The town that gave The Goonies life


Thirty years after the cult classic hit theatres, the Oregon coastal town where it was shot still celebrates the local Goonies heritage.

To those who grew up in the 1980s, the phrases “Goonies never say die!”, “Boodie traps!” and “Down here is our time. It’s our time, down here!” are all stirring rallying cries of youthful adventure. And now that the original fans of Richard Donner’s 1985 cult kid classic have their own children approaching Goonie-age, this is your time – your time to relive the journey along the rain-soused Oregon coast where much of the movie took place

Scene from The Goonies at the Goondocks house (Credit: Warner Brothers/Getty)

Scene from The Goonies at the Goondocks house. (Warner Brothers/Getty)

The cast of The Goonies featured a group of misfit, pint-sized Indiana Joneses – played by Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Corey ...

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Military secrets in north Scotland


In the Scottish islands of Orkney, the waters of Scapa Flow hide more than 150 wrecks – from German World War I battleships to a Spitfire. The eerie world is one divers can explore.

As we sat on board a retrofitted fishing boat drifting where the North Sea meets the Atlantic, each member of our group ran through a pre-dive checklist. Yes, my dry suit and vest inflated. The 12kg of weights on my hips to keep me submerged were unmistakably present. I sucked on my regulators. My air worked fine.

Readying for the dive (Credit: Credit: Amanda Ruggeri)

We readied for our dive aboard a retrofitted fishing boat, floating where the North Sea meets the Atlantic (Credit: Amanda Ruggeri)

But even as we went through the kind of safety procedure that can stave off – or at least mitigate – underwater disaster, my mind was already deep below the surf...

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The eerie grave of 200,000 monks


Adam H Graham takes a spiritual retreat to one of Koya-san’s 54 shukubo: inns where guests are encouraged to meditate, commune and eat vegetarian cuisine with the monks or nuns.

It was dusk when we entered the cemetery. A stone path, faintly lit with lanterns, snaked under the towering hemlock and umbrella pine trees. We cautiously walked down it and plunged into the embrace of a sacred 1,200-year-old forest. Flickers of light bounced off ancient graves, shadows moved through the thick incense-scented woods and faces carved into stone eerily peered at us from the graveyard’s blackest corners. It felt like we were being watched. And perhaps we were. After all, this wasn’t just any cemetery...

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A caffeinated return to Florence


Cafe Riviore on Piazza della Signoria, Florence (Credit: Richard I'Anson/LPI/Getty)

In an effort to relive his days as a university student in Italy, the Thirsty Explorer finds that the land of espresso is not as familiar as it once was.

I never really understood the saying “you can’t go home again”. I go home all the time and not much has changed: I lay on my father’s couch, watch mind-numbing amounts of TV, raid the fridge at 3 am, have my aunt do my laundry and generally revert back to my teenage self.

But after returning to Florence for the first time since a four-month study abroad programme in 2006, I realised there are some places that you can’t go back to. I learned this because a loud, ringing bell told me so – but we’ll get to that later.

I arrived in Florence early in the morning for a 21-hour layover en route to Korea; the journey had taken 12 ...

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Where people were sent to disappear


With venomous snakes and shark-infested waters, this desert island had no hope of escape.

Panama’s Isla Coiba bears all the hallmarks of a perfect desert island: gin-clear water, powdery white sand, a fringe of palm trees against a backdrop of dense, unexplored rainforest. When I arrived on the island, the peaceful beach was scattered with a handful of travellers bobbing in the bath-warm water or taking lazy afternoon naps on the salt-encrusted hammocks.

It was hard to imagine that this island paradise harboured such a dark past – or has such an uncertain future.

A dive boat arrives at the ranger station on Isla de Coiba (Credit: Credit: Sarah Shearman)

A dive boat arrives at the ranger station on Isla de Coiba (Credit: Sarah Shearman)

For almost a century, Isla Coiba – which along with 38 other protected islands forms Coiba National Marine Park – was home to a notorious...

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The empire the world forgot


Ruled by a dizzying array of kingdoms and empires over the centuries, the former regional power of Ani is now an eerie, abandoned city of ghosts.

Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents

(Credit: Joseph Flaherty)

An abandoned city of ghosts
Ruled by a dizzying array of kingdoms and empires over the centuries – from the Byzantines to the Ottomans – the city of Ani once housed many thousands of people, becoming a cultural hub and regional power under the medieval Bagratid Armenian dynasty. Today, it’s an eerie, abandoned city of ghosts that stands alone on a plateau in the remote highlands of northeast Turkey, 45km away from the Turkish border city of Kars...

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The church of 40,000 corpses


Travellers with a taste for the macabre will have a field day at this gruesome chapel, which is ornately decorated with skeleton chandeliers, hipbone chalices and skull bunting.

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The world’s greatest walled cities

Carcassonne, France, seen over vineyards.

What’s it like to have a towering piece of history surrounding your backyard? We asked residents of five fortified towns across the globe.

Massive stone walls were once the last line of defence for ancient cities – impervious structures built to protect their inhabitants from enemies outside. Over the years, many of these walled cities have crumbled. But those that remain continue to protect a way of life for those living within, providing residents with a daily appreciation for history and influencing various aspects of life, from safety to traffic to tourists and more.

We talked with residents of some of the world’s best-known and best-preserved walled cities – all Unesco World Heritage sites– to find out what it is like to have such a towering piece of history surrounding thei...

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The lake at the end of the world


Barely one hour from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, Lake Bohinj is in the middle of nowhere – out of season and time – and it’s wonderful.

“We have a saying here in Slovenia,” said Grega Silc, a Hike & Bike Slovenia tour guide, as we cycled around the riotous green of the ridge. “In Bohinj, we’re a day or two behind the rest of the world.”

Silc grinned; a day or two is manageable. The lag used to be worse. For centuries, the sheep- and goat-herding villages around the glacial Lake Bohinj were cut off from the rest of Slovenia by poor roads and vertiginous terrain, clustered in the shadow of the Julian Alps. Transport to Ukanc – a hamlet on the far side of the lake whose name loosely translates to “the end of the world” – could take weeks.

Wooden houses make Bohinj feel timeless (Credit: Credit: zkbld/Thinkstock)

Wooden houses make Bohi...

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A 77km hike that could inspire miracles

EKDNAW Gran Canaria roque el fraile in Tejeda

With Spain’s Camino de Santiago becoming a victim of its own success, Matthew Hirtes chose to walk this less-crowded, less-known version of the pilgrimage, 1,750km to the south.

Everyone’s heard of Spain’s Camino de Santiago, the 100km-plus Way of St James route that leads pilgrims to Galicia’s cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the saint’s remains are believed to be buried. But it will probably come as some surprise to learn there’s another Camino 1,750km to the south, on the mid-Atlantic island of Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria holds the hidden Camino (Credit: Credit: Guido Haeger/Wikipedia)

Gran Canaria holds the hidden Camino (Credit: Guido Haeger/Wikipedia)

This pilgrimage is so unknown that even people on the island couldn’t seem to give me any information...

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