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Couchsurfing’s Sex Secret: It’s The Greatest Hook-Up App Ever Devised

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Couch Surfing_Primary_03

Riccardo G.’s profile on CouchSurfing.com, the website that partners intrepid wanderers with willing hosts, notes that he lives in the “best neighborhood to go out and have drinks,” that he offers a “cozy/clean/nice sofa/couch” and that he’ll even let you bring your “small dog, if you just can’t live without him.”

He describes himself as “amazing, outgoing, funny, smart” and says his interests include friends, eating, drinking, the gym and puppies. His photos show the good-humored Latin American native — dark, handsome, and fit — in exotic destinations around the world, from Cairo to Capri. Nowhere does the profile state explicitly that if you are an attractive female traveler, you might skip the couch entirely and wind up in Riccardo’s bed, but it’s a good possibility.

In eight months using the service, Riccardo, who is 32 and works for an ad agency, has let eight visitors crash at his apartment, of whom he’s hooked up with five, for a 62 percent “success rate.” If you count the additional two who climbed into bed with him for a cuddle and then fell asleep, the percentage climbs even higher. (Riccardo and other Couchsurfing users quoted in this article asked to be identified by pseudonyms.)

On the business front, the crowdsourced hospitality site has been experiencing a rough patch lately. After a controversial transition to a for-profit model in 2011, which brought $22 million in funding in the past two years, growing pains have set in. In October, layoffs claimed an estimated 40 percent of the staff, and CEO Tony Espinoza announced his departure— giving an opening to competitors like BeWelcome and Hospitality Club.

Although the company has initiated a doubling down on mobile, the experience of users like Riccardo might suggest another path to profitability.

I simply do not know of an easier way for a guy to get laid with exotic women in exotic countries. Long live Couchsurfing!

Never mind OKCupid and Tinder. The almost decade-old Couchsurfing, which is available in 100,000 cities across the globe, is becoming the go-to hookup app for a certain class of young world travelers. Bloggers like Maverick Traveler will help you spot the “8 Signs of a Slutty CouchSurfer Girl” by decoding her profile, and female-centric advice site YouQueen has even offered tips on “How to Use CouchSurfing as a Dating Site and Get Away with It.” Meanwhile, a site called CouchBangs.com, which declares that “Couchsurfing isn’t just for Couchsurfing,” offers a forum for proud couch-cuddlers to share their experiences via short posts with titles like “French Girl in Istanbul” and “Brazilian Girl in New York.”

CouchSurfing’s Community Guidelines explicitly warn against contacting other members for dating, noting, “we will consider this harassment” — albeit without stipulating what the penalties are for violating this rule. In an email interview, the site’s interim CEO Jen Billock told Business Insider that “members are ... encouraged to report other members who are abusing the site to our Trust and Safety team, who will take appropriate action, according to our policy, when Terms of Use violations are reported or observed.”

Perhaps, but use of the site to find sexual partners (a practice known in some bro-friendly circles as “cooch surfing”) is nonetheless quite routine.

“Get in my bed”

“All of my friends, they love these stories,” Riccardo tells Business Insider over beers in a quiet bar in Midtown Manhattan. “They call me the next day asking what happened. I’m like, ‘You know, whatever, we went out, had sex...’ They’re like, ‘No, no, no—tell me when she got there, where you went, did you kiss her, every single detail.’”

Couch Surfing_Details_Passport

We had the same questions.

“My first Couchsurfing hookup happened when I was staying with my friend in Miami,” Riccardo recalls. “He has a studio and was hosting two girls from France.” He slept on an inflatable air mattress with one girl, while his friend shared his bed with the other. They didn’t go all the way. “She had her period,” he explains. Months later Riccardo got a phone call from the same girl, asking if she could stay at his place in New York City. This time, they made it official. “I never talked to her again,” he admits, adding, “I mean, we’re friends on Facebook.”

Couchsurfing was born after a budget-conscious traveler named Casey Fenton sent out a mass request for accommodations in Iceland and received 50 invitations from students with a free spare futon. Fenton soon realized people all over the world might not mind sharing their extra space gratis while making new friends in the process. Today, each of the site’s 7 million members has a unique profile which reads like a personal ad, highlighting interests, locations traveled, details about their accommodations and, most important, references. This system allows friends you’ve made globally or locally to vouch for you and the unlikelihood of you being a serial killer. Members can request a couch, host a traveler, or find new friends to meet up with locally.

Riccardo agrees to host only female travelers and stipulates that they be younger than him. He accepts them based on their attractiveness “of course,” but physical appearance isn’t the only criterion. “I’ve seen cute girls that have boring pictures and I’m like, ‘You look boring, sorry.’ At the end of the day I’m going to spend three days with you. I want to have three days with somebody I can talk with. Not somebody just empty.”

In Riccardo’s case, it all starts with a request for approval — from his pal in Miami. “I’m always sending him links like, ‘Hey, do you like this chick? Should I invite her?’” he says. “There’s more people coming to New York than Miami, so he’s always like, ‘You bastard!’ Then he always asks to do Facetime because he wants to see them.”

“The first time,” he says, leaning over his beer, “I had two girls that stayed … I didn’t sleep with either. Big fail!”1++

He got a little closer on his second try, a girl from Slovakia with blonde hair (his weakness) and small, dark, squinty eyes.

She was in the process of moving to New York and needed a place to stay for four days while she looked for a permanent home. “We went out for drinks the first night,” he says, “and I hit on her. I tried to kiss her. She, was like ‘No, no, no—I don’t want to make it awkward.’ I was like well, whatever, so we kept on drinking, dancing, and having fun.”

