
With the Tunnel of Love, we saw how remote, beautiful and natural the country of Ukraine can be. Sadly, the nation also played host to one of the most notorious and tragic disasters in human history.
The accident at the Chernobyl power plant needs no introduction. It took place way back in 1986, but continues to have repercussions and will do so for centuries to come.
We can’t be sure of the precise lingering effects of that core explosion, only that the region and its inhabitants will continue to feel them for a long, long time. This is how Chernobyl looks today, bleak and silent.
21 Chernobyl, Ukraine: A Light Blossoming In The Darkness?
Needless to say, in the wake of the events of April 26, 1986, one thing was very clear very quickly: Chernobyl was not a safe place to be. Can You Actually explains that an exclusion zone was created around the plant, a zone that stretches for 1,000 miles.
There are all kinds of dizzying health concerns that have been raised in the light of what happened, and that’s something else we can’t fully understand yet.
What we can see is that, in the absence of human interference, nature is beginning to spread across the area again, in both flora and fauna varieties.
20 Kolmanskop, Namibia: Man, That’s A Lot Of Sand
As Star Wars fans will know (those who can stomach episodes 1-3, anyway), Anakin Skywalker once said, “I don’t like sand. It’s all course, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere.” We’re not talking Yoda levels of wisdom here, true enough, but the dude was definitely onto something.
In Kolmanskop, sand gets everywhere.
This abandoned settlement was once a bustling mining town, equipped with every mod con you could feasibly get to the Namib desert in the early 1900s. Diamonds were discovered in the region and, predictably, people came pouring in for a slice of that action. I wouldn’t last, though, as you can see.
19 Kolmanskop, Namibia: When The Hype Train Just Stops Chugging
As you can imagine, with all of that wealth, the mining town was small but pretty darn ostentatious. Its success wasn’t to last, though. The onset of WWI interrupted the mining efforts, and when they began again, the remaining diamond supply was all but exhausted.
As Kolmanskop reports, an even greater deposit was discovered some 270km south of the town in the late 1920s, and so Kolmanskop was abandoned.
Today, its ruins retain a sort of tragic grandeur, partly consumed by the shifting sands, and are very popular with photographers and tourists (who need a permit to enter).
18 Aral Sea, Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan: Where Did All The Water Go?
There are some things that just do not fit in a certain scenario. They do not belong. This is why some snarky funsters at school liked to draw wristwatches and smartphones on the Neanderthals in the history textbook (was that just my school?).
You might be thinking that there’s no greater anomaly than this rusted boat in the middle of a desert, but there’s a reason for its existence. As Can You Actually reports, this region was once home to the “fourth largest body of water in the world... It dried out due to overfishing and irrigation which reduced the sea to 10 percent [of] its former volume. The camels and a few small lakes are all that remain.”
In the years since, it has shrunk even further to almost nothing, and environmental efforts continue to try and salvage the situation.
17 Ross Island, India: Is Anybody Home?
If you live in a big city, you might have become familiar with the notion that buildings are strong, resolute, immovable. The concrete jungle is a testament to the influence that mankind’s had on the world around us. Nothing is forever, though, as Ross Island demonstrates.
This small island is located in the Bay of Bengal, one of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Few of them are inhabited, as The BBC reports, but this one was home to a British colonial settlement. It began its sad inhabited life as a prison colony for those who rebelled against the Brits.
16 Ross Island: Now Nature Herself Rules
The colony expanded to cover the surrounding islands, and Ross became the central hive. As the bigwigs moved onto the island, conditions were vastly improved, and extravagant homes and even a power station were built there.
Officers lived here in comfort, until they were forced to release the political prisoners and invasion from Japan seemed imminent. This was in the late 1930s, and the island has been left to its own devices since then (it’s now under Indian control). The 1941 earthquake took its toll too.
All that remains here to be seen today are the fascinating, somber remains of a once-proud settlement, overrun by the routes of mighty trees.
Ironically, this is a resurgence of the vast tangle of jungle that had to be cleared by the inmates, before the island could be inhabited in the first place.
15 The ‘Little Belt Railway,’ France: As Beautiful As It Is Mysterious
It’s a little unsettling, isn’t it, the way technology can seem to leave us behind? We steam ahead, developing the next smartphone, games console or other breakthrough, dooming everything that came before to be surplus to requirements.
The Petite Ceinture (Little Belt) railway in the heart of Paris is a relic from a bygone age. It was constructed in the middle of the 1800s, a time when steam trains were really the only option long-distance travel.
The emergence of cars and the Paris Metro marked the railway’s doom, and as The Guardian reports, “by 1934, passenger trains were a thing of the past, and in 1993 the railway was completely abandoned.”
