The Latvian prison experience
"You are exiting hell," reads a former inmate's inscription at Karosta, a Latvian prison in use until 1997. But these days, folks are eager to enter. Option #1 is a tame, 30-minute daytime walk-through ($3.75). Option #2 is a two-hour affair where you get a mug shot, a mock interrogation, a reenactment of an escapee being shot by guards, and a field trip to a real mass grave nearby ($5.65). Then there's Option #3: a full night in a damp cell ($9.50). Guests/prisoners are dressed in prison stripes, put through "intense physical training," and offered the choice to spend time in solitary. The prison's activities manager says that last summer, every overnight stay was booked. "I had never slept on a wooden plank before," reported one guest, who coordinated a tour for colleagues from his Estonian gas company. "We thought this would be a good way to end our trip. Everyone is going to remember it for the longest time." 011-371/636-9470, karostascietums.lv.
The Donald Trump Apprentice Cruise
Just because you enjoy watching The Apprentice doesn't mean you'd want to hang with the contestants--much less be trapped on a cruise with them. And yet, this September, several former cast members--including Stacie J. (the "unstable" one), Raj (the bow-tied cad), and Jennifer C. (the real estate agent accused of anti-Semitism)--will be aboard an eight-day Expedia-chartered Caribbean cruise. In between speed-dating events, there will be an ongoing business contest in which former contestants will "fire" losers; alas, they don't walk the plank. (The winner gets $15,000 and the right to play CEO of Expedia for a day.) Proving that he's not as dumb as his hair looks, The Donald will show up only for the send-off in New York City. 800/504-3398, expedia.com/apprentice, from $1,249.
Fun for the nuclear family
In 1995, a businessman named Hennie van der Most bought an abandoned nuclear power station near the German city of Kalkar. Seeing its true potential, he decided to turn the plant--which had never gone into operation due, in part, to protests--into a family-friendly fun zone. Wunderland Kalkar is a multibuilding complex housing, among other things, Kernie's Family Park; in 2004, more than 500,000 people came to ride bumper cars and a Ferris wheel, all in the shadow of a still-standing reactor. "In short, there's almost every attraction a child can think of," said one attendee, who brought her 6-year-old son to celebrate his birthday. "Just imagine free-climbing up the outside of the never-to-be-used cooling tower!" kernies-familienpark.de, $22.
National Lampoon's Spring Break Tours
A new company called National Lampoon Tours launched two trips this past March, to Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas. The organizers thoughtfully suggested a packing list: "Sunscreen, condoms, sunglasses (daytime pair, nighttime pair), condoms, camera, condoms..." Not that they'll definitely be put to use. According to President Jason Hollander, the Vegas trip was heavy on men: "But that just means there's a little more competition!" The 21-and-over crowd stayed fueled thanks to a 24-hour open bar--in other words, 96 hours of free drinks. (Hollander will allow that the participants may have been sleeping for part of the time.) In Cabo, 18-and-over guests got $225 in drink vouchers instead. Let's do the math: $225 divided by five days is $45. Coronas were $5 apiece (and shots were less). That means folks got at least nine beers a day. "It'll get you on your way nicely," Hollander says. 877/465-8687, nationallampoontours.com, Vegas packages from $279, Mexico packages from $379.
Building your own igloo
Staying in an igloo is one thing, but paying for the privilege to build it is another. Intrepid participants on the four-night Churchill Wild "Fire and Ice" tour, in Manitoba, pass several hours hacking at ice with two-foot-long saws. Then the excitement really begins. "Walls will probably fall down a couple of times before the igloo is finished," says Churchill Wild Director Mike Reimer. "But that's just part of the fun." Once they're successful, ersatz Inuits get caribou skins and a down sleeping bag to keep themselves warm. As if that weren't enough, the town of Churchill also happens to be the polar bear capital of the world--and chances are good you'll see a bear's kill site, complete with gnarled seal remains. Tours take place in the early spring and cost $2,398. "There haven't been a lot of bookings," Reimer says. "But the people who come absolutely love it." 888/326-7325, churchillwild.com.