Riccardo later learned he’d made a critical error. Experienced couchsurfing casanovas know to hold off on making a move until later. Your guest is already committed to coming home with you, so why risk the old fashioned approach? His friend later advised him on a more direct strategy.

“Come, get in my bed,” he’ll say, just as his guest is preparing to hit the sack.

At first, Riccardo could not believe it was that simple. “I’m going to get slapped,” he thought. “I’m going to sound like such a jerk just telling them.” But he tried it on his next guest and bingo. “We got home just laughing and telling jokes, and I just said it. She was like, ‘Okay!’”

“My friends say, ‘You’re telling me that line — get in my bed — it works?’ I’m like dude, it works.”

Riccardo is asked if he feels sleazy. “I do feel guilt, but not like I took advantage of somebody.” Instead of calling his friend with tales of his latest conquests, he has recently found himself calling to complain. “I’m telling him it was awesome last night, I had sex and everything—but it was empty sex.”

We ask if he’ll stop, since it’s become so unfulfilling, he smiles and shakes his head no.

Couch Surfing_Details_Bra

Why stop, when it’s so easy? As Maverick Traveler, a self-proclaimed nomad who “roams the earth, seduces beautiful women,” and blogs about his adventures, puts it, “I simply do not know of an easier way for a guy to get laid with exotic women in exotic countries. Long live Couchsurfing!” The anonymous blogger is also the author of the popular “How to Bang CouchSurfing Girls—The Complete Guide” (which, after he declined to comment for this article, mysteriously disappeared from his website) and “8 Signs of a Slutty Couchsurfing Girl” (which mysteriously didn’t).

According to his blog, he started using the site in 2009 “as a tool to get to know a city, meet interesting people, and, of course, to bang chicks.” Four years of his exotic lifestyle later, Maverick is sharing the secrets of Couchsurfing as a “gateway to easy lays” — from preparation (“Wash your cum-soaked bed sheets”) to avoiding a negative review at all costs: “Under normal circumstances, I use every trick in the book to get a bang, but with a possible negative looming over my head if things don’t work out, I play it cool with Couchsurfing chicks.”

Most of his readers are clearly appreciative of his advice: “Nice post. I didn’t know CS was a bangtool,” reads one response.

Girl Meets Boy(s)

Jessie S. just turned in her two-weeks notice, a final preparation for her upcoming road trip through the Americas along the Rocky/Andes mountains to arrive in Brazil just in time for World Cup 2014. Currently she lives in her hometown of Philadelphia, and though single and actively looking, the early twentysomething hasn’t met anyone of interest locally.

Most Couchsurfers are travelers at heart and don’t want commitment. They’re a little more rebellious.

 

“I haven’t had sex in five months!” she tells Business Insider. “But I have made out with about 10 different guys.” While she encounters plenty of prospects in Philly — men she works with, men from her martial arts school, men on her community soccer team — she prefers to do her hunting further afield. “I’ve decided it’s really not worth it to get romantically involved with any of those guys. It’s important to stay professional, and guys I train with need to see me as a fighter and a teammate or it gets too complicated.”

A Couchsurfer since 2009, Jessie has traveled the globe using the service. But it’s not a dating site, she insists, “It’s a social site. But with anything social, there is sometimes a spark. I’m very passionate and very easily seduced!” She bursts out laughing. “I have high standards, I don’t just sleep with any guy I think is hot. But once there is a connection, there isn’t much holding me back.”

For instance, this guy in Wales. “There was a very strong attraction on both of our parts,” she recalls. “When he came downstairs to offer me blankets and pillows for the couch, I just asked him, ‘Can I sleep in your bed?’”

Then there was Ireland, where despite being a little fuzzy on the specifics, Jessie also recalls making the first move with her male host. “Whether it was verbal or if I just went for it and kissed him, I ended up sleeping in his bed that night and having sex with him. It was funny because the next morning his roommate, who had seen me sleeping on the couch the night before, barged in his room and was very surprised to find me naked in his bed!”

Of course, that sort of spontaneity is part of the appeal. “When you are a traveler it’s hard to be able to commit to anything, so if you do want any form of romance in your life, you kind of have to be cool with this way,” she says. “You recognize that you are kindred spirits and you have a lot to offer to each other, but you’re not going to suddenly move to this person’s country to be with them. It works because most Couchsurfers are travelers at heart and don’t want commitment. They’re a little more rebellious, and people who are used to breaking the rules understand that.”

What the World Needs Now

An active participant in her local Couchsurfing community, Ana B. organizes events and goes to weekly meetings designed to connect local and visiting CSers. It was at one of these weekly rendezvous where she met her husband. “We hooked up, started dating, moved in together and now I’m pregnant!” she says. “We’re having a Couchsurfing baby!”

Couch Surfing_Details_Cigarettes

A Couchsurfer since 2007, who first began using the site as a way to practice her English with non-Portuguese speakers, the South American native is always “changing, learning, growing” and is “pretty messy,” but draws the line at leaving a wet floor in the bathroom. Ana has hosted between 30 and 40 travelers in both Portugal and Brazil, proof of which she keeps displayed proudly on her refrigerator. “I collect refrigerator magnets, so I ask my guests to bring me one from their country. Now I have lots of them!”

Having hooked up with about a third of her visitors — some while still single, and others with her husband — she has lots of stories too.

Like the time Ana and her husband hosted a “really cute, adorable, and loving” Israeli couple during Brazil’s notorious Carnival festival. The guests booked their stay six months in advance, so there was plenty of time to become acquainted via Facebook. “We started chatting and I saw that she had pictures kissing other girls on the lips and she has nice boobs. I thought, ‘When she comes to Brazil, we’ll see.’” After a cheeky game of “Never Have I Ever” lubricated by numerous caipirinhas, the visitors were suddenly upgraded from the couch to the bed. “We never expect it to happen until the last night, when the person wants to go crazy,” she says. Her guest, it should be said, left Ana a glowing reference on her profile, gushing that she “simply enjoyed every moment with her.”