14 The Little Belt Railway- An Intriguing Legacy
While the Metro, buses and cars now largely serve the travel needs of Parisians, nobody is quite sure what to do with the remains of the Petite Ceinture.
In the absence of steam trains thundering down the tracks, Nature has moved back in, gradually and resolutely reclaiming the tracks and tunnels.
It’s a haven for urban explorers and wildlife alike, and one of the few stretches of green and natural land left in an increasingly built up and overcrowded city.
Organisations are at work to bring life, culture and (most importantly) cleanliness back to the area, but as to its long-term future, that’s still unclear.
13 The Olympic Stadium, Sarajevo: The Stadium Time Forgot
While it’s a great honour to host the Olympic games, it’s also one almighty heckola of a burden. Financially, it’s a real double-edged sword. Sure, you’ll have a lot of tourists coming in to buy tacky I Heart (Your Country Here) hats and t-shirts, but what of the vast stadiums and the like that are needed?
Take the Winter Olympics of 1984, which was hosted by Sarajevo. As Urban Ghosts reports, “Infrastructure was built and all eyes turned to the city, but only a few years later conflict tore that region apart… the Olympic sites were irreparably damaged. Many still stand, with foliage growing through the cracks left by bullets in cement.”
12 The Floating Forest, Australia: What In The Name Of Thick Foliage?
If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit Australia, you’ll know that this distant, beautiful country boasts a wide array of unique attractions. The endemic wildlife is extraordinary (oh, platypus, what exactly is going on with you), the coastal roads and beaches offer stunningly beautiful vistas, and… well, there’s a floating forest.
This inadvertent tourist attraction is actually the S.S Ayrfield, a shipwreck in Sydney’s Homebush Bay.
It’s tough to say how exactly this happened, but mangrove trees took a real liking to the ship and have claimed its rusty skeleton as their own. This unique sight is like nothing else on earth.
11 Spreepark, Germany: Berlin’s Most Notorious Theme Park
There’s a kind of tragic irony about this. As is often said, sometimes, you just don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Myself, for instance, I suffered through a long, vomit-y childhood of motion sickness. Theme parks, as such, were not my bag at all. For myself and many others, Germany’s Spreepark only became a must-visit after it was closed down.
Thrillseekers, meanwhile, revelled in the popular Berlin attraction and its rides. It opened in 1969, as Kulturpark Plänterwald, running into trouble around thirty years later as a result of increasing debts and diminishing visitor numbers.
That’s not a friendly combination, right there.
10 Spreepark: Rust, Rust Everywhere, And Not A Drop To… Something
That’s just the way of the world sometimes. Norbert Witte and his company made Kulturpark Plänterwald into the Spreepark we can now see in Berlin, mouldering away quietly to itself.
As for Spreepark itself, it’s now little more than an intriguing curio for visitors to come and gawk at.
There’s an ethereal quality about the grounds of the park and the remains of its attractions. These images capture that spirit perfectly.
9 Eastern State Penitentiary, United States: Another Maudlin Attraction
There’s a real vibe to forgotten, abandoned and decaying buildings, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes, it’s just the quiet despair that any wreckage exudes, and sometimes, it’s something deeper than that. Spreepark at night would make an excellent setting for a horror movie (well, a super clichéd one, but you know what I mean), because forgotten theme parks just feel that way.
To go one better, how about an abandoned jail? As Visit Philadelphia reports, the Eastern State Penitentiary closed (as a prison) in 1971, having been used in that capacity for 142 years. They still hold tours and events, all of which are surely infused with that same frightening vibe.
Just look at the place.
8 Poveglia, Italy: You Couldn’t Visit If You Wanted To
I hope you have hearts of the steeliest steel, friends, because we’re off to one of the most notorious and foreboding islands in the world next.
Situated on the Venetian lagoon in Italy, Poveglia has a tragic past.
As Cursed House reports, “it’s most famously the former home to Medieval plague victims and 20th century asylum patients.”
Clearly, it’s not a place for your more conventional Eiffel Tower and Colosseum sort of European tourists. It isn’t a place for anybody just now, come to that, as it’s been abandoned for around fifty years and the government has forbidden visitors to the island.
7 Poveglia, Italy: And You Definitely *Don’t* Want To
Over the years, numerous people are thought to have met unfortunate ends here. Cursed House goes on to share the story of a doctor who is said to have routinely performed lobotomies on patients.
