It’s the end of the year, folks, and oh, what a year it’s been. Let’s steer clear of all the politics and negativity and escape it all for a bit. If you’re looking for a fun read, then check out our top five articles of 2020.
What did our readers enjoy the most this year? The stories are all real, riveting, and remarkable. We have the true story of Into the Wild, the tale of the real-life Wolfman, the oldest restaurants in the US, a floating hotel in Korea, and a look at people who live on cruise ships.
Enjoy the ride!
“It’s some kind of internal thing within them that makes them go out to that bus. I don’t know what it is. I don’t understand. What would possess a person to follow in the tracks of someone who died because he was unprepared?” Those are the words of one state trooper in Alaska. And he has a point – why are people willingly trekking the now-famous trail that led one young man to the end of his life?
It all started in 1992 when two moose hunters found an abandoned bus in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. In that rusty bus, they found the body of a 24-year-old man named Chris McCandless, a hitchhiker who left everything behind him to pursue a life off-the-grid. The 2007 film ‘Into the Wild’ (a fantastic movie, if you ask me) depicted the life before and up to his last breath. It clearly had an impact on viewers because it led to something of a cultural phenomenon. Ever since the film, people wanted to find that abandoned Fairbanks City Transit bus number 142, which has just recently been airlifted out of its original spot. Why? Because for years, it left people stranded, injured, and some were even killed.
Scroll all the way down if you want to see what McCandless’ sister has to say about why he left home in the first place…
Chris McCandless went into the Alaskan wilderness and never came out. Chris was an ambitious young guy who insisted on going into the wilderness all on his own. Within a few months, he was found dead. And to this day, the circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear. If you’ve seen the movie, you would think it was a work of fiction. But it is very much a real story.
The biopic, directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch as McCandless, is a story that was based on a book also called “Into the Wild,” a 1996 non-fiction novel written by Jon Krakauer. It basically expands on the 9,000-word article he wrote on Christopher McCandless called “Death of an Innocent.”
On September 6, 1992, two moose hunters stumbled upon an old, rusty bus just outside of Denali National Park. What was unusual about their discovery was the crumpled note taped to the door of the bus, which was handwritten on a piece of paper torn out of a book. The note read:
“Attention Possible Visitors. s.o.s. I Need Your Help. I Am Injured, Near Death, and Too Weak to Hike Out of Here. I Am All Alone; This Is No Joke. in the Name of God, Please Remain to Save Me. I Am Out Collecting Berries Close by and Shall Return This Evening. Thank You.”
That note was signed by Chris McCandless, and it was dated: “? August.”
Sadly, by the time those moose hunters arrived at the scene, it was already too late. When they entered the bus, they found the one who clearly wrote the note. Chris McCandless had been dead for the past 19 days. His death (and life) would soon spark an in-depth investigation into his life. Luckily, McCandless kept a diary in which he detailed his adventures.
This way, we’re able to know more or less what he went through. But despite that, there are still many things that remain a mystery, especially the moments leading up to his death. What we do know, for one thing, is that he donated his life savings of $24,000 to charity, packed a small bag, and embarked on what he said would be a two-year adventure across the United States.
We also know that in April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked from Carthage, South Dakota to Fairbanks, Alaska. And it was in Fairbanks that Chris hitchhiked again, as he was picked up by a local electrician named Jim Gallien on his out way of town. The young hitchhiker introduced himself only as “Alex” and didn’t ever reveal his last name. He actually shed his legal name early on in his journey, adopting the nickname “Alexander Supertramp” after W.H. Davies, a famous writer, and tramp/hobo.
“Alex,” asked Gallien to take him to Denali National Park, where he said he wanted to hike and “live off the land for a few months.” When asked about their encounter later, Gallien recalled having “deep doubts” about the young man’s ability to survive in the wild on his own. Gallien, by the way, played himself in the movie. He was the one who gave Chris the rubber boots in an early scene.
It was known that the Alaskan wilderness was particularly unforgiving. Chris didn’t have the right equipment, but he insisted that he would be fine. Gallien even tried to persuade the naive traveler to reconsider and offered to drive him to Anchorage and at least buy him proper equipment. But he was stubborn and obviously made up his mind a while ago.
From what Gallien remembers, he only had with him a light backpack, a ten-pound bag of rice, a semiautomatic rifle, and a pair of Wellington boots, which Gallien himself had given him. He didn’t have a compass, and it’s unclear as to whether or not he did it on purpose, but he left his watch and the only map he had in Gallien’s truck.
Gallien ended up dropping him off at the head of the Stampede Trail, west of Denali National Park, on April 28, 1992. McCandless gave Gallien his camera and asked him to take a quick photo before heading out into the wilderness. Gallien was the last person to see McCandless alive.
McCandless planned for a long hike all the way west to the Bering Sea, but he stopped about 20 miles into his journey when he found a rusty old bus, probably because it seemed like a great place to set up camp. The white, green, and yellow paint was peeling off the sides of the bus, the tires were deflated, and it was almost overgrown by plant life. But he was just glad to have found shelter.
Once Chris set up camp, he had written something on a piece of plywood inside the bus. He wrote the following message: “Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. Anesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, ’cause “the West is the best.”
It continued: “And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization, he flees and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.”
For about 16 weeks, Chris McCandless lived in that bus. His adventure was difficult, no doubt, as his diary detailed being weak, snowed in, and unsuccessful in his attempts to hunt for game. But, after a rough first week, he gradually settled into his new and trying lifestyle. He managed to survive off the rice he brought with him.
He also was able to find enough local plant life and shoot small game like squirrels and geese to put something in his stomach. At one point, he was able to kill a caribou, but the carcass rotted before he ever could make much use of it. However, the last month of his diary entries painted an entirely different picture.
Knowing the next fact is what makes it all much more tragic. Because it was on his way back home that Chris realized he wouldn’t be able to. After two months, Chris evidently (through diary passages) had enough of living as a wild hermit and wrote of his desire to return to society. He packed up camp and began the trek back to civilization on July 3, 1992.
He had to accept the fact that the path he previously took over the frozen Teklanika River had now thawed. So, instead of a small stream, he had to face the surging waters of a 75-foot-wide river that was fueled by more melting snow. Essentially, there was no way for him to cross the river and head back to where he came from.
Another piece of information that makes his story more heart-rending is that Chris didn’t know that there was a hand-operated tram (or streetcar) just a mile downriver. The tram would have allowed him to easily cross the flowing river. And even more, there was a cozy cabin full of food and supplies six miles south of his bus, which was marked on most maps of the area. But Chris’ map was in Gallien’s truck.
It was the kind of information that could have saved the man’s life. If only he had listened to Gallien and taken more care to prepare for his journey. But that’s in the past, I guess. Since he was unable to cross the river, McCandless was forced to head back to the bus. His diary entry from that day: “Rained in. River looks impossible. Lonely, scared.”
When he got to the bus on July 8, Chris’ journal entries become progressively shorter and sadder. Although he kept hunting and gathering edible plants, he was getting weaker and weaker as he expended way more calories than he was eating during those three months in the Alaskan bush. The last entry in his diary was written on the 107th day of his stay in the bus.
That entry read-only: “Beautiful Blueberries.” From then until the 113th day, which were his last spent alive, his entries were only days marked with slashes. On the 132nd day after McCandless was last seen, his body was discovered by the moose hunters. One of the two, who read the note on the bus, went in to find what he thought was a sleeping bag packed with rotting food. Instead, he found Chris McCandless’s body.
The cause of McCandless’ death has been debated for years. At first, it was assumed that he had starved. He ran out of rice, and the hungrier he got, the harder it was for him to find the energy to get up and hunt. But Jon Krakauer, the first journalist to cover the story of McCandless (and the one who wrote the book on him), came to another conclusion.
According to the journal entries that detailed his food sources, Krakauer believes that McCandless might have eaten poisonous Hedysarum alpinum seeds. In a healthy person, these seeds aren’t necessarily dangerous as the toxin is usually killed off by stomach acid and gut bacteria. But, if he ate the seeds as a last resort, his digestive system might have been too weak to fight the poison.
In the end, McCandless survived for about 113 days in the Alaskan wilderness. One of his last journal entries read: “Extremely Weak. Fault Of Pot[ato] Seed.” Another theory was that McCandless was killed by mold, saying the poisonous seeds were improperly stored in a damp environment. There were other suggestions of poisons and toxins as possible explanations, but no definitive conclusion has been reached.
But after eating the potato sees, in addition to the typical weakness and loss of coordination, the poison would have caused starvation by blocking nutrient metabolism in his body. In 2015, however, Krakauer had the plant tested for toxins. A laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks didn’t find any toxins. Krakauer changed his hypothesis, suggesting that mold (Rhizoctonia leguminicola) may have caused his death. That specific mold is known to cause digestion problems in livestock, and it might have contributed to McCandless’s starvation.
Chris McCandless’s story is even more fascinating when you see all the photographs he left behind. His camera had dozens of photographs that he took along his journey, including self-portraits. The photos only deepen the mystery of the story. In them, you can visibly see his physical deterioration. His body was literally wasting away.
Yet, he seemed to be smiling as he continued to live in solitude, having only asked for help at the last possible moment. Despite all the investigations, we’re still not 100% sure as to how he died and what he thought in his final moments. Did he miss his family back home? Did he realize that this was entirely because of his desire to make it in the wild?
We now get to the aftermath of Chris McCandless’s life and death. John Krakauer was the first to cover McCandless’ story, and over the years, his book garnered somewhat of a cult status, similar to classics like “Catcher in the Rye” and “On the Road.” But experts say that Krakauer’s book is most like Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” which followed his own self-experiment of solitary life between 1845 and 1847 living in a one-room cabin in Massachusetts.
Unsurprisingly, he was McCandless’s favorite writer. McCandless’ story got even more popular after the movie “Into the Wild” 2007 came out. The ‘Into the Wild’ bus became a symbol of his life-ending adventure. The question now is: why do people keep trying to visit that bus?
Every year, travelers hit the Stampede Trail in search of some kind of survivalist enlightenment. But every year, these people have to be rescued along the way. Hundreds of “pilgrims” head to the trail and look for the bus that still stands in the woods about 10 miles north of the Denali National Park entrance.
But the trek to the bus is more than just an “enlightening journey in the wilderness.” It actually costs lives. The challenges that McCandless faced during his ordeal were very real and have remained unchanged, which might just be something that these “pilgrims” are overlooking or underestimating. As a result, they’re either getting hurt, lost, or even killed in their attempt to relive his hike.
Local residents, passing hikers, or troopers usually end up having to save these people. One lodge owner by the name of Jon Nierenberg, who owns the EarthSong lodge right off the Stampede trail, told the Guardian: “There’s a pretty steady trickle all summer. There are different types, but for the most passionate – the ones we locals call pilgrims – it is a quasi-religious thing.”
He explained how these visitors basically idealize McCandless. And apparently, some of the stuff they write in the journals at the bus is “hair-raising.” So what is it that attracts these people to the backcountry of Alaska? Diana Saverin, a journalist and wilderness enthusiast, wrote about this McCandless pilgrim phenomenon and has her own theory as to what’s really going on here.
According to Saverin, these ‘Into the Wild’ hikers are most likely motivated by a self-projection of their own unfulfilled lives. “The people I encountered would always talk about freedom,” she said. “I would ask, what does that mean? I had a sense that it represented a catch-all. It represented an idea of what people might want to do or be.”
Saverin met one man, a consultant, who just had a baby and wanted to change his life to be a carpenter – but said he couldn’t. So he took a week off to visit the bus. All in all, people see McCandless as someone who “just went and ‘did it.’” And that’s where the admiration comes in. It may be all admiration and adventure at first, but people have died…
In 2010, the first death of a hiker that stemmed from the desire to follow McCandless trail was recorded. The same age as McCandless was when he died, a 24-year-old Swiss woman named Claire Ackermann attempted the journey, only to drown while crossing the Teklanika River. It was the same river that had prevented McCandless from heading back home.
Ackermann wasn’t alone, though. She was hiking with a partner from France, Etienne Gros, who later told authorities that the bus, which was located across the river, wasn’t even their intended destination. You would think that after word came out that she died on this trail, fewer people would make the trek. But that wasn’t the case. While many were able to make it out alive, others weren’t so lucky.
Eddie Habeck was one of the lucky ones. He booked a hiking excursion through Alaska in 2012; he didn’t think about visiting the Fairbanks Bus 142. When the 39-year-old from Vermont was in the process of plotting his trip, he realized that he was heading to the state where Chris McCandless’ bus was.
“I realized, Wait a minute, that story took place in Alaska,” Habeck, a government worker who also runs an aerial photography business, said. “I realized that it might be a possibility to go out there.” He mapped out his journey to the bus and hit the trail solo in May of that year. He was able to make it through the waist-deep Teklanika River and reached Bus 142.
The bus, which has been left in place to serve as a shelter for hunters and trappers, wasn’t his main goal, though. “It wasn’t the reason I went there. It was more of an afterthought. But it was a defining moment of my trip. I had a lot of time to think about why Chris wanted to leave society, and what it would feel like to be that far away from civilization,” says Habeck.
“To actually immerse yourself in that surrounding, you don’t know what you’re going to feel until you’re there.” The truth is the actual number of those who made the trek isn’t officially known because hiking the Stampede Trail doesn’t require a permit. So there aren’t any official statistics on how many had to be rescued annually.
Lynn Macaloon, the public information officer for Denali National Park and Preserve, spoke about that in an interview with VICE. She estimates that “several” rescues on the trail take place every year, with park rangers, the fire department, and state troopers among those who are sent to pitch in. According to Alaska state troopers, 75% of all rescues they perform in the area are on the Stampede Trail.
