Read Caption
“Grip” was once Charles Dickens’s pet and figured into his historical novel Barnaby Rudge, which in turn inspired Poe to write “The Raven.” Dickens had “Grip” preserved after the bird’s death in 1841. (Photograph by Robert Reid)

#StrangePlanet: Travel Trivia

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Here are eight travel factoids to help prove it:

Criminal Intent: A company in the Czech capital of Prague has launched “corruption tours” to show where crooked civil servants have wasted taxpayers’ money.

Pet Peeve: It is illegal to own only one guinea pig in Switzerland because they are prone to loneliness.

Not the Sharpest Tool: Preventing mealtime altercations, French King Louis XIV ordered that all dinner knives be ground to a blunt tip.

Wild Thing: “Grip,” the raven that inspired Edgar Allan Poe, is displayed in a shadowbox in the rare book department of the Philadelphia Public Library.

Wet Paint: The Eiffel Tower receives a fresh coat of 60 tons of signature bronze paint every seven years, painted by hand with circular brushes.

Tiny Diner: One of the world’s smallest eateries, the Holzknechthütt restaurant in Carinthia, Austria, serves just four people at a time in a former lumberjack hut.

Epic Fail: A public holiday celebrating failure, United Kingdom’s Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, commemorates the botched attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I in 1605.

Lance a Lot: In 1962, Maryland made jousting its official state sport, although the modern version challenges riders to spear a series of small suspended rings along an 80-yard course.

This piece, written by former National Geographic Traveler Executive Editor Paul Martin, first appeared in the magazine’s November 2014 issue.

> Related: