Strange and Wonderful: 4 Stories from Around the World

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but the world is made up of a series of weird and wonderful tales. These have captivated the hearts and minds of generations. Some are puzzling, remarkable and others just plain odd. What is it about the bizarre and staggering that we find interesting? 

Maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in us. A touch of morbid curiosity or a love of uncovering unknown secrets. Thrush is, some stories have the power to spellbind us.

We all love a mystery here at Exciting Escapes, so we’ve selected some of our favourite strange and wonderful stories from around the world. 

Mysterious tunnels hiding in the Great Pyramid of Giza

The pyramids are a lasting legacy of the ancient Egyptians. Their work, the Great Pyramid of Giza, is perhaps the most famous of them all. 4,500 years ago, the pyramid was built to honour Pharaohs of the fourth ruling dynasty of Egypt. They were also known as the Old Kingdom. 

Hidden within its depths, the remarkable feat of architecture continues to surprise archaeologists to this day. 

During 2015 to 2017, archaeologists from the University of Cornell fronted the ScanPyramids project. Using cosmic rays, the team produced a series of scans. These identified two voids deep inside the Pyramid’s structure. First is a small passage near the north face. Second is a much larger passageway located above the grand gallery. 

While there is still much to be discovered from the tunnels, the larger of the two – 98 feet long and 20 feet high – is thought to lead to a hidden burial chamber of Pharoah Khufu, the chap the Pyramid was built for all those years ago!

But what’s most intriguing about the Pyramid is the mystery behind its construction. Egyptologists believe it took 20,000 Egyptians and 5.5 million tons of limestone to erect the colossal structure. Throw in the 143-foot longship sealed in the Great Pyramid’s pit, and you’ve got yourself a mystery transcending the afterlife! 

Stranger than fiction: Crazy Love

‘Love at first sight’ is a concept that dominates the silver screen and romance novels for years. But when Burt Pugach first laid eyes on Linda Riss in 1959, neither of them could possibly have imagined the revenge story that would emerge from their toxic love story. 

After Riss discovered that Pugach was already married with children, she naturally called off their romance. But what came next shocked a nation. 

Pugach, out of rage, jealousy, pure heartlessness or even possessiveness, hired three assailants to throw lye (a type of hydroxide) into Riss’ face. The act left Riss permanently mutilated and almost entirely blind. 

Yes, Pugach went into prison for 14 years. After his release, they reunited and in a bizarre twist of fate, the doomed lovebirds enjoyed almost 40 years of marriage . 

Einstein’s brain went missing for decades

Einstein was a genius. He revolutionised our understanding of space, time, gravity and the universe with his theory of relativity. But when he passed away in 1955, his brain mysteriously disappeared. 

Yes, it sounds like the plot of a sci-fi B-movie, but there is a set of scientists that have always had a morbid curiosity about how the brain works, particularly the brains of geniuses! However, Einstein had a suspicion that this would happen to him post-humous, so he explicitly forbade it. 

Pathologist Dr Thomas Harvey however, had other ideas. 

After Harvey examined Einstein’s body at Princeton Hospital, he decided to remove his brain and take it home for future study. Harvey then divided the brain into 240 pieces and stored them in two celloidin-filled mason jars. 

Fresh from Einstein’s cremation, his son Hans Albert discovered the theft and was mortified to learn what Harvey had done. However, Harvey still managed to keep hold of the brain for several decades. 

The consequences? He lost his job at Princeton Hospital and his marriage. But that didn’t prevent Harvey from continuing his research and hiding parts of the brain across the country amongst his curious scientist buddies.

Today, what remains of Einstein’s brain can be found at the Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Centre in New Jersey. And unsurprisingly, it still continues to perplex scientists the world over.  

The bizarre fate of Franz Ferdinand

WWI was a hideous, gut-wrenching war that cost the lives of 40 million people and acted as a catalyst for the events that would transpire in the coming decades. But amongst all the chaos of war, one of the most surprising moments has to be the assassination of Franz Ferdinand

Tensions were high between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbian nationalists when Ferdinand and his wife visited Sarajevo in June 1914. Five years prior, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. Which many Serbian nationalists saw as a moment to unify and free Yugoslavia. 

Student activists rose up in the wake of these tensions and formed organisations such as Young Bosnia. Their aim? To bring an end to Austro-Hungarian control. But then, a terrorist organisation known as the Black Hand (with ties to the Serbian military) joined forces with Young Bosnia, and their collective grip tightened. 

Despite warnings from the Austro-Hungarian government, Ferdinand and his wife went to Sarajevo in the hope of easing tensions. However, the Young Bosnians saw this as an opportunity to assassinate him and bring cause devastating consequences to the Austro-Hungarian government. It was no help that Ferdinand’s route was published ahead of his visit!

Fast forward to June 28 1914. Seven members of the Young Bosnians waited to ambush Ferdinand’s motorcade. Nedeljko Cabrinovic took aim at Ferdinand’s closed-top convertible with an incendiary device that bounced off, exploded and injured two soldiers in one of the vehicles behind. 

Organised assassination attempt: failed. 

Then fate intervened. On route to visit the wounded soldiers, Ferdinand and his motorcade stopped right in front of a deli, where Gavrilo Princip, a Young Bosnia member, was standing. Princip drew his pistol, fired two shots and seconds later, Ferdinand and his wife lay dead. This moment is the catalyst that led to WWI, all because Ferdinand’s driver took the wrong route. 

Escape Rooms thrive because of the weird and wonderful stories that have shaped history. Did any of our favourites make your list?