In 2013, for instance, two major rescues had to be done in the area. In May of 2013, three German hikers were rescued. And just a month later, three more hikers had to be saved by a passing military helicopter. But rescuing is the best-case scenario. Claire Ackermann wasn’t the only one to die on the trail. The most recent death was recorded in July of 2019.
It’s a bit creepy, but the most recent death recorded on the notorious trail is yet another 24-year-old. This time, it was a woman named Veramika Maikamava, who was swept away under the strong river currents of the Teklanika River. She and her husband tried to cross the river on their way to the bus. But tragically, she didn’t make it.
The 24-year-old Belarusian woman and her husband, 24-year-old Piotr Markielau, were trying to cross the river when she lost her footing and was swept away. Her husband made it to shore and found his wife’s body downstream. He contacted State Troopers just before midnight on July 25, 2019. He was picked up by a police officer and volunteer firefighters. According to Ken Marsh, a state trooper spokesman, the couple had been married for less than a month.
The Teklanika River is the main obstacle in the popular yet extremely dangerous hike to the bus. It’s rapid, cold, and can go waist-high or deeper in high water. Sometimes there’s even a rope strung across it, intended to help naïve hikers. But that doesn’t ensure safety. The chief of the local fire department said rescues a dozen pilgrims in the summer season alone.
“When I hiked to the river to see it for myself, I watched three hikers get swept downstream by the current.” Luckily, they survived with minor injuries. Maybe the second death will renew the conversation about whether or not to remove or even destroy the bus. But it’s just as likely that nothing will be done and more will take the leap. As it is clearly an ongoing thing…
Alaska State Troopers made a statement, urging travelers to “come prepared” for the Alaskan wilderness, emphasizing its “challenging weather, water, and geographical conditions.” Recently, hikers Michael Trigg and Theodore Aslund had to be rescued during an operation that involved more than 20 people and one helicopter. They made it to the bus but took longer than expected on their return journey.
“They left with an unrealistic idea of when they’d be back,” hiker and Alaska native, Erik Halfacre, told VICE. “They could’ve ensured that someone wouldn’t launch an expensive rescue for them by having a turnaround time and sticking to it, but they didn’t.” Halfacre, 30, has been to Bus 142 three times over the last seven years.
“Obviously, there’s something that draws these people out here,” a state trooper said, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s some kind of internal thing within them that makes them go out to that bus. I don’t know what it is. I don’t understand. What would possess a person to follow in the tracks of someone who died because he was unprepared?”
The continued deaths have ignited debates about whether something should be done to the bus itself. Some believe it should be permanently moved, while the others advocate for constructing a footbridge across the river where many either faced death and came out alive or simply didn’t make it. Whatever the decision may be, something needs to be done.
Erik Halfacre, the Alaskan native, claims that journalists tend to cover the stories of the Stampede Trail rescue operations by “writing negative and nasty things about anything that happens out there. We as Alaskans have to spend our tax dollars to bail them out, and that’s an irritating thing for a lot of people to look at,” he told VICE.
When it comes to a hiking trail, learning when to give up is as important as knowing how to succeed. Two years after Eddie Habeck’s first trip to Bus 142, he tried again with his wife after their wedding. But that time, the waters were too high and too rough. Halfacre himself turned around twice during his own excursions to Bus 142.
It might be that these amateur adventure-seekers are finally getting the message, according to Denali National Park and Preserve’s manager Kathleen Kelly. She says that rescue operations are becoming less frequent. She assumes that people are going better prepared, fewer are attempting it, or they’re just going out with more information.
But we know that people are still going to make the trek out there – all in the name of finding some inner nirvana. People still find the obsession a mystery in itself. “I don’t quite get the appeal,” one Alaskan native said. “We find people not only going to the bus but wanting to come up here and build a cabin wherever they want to and live off the land. Alaska is the place where people can get to where they think they can live out those dreams—or try to.”
Chris’ sister, Carine McCandless, wrote an explosive memoir in 2015 that provides new details about their toxic family environment that essentially drove her brother out of the house and into the wild. The book covers many years in their childhood, and much of it is emotionally powerful. She said mostly positive things about her brother.
For the most part, she considered her late brother to have always been loving and protective. But their family history features a large amount of toxic behavior, mostly coming from their parents, Walt and Billie McCandless. Carine described her parents, at their best, as good providers and fun, caring people. But at their worst, they were cruel and abusive. Unfortunately, this was the side of them that their children saw most of the time.
Carine and Chris grew up with their parents in El Segundo, California, and later in Annandale, Virginia. According to Carine, their father was a belligerent drunk and would sometimes get into rages that ended with beatings of his wife and children. Their mother was the primary victim, according to Carine. But apparently, Billie was also a victimizer herself, belittling and betraying both her kids.
Carine gave a vivid example in her book about a time one week after she graduated from high school in 1989. She came home from a date just before her curfew. Walt was waiting for her at the door, drunk, and he grabbed her violently to get into the house. A violent tussle that didn’t end well. Billie was away that night, but when Carine called her mom, she only confirmed what her husband did.
Carine’s book also explores another McCandless family drama: how Chris and Carine were illegitimate. In the early 60s, when Walt worked at Hughes Aircraft in California, he was married to a woman named Marcia. They had six children together. Billie also worked at Hughes as a secretary, and (as cliché as it is), they began having an affair.
For years, believe it or not, Walt kept up two households: one for Marcia and the kids, one for Billie, Chris, and Carine. Chris was born in 1968, just three months after Marcia gave birth to a fifth child, a boy named Shannon. Quinn, Walt, and Marcia’s sixth and last child was born in 1969. Carine is the youngest of Walt’s eight children, and she was born in 1971.
Walt and Marcia eventually divorced, and he married Billie a few years later in 1972. How did the two families blend? Carine found her second family to be a godsend. She’s close with them still, but the legacy of abuse and deception weighed especially heavily on Chris. One of the main points in her book was that his famous and fatal journey was motivated by a desire to escape his parents.
This was a theme that will resonate with anyone who saw Sean Penn’s ‘Into the Wild’ from 2007. Penn had to wait 10 years to make the film because he wanted to make sure he had the approval from the McCandless family. But with Carine’s book, people can get much more detail about Chris’s actions. “People think they understand our story because they know how his ended,” Carine wrote, “but they don’t know how it all began.”
She also includes another fascinating piece of their history, which was unknown until now. Carine told Jon Krakauer about Walt and Billie’s flaws while he was researching for his book. But at the time, Carine wasn’t ready to go public with the information, and so she asked Krakauer to keep that part private. Krakauer wrote the foreword to her novel.
He said that honoring this promise was not a problem (journalists keep stuff off the record all the time). In addition, he wrote: “I shared Carine’s desire to avoid causing undue pain to Walt, Billie, and Carine’s siblings from Walt’s first marriage.” Krakauer also believed that people would grasp, from “indirect clues,” that Chris’s behavior in his final years was explained by the “volatile dynamics” of his family.
The Wild Truth was published in 2015, but Walt and Billie haven’t said too much about their daughter’s work, a piece that lays everything out on the table and could be extremely damaging to their reputations. What they did, however, do is provide one blanket public statement. They responded to a request from ABC’s 20/20 to comment.
“After a brief review of its contents and intention, we concluded that this fictionalized writing has absolutely nothing to do with our beloved son, Chris, or his character,” Walt and Billie commented. “The whole unfortunate event in Chris’s life 22 years ago is about Chris and his dreams—not a spiteful, hyped up, attention-getting story about his family.”
Carine McCandless spoke with Outside about the ‘what, why, and why now’ of her memoir.
Carine McCandless hopes that the new information in her book about such a well-known story is going to be helpful to people and eye-opening. She wants to empower those who face tough circumstances, particularly domestic violence. Her intention wasn’t to villainize her parents in any way, shape, or form. The way she sees it, people don’t learn from villains.
Her point, on the contrary, is to humanize them so that people can learn from the situation. “I don’t like to use the word “expose.” This is just the truth, the information, the answers to all the “why” questions that have been lingering about why Chris felt the way he did, why he left the way he did, and what pushed him to the extreme,” Carine said.
Carine was asked what kind of reactions she is getting from her extended family, including the sons and daughters of Walt and Marcia. Carine said it was important for her to acknowledge that, while all her siblings were supportive and gave her their trust and respect, there were a few who wished she wasn’t doing it.
It’s tough having your family drama in the public in the first place, and then getting thrust into it again. “I really want it to be clear how much I worked, in the writing… to respect my family’s space and their comfort level. I worked very hard not to speak for anyone who chose not to have their voice directly present outside of the facts, including my siblings, and I also was careful not to speak for Chris, unless it’s something he directly said to me or wrote to me in a letter.”
According to Carine, there were there different instances in which Chris, Carine, and the other kids tried to confront Walt and Billie, either by letter, e-mail or in person. They tried to have a healthy discussion about their behavior and why they think it needs to change. But every time, they just gave them a flippant and dismissive response.
Carine was asked if her parents even read the book, and if she knew how they felt about it. She sent her parents a copy of the book ahead of time, because “I did want to allow them, with all due respect, the opportunity to respond however they wished to. And I didn’t want them to be blindsided, you know, by the media or in an e-mail.”
Billie told Carine once that because of their religious beliefs, the slate has been wiped clean. The events of their past just don’t matter anymore, according to Billie, and that they’re non-existent. But Carine feels that honesty is imperative in the process of healing from turmoil and tragedy in the family.
“I don’t expect it to be a pleasant situation. But over the years, I’ve really come to feel that I did a disservice to Chris and my extended family, maybe even to my parents, by allowing these things to be buried and to manifest as misconceptions about Chris.” She spoke about something important in her memoir about the time of Chris’s graduation from Emory University in 1990.
Chris told Carine that he’s going to allow their parents to fool themselves into believing that their dysfunctional relationship with him is getting better. Chris told her what he really had in mind in a letter that she shared for the first time in her book. In his letter to his sister, Chris wrote: “I’m going to completely knock them out of my life … I’m going to divorce them as my parents.”
Carine knew that when Chris set his mind on something, he stuck with it. She also spoke of Chris’s sense of adventure that was established at a very young age. He had a love of nature and was drawn to Alaska by the books he liked as a young boy. Because of Chris’s childhood situation, he felt a need to push himself to extremes and prove something. And that, unfortunately, led to his demise.
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja is a man with an incredible life story that seems to have been taken straight out of Rudyard Kipling’s books. Abandoned as a child, Pantoja managed to survive in the wild for 15 years and shared his food with a pack of wolves. The little boy suffered a lot of abuse at the hands of his stepmother, so he took to the wilderness to escape.
In the mountains, he had to fend for himself, and he only re-entered society at the age of 19. The shock of civilization had a profound impact on young Marcos, and his story is one of the most extraordinary tales of a human who lived for so long in the wilderness with animals that human society was a frightening place for him. This is the story of real-life Mowgli, who is now 72 years old and lives in a small house in the village of Rante, Spain.
In 1965, the story of a Spanish man who was found by the Civil Guard living in complete isolation in the Sierra Morena Mountains shocked the entire world. His story was so incredible that many believed it was made up, but after anthropologists studied his case, it was revealed that his experience was indeed real.
When he finally got out of the woods, Pantoja had to deal with things such as boiled water or listening to people on the radio. Because of all that was unknown to him, he ended up burning himself with a bowl of soup because he didn’t have the notion of things being hot. He also spent hours trying to figure out how people got inside the radio as they seemed to be talking while trapped in a wooden box.
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja was born in the small city of Añora, Spain, on June 7, 1946. When he was just a couple of years old, he moved to Madrid with his parents, where his mother died during childbirth. The baby should have been Marcos’ third sibling but died shortly after the mother. At the time, Marcos was three years old.
After his wife’s premature death, Marcos’ father remarried to a woman who also had a child from a previous marriage. From the beginning, Marcos was subjected to cruelty and abuse from his stepmother. Eventually, the entire family left Madrid for Fuencaliente in the Sierra Morena Mountains, where the father got a job in the coal manufacturing industry.
By the time he was seven years old, Marcos had been severely abused, and in 1954 his father sold him to a local landowner who wanted to use him as a slave for his goatherd. At some point soon after, the child was abandoned in the woods and was never seen again until 1965 when the Civil Guard found him living in complete isolation and in the company of wolves.
According to the police, the young man howled like a wolf when he was found, and he needed to be moved to the nearby city of Fuencaliente forcefully. It took years for Marcos to learn how to speak and walk upright again, and he was taught how to dress and eat with cutlery by nuns from a local hospital.
One of the many mysteries surrounding the story of Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja is what happened to him after his father sold him to a goat-herder to become a slave. He was initially taken to the mountains to take care of 300 animals and was left alone after an old goatherd died. The goat-herder taught the boy how to use fire and different utensils, but he suddenly disappeared from his life, probably because he died suddenly.
After the goat-herder’s death, Marcos was left completely alone and had to fend for himself. He was approximately seven years old at the time, and after living with wolves for more than 11 years, he wasn’t able to utter comprehensible words anymore, and he was swapping them for grunts.
When he was left alone to fend for himself, Marcos went out to the woods because he was hungry and had some skills he gathered from his former master. He soon learned to hunt rabbits by himself with traps he built from sticks and leaves. “The animals guided me as to what to eat. Whatever they ate, I ate,” Marcos later said.
“The wild boars ate tubers buried under the soil. They found them because they smelled them. When they were digging the soil looking for them, I threw a stone at them – they would run away, and then I would steal the tubers.”
Because the story of being raised by wolves is not very easy to believe, particularly because it is very similar to the fictional character of Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” many questioned Marcos’ statement that he had established a special bond with a pack of wolves.
According to his story, Marcos went one day into a cave where he proceeded to play with some wolf cubs that lived there. He then fell asleep, and when the mother of the cubs came back with food, she didn’t have the reaction that anyone would expect her to have.
Marcos recounts in detail the moment he found himself face-to-face with the she-wolf. “She saw me and looked fiercely at me. The wolf started to rip the meat apart. A cub got close to me, and I tried to steal his food because I was hungry as well. The mother pawed at me. I backed off.”
Marcos obviously needed to proceed with caution if he didn’t’ want to get hurt. Fortunately for him, the she-wolf tucked in her motherly instincts and proceeded to feed him instead of attacking.
“After feeding her pups, she threw me a piece of meat. I didn’t want to touch it because I thought she was going to attack me, but she was pushing the meat with her nose,” remembered Marcos in an interview for BBC News in 2013.
He then mentioned that it wasn’t long until he was welcomed as a part of the family. “I took it, ate it, and thought she was going to bite me, but she put her tongue out and started to lick me. After that, I was one of the family.” But wolves weren’t the only animals in those woods that became like an adoptive family to Marcos.
Besides the pack of wolves who decided to welcome him as a member of the family and feed him, Marcos also had another companion in the form of a snake. This time, it was Marcos who took care of the snake.
“She lived with me in a cave that was part of an abandoned mine. I made a nest for her and gave her milk from the goats. She followed me everywhere and protected me,” he said. These relationships with animals kept the little boy’s loneliness at bay but also taught him invaluable surviving skills and an entirely different way to communicate.
Marcos mentioned that he was only feeling lonely when he couldn’t hear any of the animals close to him. Over time, he learned how to imitate their call, and even after 50 years, he can still produce the sounds of a fox, the deer, and other animals. He started to call them because when they answered, he could go to sleep, knowing that he hadn’t been abandoned.
It was probably during the first years that Marcos stopped using words and replaced them with sounds he learned from the various animals that were surrounding him. By the time he was found by Guardia Civil, he wasn’t talking at all, and he had to be taken from the woods by force because he wouldn’t cooperate.
Because Marcos wasn’t raised by wolves from his very young years, many question the story because the boy couldn’t speak anymore when he was found. While some theories say that language is instinctive and inborn and as such you can’t forget it once you learn it, some theories argue that young children need constant practice throughout their first years to be able to preserve their linguistic skills.
Marcos was not only a young child, but also an abused one, so it is very easy to assume that he never had excellent verbal communication skills. It can also be assumed that because he was confined in isolation even by his own father and stepmother before he went to live with the wolves, he lacked the basic skills that are usually picked up in the process of immersion in a specific culture.
Because Marcos wouldn’t speak, the members of the Guardia Civil couldn’t identify him on the spot. After he was taken to the small village at the foot of the mountains, local people connected the dots, and his father was brought in to identify Marcos.
Back in human society, Marcos had a lot of trouble adjusting, and one of the things that bothered him the most was the constant noise. “I could not cope with so much noise… People went everywhere! I was scared of crossing the road!” he later said. While it took him a while to start speaking again, Marcos would still cry, and apparently, he did it because he knew that animals cry too.
Like in the cases of most documented instances of feral children, Marcos was severely impaired when it came to the development of his social skills even before he was left completely isolated. This often happens with feral children, as most of them experienced severe trauma before running away or being abandoned.
Because of this, Marcos never fully integrated into society after he was rescued from the woods. His language skills also never developed as they should, because the young man would not overcome the damage done by the extended isolation to his social and language potential.
When Marcos managed to tell his story, he mentioned that his only happy memories from childhood were those from the years he spent in the woods with the wolves. According to his story, he was accepted as a brother by the wolf cubs, and that she-wolf fed him and was like the mother he never had.
He remembers that he used to sleep in a cave along with snakes, deer, and bats and that he learned how to survive by watching different animals. The deer and other animals also taught Marcos, which mushrooms and berries were safe, as he was mimicking their behavior.
Because he was only discovered by the civil guard in the woods when he was 19 years old, the former wolf boy never managed to recover completely and reintegrate into society. He mentioned multiple times that he had a lot of problems struggling with the coldness of the human world.
This was not something that affected him when he was running around half-naked and barefooted with the wolves. What he never got over the abuse from his childhood and the subsequent exploitation by bosses in the hospitality and construction industries, Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja, was accepted by his neighbors as one of them even though in his heart he never fully reintegrated with the human tribe.
After he joined the human society, Marcos has worked in several hospitality and construction jobs, where he experienced a lot of abuse over the years, mainly because he couldn’t integrate completely back into civilization. Today he is retired and lives off of his pension, which is not enough to cover all of his basic needs.
He’s sponsored by the Dutch family, and he’s often invited by various associations and city councils to talk about his experience. He was also featured in multiple television programs and interviewed by major news outlets, including the BBC, the Guardian, and El Pais.
Marcos admitted that he tried multiple times to return to the mountains to be there again in a bid to escape from human society in which he couldn’t find his place. However, he never returned there again because, according to him, “it is not what it used to be.” The cave where he lived is not there anymore, as it was replaced by cottages. Moreover, the wolves don’t approach him anymore, and Marcos believes the reason for that is because he smells like people.
“You can tell that they are right there, you hear them panting, it gives you goosebumps … but it’s not that easy to see them,” Marcos said with a bit of sadness in an interview for El Pais. “There are wolves, and if I call out to them, they are going to respond, but they are not going to approach me,” he explained.
Because it is such an unusual story, the upbringing of a boy by wolves in the mountains of Spain has raised eyebrows. From the reasons behind his father’s abandonment to the way the child managed to survive for more than 11 years alone in a forest, there are numerous points of interest for anthropologists and journalists.
His experience has been the subject of multiple books and studies, as well as the 2010 film “Among Wolves,” directed by Gerardo Olivares. But everyone wonders just how truly the entire experience is. It’s not that people don’t believe him, but they also think some of the elements from Marcos’ story are just the product of his imagination.
Dr. Gabriel Janer Manila is an anthropologist of the University of the Balearic Islands and a Spanish writer who wrote his thesis on this particular case and later published a novel about Marcos’ life. He believes that some things Marcos remembers have been filtered by his imagination.
“What happens is that Marcos does not tell us what happened, but what he believes happened,” says Dr. Manila. “When Marcos sees a snake and gives her milk, and then the snake comes back, he says she’s his friend. The snake is not his ‘friend.’ She is following him because he gives her milk.”
According to Dr. Manila, Marcos had to dig deep into his imagination to be able to survive in the solitude of the woods. This is the reason he sometimes remembers things a certain way, but always narrates them consistently. This consistency is the reason Dr. Manila was convinced his story was true, even though at first, like many other people, he did not believe him.
“I thought, ‘It cannot be.’ But the story was so consistent and so well told, and also, every time I asked him about it, he would tell me the story using the same words. So, I said to myself, I will have to check all this,” said Dr. Manila in an interview for BBC News.
To be able to corroborate Marcus’ story, Janer Manila talked to many of the people who encountered Marcos at the time he was found isolated in the woods. “I talked to people who had engaged with him when he was found, with people who welcomed him in their homes, with the employee who bathed him for the first time, with a seminarian who took care of him…”
All the people the anthropologist talked to confirm the way Marcus was ignoring all social roles at the time he was found, while also highlighting his wild character. Everything they said made Dr. Manila believe the story was indeed true.
Janer Manila is positive that if Marcus’ story wasn’t true, it would have changed over the years. But when he saw the former feral child giving interviews decades later, he realized that he was always telling the story the way he remembered it, and always using approximately the same words.
Whether Marcos’ version of what happened to him in the woods it is entirely true or based on true events intertwined with a figment of his imagination, the story is conclusive with his inability to follow the rules of the game. It also came out in the way he behaved right after he was found and for the following years.
According to anthropologists, it is possible to abandon human language even if a child had time to learn it before becoming isolated. Janer Manila believes that the causes of the boy’s abandonment were deliberate and possibly a result of the extreme poverty his family was living in.
Even though in the first phase of his abandonment Marcos had acquired some skills from civilization as well as language skills, he learned the noises of the animals he was living with and switched to that particular communication type while abandoning his long-lost human language.
Marcus mentioned multiple times that one of the most difficult things he had to overcome in his life was the moment when he was brought back to civilization he had to become familiarised with the human customs. From learning how to eat with cutlery to wearing clothes and speaking with humans, Marcos learned to adapt, but never overcame his preference for life in nature and with animals.
At some point, he mentioned that life with humans is worse than that he had experienced with animals and that he disliked the smell and noise of the cities. Moreover, he underlines that he wasn’t offered much help when he was reintroduced into society and that his reintegration would have been smoother with intervention from the state.
Marcos experienced a lot of acts of kindness throughout his life. Still, they were mostly overshadowed by the abuse he suffered at the hands of his employers in the hospitality and construction fields. He is adamant that life with the animals in the woods was better and that he struggled much more to adapt to the modern world amongst fellow humans.
“I think they laugh at me because I don’t know about politics or soccer,” he once confessed to his doctor. The doctor reassured him that they are none the wiser and that Marcos should laugh back at them because he had knowledge no one else had.
Learning how to be human wasn’t such a great experience for Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja. In an interview for the Daily Mail in 2018, he mentioned that ever since he was taken away from the cave in the mountains he used to call home, his life only went downhill. He was extremely scared when he returned to civilization and was placed in the care of nuns, who taught him how to eat at a table and walk straight.
Marcus also suffered physically from his time in the woods, and for a brief period, he used a wheelchair because he had thick callouses cut off his feet. The first time he went to a barber was also difficult, because he was extremely scared the razor would cut his throat.
After he was let go from the orphanage, Marcos rented his own room, but couldn’t get his head around sleeping in a bed in the beginning. As such, he used a pile of magazines and blankets to sleep on the floor.
Following a life of doing menial jobs and never fully reintegrating back into society, Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja lives alone in a home that doesn’t have insulation. An environmental group is trying to raise money to buy him the isolation he needs for the winter together with a boiler.
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja spent the better part of his childhood and teenage years in complete freedom, free from the shackles of society as we know it. As such, he had a difficult time understanding some aspects of it once he was reintegrated among his fellow humans. “When I got out of there, the first thing they should have done is send me to a school, teach me to talk, and how to behave in the world,” he said in an interview.
But instead, he was forced to do communion and military service, things he believes he could have done without. “What was the point of making me first do communion and military service? So I could learn to shoot and kill people? ” Marcos argued.
Even though Marcos had several girlfriends in the past, he lived as a single man for most of his life and had no children. He currently lives in Rante, a small Spanish city he has been calling home for the past 15 years. He has lots of memorabilia in his house, with pictures adorning his walls together with snippets from newspapers that published his story all over the world.
Everyone in town knows his story, and today he is treated with respect, even though he could use more help materially. Marcos is retired, but sometimes he lends a hand at the only bar in town because his half pension is not nearly enough to cover his basic needs.
Marcos has no current plans to return to life in the woods. He says that he often thinks about it, but he is now too old to go back. He has become accustomed to the ways of the humans and intends to remain among them for the time he has left.
“I thought about it many times. But I’m used to this life now, and there are so many things that I didn’t have there, like music, for instance, or women. Women are one good reason to stay here,” said Marcos.
It comes as no surprise that the story of a boy who lived alone in the woods for 11 years and only had wolves and snakes for companions would be an excellent subject for a movie. In 2010, the drama “Entre Lobos” (Among Wolves) hit the screens.
It tells the story of a boy who grew up among a pack of wolves in Spain and is very closely based on the true story of Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja. It was directed and written by Gerardo Olivares, and Marcus gave multiple interviews in that period retelling his story.
There are only about 2,500 wolves remaining today in Spain, and even though many Spaniards want them gone, there are activists who fight to keep them alive. Marcos’ story is often brought into discussion when debating whether the last Iberian wolves should be kept alive.
Jose Ignacio Vega is an activist who fights to protect the wolves, and he strongly believes that they are a source of national pride. He also argues that humans can coexist with these majestic animals, and Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja is a strong argument for his case.
Stories about feral children raised by wild animals were common in the past, but are not very common in modern times. However, Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja is not the only feral child documented in the last centuries.
From a wild boy that was kept as a pet by a king to an Indian boy raised by a wolf, stories of this kind are not entirely uncommon. Not all documented feral children lived in the woods, and some of them were girls. Here are some of the most famous cases.
A mute and naked adolescent boy was discovered in the woods of Northern Germany in 1725. The boy eventually became a sort of pet for King George I of Britain, who took him to London and named him “Peter.” All attempts to “civilize” Peter failed, and he became an attraction at the court.
Peter would wander around the palace on all fours and preferred to sleep on the floor. He never spoke, and modern researchers believe he had learning disabilities and an inability to develop speech, which may have been the reason he was abandoned in the woods.
Feral children are not all boys. In 1731, a wild young woman appeared in the village of Songy, France, and she was armed with a club. She preferred to eat raw meat, and her method of communication was to growl and let out animalistic squeaks. Modern researchers believe she was a Meskwaki Indian originally brought to Europe as a slave.
Unlike other feral children, the girl eventually learned to speak and was baptized Marie-Angélique Memmie Le Blanc. She spent most of her life in a convent, and it later emerged that she had escaped to a forest from a life of slavery.
To live until 40 and never utter a sentence seems incredible, but that is what happened to Victor, a boy who was found wandering nearby Aveyron, France. The mute and naked child had lots of scars. That led people to believe he had spent most of his life in the wilderness.