Others consider such stories nonsense. Whatever the truth may be, the island’s notoriety precedes it. Even so, it was auctioned off by the government in 2014, in an effort to ease national debts, and the winning bid was 513,000 Euros, from Italian businessman Luigi Brugnaro.
As bleak as its past was, perhaps there’s revitalisation in Poveglia’s future?
6 Okunoshima, Japan: Who Let The Bunnies Out?
Who? Wh… nope, I’d better stop right there. I haven’t had that song stuck in my head since the year 2000, I’m sure as heckles not going to break that streak now.
You probably know the island of Okunoshima as the adorable and super cute island of bunnies. The sad thing is that they were once test subjects of the poison gas laboratory during WWII.
The factory on the site has long since been abandoned, and the bunnies escaped to populate the island.
You can still visit their descendants today, and heck, why wouldn’t you? Look at these little guys.
5 Alcatraz Island, United States: When Birds Attack
I understand, friends. I totally hear you. A lot of us would probably need about 17 million chances to correctly guess that this is an image of Alcatraz Island. It TOTALLY is, though.
When you hear the name Alcatraz, after all, your thoughts tend to immediately jump to that foreboding fortress, chock full of the most infamous criminals (Al Capone, for one) in history.
The fact of the matter, though, is that the jail has been closed since 1963, and the island is named for the abundant seabirds that nest here (its original Spanish name is La Isla de los Alcatraces, which means Island of Pelicans/Gannets, depending on who you ask).
In the 55 years since the prison ceased operating, the birds have only become more numerous.
4 Maya Hotel, Japan: Don’t All Rush At Once, Fans Of Art Deco
In this ever-unpredictable and financially shonky world of ours, it can be tough for any business to feel truly safe. Sometimes, those arrows on your fancy PowerPoint presentation graph point upwards, and other times they point downwards.
Fickle finances are one thing, but you’ve also got the natural world itself, just waiting to mess with you. The Maya Hotel in Kobe, Japan has had a real tough time of it over the years. It’s situated halfway up Mount Maya, in what must presumably be a very unlucky spot:
“It suffered heavy bomb damage in [WWII] and six years after reopening in 1961, it was heavily damaged by a typhoon and mudslides, forcing it to shut its doors once more. It eventually opened again in 1974, this time as a student centre. Rarely used, it was closed for good in 1995 after [enduring] further damage during the Great Hanshin Earthquake,” Skyscanner states.
3 Año Nuevo Island, United States: Beware Of The Sharks
I often wonder how different the world would be, if humans didn’t exist and animals just went about running things in their own way. There’d be a whole lot more lush green forest and countryside, that’s for certain.
There’d also be a whole lot less McDonald’s outlets, and speaking as a McFlurry connoisseur, I’d have to say that we’re looking at swings and roundabouts here.
One thing I can say for sure is that the animal residents of Año Nuevo Island, California don’t seem to need us one bit. After people left the nine acre island on the north coast, seabirds, seals and sea lions flourished. As did the great white sharks, attracted by the island’s tasty denizens.
2 Varosha, Cyprus: The Neighborhood’s Really Gone Downhill
Now, for a lot of us, Varosha isn’t that stinging of a loss. It’s not the sort of place us mere mortals would’ve ever gotten into, really. Still, this is an unfortunate situation right here.
Varosha was a super-fancy resort in Cyprus, frequented by the likes Brigitte Bardot, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor back in the sixties. When the Turkish invaded the region in 1974, everybody fled.
Today, Skyscanner reports, “Varosha is a no mans’ land wedged between Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and the Greek armies to the south.”
Won’t somebody think of the luxurious holiday homes?
What remains of them, that is, as Nature creeps her way back in through broken windows and doors. Oh, the humanity.
1 Fukushima, Japan: Dogs And Cats And Pigs, Oh My!
As we saw with the Maya Hotel, Japan is a country frequently at the mercy of natural disasters.
In 2011, Fukushima was rocked by a tsunami and earthquake of terrible force (“The earthquake that caused the tsunami hit 9.0 on the Richter scale, which indicates “near or at total destruction” and permanent topographical transformations,” All That’s Interesting reports).
In the wake of all of this, mass evacuations were ordered. Sadly, many of these people could not take their pets with them as they fled, leaving an estimated 10,000 animals behind. In the years since, the motley assortment of animals have bred, attempted to fend for themselves, and otherwise developed a bit of an Animal Farm-style society (okay, I made that last part up). Rescuers continued to fight for them, so that's a positive.
Resources: BBC, Listverse, Urban Ghosts, Gizmodo, Skyscanner, Visit Philadelphia, Komo News, Cursed House, The Guardian, Can You Actually, Skyscanner, All That’s Interesting.