A Zero-Gravity flight to nowhere
A 90-minute, $3,750 flight from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale? That more or less guarantees the need for a barf bag? The G Force One is America's first FAA-approved thrill ride, in which aspiring astronauts can experience weightlessness. A Boeing 727 cargo plane follows a parabolic flight pattern--it resembles rolling hills--and offers about seven minutes of zero gravity over the course of 15 ups and downs. At the top of each arc, the plane nose-dives at a 40-degree angle, leaving passengers gravity-free for 35 seconds; then the plane climbs and plummets again and again. The weightless portion takes place in a padded compartment, hammering home the idea that you'd have to be crazy to get onboard. Or not: Alice Carey, of Crawfordsville, Ind., can't get enough of gravity-free flights. "I felt my face getting puffy as a result of blood pooling in my body," she reported of a recent flight. And that was a good thing. 888/664-7284, nogravity.com.
The world's most hypersexed hotel
Some of the 19 rooms at Hotel Pelirocco, in Brighton, England, are kind of cool, having been designed by avant-garde creative types. But others come off as desperate to bang guests over the head with their bawdiness, thanks to round beds, strip-club signs, worn copies of The Joy of Sex, and handcuffs. (Perhaps Pelirocco is Italian for "trying too hard.") Betty's Boudoir was inspired by '50s pinup Betty Page; the Nookii Room has what's called the KinkybedTM; and "toys" are available from room service--for purchase, not for rent. "It's really for couples who want to have a dirty, saucy weekend," co-owner Jane Slater says. "Rather than hide away and pretend you're not doing it, why not celebrate?" Sounds nice and all, but we'd still like to pretend that we're the only ones who feel that way--or we'd never touch the bedspread. 011-44/1273-327-055, hotelpelirocco.co.uk, from $119.
The Cabo Wabo Meltdown
Each October, former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar invites everyone and his brah to Cabo San Lucas for the Cabo Wabo Meltdown, a multiday bands-and-booze fiesta leading up to Hagar's birthday, on the 13th. It takes place at his Cabo Wabo Cantina--named after Van Halen's 1988 song "Cabo Wabo," an ode to stumbling around smashed--and the beverage of choice is Hagar's Cabo Wabo tequila. (Because this ain't just a party, it's product placement.) Fans rage until all hours listening to acts like the Wabos (Hagar's side project) and Kenny Chesney. The mix of tequila and testosterone can get a little messy. Last year, Hagar's wife, Kari, marked her honey's latest birthday by smearing cake all over his face; inspired, the crowd lobbed a three-by-six-foot cake on the ceiling and the floor. Afterward, Hagar kept fans apprised of his hangover status: "You may be saying to yourself, The Meltdown was almost a month ago!?' " he wrote on his website. " 'How could they still be recovering?' " This year's event will be 15 days long--yes, you read that correctly--and it starts on Oct. 1. cabowabo.com.
It's a winter activity sure to send chills up your spine. The Austrian village of Obertraun has set aside a secluded two-mile loop for nudist cross-country skiers. Visitors from Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, says a local guesthouse owner, like to come in March and April, when temperatures are warm enough that "it almost feels like one is on the beaches of the Canaries." Last year, another village, Hochfügen, hosted Austria's first nude downhill-skiing competition. Or at least that was the intent: The modest officials required some coverage, and a compromise--in the form of G-strings--was reached. More than 2,000 spectators showed up to watch (ogle?) 84 contestants execute two jumps and 10 pirouettes in 28-degree weather. A couple of resorts in the region cater to the clothing-disinclined: Gästehaus Lührmann in Ramsau am Dachstein (luehrmann.at, from $66) requires nudity at its public pool, sauna, and terraces. And in Obertraun, Hans Schilcher runs the nude-friendly Schilcherhaus. He insists that the sun poses an equal--if not greater--risk than either falling or frostbite. No doubt. But what we're really worried about is the T-bar. tiscover.at/obertraun, tickets from $36.