I’ve always wanted to travel the world, going from Sweden to Singapore to Australia and beyond – exploring all of the world’s most amazing locations and seeing things that most people never get to see in a lifetime. Anyway, raising kids and supporting a family is the priority, so I’ve put “travel the world” on my bucket list.
Meanwhile, I satisfy my travel hunger by settling into Google Maps, switch to satellite view, and try to find some of the most amazing and wonderful locations in the world to explore. I think that there are a lot of online travelers here at MakeUseOf, as evidenced by Saikat’s article about tracking down interesting movie locations, and Angela’s article about experiencing amazing railway journeys online.
I have to say that I have been on some really cool adventures in Google Street View. I’ve strolled down cobblestone streets in Italy, cruised along the mountainous shoreline of northern California, and creeped along the quiet streets of abandoned towns. Every now and then, I will experience a very surreal moment when I spot an extremely odd or unusual object or situation that got captured by the Google Street View team.
In this article, I would like to share nine of the weirdest oddities that I’ve come across in all different parts of the world, during my travels in Street View. If you’re prepared to be surprised by the high strangeness of the world, please read on.
Unexpectedly Weird Places on Google Street View
The thing that really struck me the most about each of the places I found was how unexpected the sighting was. Usually, the surroundings are a very normal-looking downtown or residential area, or in other cases it’s some location out in the middle of nowhere.
I think it’s the oddities in those very remote locations that are actually kind of disturbing. There is a very high-strangeness factor when you try to go over the reasons that a person may have to construct some of these weird things in some ungodly off-the-beaten-track locations where very few souls ever even venture.
But then again, maybe that’s the fun of the whole thing – to create something simply for the sake of creating it, regardless who ever sees it.
The Child Eater
In the town of Bern, Switzerland, in the middle of a city that you would expect to be the most kid-friendly place on Earth, you will find a statue of a nasty-looking dude literally biting the head off of a small child. I’m not kidding. It is a statue called Kindlifresserbrunnen, or Kindlifresser, which in English means “Child Eater”. As you travel along Kornhausplatz, at around 9 Kornhausplatz you will see the statue in the middle of what looks like a busy shopping area, right in front of a restaurant.
The statue is of a troll-like character chewing on the head of a small child, while other children hang from his arms and his backpack – waiting for their turn to be eaten. Apparently the sight of a dude devouring children doesn’t really have any affect on the patrons of the restaurant nearby. The statue is actually quite old – built in 1546 – and believe it or not, no one really knows its origins. However, most believe that it was placed there in homage to one local legend or another, to serve as some kind of stark warning to young children to behave – or face the boogieman.
Monster Mini Golf
It isn’t often in Google Street View that you actually get to explore the inside of a building. Well, at Monster Mini Golf in Marlboro, NJ, that’s exactly what you get to do. Things aren’t really that strange, until you enter the glow-in-the-dark mini golf area, turn the corner, and come face to face with Glo-Zo the freaky, evil glowing clown.
Damn, that’s one way to give your little kid nightmares, isn’t it? Seriously though, the place looks pretty fun and my kids would probably freak out about being able to play indoor mini-golf in a place like this. Thanks to Google for letting you take a little preview before you go – I wonder if there are other indoor spots like this tucked away in Google Street View?
Duke of Wellington
So, those of you reading this that are from Scotland, this probably isn’t really news, but apparently the weird traffic cone sitting on the top of the Duke of Wellington statue is pretty much the order of the day in Glasgow. Apparently there are a few in authority, as well as a minority of citizens that get annoyed with the practice, but after several generations of Glaswegians have adorned the statue with the perfectly placed orange-and-white cone, it has actually become something of a well-known landmark.
“Just head down North Hanover Street and then turn onto Queen Street.”
“It’s at the statue of the dude on a horse.”
“Which one, there are so many.”
“You know, the one with the cone on his head.”
“Oh THAT dude on a horse!”
See how that works? No one can ever say that the Scottish don’t have a healthy sense of humor.
Skeleton Walking a Dinosaur
Imagine that you’re driving along Highway 63 in Midland, South Dakota, nothing but farmland just as far as the eye can see. You glance to the right and see a few cows, and then glance to the left and in the distance you spot a skeleton man walking his dinosaur across the field. Isn’t that cute.
It’s true. That sighting photo above isn’t a hoax, it’s an actual shot from Google Street view of a skeleton man walking the skeleton of a dinosaur. Okay, so it’s a sculpture placed in the middle of the field near 1880s town – but if you drive fast enough by it, you might convince someone in your car that they actually saw a dinosaur.
A Field of People
Okay, so this next one is a mystery to me. From what I know about Finland, it’s a quaint and very beautiful country filled with beautiful forests and natural beauty. Most of these places are remote farms or cabins somewhere in a forest. There are usually very few people at those remote location, so imagine your surprise as you’re exploring the beautiful countryside in Google Street View, and you come across this entire field chock-full of people!
If you are supernaturally-minded, you might wonder if it’s a cemetery and those are the ghosts of the dead – but walking around in the middle of the day? Then, upon closer examination, you’ll notice that some of these figures appear to be missing legs, and the bodies and heads look very…wooden. In fact, it appears to be a field full of people-statues, maybe a storage location for a town event or something? If you’re from Finland – please fill us in and solve the mystery!
The Headington Shark
One place that I just have to go to play a practical joke on a friend is in Oxford, England. Of course, it has to be a friend that isn’t from the area. I’d drive down this unassuming one-way street, lined with simple, residential apartment buildings, and then suddenly off to the right, there’s this massive shark sticking out of the roof of one of the buildings.
“What the…..dude, there’s a huge shark sticking out of that roof!”
“What shark? Man, you’re seeing things.”
So what’s the real story? Well, apparently it was put up in 1986 to protest the use of atomic weapons, with the idea that when one is used, anything can fall from the sky at any time. In those early years, residents didn’t really appreciate the “symbol”, but over time it has become a local landmark and tourist attraction.
Another thing that you may spot as you explore the world are scenes of accidents. However, there are few quite as strange as this particular accident spotted on Google Street View in Russia.
How they managed to drive down a one-way street, jump an island with a huge sign with a concrete footing, and ultimately jacknife the entire car atop the island itself, is beyond me. The car is sure wedged on their pretty good though.
This one isn’t quite at the street view level, after all there isn’t any street view available in Abu Dhabi, but you can zoom right in close to what looks like a crazy-huge alien spaceship that landed in the United Arab Emirates, right near the golf course.
This, my friends, is the huge Ferrari World complex.
When you compare the size of that huge structure to the buildings around it (see the red arrow), the scale of this thing is just astonishing. I would love to see that in person some day.
This last one has to be included, because it’s a great example of the sorts of places you can explore in Google Street View. Touring amusement parks is an absolute blast. BonBon-Land in Denmark is just one example that I visited, because there’s a fantastic photo opportunity when you encounter this huge guy that welcomes kids to the ride.
Between you and me, he looks like some kind of freaky cross between Ronald McDonald and Andrew Dice Clay, but hey – I’m sure it makes the kids smile!
Have you ever gone exploring the world with Google Street View? What sorts of amazing, weird, crazy things have you discovered? Share your own finds and tips of places to explore in the comments section below!