When asked how she broaches the subject without offending her guests, Ana replies with conviction that Couchsurfing tends to inspire connections that are more intimate than one has with close friends. Small talk leads to wild stories of past experiences. In Ana’s case, the fact that she and her husband have had threesomes with other women often happens to get worked into the conversation. “You see it in the other person’s face if she is interested, if she is curious. And if she is interested and we are interested in her, why not?”

She says the main benefit to Couchsurfing hookups is that they come without strings attached. “There’s no wondering if he will call the next day or jealousy over the new girl he’s dating now. It’s perfect.”

The Competition

CouchSurfing remains adamant that its service is designed to bring people together for cultural exchange and free lodging, not sex. “Couchsurfing is not a dating site,” Billock asserts. “However, there are many examples of people who have met through Couchsurfing and formed all kinds of wonderful relationships — friendships, travel companions, married couples.”

But mid-November brought the launch of a competing site, Loveroom, that is explicitly designed to facilitate sex — a direct approach that appeals to users like Ana. Originally floated as what its founder Josh Bocanegra calls a “thought experiment to connect people in a new way” via a simple Launchrock splash page, it was billed as “a platform where single people & couples can share a room with other people under one condition: they need to be attractive.” According to the user, that is. “The users are 100% the judge of who they think is attractive,” clarifies Bocanegra.

The idea, says Ana, is, “‘You can come to my house, you can stay for free, and if I like you and you like me we are going to have sex, no strings attached.’ I like that, the honesty.”

As to whether it will really take off, she predicts, “Men will definitely join. But I think if I were a single woman, I wouldn’t create a profile, because it’s a site that basically says I will have casual sex with you.”

That said, Ana’s married, and in fact, she is one reason why the site announced a new feature just six days after it’s launch. “I contacted the website admin to talk about creating a couples profile and Josh immediately replied,” she says. “In less than 12 hours the feature for couples was available!”

At this stage, such timely additions to the site are feasible and user feedback is priceless. “We didn’t need any funding whatsoever,” says Bocanegra of his passion project. “I did all of the programming myself, [with] my girlfriend” — Loveroom co-founder Jeanine Fuentes — “did a lot of the design work.” In fact, Bocanegra lives off the residual income from his first successful tech startup, Beats4Real, which he created at age 16. Loveroom is now looking for developers to ensure the site can handle its rapidly growing demand.

While the site had registered 6,500 users as of this writing, Bocanegra isn’t sure any have met in person. “I’d give it a couple of months,” he says. Still, it has attracted plentyofpress and seems to have identified a market niche that Couchsurfing was serving only reluctantly.

“As of right now, Couchsurfing is our biggest competitor for sure,” Bocanegra says, “but I wish we could team up somehow!”

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7 Spectacular Casino Hotels From Around The World

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Crown Towers Melbourne

There is something unabashedly over-the-top about a casino—even above and beyond it being a place where the brave risk losing a lot of money in hopes of gaining more. And as gaming culture becomes increasingly popular, the casino experience has grown into far more than blackjack and slots, often involving renowned names in the hotel, food and entertainment worlds.

Go straight to the hotels >

While Las Vegas remains the gold standard, there are several international hot spots—both classic and new—that deserve attention. Take the endlessly sophisticated Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, which is located next to Casino de Monte-Carlo, the grande dame of the gaming world. Elegant galas are hosted often at restaurant La Salle Empire, and chef Alain Ducasse runs his Michelin three-star Louis XV here.

In Singapore the entire Marina Bay Sands entertainment complex, including a casino (among countless other points of interest), is now valued at roughly $8 billion, making it the most expensive stand-alone casino property in the world. And tucked away in the Swiss Alps is the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, with its newly renovated gaming floor, spa, two golf courses and thermal pools. The bucolic mountain setting tempers the traditionally bombastic casino vibe, proving that even when it comes to a casino hotel, you can have it both ways.

More from Departures:

Opulent Hotel Lobbies

Stellar Hotel Wine Programs

Stunning Hotel Plunge Pools

Top New Hotel Spas

First Look: Aman Canal Grande Venice

The Water Club, Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, Atlantic City, New Jersey

The 2008 addition of the Water Club brought a luxurious arm to the Borgata's already buzzing complex. Its 800 rooms dropped the traditional casino vibe in favor of warm color schemes and glossy furniture. A stay here will still give you access to many of the Borgata's amenities like Fly Borgata (its recently launched 30-seat luxury jet) and all of its restaurants from marquee chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay. (Geoffrey Zakarian is the Water Club’s culinary lifestyle consultant.) Enjoy five pools and the entirely relaxing two-story Immersion Spa, which features incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Rooms start at $90; 1 Borgata Way; 609-317-1000; theborgata.com.



Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

It’s hard to find a more iconic hotel than the 150-year-old Hôtel de Paris, which appeared in two James Bond films and is adjacent to the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the inspiration for the casino in Ian Fleming’s first James Bond book,Casino Royale. The 182-room Belle Epoque hotel has a gilded lobby adorned with low-relief sculptures and crystal chandeliers. But even these pale in comparison to what is found elsewhere in the hotel. The Winston Churchill suite, for example, is done up with the former prime minister’s own furniture. (He was a frequent guest.) And down in the half-million-bottle wine cellar sits a prized 1929 bottle of Château Margaux priced at $12,000. 

Rooms start at $490; Place du Casino; 377-98/063-000; hoteldeparismontecarlo.com.



Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa, Uruguay

The March 2013 rechristening of the Hotel Casino Carrasco, which had been closed since 1997, as the Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa was no simple task. It took 400 working days to bring the abandoned building back to its former glory, and the taxing refurbishment is most evident on the hotel’s ground floor. Architects and restorers meticulously removed layers of paint to reveal the original plaster-based stucco, tempera painting and 18- and 22-karat gold leaf. The space is now home to three dining venues, including Restaurant 1921, which specializes in French and Uruguayan dishes. To heighten the experience of staying in any of the 116 rooms and suites, guests are invited to choose their own interior fragrance and soaps made exclusively for the hotel and presented in an elegant wooden box.

Rooms start at $340; Rambla República de México 6451; 598/2604-6060; sofitel.com.



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Awesome Smartphone-Controlled Paper Airplane Has Raised $490,000+ On Kickstarter

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PowerUp 3.0 paper airplane

PowerUp 3.0, a device that lets you control paper airplanes with a smartphone app, is becoming the must-have new toy, though, sadly, it won't be  available in time for Christmas.

That hasn't stopped people from lining up to preorder and support the project on Kickstarter. It's inventor, Shai Goitein (working with smartphone gadget maker company TobyRich) was hoping to raise $50,000. He's got about another month to go on Kickstarter (fund-raising period ends January 25) and he's already raised $490,720, and counting.

PowerUp began as a way to add an electric propeller to an ordinary paper airplane. And you can buy that propeller kit right now. The Kickstarter campaign is to raise money for a Bluetooth module that will attach to the propeller kit and let you control the airplane from an iPhone or Android phone.

Goitein had originally hoped to have the PowerUp 3.0 available by October, but now it will be here in the spring, just when folks are shaking off winter and ready to play outside, according to the timeline posted on Kickstarter.

The device is expected to cost $50.

Here's the remote controlled paper airplane in action (skip to the 1:00 mark to see the device).

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French Student Makes A Big Profit Selling Tins Of Air From His Village

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Air de Montcuq

Would you like to breathe the air of the picturesque French town of Montcuq? For just 5.50 euros (plus another five for shipping to the U.S.), a 250ml tin full of that air could be yours.

"Air de Montcuq" is the brainchild of 22-year-old student Antoine Deblay, who first had the idea to sell his hometown's air over the summer. He put his idea up on the French crowdfunding site, where he was surprised to raise more than 800 euros ($1,000) in just a few weeks — enough to set up a website and pay for packaging. Before long the French press picked up the idea, and orders for the tins began rolling in.

Deblay tells Business Insider that he received 1,000 orders in just three weeks, which was a bit of a shock. "Of course I knew it was going to sell, but not so much in so little time!" he says.

It's also been surprisingly lucrative, with a profit margin of around 60%, according to Deblay, who says he has earned thousands of euros from this project.

Why on earth would people be buying the air from a French village? Those of you who speak French may have already guessed the answer.

You see, in France, the name Montcuq is frequently mispronounced as "mon cul," which translates to English as "my ass." So, "Air de Montcuq" roughly translates as "the wind of my ass." You can imagine why that amuses people.

Deblay has a lot of fun with this on the tins, which includes the following blurb:

Fresh air of Montcuq is 100% organic, it immerses you in the depths of the city to refresh your ideas. Ideal when you are in need of creative inspiration. Attention: irreplaceable content, consumable once. Do not leave it open.

Deblay admits the air itself probably isn't the reason people are buying it. "Maybe the 'Air of Montcuq' has particular composition, I dunno," he says. "I just made a good marketing plan around the product and if people like it, this is probably because the word play of 'Air Montcuq' makes them laugh."

Whatever the reason, Deblay's project may not have much longer left. Deblay said that he would only sell 10 liters of air a week in order to not use up all of Montcuq's air, and the website now contains the warning "WE REACHED THE MAXIMUM QUANTITY OF AIR SAMPLING!"

Deblay was kind enough to send one of the tins to the Business Insider offices. We opened it and it smelled like ... nothing.

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This Interactive Map Shows Where Homer's 'Odyssey' Really Took Place

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"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns

driven time and again off course, once he had plundered

the hallowed heights of Troy.

Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,

many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,

fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home."

- The Odyssey, Book 1, Lines 1-6

Screen Shot 2013 12 08 at 8.41.02 AM"The Odyssey," written by the poet Homer around 800 B.C.E., is one the greatest human works of all time.

It's also a dense read, which is why we highly recommend that you listen to it (as was originally intended).

But listening to the entire epic takes a long time as well. That's why this interactive map by esri is a great summary of the most epic homecoming journey ever told.

The cool thing about it is that tracks Odysseus' mythical journey around the Mediterranean on modern-day map.

Here are some passages where the words are brought to life by the map.

"Odysseus fought in the Trojan War for 10 years. After the fall of Troy, he left for his home in Ithaca, a journey which should have taken only a few weeks. It was to take ten years."Screen Shot 2013 12 06 at 2.26.20 PM

"After Odysseus and his men depart from Troy, they are greeted by friendly and calm waters. The crew made for Ismaros in the land of the Cicones. Odysseus and his men looted the city and robbed it of all its goods. Odysseus wisely told his men to board the ships quickly but they refused and fell asleep on the beach. The next morning, the Cicones returned with their fierce kinsmen from the mountains. Odysseus and his men fled to the ships as fast as they could but they lost many men still. On leaving Ismaros, Odysseus and his twelve ships were driven off course by fierce storms."Screen Shot 2013 12 06 at 2.29.17 PM

"When Odysseus and his men landed on the island of the Lotus-Eaters, Odysseus sent out a scouting party who ate lotus fruit with the natives. This caused them to fall sleep and stop caring about ever going home. Odysseus went after the scouting party and dragged them back against their will to the ship and set sail."