Victor had selective hearing, and even though a consultant managed to get him to bathe and wear clothes, he never uttered a sentence. He eventually died at the age of 40, without grasping the language of humans.
While most feral children have a story that involves woods, this is not always the case. In 1828, a boy who identified himself as Kaspar Hauser claimed that he spent the previous 13 years locked in a small room. Apparently, a mysterious man brought him food every day, but the boy never talked to anyone.
Kaspar Hauser became famous across Europe due to its unbelievable background, even though some believed the story was a hoax. He died of a stab wound in 1833, and it is still not clear if he was a real feral child or just a con man.
Perhaps the most famous “wolf boy” in history, Dina Sanichar, is believed to have been the inspiration for the character “Mowgli” in Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book.” He was discovered in 1867 in a cave in Bulandshahr district, India, by hunters who initially believed he was a wild animal.
The boy was around six years old, and it is believed he spent his entire life in the wilderness. He never learned to speak and preferred to eat raw meat. The missionaries at the Sikandra Mission Orphanage in Agra didn’t manage to rehabilitate him, and the boy died in 1895.
When Matthew Bremner met Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja to interview him for The Guardian, he immediately sensed that there was something different about the septuagenarian that otherwise looked like any other Spanish pensioner. “He found it difficult to look me in the eye and stared intensely at the ground whenever he spoke. He would make a joke, and laugh at himself, only to lose his confidence almost immediately and retreat behind a sheepish, diffident grin,” wrote Bremner.
“He was friendly and talkative, but he seemed overly conscious of my reaction to everything he said: if I looked confused, he was visibly discouraged; if I was enthusiastic, he was suddenly excited and energetic. He always seemed to be anticipating his interlocutor’s scorn,” continued Bremner.
The incredible story of Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja goes to show that being human is not a given. We learn to become humans by mimicking those around us. However, if those around us happen to be wolves, we would let go of humanity and embrace the lifestyle of another species without a second thought.
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja is still amazed by simple things such as cigarettes, as he remembers the lengths he would go for starting a fire in another life, one that he shared with wild animals that will always have a special place in his heart. He has found his happy place in Rante among humans, after searching his entire life for the long lost solitude he experienced in the woods.
Cruises are hugely popular with travelers and luxury-lovers all over the world. Setting off from fancy ports to exotic destinations like the Caribbean islands and coastal hotspots across the globe, cruises allow travelers to enjoy non-stop luxury and comfort from start to finish. They basically allow you to sit back, relax, and visit wonderful places without even lifting a finger.
On a cruise ship, everything is taken care of on your behalf, from dinner to housekeeping and, of course, transportation too. And with so many benefits, many people wish they could stay on those ships forever. Well, some people have done just that! Two old-timers named Morton Jablin and Lee Wachtstetter have decided to live on-board luxury liners permanently, and they’re not alone. Read on to learn about the growing trend of elderly people living on cruises.
After trying a cruise for the very first time, most people fall in love with the idea so much that they have to go back again and again, each and every year. It’s easy to see why. When you compare a cruise to a typical form of vacation, it has a lot of advantages. For instance, on a cruise ship, all your travel arrangements are taken care of, so you don’t need to order buses or trains or rent a car.
Cruise ships are also immensely luxurious spaces. They feel like mini-cities in and of themselves while offering all the amenities of a 5-star hotel in many cases. They have pools, cinemas, theaters, casinos, restaurants, and more. With so much to do in between ports, a cruise can be a phenomenal experience, appealing to folks of all ages and from all walks of life.
Even though cruise ships are simply amazing, complete with wonderful crews who tend to your every need, top rate chefs for preparing delicious food each morning and night, and all the amenities you could hope to have in one place, could they really be a permanent home? Well, for some people, the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!”
Reports show that an increasing number of people are interested in living on a cruise permanently, or at least spending as much time on a cruise ship each year as they can possibly afford. A couple of pioneers, Morton Jablin and Lee Wachtstetter have actually gone ahead and lived that dream for themselves. Read on to learn how they did it.
People dream of a lot of things throughout their lives. They dream of winning the lottery, having a luxurious lifestyle, of owning their own private island. For Morton Jablin and Lee Wachtstetter, the ultimate dream was to live on a cruise ship, enjoying a truly unique way of life, each and every day.
Many people have similar fantasies. How nice would it be to wake up each day and have everything taken care of without worrying about rents, mortgages, utility bills, pets, kids, and all those other responsibilities that tie us down? This is why a lot of people take cruises to enjoy a little slice of the freedoms and luxuries they dream of, but Morton and Lee went one step further.
“Ladies first,” as they say, so let’s begin by introducing Lee Wachtstetter and learning all about her story before we move on to Morton. Lee Wachtstetter is an 89-year-old woman who has been living full time aboard a cruise ship since she was 77! Nicknamed Mama Lee to those who know her best, she’s a legend of the cruising scene.
But to truly understand the story of this awe-inspiring old lady, we have to go back into the past. Throughout her life, Lee enjoyed many cruises with her husband. They went on no less than 89 cruises together, using their money wisely to enjoy these amazing breaks and seeing so much of the world in the process.
Lee was married to her husband, Mason Wachtstetter, for fifty years. It was actually Mason who introduced Lee to cruising, taking her on board her very first ship and helping her see how wonderful it could be. From that moment on, she was absolutely in love with the concept of cruising and wanted to go away every single year.
That’s pretty much exactly what Lee and Mason did. They enjoyed countless trips together, but, sadly, all good things must come to an end eventually. When the couple reached their seventies, they were still cruising and making the most of life, but they got some terrible news: Mason was diagnosed with cancer, and he wouldn’t have long to live.
The cancer diagnosis came as a big blow to the couple. Mason and Lee had been together for as long as either of them could remember. They’d spent their lives side by side, enjoying so much happiness and making so many magical memories with one another. In a way, their life had seemed like one never-ending fairy tale, filled with one wonderful moment after another.
Unfortunately, cancer is one of the worst killers of them all, and it put an end to Lee and Mason’s happy union. After five incredible decades together, Mason and Lee had to finally say goodbye, but Mason had one last thing to say to his wife before he passed. He asked her to respect his dying wish: not to stop cruising.
Perhaps Mason had worried that Lee might grow bored of cruises without him or feel sad about taking a cruise alone. But that’s clearly not what he wanted. He wanted his wife to carry on making the most of her life, living every day to the max, making more happy memories by herself, and with new friends, she would meet along the way.
Lee heard her husband loud and clear. She vowed to honor his last wish, no matter what. So, in the early months after his passing, she continued to book cruises and set out on ships around the world, heading back to her five-bedroom Fort Lauderdale home in between each one and enjoying the Florida sunshine and the company of her friends and family when she could.
As life went by and Lee continued to enjoy cruises now and then, she started to feel like something was missing. She was still having so much fun on cruise ships and always looked forward to her next adventure, but the time in between each cruise was less enjoyable. Her daughter seemed to notice this and gave her mom a recommendation.
Lee’s daughter suggested that her mom should try living on a cruise ship full-time. It might have sounded like a crazy idea at the time, but, to Lee, it seemed like the most exciting prospect in the world. She wasn’t too keen about the prospect of leaving her daughter, three sons, and several grandkids behind, but she was determined to give it a try, so she took a big leap of faith.
Lee was 77 years old when she decided to move onto a cruise ship permanently. She didn’t actually buy a permanent cabin or apartment, but instead simply booked tickets on a back-to-back, round-the-world cruise, traveling continuously to exotic locations all over the globe. She’s approaching her nineties now, and she’s still cruising, going non-stop for over a decade.
It’s been like a dream that never ends for this incredible old lady. As someone who had already been on dozens of cruises in the past, she adapted instantly to the permanent cruise ship lifestyle, feeling right at home aboard a luxurious Crystal Cruises liner and making the most of each and every day she got.
Mama Lee chose the Crystal Serenity as her official cruise ship home. Owned and operated by Crystal Cruises, the Crystal Serenity was built in 2003 and runs around the world voyages throughout the year. The vessel cost about $350 million to make and was formally christened and completed in the summer of 2003.
The vessel has 13 decks in total and a maximum capacity of 1,040 passengers, with about 650 crew members. Incredibly, Mama Lee has actually been on board the ship much longer than most of those crew members. An elegant and stylish ship, the Serenity has wonderful rooms, lots of restaurants offering everything from Italian plates to sushi, butlers, live entertainment, a nightclub, and more.
Incredibly, Mama Lee had done more cruises on her own since her husband’s passing than she did with him when he was alive! She’s done over 100 cruises so far, including 15 world cruises, and has visited over 100 countries! She says that she “stopped counting after 100” and basically thinks that she’s been to pretty much every country with a port on the planet.
In fact, she’s seen so many places so many times that she has now stopped going out on shore excursions, letting all the other guests enjoy the sights and sounds while she stays on the ship and gets the place all to herself. She does, however, like to step off the boat if it ever visits Istanbul, which is one of her favorite places for buying new clothes.
Since making the move to a cruise ship, Mama Lee has enjoyed life like no other. Each day, she has 24/7 access to health care, live entertainment, fine dining, housekeeping services, friendly crew members, and all kinds of other amenities too. For her, it’s like the ultimate retirement village, with the added bonus of getting to see and experience all kinds of locations across the globe.
Of course, it’s not perfect, and Mama Lee says she does miss her family but does all she can to keep in touch with her three sons and seven grandchildren through her laptop. Whenever her ship docks in Miami, she gets an opportunity to visit her family too. Her daughter sadly passed away, along with many of her friends from Florida, but she has lots of pals on board.
Mason and Lee were a relatively wealthy couple. Mason worked as a banker and real estate appraiser, and the couple owned their own 5-bedroom home, saving smartly to afford their many cruises together. So, Mama Lee was in a privileged position when she began her permanent cruise lifestyle, but how much does she actually spend?
Well, many estimates and reports suggest that she spends around $160,000 to $180,000 per year to sail aboard the Crystal Serenity. It’s certainly not cheap, but before she left, Mama Lee sold her home, car, and pretty much everything she owned to build up the necessary funds to cover the cost of her voyages for the years ahead.
Now let’s take a closer look at the story of Morton Jablin. In his mid-nineties, this man, known affectionately as “The Captain” to cruise lovers and crew members on board his incredible luxury liner home, is another example of an old-timer who chose to turn his love of cruising into a permanent lifestyle.
Just like Mama Lee, the “Captain” is a real icon in cruise circles. Many people are envious of what he has accomplished, and many others hope to emulate him and retire on a cruise ship. So how did Morton end up living aboard the extraordinary Seven Seas Navigator, enjoying a cozy cabin, live entertainment, and five-star dining each day? Read on for his story.
Morton Jablin was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He signed up for the US Navy, spending some time out of the States during his time with the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence during the Second World War. He came back home in 1946 and started to work as a pharmacist. At the time, he was earning just $65 a week, but he had a very interesting business idea that changed everything.
While abroad during his military career, Morton came into contact with a German textile manufacturer who introduced him to some unique European lace-making machines. Morton decided to bring those machines over to America, starting up his own lace-making business and enjoying a lot of success.
It was partly thanks to Morton’s efforts that the lace-making industry gradually began to take off in the US. As time went by and Chinese labor emerged as a cheaper option for textiles in general, the industry started to move towards Asia. However, the Captain’s company is still going strong to this day, owning the majority of lace-making machines in America right now.
In the meantime, Morton met the love of his life – his wife Charlotte – and had two children. Those children went on to have children of their own, and Morton eventually left the lace business in the capable hands of one of his grandsons, who is currently in his forties.
Just like Lee and Mason Wachtstetter, Morton and his wife Charlotte also both enjoyed going on cruises together. Over a period of more than fifty years, the couple sailed with lots of different cruise lines, explored countless ships, and visited many amazing locations around the world.
“My wife, Charlotte, always traveled with me and we made friends with other couples and crew,” Morton explained in an interview, revealing how he and Charlotte really enjoyed the cruise experience, watching the live shows, chatting with the crew members, and forming friendships with other cruisers. They both made some amazing memories through the course of all those journeys.
Sadly, just as Mama Lee lost her husband, Morton also lost his wife. Charlotte passed away over a decade ago, and it was then that Morton decided to move onto a cruise ship for good. In an almost identical story to Mama Lee, once Morton was a widower, he felt like any time he spent on land was wasted. He wanted to make the most of every single second, so it made sense to simply get on a ship and never leave!
In the years prior to Charlotte’s passing, the couple had sailed almost exclusively on Radisson’s Seven Seas Cruises, like the Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager, enjoying the experiences each time, so Morton decided that the Seven Seas Navigator would be a good permanent home for the rest of his life.
The Seven Seas Navigator is a luxury, all-suite cruise ship operated by Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The ship’s claim to fame is that it appeared in the movie After the Sunset, starring Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek, and it entered service way back in 1999. Most of the on-board cabins have their own private verandas, and the ship is designed with 5-star living in mind.
It measures up at 566′ in length, with a maximum guest capacity of 490 and 345 crew members on board. The ship features a spa, fitness rooms, boutiques, lots of live entertainment, and a whole range of eateries too. It’s an amazing vessel, offering the highest possible standards of quality and service to its passengers and to the Captain.
You might think that with so many amenities and luxuries to enjoy aboard, every day on a ship would be its own unique adventure, but Morton likes to keep things simple and live a structured, scheduled life. He’s spent a lot of time on cruises, so he doesn’t need to run around and try every single restaurant and live show. He knows what he likes, and he follows a set routine each day.
