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.