Screen Shot 2013 12 08 at 8.44.58 AM

Check out the full map >

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The 50 Most Expensive Cities For Expats

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1280px Vista_PlazaVenezuelaCaracas, Venezuela is the most expensive place for foreigners, according to a new Cost of Living survey by consulting firm ECA International.

Tokyo dropped from most expensive expatriate destination in the world to 10th as a softer Yen caused several Japanese cities to be much less expensive than in 2012

Tokyo and Beijing are the most expensive cities in Asia. Costs in African cities is rising across the board.

Tel Aviv is now the 24th most expensive (up from 46th) while Paris came in at 29th.

New York City stayed at 50. Interestingly, London is not on the list.

Screen Shot 2013 12 05 at 7.30.21 AM

SEE ALSO: US Expat Describes The Best And Worst Things About England

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Paris Created A Wonderful Etiquette Guide For Using Its Subway System

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paris subway metro etiquette guide body odor smell

In an effort to improve the manners of those using its metro system, the agency that runs public transit in Paris has created a "manuel de savoir-vivre" — an etiquette guide.

It's not only excellent and helpful, it's quite funny, thanks in large part to the illustrations. 

The guide (embedded below) is available only in French, so we've translated the 12 rules it lays down. Unfortunately, most of the puns don't come across in the English.

On the platform

  • Be courteous: Understand that the enormous crossed out cigarette is not a work of contemporary art, but a no-smoking sign.
  • Be helpful: That means helping the guy in the Bermuda shirt with a subway map in one hand and his hair in the other.
  • Be polite: Using your phone makes you unbearable.
  • Be helpful: Hold the exit door for the person behind you. In life, never pass on the chance to come across a pretty glance.
  • Be polite: Use your handkerchief, and not just to wave goodbye on the platform.
  • Be helpful: That means taking an old lady's bag...and giving it back to her with a smile at the top of the stairs.

paris subway metro etiquette guide opera sing

On board

  • Have manners: Share your new musical tastes on your social networks. Today, you can express yourself in silence.
  • Be polite: Say hello to the driver, whether it's a man or a woman.
  • Be courteous: Don't stare at a female rider, even if she has piercing eyes.
  • Be courteous: Don't start a duel with the knight who accidentally steps on your foot.
  • Have manners: On the really hot days, play the penguin and keep your arms at your sides. Hold onto the bottom of the pole, not the top.
  • Have manners: Don't confuse the metro with the bathroom, even if both have tiles on the walls.

paris subway metro etiquette guide gramophone music

Although most of these rules are pretty self-evident, it helps to have a reminder once in a while that public transport is a shared space — so it pays to behave yourself, no matter what city you're in.

Here's the guide. It's worth flipping through, even if you don't read French:

 

SEE ALSO: Candid Photos Of New Yorkers Riding The Subway In 1960

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Meet The World's Wealthiest Bachelors

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xavier niel

The world's wealthiest men had to meet one important guideline to qualify for a new ranking of billionaires: they had to be single. 

Wealth intelligence firm Wealth-X analyzed the assets of the wealthiest unmarried men in the world to create this list of the richest bachelors.

Wealth-X Research uses a proprietary valuation model to assess all asset holdings, including privately and publicly held businesses and investible assets.

Included are tech tycoons, music moguls, and even a Russian oligarch. These bachelors may not all be young, and they may not even be looking for love, but they are eligible. 

#9 Charles Butt

Age: 75

Net Worth: $2.9 billion

Home Country: USA

Charles Butt is the CEO and Chairman of H.E. Butt Grocery, a Texas supermarket chain founded by his grandmother in 1905. Butt started working in the grocery store as a bagger when he was only eight years old. Now he owns the majority of the company, which operates 311 stores in Texas and 47 in Mexico. 



#8 Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila

Age: 36

Net Worth: $3.9 billion

Home Country: Colombia

Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila, head of the Santo Domingo Group, inherited his wealth from his beer-magnate father, Julio Mario Santo Domingo Pumarejo. The group's portfolio includes 15.1% of SABMiller, the second-largest brewing company in the world, and Caracol, Colombia's biggest broadcasting company. The family also happens to own a private island off the coast of Colombia. 



#7 Andreas von Bechtolsheim

Age: 58

Net Worth: $4.4 billion

Home Country: Germany

In addition to being a co-founder of Sun Microsystems in the 1980s, "Andy" was one of the first investors in Google, back when it was just a research project at Stanford. That initial $100,000 investment is now worth $2 billion in Google stock. Bechtolsheim currently serves as the chairman and chief development officer at Arista Networks. 



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The Hidden Costs Of Working On Wall Street

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wolf of wall street

Yes, you make a lot of money when you work on Wall Street, but you're going to have to spend a lot of money to stay there.

To go to work every day you'll need to look the part — the suit, the shoes, etc. To live every day with a banker's schedule, you'll need people to take care of you — maid service, dry cleaners etc.

And then there are the social obligations — trips, schmoozing, memberships ...

Wall Street is full of Joneses, and as the saying goes, they're hard to keep up with.

Here's how much money it takes to try.

From the start, prepare to drop $3,000+ on an apartment in the Financial District

Rents may have slightly declined in Manhattan in 2012, but the average rent is still more than $3,300 a month according to Citi Habitats.

We searched two-bedroom apartments in the area and turned up a few for less than $3,000, but they were few and far between.

Luckily, the Financial District/Battery Park City area saw the biggest drop in asking prices — down 12 percent at the end of the year from October.

And given the beating Superstorm Sandy subjected the area to last fall, you'll definitely want to budget for flood insurance.