In the morning, he gets up early and enjoys a delicious breakfast in his cabin. He does some daily exercise, walking around and enjoying the fresh sea air, and he often eats his favorite meal – Dover sole – for lunch and dinner in the ship’s main dining room. He chats with crew members and passengers now and then, as well as taking in some of the liner’s musical performances from time to time too.
Morton still owns a condo in Boca Raton, Florida, just to store his possessions and qualify for health benefits, but he very rarely goes ashore. His two sons, both in their sixties, sometimes visit him on board, bringing their wives and kids and even grandkids too, so that the Captain still has ties to his family.
He has his own cell phone that he uses to chat with family while he’s traveling the world. Even though many of his friends have passed away now, he still sometimes spots some familiar faces on the ship, including friends that he and Charlotte once knew from previous cruises, which is always a nice surprise for him.
Sadly, in recent years, the Captain has struggled with some eyesight issues. His eyesight started to fade, and he is now classed as 90% blind, which, of course, would make life much more challenging for anyone. Fortunately, the Captain continues to inspire us all with his positive outlook.
Even though he can’t partake in shore excursions and tours anymore, he has accepted this sudden change with his usual good grace, saying that he and Charlotte had already seen the world many times anyway. He’s still making the most of each day, enjoying the amenities and comforts of the ship, and continuing to lead a life he loves.
The Captain has had to adapt to his loss of eyesight. He still exercises each day. He walks for a couple of hours, steering clear of any areas that might pose any kind of risk or present any kind of hazard. As a former Navy man, he knows his way around a ship and can still have a lot of enjoyment, even without the ability to see everything all around him.
His friends in the ship’s crew have also made special adjustments to help him out. They installed brighter lights in his cabin to help him get around more comfortably, as well as a special mirror in the bathroom and some new handrails too.
The Captain’s life has been one amazing adventure, and, even though these new difficulties have arisen, he says he wouldn’t change a thing. He is still so happy with how things have turned out for him. He’s so happy living aboard the ship and says that he simply couldn’t get the same standard of living anywhere else in the world.
He has tasty food to eat each day, friendly crew members and guests to chat with, lots of live entertainment and activities, and easy access to nurses and doctors if he needs them. He says that “life on board couldn’t be better,” adding that the cruise ship is the one place where he feels the safest and secure.
Morton Jablin and Lee Wachtstetter are two very inspiring people. They both lived their lives in love with cruises, lost their partners, and then chose to do the unthinkable, daring to make their dreams come true. For over a decade now, both have been living the high life, enjoying all the luxuries and comforts of a cruise liner right on their doorstep every single day.
It’s extraordinary to see how these two people followed such similar paths. Both of them dared to try and do something that very few people would be willing to attempt. A lot of folks dream of living on a ship, but Lee and Morton really went for it, and their actions have inspired many others to follow in their footsteps. Read on to learn how you can do the same.
If you’re interested in making a cruise ship your own permanent home but are perhaps a little hesitant about whether or not the idea is right for you, a great way to start is by taking a world cruise. These cruises usually run for at least a few months, letting you experience a sizable chunk of term on board a liner, witnessing and experiencing what your future life could be like.
World cruises really give you a big taste of life on a ship, letting you wake up each day for weeks and months at a time, enjoying the amenities aboard: restaurants, live entertainment, swimming pools, and more. One of the best things about this is that you’ll build up tons of loyalty points with the cruise company, accessing massive discounts and exclusive rates that could help you save a lot of cash in the future.
Another way to give the cruising life a try for yourself is by purchasing your very own suite on the world’s biggest private yacht. The vessel is known as The World and it’s been sailing since 2002, going all over the globe and visiting all kinds of different cities. There are around 200 people currently living on The World, and the best part is that they get to decide where to go!
The residents actually hold votes for which cities they’d like to visit each season, allowing them to feel almost like captains of their very own ship. The ship features 165 residences in total, across 12 separate decks, along with plenty of amenities like a gym, spa, and even putting greens for golf fans.
Another option for those looking for their own permanent spot aboard a fancy, high-end cruise liner is offered by Blue World Voyages in the form of their new “Owners Club” scheme. As part of this initiative, Blue World Voyages is offering a set of luxury apartments for sale to those who dream of a life at sea.
The apartments vary in size from one-bedroom cabins to larger two-bedroom cabins, with each one fully furnished and fitted out with all you need, including access to your very own butler. Elsewhere on the ship, you’ll find fitness gyms, hockey simulators, golf greens, swimming pools, and more, and owners have the option to rent out their apartments when not using them.
Of course, one of the big issues that many people have to deal with when considering living on a cruise ship or luxury yacht-like The World is the cost. On average, living on a fancy cruise liner doesn’t come cheap! Residences on The World, for instance, cost up to $20 million, while Blue World Voyages’ Owners Club apartments cost $4 million or more.
Still, as proven by Lee and Morton, it is possible to bring your cruise dreams to life on a more modest budget. Many cruise lovers choose to book back-to-back world cruises, which works out much cheaper than trying to buy a permanent cabin or apartment. Plus, if you can rack up enough loyalty points and take advantage of VIP schemes, you can get some amazing discounts on each trip.
Some experts even argue that you could actually save money in the long run by living out your latter years on a cruise ship as opposed to in a retirement village or nursing home. Statistics show, for example, that the average living costs of aged care accommodation work out at close to $1,000 per day.
Meanwhile, you can book a fancy cruise liner for around the world trips at prices as low as $250 per day. This includes accommodation, food, and access to all those other amenities like pools, bars, and gyms too. Not to mention the fact that cruise ships have doctors and nurses to deal with any health issues.
As we can see from the experiences of Morton Jablin and Lee Wachtstetter, as well as the many other men and women who have decided to make permanent or semi-permanent homes for themselves aboard luxury cruise liners, it can be quite an incredible lifestyle. Every day offers something new, with countless conveniences, comforts, and amenities right at your fingertips.
It might not be right for everyone, but it’s clearly a good fit for Morton and Lee, and there are plenty of ways to see if it’s right for you too, through things like around the world cruises and vessels like The World. One thing’s for sure: for Lee, Morton, and many others, sailing around the globe on a luxury liner definitely beats the bland rooms and mundane experiences of a typical old folks’ home!
For many years, architects, designers, and developers have played around with the concept of what a hotel can really be. Around the world, you can find hotels with rooms built underwater, constructed among networks of caves, or even made up of old train carriages or recycled planes. And back in the 1980s, one man and his son had the idea of creating the world’s first floating hotel.
Designed to be able to sail the waters of the world, floating from port to port and offering its guests totally unique experiences every time they chose to stay, the floating hotel began its life in Australia but later ended up in North Korea! It’s a fascinating tale, and here’s how it all happened, from start to finish.
The idea for the floating hotel came from a man named Doug Tarca. Doug was born in the town of Melo in Northern Italy, way back in 1929, but his parents immigrated to Australia in 1935, so he spent most of his life in the Land Down Under. Tarca roamed around and tried out a few different jobs over the years, before eventually settling in the town of Townsville.
It was in Townsville that Tarca met the love of his life, got married, and started his own family. He was also a professional diver and really fell in love with the Great Barrier Reef throughout his numerous dives there. And it was that same passion and love of the reef that led to him thinking up the idea for the floating hotel.
Doug spent a lot of time diving among the Great Barrier Reef, widely regarded as one of the most significant wonders of the natural world. He was passionate about preserving the reef to allow future generations to dive there and enjoy its unique beauties and wonders, and he even opened his own little coral museum and shop called Tarca’s Coral Gardens.
Doug also decided to launch a daily tourism service from Townsville to the Great Barrier Reef called ReefLink. This transport system took guests from Townsville out to the reef via catamaran, letting them safely swim and scuba dive before heading back to shore. Then, in the late 1980s, Doug had the idea to create a floating hotel at John Brewer Reef.
Doug wanted to let people enjoy the reef safely and conveniently, so the idea of a floating hotel made a lot of sense. It would allow guests to simply stroll right out of their rooms and head out into the water, ready to dive down and enjoy the miracles of the aquatic world for themselves. He’d dreamt of building some form of accommodation out on the reef for years, according to his son, Peter, and he desperately wanted to bring that dream to life.
To begin with, Tarca planned to moor three cruise ships out on the reef permanently, but this idea was later classed as impractical by the experts, and the idea of a floating hotel was settled upon instead. The company behind the project, Barrier Reef Holdings Ltd, felt that the concept of creating the world’s first floating hotel was an exciting one, sure to generate a lot of hype and interest from travelers around the world.
Throughout the mid-1980s, plans were drawn up for the construction of the hotel, and it was in 1986 that those plans were handed over to a Singapore firm to begin construction. Hopes were high for the floating hotel, both on the part of Doug and the Barrier Reef Holdings Ltd shareholders, but those hopes took a hit straight from the start.
There were several delays throughout the construction process, including a contract dispute with the Singapore construction company that led to even further setbacks. Many hotels suffer little setbacks during the building phase and still survive in the end, but even the slightest of delays can have huge financial impacts in the long-run, and that’s exactly what happened to the floating hotel.
Unfortunately, because of the delays to construction and delivery, the opening of the floating hotel was put way behind schedule. It had to be towed over 5,000 km out from Singapore to the Great Barrier Reef aboard a huge heavy-lift ship, and it wasn’t until March of 1988 that the hotel, under the name of John Brewer Floating Hotel, was finally opened to the public.
This meant that the hotel had missed out on huge potential profits during the Northern Hemisphere winter tourist season, during which many people living in Northern Hemisphere nations like the US and the UK head to warmer places like Australia to flee the cold weather. This led to millions of lost dollars in possible revenue.
The hotel was designed to offer a lot of luxury to its guests. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on its construction, and the hotel was marketed as being a “paradise at sea,” designed to offer beautiful, spacious rooms for its guests and a lot of luxurious amenities too. It was spread out across five floors in total, with almost 200 rooms and various clubs, bars, and eateries.
The John Brewer Floating Hotel also boasted a helipad, a pool, a tennis court, and even a 50-seater underwater observatory where guests could stay dry and admire the underwater world up close and personal. In short, it offered all the standards one might expect of a top tier, four or five-star accommodation location, and it could have been a huge success. Sadly, things didn’t quite turn out that way.
Just before the hotel was due to welcome its first guests, a terrible storm, nicknamed Cyclone Charlie, struck the surrounding area and did some damage to one of the pools, leading to more costs in repairs and more delays to the arrival of the first guests. And the issues continued to pile up from there, all damaging the hotel’s chances of success.
During 1988, the floating hotel’s first year, the grand World Expo event was being held in Brisbane, Australia, which drove tourism away from the hotel, reducing the number of bookings and leading to even more losses. Not only that, but there was a lot more bad weather in the area too, and since the hotel relied on sunshine and calm conditions to attract guests, booking numbers were quite low.
Even though the guest numbers were pretty low, and the owners of the hotel were suffering from one disaster after another, the staff at the time seemed to be having a lot of fun. One of the workers, Belinda O’Connor, who was responsible for ferrying guests back and forth to the hotel on a water taxi, says that the hotel itself was one of the most impressive sights she’d ever seen.
She added that the staff spent a lot of fun times living at the hotel, setting off on fishing and diving trips in the surrounding waters, and having pizza parties. Luke Stein, another worker of the floating hotel, called it the “best job I have ever worked in my life,” joking that he was basically paid just for spending time in the sunshine and getting to swim around in beautiful blue waters.
Unfortunately, even though the staff were living it up, the hotel was really struggling in those early weeks and months. Maybe the owners felt that once the cyclone and construction delays were over, their problems were in the past, but the issues just kept stacking up on top of each other for the floating hotel. It almost felt like the whole project was cursed.
For example, while ferrying one of the first boat loads of guests out to the hotel, a worker named Larissa Kilcullen remembers that the rough conditions and choppy waters led to many of the guests getting seasick and actually needing to go back to dry land. Ms. Kilcullen herself was also seasick on most of the journeys.
One of the main driving forces behind Doug Tarca’s vision for the floating hotel was his passion for conservation. He loved the Great Barrier Reef and wanted to protect and preserve it for the future, allowing as many people as possible to enjoy it for generations to come. He was a man who seemed to care a great deal about the natural world.
Unfortunately, the construction of the John Brewer Floating Hotel actually wasn’t very beneficial to nature at all! Large sections of coral had to be removed just to make way for the hotel, and conservationists were absolutely outraged. We’re not sure what Doug himself had to say about all this, as few detailed records remain from those days, but his passionate, preservation-oriented side couldn’t have been too happy with how things turned out.
It seemed like the floating hotel was doomed right from the start. Even when guests started to arrive, problems persisted. There was even a fire aboard one of the water taxis later on, which led to even more issues for the hotel owners and board members to figure out. In the end, the booking numbers started to go down.
Local journalists argued that a lack of marketing and terrible management, along with a fair share of bad luck, had led to the floating hotel going from a great idea to a total disaster. Robert De Jong, a Townsville historian and worker of the Townsville Maritime Museum, said that the project was simply “ahead of its time” while admitting that it had quickly become “too costly to operate.”
In the end, it became clear to see that the John Brewer Floating Hotel just wasn’t going to work out in the long run. The booking numbers were down, there was a declining level of interest in the hotel as a concept, and too many guests had suffered bad experiences there. In short, the hotel’s reputation was in tatters, and it seemed like there was no real way to restore it without spending tons more money that the owners simply couldn’t afford.
This is where the concept of the floating hotel actually worked in the owners’ favor. When most hotels start to fail, they have to close the doors and either get torn down or simply left abandoned until someone eventually buys them out and tries to restart the business. But in the case of a floating hotel, once the first idea failed, it was possible to simply move the hotel somewhere new, selling it to owners and letting them start again, and that’s exactly what happened.
Despite all the troubles that had come with the opening of the floating hotel, there was a lot of interest from around the world when it was announced that the structure was for sale. Malcolm Clyde, then managing director of Great Barrier Reef Holdings, stated that the hotel’s “most difficult challenges” were in the past.
Clyde then began negotiations with several companies around the world, including in the US and Japan, for the potential development of new floating hotels, as well as the sale of the existing one. Clyde argued that the idea of installing floating hotels in many locations actually made more sense than bulldozing a bunch of lands and traditionally constructing a hotel. In the end, a buyer in Vietnam was found.
Once the sale of the floating hotel had gone through, it was time for the next step in its incredible story to begin. It had to be transported a very long distance once more, leaving the waters off the coast of Australia and heading up to Vietnam, where it was docked at Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, the biggest city in Vietnam.
With a population closing in on 9 million in the city itself and over 21 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area, Ho Chi Minh City is a thriving urban center and one of the most-visited sites in Vietnam too, so it was hoped that the hotel could be a smashing success with both the locals and the many visitors in the area.
The hotel, which had been known as both the John Brewer Floating Hotel and the Four Seasons Barrier Reef Resort during its brief operations in Australia, was now given a new name upon its arrival in Vietnam. It was called the Saigon Floating Hotel and moored in the Saigon River, not far from the Tran Hung Dao Statue.
The hotel had traveled another 5,000 km from Australia to its new home, and it was hoped that this fresh start would be just what it needed to finally live up to its early potential. It was clear to see that the floating hotel could be a big hit, but it needed proper marketing, strong management, and the right approach. So, was Vietnam the right fit?
Well, given that the Saigon Floating Hotel managed to remain in Ho Chi Minh City for quite a long time, from 1989 to 1997, it’s clear to see that it had much more success there than it did in Australia. Locals began calling it “The Floater,” and it proved popular with Vietnamese people, due to the fact that it had two nightclubs.
The nightclubs on board the floating hotel swiftly developed a reputation for being some of the hottest spots in the area. Locals would head out to The Floater after work in the evenings or at the end of the week when they wanted to have some fun with their friends and colleagues, and other visitors to the city were drawn to the hotel, just to see what it looked like and spend a few nights on board.
Sadly, even the most successful of establishments can’t always maintain those same levels of success as time goes by. Ho Chi Minh City is a rapidly-growing and ever-evolving city where new clubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels are being opened up all the time, and as the years went on, it became clear to see that the Saigon Floating Hotel just couldn’t keep up with the competition.
With more nightlife hotspots and accommodation options available to Ho Chi Minh City visitors and locals, the appeal of The Floater began to wane, and by the late 1990s, it was losing too much money to be considered a viable business any longer. Thus, for the second time in its existence, the hotel was put up for sale and prepared to ship off somewhere new.
The Saigon Floating Hotel had a troubled end to its stay in Vietnam, but it had still been a relative success for many years, so there was a lot of interest in the floating structure once it was put up for sale for the second time. Observers following the story might have expected the hotel to end up around the globe in America, perhaps in Japan, or maybe in some other Asian touristic location.
Instead, it was actually purchased by a South Korean company. In 1998, South Korean buyers purchased the structure, and it began another long journey from Vietnam to its new home, just over the border in North Korea. It was positioned in the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region and given yet another new name: The Hotel Haegumgang.
The Mount Kumgang Tourist Region is a special region in North Korea that actually sits on the border separating North Korea from South Korea. Even though many tensions have existed between the two nations over the years, at the time when the hotel arrived in 1998, efforts were being made by both nations to try and push for better international relations.
So, in that very same year, Mount Kumgang itself was opened up to South Korean tourists, and the region started to be developed to try and improve Korean relations. Various South Korean companies were involved in the development of the area, setting up new hotels and facilities to create a beautiful resort space, and the new owners of the hotel decided that it would be a great addition to the resort.
The Mount Kumgang Tourist Region is filled with stunning mountains, among the most popular and scenic in all of Korea, offering plenty of nature trails and hiking opportunities for visitors. For many years, it was a hugely popular place with South Korean visitors and other foreign tourists, and with so much tourism in the area, it seemed that the floating hotel could be a big success.
Indeed, for about ten years, running from 1998 to 2008, the hotel seemed to do reasonably well. It wasn’t a smashing success according to the reports, as there were several other luxury hotels in the area. However, it still had bookings and served as a popular touristic location for visitors. Between 1998 and 2008, over a million South Koreans visited the resort.
Perhaps the Hotel Haegeumgang could have carried on being a reasonably popular accommodation located in the thriving Mount Kumgang Tourist Region for many more years, but in 2008, a terrible and dramatic incident occurred that changed the face of the region forever, as well as having a huge effect on the hotel’s future.
It was in July of 2008 that a 53-year-old South Korean female tourist named Park Wang-JA was visiting the area and accidentally entered a military zone, according to reports from the North Korean government. A soldier in the zone shot Park Wang-JA twice and killed her. Naturally, the killing of a tourist came as a great shock to the authorities and people of South Korea, and more drama ensued.
The South Korean response to this tragedy was swift, with the government immediately announcing a travel ban and blocking any of its citizens from heading to Mount Kumgang. North Korea retaliated angrily, expelling South Korean workers from the resort and seizing properties owned by South Korea too.
Several arguments took place between the two nations, with South Korea demanding some kind of inquiry into the killing of their citizens and North Korea refusing to cooperate, claiming that the tourist had been warned by the soldier that she was in a military zone and failed to comply with instructions before being killed. South Korean reports, meanwhile, stated that Park Jang-wa was simply strolling through the area and posed no threat.
Without the huge influx of tourists from South Korea, the popularity and success of the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region began to decline. The area was still reasonably popular with North Koreans, and as the years went by, North Korea began to run various tours to the area and encouraged Chinese guests to explore it as well, but this wasn’t enough to reach the former levels of success.
The notable absence of South Korean visitors was greatly felt, and travel books have stated that most of the facilities in the area have been forced to close down over the years due to a lack of business. Some visitors have also shared photos online, showing the floating hotel and other locations looking almost abandoned.
In recent years, tensions between North Korea and South Korea have once more started to subside a little, and efforts have been made on both sides of the border to try and bring the people back together. So, in 2018, it was announced by the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, that the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region would be reopened to South Korean visitors once more.
This was a big announcement, not only for the pursuit of a harmonious international relationship between North Korea and South Korea but also for the future of the Hotel Haegumgang. On paper, if more tourists are allowed back into the tourist region, the hotel has a renewed chance of success and could continue being a popular spot for many more years. However, the reality of the situation could turn out to be very different.
In October of 2019, it was reported that Kim Jong-un himself paid a visit to the floating hotel, presumably to scan the area as it reopens and set out plans for future development. Unfortunately for the hotel, Kim Jong-un was said to be very unhappy with what he saw.
He stated that the facilities were “very backward in terms of architecture but look so shabby as they are not properly cared for.” The leader also added that the buildings felt like “a hotchpotch with no national character at all.” Kim Jong-un seemed to feel that the hotel had a shabby and unprofessional look that just didn’t fit in with the look and feel of the area, or the principles of North Korea in general.
The Supreme Leader was said to be so unhappy with the facilities at the floating hotel that he reportedly said that the whole thing should be torn down and replaced with something more modern and fitting for the area. It seems that North Korea is planning a total redevelopment of the Mount Kumgang area, and the hotel isn’t likely to survive this process.
After three decades of life and several owners in three separate locations, the floating hotel has been through a whole lot and made it out on the other side. It has survived cyclones, storms, huge journeys, and terrible management decisions, but this truly might be the end of the road. Usually, when Kim Jong-un makes a decision, he gets what he wants, but there might still be a little bit of hope left in store for the Hotel Haegumgang.
Even though North Korea’s Supreme Leader seems intent on his plans to demolish the floating hotel and rebuild something more in line with North Korea’s image and ideas, South Korea seems to have a different view of the matter, and this could be enough to potentially save the floating hotel and even breathe new life into this historic structure.
Kim Eun-Han, a deputy spokesman for the Unification Ministry, stated that South Korea would prefer to repair, renovate, and remodel some of the structures in the resort area, possibly including the floating hotel. The South Korean government and various companies have invested a lot of money in the area, estimated at over USD 350 million, so it’s only natural that they’d prefer to repair and maintain their investments, rather than agreeing with their destruction.
After traveling around 14,000 km in total since it was first constructed in Singapore back in the late 1980s, the floating hotel now faces an uncertain future. The plans for redevelopment and renovation of the hotel in North Korea have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. Still, it’s clear that some form of those plans will eventually be put into action.
When that happens, nobody really knows what will become of the hotel. If the plans go ahead as suggested, the original structure will be destroyed, and a new one will be built, effectively marking the end of this fascinating tale. If the hotel is left intact in any way, it may stick around in North Korea with a totally new look and vibe, or it might end up being sold off all over again and shipped somewhere new.
It’s incredible to think that the idea for the floating hotel all started, so many years ago, in the mind of one young man who simply loved the Great Barrier Reef and wanted to share that passion with as many people as possible. Doug Tarca had a vision, but it probably didn’t quite turn out the way he ever expected!
Doug passed away in the early 90s, so he never got to see how the hotel ended up becoming such a big hit in Vietnam and then went on to find a new home in North Korea, but he left behind quite a story for us all. Still, his visionary attitude and innovative nature gave the world something special, and even though the hotel didn’t go to plan, it still proved to be an extraordinary feat of engineering and architecture, inspiring other hotel designers across the globe.
Since as far back as the 1700s, Americans have strived to be a free nation, where men and women from all walks of life can enjoy a fun night out. The American culinary road is made of the great trials and tribulations in US history. In general, the restaurant industry is a tough business to get into, so keeping a restaurant alive for multiple generations is even more challenging. Get ready for your mouth to water! With delicious food and a historic story, here are some of the oldest restaurants in each state.
The Bright Star Restaurants have been serving generations of customers since 1907. When the restaurant first opened its doors, it was a small café that featured a horseshoe-shaped bar. The establishment experienced a lot of success, and in 10 years, it expanded from a 25-seat café to a 330-seat restaurant while keeping the quality. The restaurant is continuously listed in the top three restaurants in Birmingham.
They have incredible appetizers, amazing salads, and delicious entrées, including a grilled hamburger steak and Italian spaghetti with meat sauce! As delightful as that sounds, there’s more. Their specialty is a Greek-style snapper and steak, and their signature food is gumbo. Besides their historical atmosphere, The Bright Star’s first priority has always been customer service.
The Skagway Inn initially catered to prospectors during the Gold Rush when it was built in 1897. It was first used as a brothel, a family home, a boarding house, and eventually, a Frontier Country Inn. The Skagway Inn keeps the legacy alive using historical décor to make the guests feel the mystery of the Klondike Gold Rush.
The Inn was built in a prime location downtown next to the Klondike Gold Rush National Park Historic District. Other than the comfortable rooms, The Historic Skagway Inn has one other thing that lures people back: the amazing food! Olivia’s Bistro serves fresh seafood. The use of in-season vegetables and the freshest ingredients is notable. You can order King Crab legs ‘From the Sea,’ chicken pot pie ‘From the Land,’ or a delicious homemade dessert!
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon was built in 1877, making it the oldest bar in Arizona. Sadly, the saloon was destroyed after a devastating fire in 1900. Luckily, it was rebuilt in 1901 and is now famous for being one of the most historic establishments in the state. You can find the bar on Whiskey Row in Prescott, right across the street from the country courthouse.
USA Today named the bar as one of “America’s 10 best historic Saloons.” The bar is also well-known in the entertainment industry. It has been featured in a number of movies, including Junior Bonner, Billy Jack, and Wanda Nevada. Speculations have been going around about the saloon being haunted; this was brought to light when it appeared in Ghost Adventures.
As a response to the demand for groceries in 1890, the Oark General Store was established. It is the oldest continually operating store in Arkansas and hasn’t stopped serving the community since it opened its doors. The community is surrounded by forest, rivers, and trails, making it great for hiking or camping trips.
During the last 20 years, Oark General Store went beyond selling groceries and became a full-service restaurant. In more recent years, it has become a popular destination for travelers and visitors. This home-style comforting cooking is a one-of-a-kind experience. It is open every day from sunrise to sunset. The Arkansas Register of Historic Places put the Oark General Store on the list!
In 1849, Nikola Budrovich, Frano Kosta, and Antonio Gasparich, three immigrants from Croatia, set up a tent on Long Wharf and posted a sign on it that read Coffee Stand. Long Wharf was a pier that reached half a mile into the Bay. Hundreds of sailing ships were tied up there, and the pier was lined with hastily built shops, saloons, markets, and gambling dens.
Coffee Stand served fresh fish grilled over charcoal to the merchants and sailors who frequented the pier. The Tadich Grill is the third oldest restaurant in America and the oldest in the state of California. Today, the place is so often visited that you may be waiting a couple hours in line outside to get a table to eat in.
On November 17th, 1893, Buckhorn Exchange was established by Henry H. Zietz. It was originally opened as a Saloon named The Rio Grande Exchange. Zietz was known as being a lifelong friend to the Indians and make sure to cater to everyone. With railroaders, gamblers, miners, and even businessmen, everyone was welcomed at the Saloon.
The restaurant was reportedly the first to receive a liquor license in the state of Colorado. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt ate at the restaurant when the Presidential Express train stopped at the Rio Grande rail yard. Roosevelt and Zietz went hunting together on Colorado’s western slope. How fun! Even though Buckhorn Exchange is a steakhouse, they are known for their magnificent Rocky Mountain Oysters.
One of the oldest continuously operated inns in America, the Griswold Inn opened its doors on the very historical date of 1776: the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Maybe our forefathers celebrated there, after signing it. Of course, they would have had to travel from Philly all the way to Connecticut, but hey, who cares! No more taxes!
Just kidding, they replaced British taxes with American taxes. Today, you can enjoy delicious food and wine at this classy restaurant. They even have a separate menu for Thanksgiving, a December holiday menu, and a Sunday hunt breakfast. To celebrate the past, they even have a historical menu. In addition to wine events and art tours, the Griswold Inn even has a taproom with a separate menu!
The three-hundred-year-old building that now houses Jessop’s Tavern was originally built in 1674. A cooper named Abraham Jessop lived there and had his barrel-making business in 1724. Throughout the years, 114 Delaware Street has seen many changes. One of the changes was the establishment of Jessop’s Tavern & Colonial Restaurant in the year 1940.
Today, the restaurant and bar still have a cool rustic atmosphere with a historical style. The bar carries over 200 Belgian bottles of beer and 30 craft beers! Needless to say, you have plenty of options. Although they are known for their beers, Jessop’s Tavern also serves food. You can order some bar food like sweet potato fries or meals, such as shepherd’s pie and fish & chips.
The Columbia Restaurant was founded in 1905 by a Cuban immigrant named Casimiro Hernandez, Sr. in Tampa Bay, Florida. In addition to being around for over 110 years, the establishment has been running strong by the same family for five generations (and counting). Following the death of his father in 1919, Casimiro Jr. took over ownership and running the restaurant.
He had the vision to take the restaurant to a new level and envisioned a fancy dining room with music and dancing. At the time, this concept was unheard of in the country. Today, the company has three different locations in the state of Florida and still serve enjoyable food and unique beverages. If you want the best sangria in town, stop by the Columbia Restaurant.
When the Plaza Restaurant & Oyster Bar opened in 1916, it was located at 115 North Broad Street and had white marble tables that can seat just 26 customers at a time. The establishment has gone through multiple owners over the years. The restaurant is now located on the corner of Broad and Smith. In addition to formal and casual dining, there is also a cocktail lounge and outdoor seating.
Customers love the restaurant, and it always aims to make The Plaza even better! The restaurant offers a daily buffet from 11 to 2:30 every day! Dinner menu specials include seafood, fresh oysters, aged beef, fresh farm vegetables, and so much more. Plus, their delicious desserts are home-made.
In 1917, The Manago Hotel was opened in Captain Cook Town, on the slopes of Mauna Loa. It elevates up to about 1,350 ft. on the beautiful island of Hawaii. The hotel overlooks the stunning Kealakekua Bay and also the ancient Hawaiian Place of Refuge in Honaunau.
Since a lot of people like to vacation in Hawaii, the Manago Hotel is in a prime location! With cool calming nights and sunny days, this is the perfect place to relax comfortably while staying at a historic location. Don’t forget to check out the hotel’s restaurant. They have full menus for breakfast lunch and dinner. However, they are closed on certain holidays.
Since 1800, The Snake Pit has been a significant part of the history of Silver Valley. The establishment never stopped serving it’s customers, even in the worst weather conditions! The fun part about this bar is that throughout the years, visitors were able to add their own pieces of history to the Snake Pit by adding antique and historical items to the display.
On Fridays, you can enjoy the Friday Night Prime Time Special! It starts at 4:00 pm and again at 6:00. You can enjoy some live music with Prime Rib served with soup, salad, and potatoes of your choice. Lunch and dinner are served every day and breakfast on the weekend. They have Karaoke night on Wednesday, so make sure to check that out!
The Village Tavern has been in continuous operation since 1847. This family-owned restaurant, in classic roadhouse style, has been a favorite “watering hole” for generations. A spacious dining room and antique bar area preserve the establishment’s rustic authenticity. A particular favorite is the massive 35-foot mahogany bar, which survived Chicago’s “Great McCormick Place Fire” in the 1960s.
In addition to its lunch and dinner menus, the restaurant also has incredible vegan and gluten-free options. Some of the dinner items include broiled Cajun chicken breast salad, bacon, and cheeseburgers, and a tavern BBQ pulled pork sandwich! They also have some original house specialties, such as a village tavern stew and their famous tavern fish! I don’t know about you, but I’m suddenly hungry.
The Log Inn is known to be the oldest restaurant in Indiana. Built in 1825, the establishment has been serving customers for almost 200 years. The Log Inn was one of the oldest and original Stagecoach stops between Evansville and Vincennes. In 1844, President Abraham Lincoln was returning from Evansville, where he was visiting his mother’s grave.
When he needed a place to stop, he stayed at the Inn. At the time, he was campaigning “Clay for President” on the Clay Whig party ticket. This family-friendly restaurant has everything from cheese balls, nachos, and cauliflower to salads, burgers, and grilled cheese. If you have health or dietary restrictions, this is the place for you. They have so many options! Everything looks amazing, so I just wouldn’t know what to order.
Opened in 1852 by a federal permit issued from President Millard Fillmore, Breitbach’s is Iowa’s oldest food and drinking establishment. Jacob Breitbach, the great-great-grandfather of the present owner, purchased the business in 1862, and through six generations, the Breitbach family has kept ownership. Unfortunately, the original location got burned down in 2007 by a gas explosion and fire. It was rebuilt and burnt down again three months later. It was rebuilt for the last time in 2009.
You can find some of the most incredible views of the Mississippi River valley just a short walk away from the restaurant. In addition to their delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, Breitbach’s Country Dining also serves buffets. Their Sunday morning buffet includes eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls, French toast, bacon, and so much more. Not too shabby.
Seth Hays, the great-grandson of Daniel Boone, came to Council Grove with a license from his cousin A.G. Boone to trade with the Kaw Indians. When he arrived in 1847, the town was already a wagon train rendezvous on the bustling Santa Fe Trail. Hays soon built a log cabin and began the business of serving food and trading goods.
The Hays House building was built by him in 1857 and sat right on the Santa Fe Trail, now parallel with Main Street. The restaurant’s website gives you featured recipes of some of their delightful menu items. Right now, you can find the recipe for the Hearthside Pot Roast. Yum! Other menu items include prime rib, hamburger steaks, and bacon-wrapped shrimp.
There is a comforting and historical feeling when you walk into the Old Talbott Tavern. The place is well kept, but with a few creaking floorboards, the passage of time remains. There seems to be a certain feeling and energy at The Old Talbott Tavern – of all the people who have come and gone.
Open since the 1700s, so many people have been at this pub and stayed in the rooms before their departure. Today, people arrive in cars, but they used to show up on horseback or in buggies! Crazy how times have changed. It’s wonderful for tourists and locals to get food and shelter while passing through. Some of the restaurant’s specialties include fried chicken and country ham. Their pies are also a huge hit!
After a young man named Antoine Alcatore took a trip to New York, he noticed the food scene over there. When he returned to his hometown of New Orleans, he decided to open a restaurant of his own. The family-run restaurant was open since 1840. That means it has been serving customers for over 179 years!
Although this is a historic restaurant, the dress code is pretty modern. The dress code is business casual; men are required to wear button-down shirts. Jackets are preferred for everyone: no flip flops, t-shirts, or athletic shorts. The dinner menu is extensive, so you will have many options. Some menu items include chicken tenders, mac & cheese, and steak kabobs. And those are just the appetizers!
In 1927, the Pollard Company built the Palace Diner in Lowell, Massachusetts. It has one of the two Pollard cars that remain in America. In 2014, the diner was reopened by Greg Mitchell and Chad Conley, and there are now six properties. Since it is a diner, the Palace diner serves just breakfast and lunch.
Some of their food items are eggs with potatoes, corn beef hash, and The Delux sandwich, which includes bacon, egg, jalapeno, mayo, cheddar, and palace potatoes. Now that sounds good! On the side, you can get caramelized grapefruit and butter banana. Lunch mostly consists of sandwiches with fried chicken, and they even have burgers. Of course, they serve different kinds of coffee and chocolate milk.
Robert Morris was known as the “Financier of the Revolution.” The Robert Morris Inn was actually the home he grew up in. Today, it has become a beautiful historical restaurant and Inn, offering modern British dining. The Inn has been providing world-class hospitality to its visitors since 1710.
I’m not just saying this! Check out some of these reviews. Customers have said the service is wonderful and that they recommend the eggs benedict with crab meat! Breakfast is served from 7:30 am to 10 am. They serve fresh juices and seasonal fruit plates! You can also have a delicious New York Style Bagel with cream cheese! Of course, they serve lunch, brunch, and dinner as well. The Inn is located right across the street from the Ferry Terminal along Tred Avon River.
The Union Oyster House is located on the Freedom Trail, near Faneuil Hall, Massachusetts. It’s been serving food in America since 1826 and continued its serving with the stalls and oyster bar to this day. Since this one wasn’t an inn or hotel, Union Oyster House is known as the oldest restaurant in America.
The Union Oyster House is placed as a National Historic Landmark and was frequented daily by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who served in the Harrison, Tyler, and Fillmore administrations. It is open every day from 11:00 am until 9:30 pm. The bar, however, is open until midnight. Dinner options include fried “crispy” calamari, lobster ravioli, hot oysters, Boston Baked beans, and so much more. Sounds delicious!
Since 1882, people have been coming to dine at Sleder’s Family Tavern to enjoy good food, drink, and conversation in an intimate and nostalgic atmosphere. Michigan’s oldest, continuously-operated restaurant, the tavern is an important piece of the tapestry of Traverse City, It’s a treasured part of the city that locals proudly share with visitors.
It began in the heart of what was known as Slabtown, a working-class neighborhood on the city’s west side. Vencil Sleder (1850-1904) was a Bohemian immigrant and wheelwright who wanted to build a place where everyone could relax after a hard day’s work. With the help of neighborhood men, he began construction using wooden slabs from nearby sawmills. The rest is history!
There was a printed note on plain white paper that says, “Pranca on Main is closed” taped to the front door of the business. It named itself “the oldest restaurant on the oldest street in Minneapolis” and has been around since 1890. Sadly, nothing lasts forever… or does it?
Pranca on Main closed its doors in 2015, but luckily, it was only temporarily. The historical restaurant reopened just a few months later with a new owner. The building was very old and has been renovated. In addition, the menu had a few tweaks. Between sandwiches, salads, burgers, and wings, there is something for everyone! They even offer some chips and guacamole as an appetizer. In addition to wine and beer, they also have their own specialty cocktails! I am dying to try their Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita!
Generations of families have been dining at Weidmann’s tables since 1870, enjoying the most amazing food and beverages available in the state. Recipes include the freshest ingredients and a splash of love. You can taste the love, which is why Weidmann’s is known for its specialized comfort food.
One of the fun parts about this restaurant is the Treasure Chest menu. This is a fun way to get children to order from the kid’s menu. It will also motivate them to finish their food because, as the menu states, ‘clean your plate and the treasure chest will open!’ Some of the kid’s meal options are chicken tenders, grilled cheese, pasta marinara, cheese quesadillas, and cheeseburgers. I wonder what they keep in the treasure chest!
The J. Huston Tavern takes you back to the Arrow Rock’s frontier heyday. The tavern was built in 1834 by Judge Joseph Huston, who is an early Arrow Rock settler and civic leader from the state of Virginia. The tavern was built initially as Huston’s family home, but as thousands of immigrants began passing by his home, Huston began offering lodging and meal service to travelers and local citizens.
One of their delicious meals is their famous fried chicken, and as an appetizer, you have to try the J. Huston’s spinach & artichoke dip. The J. Huston Tavern has limited seating space, so it’s always better to make a reservation so that you won’t miss out on the taste of history.
The Pekin Noodle Parlor in Butte, Montana, has a particularly storied past as it was founded by immigrants from China in 1911. Apparently, this is the oldest continuously operating eatery of its kind in the United States. However, before it was a restaurant, it was a brothel and opium den. Now, the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in Brooklyn is featuring the eatery in its new exhibit.
Considering the fact that there are tens of thousands of Chinese restaurants in the US, being the first means a lot in the history books. Their classic Chinese menu consists of appetizers, soup, chow mein, rice, noodles, and so much more! The restaurant’s specials include beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, and vegetarian. Yum! I mean, who doesn’t love Chinese food?!
Glur’s Tavern was built as a drinking establishment in 1876 in the city of Columbus, Nebraska. The oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Mississippi river, Glur’s is in the National Register of Historic Places. Local legend says that Buffalo Bill paid his bill at Glur’s Tavern in May 1883 with a $1,000 bill after a funeral in Columbus for Major Frank North.
Glur is just a few blocks down from the downtown area of Columbus, which features strip malls, motels, gas stations, and more. Although it is known as a bar, they also have wonderful food. Locals and visitors claim that Glur’s Tavern has the best burgers on the planet. The best part of the establishment is that over the porch entrance, there is an old “SALOON” sign hanging.
Casale’s Halfway Club is a family-owned restaurant that began serving customers in 1937. This makes it the oldest restaurant in Nevada. Their famous and clever motto is “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy,” which is printed on the arched doorway of the historic establishment. Inez Casale Stempeck (otherwise known as “Mama”) was just a little girl when her parents John and Elvia Casale decided to open a small produce stand.
It was located at their family home. At first, they only sold take-out food, and it was mainly hand-made ravioli. After John’s death in 1946, Elvia named the restaurant Halfway Club. The menu quickly began expanding, and the family sold more Italian food such as spaghetti and pizza! “Mama” took over in 1969 and then her children and grandchildren.
Opened in 1789, the menu at the Hancock Inn celebrates some of the region’s favorite foods such as seafood chowder, lobster and corn hushpuppies, and lobster rolls. If you’re staying the weekend, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery the “Heart of New England” has to offer, such as Mt. Monadnock, recognized as the second most climbed mountain in the world.
Also known as The Fox Tavern, you can enjoy seasonal dinner on Wednesday through Saturday. On Sundays, they serve lunch. If you are planning on going there during the holidays, make sure to make a reservation. You can also have some fun hiking the lakes, rivers, and tens of thousands of acres of wilderness great for people who like boating and fishing.
Robert Morris was known as the “Financier of the Revolution.” The Robert Morris Inn was actually the home he grew up in. Today, it has become a beautiful historical restaurant and Inn, offering modern British dining. The Inn has been giving world-class hospitality to its visitors since 1710.
I’m not just saying this! Check out some of these reviews. Customers have said the service is wonderful and that they recommend the eggs benedict with crab meat. Breakfast is served from 7:30 am to 10 am. They serve fresh juices and seasonal fruit plates. You can also have a delicious New York Style Bagel with cream cheese. The Inn is located right across the street from the Ferry Terminal along Tred Avon River.
New Mexico’s El Farol has provided locals and visitors with over a century’s worth of authentic Spanish cuisine, and memorable experiences since 1835. Today the restaurant features traditional Spanish tapas, as well as paella, steaks, and daily specials. Their bar was once referred to as one of the best bars on earth by The New York Times.
The El Farol is known as “Santa Fe’s most historic and iconic bar and restaurant since 1835.” Their menu looks incredible, but honestly, I want all their desserts. Every single one. They have key lime pie, churros con chocolate, Crema Catalana, chocolate decadence, and so much more that sounds just as fantastic. Their dinner drinks look just as amazing. I want it all!
Growing up, I had no iPads or smartphones at home to pass the time. We only had one TV in the house, which my sister would control to watch ghost-themed Victorian horror flicks. The result was a very traumatic childhood for five-year-old me. So, the steak at the ’76 House better be good or as to distract me from the fact that it made the list of America’s most haunted locations in Ghosthunts.com.
Just read the sign at the entrance: “76 house, where Major John Andre, British spy, plotter with Benedict Arnold, to deliver West point, was confined before his execution.” You can eat anything from an Alligator Empanada to an American red deer cut, all in a 1754 atmosphere.
In 1922, the Carolina Coffee Shop was opened in North Carolina. The historical atmosphere is calming and inviting. Despite their historical significance, the coffee shop embraces modern drinks and food. It’s ideal for family, friends, and even first dates! With a prime location in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, Carolina Coffee Shop is known for being the oldest continually operating restaurant in all of North Carolina.
In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant also offers an entire brunch menu! Brunch offers smashed avocado, biscuits and gravy, waffles, omelets, and so much more! They have a small bites menu that features small meals and snacks if you’re not too hungry. The best part, however, has got to be the drinks and cocktails menu.
The Peacock Alley American Grill and Bar was established in 1911. In 1933, they finally added the bar, following the end of the prohibition. Peacock Alley is a unique location rooted in history and tradition. The Peacock Alley of today is an award-winning national restaurant that prides itself on serving the unique cuts of beef and using the freshest ingredients available.
In addition to serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to visitors and local diners, Peacock Alley has amazing wines, martinis, and other classic cocktails to go with their meals. In addition to happy hour on food and drinks, they also have other fun specials. ‘Tini Tuesday’ offers two for one martini, ‘Winedown Wednesday’ is half-off wines, and the Saturday Special is the Bloody Mary Breakfast!
After traveling from New Jersey to Ohio in 1803, a man by the name of Jonas Seaman had spent just four dollars (67 dollars in today’s economy) to license a “house of public entertainment” in the newly-founded village of Lebanon, Ohio. Not a bad investment, considering it survived for more than 200 years.
At the time it was opened, most Americans still did not know how to read; therefore, the name Golden Lamb was actually a way for him to put a Lamb at the entrance of the restaurant to encourage the message that food was being served. You can dine there every day from 11:00 am, and on Sunday you can get brunch starting at 10! If you want their delicious food at an event, The Golden Lamb offers catering. They will deliver as long as it’s 10 to 15 miles away.
Cattlemen’s Cafe opened its doors to hungry cowboys, ranchers, cattle haulers and the like in 1910. The Stockyards City area was the center of activity back then, as herds of cattle were driven to Oklahoma City in an unending stream to satisfy the East’s growing demand for beef.
By 1926, Stockyards City was the home of two primary meat processors, and the area became known as “Packing Town.” In addition to a full breakfast and lunch menu, their dinner options consist of T-bone steak, Lamb fries, broiled salmon, and so much more! With such an extensive menu, you probably won’t have room for dessert. However, if you’re like me and always have room for dessert, you need to try Pie à la Mode.
Huber’s Café was established in downtown Portland, Oregon, in 1879. Initially, it was called “The Bureau Saloon” until a man named Frank Huber bought it. In 1891, you would get a free turkey sandwich and coleslaw if you buy any drink. At the time, Hubert hired a Chinese immigrant, Jim Louie, to cook all the food. It quickly started a turkey tradition at the bar.
Although they have a very strong Turkey Sandwich culture going on at the saloon, Huber’s serves other foods as well. They have full menus filled with appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and even steaks. There is fresh seafood, a pasta menu, and if you have room for dessert, you need to try the homemade cheesecake!
The Olde Ale House was opened shortly after the cracking of the Liberty Bell, long before the ground was broken for City Hall Philadelphia. The beer taps at McGillin’s have been flowing since 1860, making it the oldest continuously running tavern in the city of Philadelphia.
McGillin’s has outlasted Strawbridge’s, the Civil War, and even the Prohibition. They have fun food items, such as pizza, steak and cake, mussels Fra Diabo, and so much more. The restaurant’s house meal was called in 1860. Named after the year it was established, the house specialty is Chargrilled served with au jus, vegetables, potato, salad, and homemade garlic bread! I can use a nice fresh piece of garlic bread right about now.
The White Horse Tavern is a historic restaurant that has been feeding people since 1673. Though the restaurant is old, they deny being outdated. In fact, the dining rooms are sophisticated, and they have wine from all over the world. The restaurants put love and passion in all their food, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. The establishment has been feeding America for over 350 years!
Some of the menu items that haven’t changed much throughout the generations include the freshest fish, lobsters straight out of the Narragansett Bay, and freshly-picked vegetables. In addition, they have prime cut beef, delicious cheeses, and many other items. The restaurant aims to accommodate and embrace the vibrate food scene in Rhode Island.
Henry’s House was established in 1932, in the historic town of Charleston at 54 North Market Street. It is the oldest operating restaurant in the state of South Carolina and is located right across the street from Charleston City Market. In addition to the historic environment, Henry’s also features live music, a stunning rooftop deck, a dance bar, and a speakeasy bar.
Their new menu items consist of chicken, corn on the cob, fresh vegetables, and so much more. However, they also have drinks that look incredible! Some of their signature cocktails include Margarita on the Market, Moscow Mule, and the Silver Rickey! As for local cocktails, they have a Colonial Daiquiri, a sweet tea Cosmo and more!
The site of the Silverado Gaming Establishing has been a staple of Deadwood, South Dakota since the legendary gold camp sprang up in late 1875. The junction of City Creek and Whitewood Creek, just a few feet from the Silverado, was the site of the first gold strike in Deadwood Gulch. It was made by Frank S. Bryant when he was out hunting.
After the city of Deadwood was laid out and began to develop, the current Silverado building was constructed by local philanthropist and businessman W.E. Adams for the Hills Chevrolet Company. Legends steakhouse offers many appetizers, salads, main courses, and desserts. They even have a breakfast menu with options such as steak and potato benedict and rumchata French toast.
Varallo’s was originally founded as a chili parlor. It was opened in 1907 by Frank Varallo, and in 1929, it was taken over by his son Frank Varallo Jr. There was another location from 1994 to 1998, opened by his grandsons Todd and Tony Varallo next to the Nashville arcade. Frank Varallo Jr. ultimately decided to close the Church Street location at age 85, when he finally retired.
The restaurant claims that they still use the same original chili recipe that was used in 1907. You probably don’t know, but Varallo’s is known for their famous delicious chili. They also have breakfast options, like pancakes and French toast. In addition to the chili, their lunch menu includes meatloaf, fried chicken, catfish, turkey with dressing, and more!
In 1866, a German immigrant and Civil War veteran named August Scholz opened his public bar and café over an old boardinghouse. He had purchased the building and surrounding property for $2,400 ($41,580 today.) Scholz Garten soon became a favorite meeting place for the German population in and around Austin and still serves up a good meal and service today!
Scholz Garden is the oldest operating establishment in Texas. For over 150 years, this has been a spot for everyone – liberals, conservatives, UT fans, music lovers, and families – to raise their glasses and enjoy traditional German food. One of the appetizers on the menu is a giant pretzel served with beer, cheese, garlic, butter, and Dusseldorf mustard. That’s sounds amazing!
The Bluebird Restaurant opened its doors in 1923. It just happened to be the day of George Washington’s birthday. The newly built restaurant is now located at 19 North Main Street in Logan, Utah. The new structure is filled with gorgeous hand-painted walls and ceilings. There is a ballroom on the top floor used for special banquets and dances. The room is now named the Florentine room.
The restaurant offers both lunch and dinner. They have been serving generations of diners in a traditional and historic atmosphere. They have enough options to accommodate everyone. Their kiddie menu includes spaghetti, a burger with fries, chicken strips with BBQ sauce, and grilled cheese! Don’t forget to try their delicious ice-cream after dinner!
The moment you arrive at the Ye Old Tavern, built in 1790, you will feel as if you have entered a time machine taking you back to 18th century New England. The simple yet elegant atmosphere at the Ye Old is befitting considering the statesmen and gentry who often dined and socialized there, both before and after Vermont became a state.
The marble porch has been around since 1850 back when it was called the Lockwood’s Hotel. Dinner is served daily from 5:00 pm. The menu fits the rustic theme, serving cheddar & ale onion soup, lobster bisque, pumpkin bisque, crab-stuffed mushrooms, and so much more! You can even order chicken pot pie or crispy duck. In addition to a lengthy menu with so many choices, you can also order their classic shrimp cocktail served with Spicy cocktail sauce, Eleven.
The Red Fox Inn & Tavern adds a modern-day twist to the historical establishment. It was built in a perfect location in the center of the village. The romantic retreat gives guests the opportunity to appreciate Virginia’s Hunt and Wine Country. If you are just passing by you don’t have to stay there. Stop by for some delicious food!
This culinary destination will leave you with an unforgettable experience. The seasonal ingredients and local harvest combined with the historical setting gives The Red Fox Inn a warm and homey feeling. In addition, they offer an autumn tasting experience. In October and November, they offer a seafood tasting menu on Friday through Sunday. Yum! That sounds so good right now!
The Horseshoe Café & cocktail lounge is the oldest continuously operating café & cocktail lounge in Washington. The restaurant prides itself on never changing its concept, serving the residents of Whatcom County with quality, American style, and freshly prepared meals. If you want some breakfast, a quick lunch, or even a nightcap, The Horseshoe Café is the place to go!
The café has a number of different burgers, sandwiches, nachos, chicken wings, soft pretzels, mozzarella sticks, and more! The breakfast is served all day. That’s right; you can order cinnamon chip French toast or even a breakfast burrito for dinner! If you are watching your weight, they offer wonderful salads… but if not… get the donut holes! Nothing sounds better than some deep-fried donut holes covered in cinnamon sugar.
The North End Tavern and Brewery, otherwise known as NET, opened its doors in 1899. It is the oldest restaurant in West Virginia and the 122nd oldest bar in the country! They have locally brewed craft beer from their on-site craft brewery. North End Tavern brews about 3 to 6 handcrafted beer every month. Their leading amber ale is called Roedy’s Red, and it won a number of different state competitions.
Although the company brews beer for the restaurant, it is available to buy in many other establishments in the West Virginia area. Their food menu consists of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. They have a new Sunday brunch menu featuring the Goetta Platter and crispy goetta served with eggs and bread! If you want a bar with a bit of history, you need to check this place out.
The Red Circle Inn has been around for as long as the state of Wisconsin. In 1848, it was founded by Francis Schraudenbach, a Bavarian immigrant. The location was picked specifically because it was where two stagecoach roads were intersecting. Two important business decisions were made at the restaurant. First of all, the first Milwaukee Road streamline design was drawn there.
The second is even more fascinating. One of the baseball owners sat at a table at The Red Circle when he made the decision to move the Braves baseball team from Boston to Milwaukee. Today the historical restaurant serves steaks. They are also known for their incredible beef Wellington Perigourdine. It’s incredible and baked in puff pastry.
Wyoming’s oldest bar “Miners and Stockman’s Steakhouse & Spirits” has been serving good drinks and great steaks in the state of Wyoming since 1862. They are only open on Thursdays through Sundays from 5 pm to 10 pm. Their minimalist menu showcases only two things, their excellent drinks, and the even more celebrated “Prime: USDA Black Angus Steaks.”
You can also get some side dishes, and the deserts are a must! Since it’s primarily a bar, Miners and Stockman’s Steakhouse & Spirits have an extensive wine menu with wines from different parts of the world. If you are looking for a great place to get some history, maybe a little tipsy, and have a great cut of meat, then this is the place for you!