Men need at least $200 to invest in a solid pair of dress shoes. That figure doubles for women, who will need at least two pair.

What good is a $5,000 suit if you're rounding it out with the same pair of kicks you used to hit the streets in as an intern? 

Men, invest in a solid pair of black or brown dress shoes that meet these three critera: They won't scuff easily; they'll hold up to daily beatings running around the office; and you can go from work to cocktail hour without having to change. 

Let's be real, if you want to look great, you'll need more than one pair.

Ladies, unless you're willing to teeter over potholes and cracked sidewalks in 4-inch Manolo's, you'll need a sturdy pair of flats to trek to and from the office as well. 

Trust us. Nothing ruins a $300 heel faster than a puddle of mystery Subway sludge. 



And it costs at least $20 per month to keep your soles from caving in.

Unless you've nabbed a private office with a view by now, chances are you're not in any hurry to burn cash on shoe replacements every few months. 

For a few bucks, turn over your weary kicks to the plethora of time-tested cobblers on Wall Street.  Judging by dozens of glowing reviews, few are as beloved as Minas Shoe Repair

"[Minas Shoe Repair] is the only place I take my designer shoes for repair," writes one Yelp reviewer. "It can get pricey, but paying a little under $100 for resoling and re-heeling and fixing up a $700 pair of Chanel flats definitely beats shelling out another $700 for new ones." 

Wall Street's also one of the few places you can pop in for a $3 shoeshine at the corner drugstore.



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This Video Made Using 28,835 Jelly Beans Will Inspire You To Live Life To The Fullest

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YouTube user zefrank1 has uploaded an amazing video using Jelly Beans that will make you want to live life to the fullest (via Upworthy).

The video was posted this past June, and uses data from the American Time Use Survey and United States Department of Labor to estimate how many days we really have to do what we're passionate about.

The video shows 28,835 Jelly Beans  the number of days that the average American has to live  and demonstrates just how many of those days will be spent sleeping (8,477), eating (1,635), working (3,202), watching TV (2,676), caring for those we love (564), and more.

And though we may have many years of our lives left, after taking away the time we spend on these daily activities, zefrank1 shows us that we only have a handful of Jelly Beans left for doing what makes us happy.

"How much time have you already spent worrying, instead of doing something that you love?" he asks.

Watch the video below.

SEE ALSO: The 10 Happiest States In America

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Commenters Are Relentlessly Mocking This $40,000 TV On Amazon

The Architects Behind Yankee Stadium Will Build You A Personal Arena For $30 Million

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There's something special about going to a live sporting event — flashing Jumbotrons, rowdy crowds, and live sports action make it a thrilling experience.

Now the architects at Populous, the firm behind Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, London's Olympic stadium, and the new Yankee Stadium, want to recreate that experience by building a personal stadium for someone with a huge backyard and $30 million to spare. Populous backyard stadium

Designed for Robb Report's annual gift guide for the super-wealthy, the personal stadium would be a perfect gift for the deep-pocketed sports fan.

The concept includes a 40-50 yard playing field with wrap-around LED screens that could theoretically simulate the arena experience of any sports team of your choosing. Fiber-optic lighting in the astroturf means that it can transform from a football field to a baseball stadium to a soccer pitch with the flip of a switch. 

The backyard stadium would be exclusive, with seating for about 100 people. There's also potential for concession stands and a broadcasting booth for those wanting to practice their play-by-play skills. 

But that's not all. According to Robb Report"Wind, snow, and rain machines can add even more authenticity to the playing and viewing experience, or Populous can design the stadium with a retractable roof so that weather is not a concern. Locker rooms with showers also can be included."

The construction process would take an estimated 12 months to complete, and it's important to note that "the gift recipient must supply the land." 

"Is it doable?" Ryan Sickman, a Populous engineer and associate principal, said to Robb Report. "Yes. It just hasn’t been done before."

Populous backyard stadium interior

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The 10 Most Intense Ski Runs In The US

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Corbet's Couloir jackson hole

Ski season is upon us, and mountain resorts across the country are preparing for an influx of daredevils and thrill-seekers.

The most difficult runs in the U.S. serve up 50-degree pitches, drop-offs upwards of 30 feet, and frozen waterfalls buried under powder. Navigating them requires mental stamina and fast footwork.

Our friends at Liftopia, an online ski marketplace that offers discounted lift ticketshelped us find the trails that have even the most expert skiers shaking in their boots.

Corbet's Couloir – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village, WY

The Ride: Corbet's Couloir starts with a massive drop off a snow-covered cleft in the rock face, so you're free-falling two to nine meters, depending on the snow. If you stick the landing on the 50-degree slope, you must immediately throw all your weight forward and make a right-hand swerve to avoid smashing into a Precambrian rock.

The Couloir's upside down funnel shape opens into a super powdery 200-meter run.

Pro Tip: Some skiers panic down the chute and try to stop after landing, which is unwise at 40mph. Jackson Hole's ski coaches say, "Don't stop, stand up and ski!"



The Fingers – Squaw Valley, Olympic Valley, CA

The Ride: Squaw Valley's unofficial morning ritual is the Fingers Race, where skiers show up at the KT 22 lift at an ungodly hour and elbow their way in line to be the first to bomb the 2,000-foot vertical.

They charge from the Nose down the Fingers in mass chaos, one person after the next at 40mph. The two iconic lines on the Fingers — Main Air and Middle Knuckle — offer 40-foot flights and blind 60-degree pitches, respectively. The whole base of the mountain looks at the Fingers, so expect an audience.

Pro Tip: Avoid the center of the run, where transitions get swept away and snow sluffs expose hidden rocks.



Paradise – Mad River Glen, Fayston, VT

The Ride: This steep, sheltered run is a labyrinth of dense glades and open headwalls. It starts with a plunge off an eight-foot cliff, then morphs into a windy, super-steep trough lined with six-foot frozen waterfalls, big soft moguls, and side gullies with monstrous pockets of powder.

There's a 38-degree pitch in there that will keep you on your toes.

Pro Tip: It's easy to lose people in the trees, so try to stay cognizant of your group's whereabouts at all times.



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Chicago's New Eataly Market Is So Popular That It Has Already Run Out Of Food

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eataly chicago

People are going crazy for the new Eataly in Chicago— the 63,000-square-foot mega-supermarket that has 23 restaurants and more than 10,000 products on sale.

Apparently, Chicagoans love it so much that Eataly Chicago is closed today because it ran out of food.

Chicagoist posted an announcement (via 312 Dining Diva) that the Italian food emporium, which opened last week, sent out to customers. It explained Eataly was so overrun in its first week that it needed to restock in order to better serve its customers:

More than 120,000 visited our new location, more than 80,000 dined with us at our restaurants and more than 30,000 Chicagoans bought our food and enjoyed cooking it at home. Never, ever has another Eataly been as successful as our new outpost in Chicago...

...Because of this deep understanding of our manifesto and what we believe in, we have decided to close the store on Monday, December 9th in order to preserve our standards for quality and service.

The store will reopen tomorrow at 8 AM.

There's no doubt the first week of Chicago's Eataly has been a success, with more than 200 people lining up on the first day. This is the second Eataly location in the U.S. The New York store opened in 2010 and made nearly $70 million in sales its first year, according to The Chicago Tribune.

SEE ALSO: See Why New Yorkers Are Obsessed With Eataly, Mario Batali's Giant Italian Food Market

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Nelson Mandela May Have Been The Only Person Who Addressed The Queen As 'Elizabeth'

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nelson mandela and queen

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Not many men call Britain's Queen Elizabeth II "Elizabeth", much less dare to comment on her dress style or weight.

Nelson Mandela was one of them.

As global leaders gathered to pay homage this week to South Africa's anti-apartheid legend who died on Thursday, one former close aide recalled the cheeky lese majeste of a statesmen who charmed enemies, celebrities and ordinary people alike.

"When he paid visits to Queen Elizabeth, it was always very entertaining to see their interaction, because he called her 'Elizabeth'...no one else in the world, I think, calls her 'Elizabeth'," Zelda la Grange, who was Mandela's personal assistant for more than a decade, told Reuters.

"He would comment on her dress and her weight, you don't do that with the Queen," said la Grange, who accompanied Mandela on his trips and meetings with foreign leaders.

Far from being offended, la Grange recalled, the British sovereign "quite enjoyed it".

"She really adored him," she added.

Queen Elizabeth will not be attending the state funeral for Mandela scheduled for next Sunday at his ancestral home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, but she will be represented by her son, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher and Shafiek Tassiem; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide To New Year's Resolutions

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new year's eve times square cleanupExercise more. Drink less. Travel. Save money.

These are your unoriginal regurgitated New Year’s resolutions. And they are getting pretty tiresome, especially considering the vast majority of you never fulfill them, choosing instead to wallow in the banality of your own existence, and roll them over again next year.

"Hey fat ass, I already know what your New Year's resolution is."

So stop telling yourself that you are going to take the stairs, cut back on the $6 Starbucks lattes, or park as far away from the Whole Foods entrance as you can, and just follow my advice…

1. Take a vow of silence. Join CrossFit. Do P90X. Detox in January. Become a vegan. Sell your TV.  Train for a marathon. Start the Paleo diet. Go for any or all of these, but please shut the f--k up about it.

“No one would run a marathon if they had to sign a confidentiality agreement first."

2. Read more. Yes, that’s a permanent boring fixture on most people’s lists, but this year, be more specific and realistic. Make a list of 10 books to read, a healthy mix of fiction and non-fiction. Throw in a couple of classics that you’re embarrassed you never read in college. Purchase the hardcover copies, and keep them as a small trophy of your accomplishment. The Economist puts together a great “Books of the Year” list, but I’ll get you started with “The Private Life of Chairman Mao.”

“Reading allows you to borrow someone else’s brain, and will make you more interesting at a dinner party.”

3. Befriend a World War II veteran. Spend time with him. Talk to him. Because there aren’t too many of them left. I certainly regret not helping the red-coated Chelsea Pensioners with their Tesco’s bags down the King’s Road.

4. Wash your hands more frequently. An actual study has shown that the average New Yorker indirectly touches 24 penises per day, and twice as many if they work at 1585 Broadway.

5. Take an online course. Why continue talking hollowly about self-improvement when leading colleges and graduate schools, including Duke, Wharton, and MIT, are investing significant resources into free education. Ironically, statistics have shown that it tends to be the better-educated and wealthier who take advantage of this.  But, who among us couldn’t benefit from knowing more about accounting, marketing, child psychology, or real estate and contract law?

6. Watch "The Sopranos" from start to finish. Even if you’ve already seen it.

7. Freshen up the starting lineup in your wardrobe. Go get 2 new suits, 10 dress shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shoes, and 50 pairs of socks. Maybe this guidewill help. Why? For the same reason that Michael Jordan wore a brand-new pair of shoes every single game.

8. Avoid extreme and unrealistic health pledges. Eat right, exercise sensibly, and drink mostly in moderation; it’s not rocket science.

“A guy came up to me at the gym and asked me what event I was training so hard for. Life, motherf--ker.”

9. Drink more green tea. Add manuka honey and some fresh ginger.

10. Skip the dramatic savings scheme. Don’t go crazy with unrealistic goals about how much you’re going to save this year. Keep it simple; spend less than you make, and save up for the big-ticket items until you can afford them. There’s no need for an extreme savings plan, so be sensible… but don’t forget to enjoy your expendable income.

“There’s no point in a $50 million funeral or a $25 million divorce.”

11. Read my guide on “How To Be A Man.” Over two million people already have. Ladies, let me know what you think

12. Write down your goals. Most people never fulfill their resolutions, but the people who write them down have a proven higher success rate. Take it a step further and make a list of what you want to accomplish each day, week, and month. Just write them down and check them off the old-fashioned way. And tell Mr. There’s-an-App-for-that to go f--k himself.

"I'm gonna open a gym that turns into a bar after January.”

13. Go get a comprehensive health exam. Make your partner get one too.

14. Put your phone away at dinner.  

"Checking your phone after someone else pulls out their phone is the yawn of our generation.”

15. Laugh more. That means: socialize more often, drink more, have long lazy brunches, throw parties, host drunken game nights. Be spontaneous… Upgrade your friends if necessary.

“Most people wouldn't even be the main character in a movie about their own lives.”

16. Don’t just rely on the gym. Remember that feeling of playing a competitive sport as a kid, when you’re on the field, and not thinking about anything else. Most of us have forgotten what that feels like. So join a team or find someone to play tennis with.

17. Drink more. I’m not contradicting myself from earlier… If you’re healthy, eating well, and exercising, then your body can handle a few more drinks every now and then. There is nothing wrong with the occasional black out, and you’re just going to lie to your doctor anyway. “At most, maybe 15 to 17 units per week, doc.”

“The 1st bottle is for health, the 2nd for love, and the 3rd for sleep.” – Eubulus, 350 BC

18. Help a pet get adopted, if for no other reason than to prove that you can. I’ll get it started with Spirit and Peony currently residing at the North Shore Animal League shelter in Port Washington, New York. (Tweet me; I’ll pay for the adoption fees.)

“WASPs kiss their wives on the forehead and their dogs on the mouth.”

19. Get a regular foot massage. A dark room. No TV. No loud voices. It’s the most peaceful and productive 75 minutes I have every week. I go on Saturdays with the Weekend FT and The Economist.

20. Stay in on New Year's Eve. It’s amateur night and it rarely lives up to your expectations anyhow. Get dressed up, strap on the Patek, go out for some Per Se gnocchi and get drunk on Krug? That sounds like my Tuesdays. This year, stay in… And then start January 1st early and productively.

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13 Vintage Photos Of Christmas In Boston

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Boston St. Francis

With the holidays right around the corner, it's the perfect time to see what an old-fashioned American holiday season looked like.

The Boston Public Library has a collection of photos by Leslie Jones, a photographer who documented daily life in the city for The Boston Herald-Traveler for 39 years.

"In those 39 years, Jones left a comprehensive visual portrait of Boston’s people, events and built environment," curators at the Boston Public Library's print department wrote in an email to Business Insider. "He had an eye for whimsy as well as an ability to capture the pathos of the human condition."

A handful of the 37,000 Jones negatives owned by the BPL chronicled Christmastime in Beantown. Jones was born in 1886 and his Christmas photos of Boston largely come from the 1950s with a few from the '30s and one very early shot from 1915.    

Allen & Co. Fruit and Produce selling Christmas Trees, 1930.

Source: BPL Flickr



Selling wreaths at Quincy Market in downtown Boston, 1954.

Source: BPL Flickr



Boston City Hall decked for the holidays, 1954.

Source: BPL Flickr



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The Most Iconic Beverage In 80 Countries Around The World

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Wine Investment has released a new infographic that shows the most popular drink in 80 countries around the world (which we first saw at Visual.ly).

From Antigua to Wales, the drinks listed are a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic: Morocco is known for its Maghreb mint tea, while Japan and Spain are distinguished by sake and sangria, respectively.

Weirdly enough, Hawaii's beverage of choice is separate from the U.S. in the infographic (the U.S. drink of choice is, of course, Coca Cola). According to Wine Investment, the Hawaiian Sea Breeze (also known as a Bay Breeze) is the most popular drink in the state — which is similar to a Sea Breeze except for the substitution of pineapple juice for grapefruit juice, in case you were curious.

Check out the infographic below to see your country's beverage of choice.

countries drink of choice

SEE ALSO: Beer Experts Say These Are The 20 Best Beers In The World

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How Jack Daniels Makes So Much Whiskey In Such An Old Distillery

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jack daniel's barrel house

Despite being one of the most valuable alcohol brands in the world, Jack Daniel's is manufactured in a 147-year-old distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. that is actually on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Register of Historic Places.

It's so old that I was worried while standing in a hot and deafening room of whiskey stills on a recent tour that one of them might erupt.

Nonetheless, the 1,700-acre operation has around 435 workers and ships out 119 million bottles in a year.

To meet rising global demand, in August parent company Brown-Forman Corp. announced a major expansion for the distillery costing more than $100 million. The enlargement will provide 20 percent more production and storage capacity while preserving the familiar landscape.

Maintaining traditional methods, after all, is key both to the brand and the product.

The distillery was founded almost 150 years ago when Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel ran away from home and started making whiskey with a Lutheran Minister when he was only seven years old.

"Church people started talking about how the minister was working for God on Sunday and then making liquor on Monday. In order to keep the church family happy the Minister sold the business to Jack for $25," distillery tour guide Jesse James told me.

We took a tour to see how the whiskey is made.

The Jack Daniel Distillery is located in Lynchburg, Tenn., a dry county that's a 90 minute drive from Nashville.



Everywhere you look there are creative uses of whiskey barrels.



There was already a crowd at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, with 1,300 guests expected over the course of the day.



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