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Best of 2011: Top 10 Weird World News Stories

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Digging out and dusting off the year's news stories - the ones we couldn't help but retweet, like, share or forward to the rest of the office - was a rather emotional rollercoaster ride. But then, we do tend to become a tad sentimental around Christmas time and New Year.

There have been viral tweets, incredible record-breaking feats and obscure fads that even granny admitted to digging for a while...

So ladies and gentlemen, to remind you that we live in a weird, but generally wonderful world, I give you my favourite news stories of 2011...

Remember these?

1. The Pope's First Tweet
In June, Pope Benedict XVI's first tweet announced a Vatican news site. His holiness said "Dear friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI". Aw bless!

2. Surfer Rides 90-Foot Wave

Who can forget the incredible footage of Garrett McNamara riding a 90-foot wave off the coast of Portugal. Prior to this, the longest wave claimed to have been surfed was 80 foot, making McNamara's feat a new world record.

3. 7 Billionth Baby(s) Born
Names spread like wildfire on Monday 31 October with parents hoping to give birth to the official '7 billionth baby' including Danica Camacho from Manila and baby Nargis from the Indian state of Pradesh. But the UN decided that a number of seven billionth babies would symbolise the event. 51 babies are born in India alone every minute.

4. Extreme Hot-Tubbing

2011-12-16-ExtremehottubbingBestof2011.jpg

In need of a project, this team coordinated the lowering of necessary parts, preheated water on top of gas burners and fixed rappelling lines to what was once the highest bridge in Europe. All in aid of a spot of extreme hot-tubbing from the Gueuroz Bridge in Switzerland.

5. Spaceport America Opens
British billionaire Richard Branson opened the main terminal hanger facility of Virgin Galactic - our gateway to space. The company hopes to complete its test flights by the end of 2012 with commercial voyages following soon after. Anyone got a spare £130,000 for a ticket?

6. Ryanair to Remove Loos
The European low-cost airline claims that removing two of the three lavatories on its planes would allow up to six extra seats to be installed. CEO Michael O'Leary advised that this would benefit budget travellers by lowering fares by five percent. So, what, £2 off a £40 ticket? Forgive me for not feeling flush.

7. Planking

2011-12-19-PlankingBestof2011travel.jpg

While a number of groups have laid claim to the fad as early as 2003, the tradition of lying face down in odd places only really went viral at the start of 2011. Perhaps the most famous plank was by Australian rugby league player David 'Wolfman' Williams who celebrated his score by planking on the field in March.

8. Arnie Gets His Own Museum
The life of the Terminator, bodybuilder and former Governor of California is explored at a new museum in Austria called Arnie's Life. In front of huge crowds, Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a Herculean statue of throbbing muscles and addressed fans: "Stay always hungry. Stay hungry! - That was one of my first movies. And that has always been my philosophy of life. That's the message this house shall send."

9. In a Puff of Smoke
It has been rumoured for years but who would have thought they would actually go through with it! The Netherlands are to ban foreign visitors from cannabis-selling coffee shops. The new legislation will come in to affect in the south in January 2012 and by January 2013 the ban will be implemented in the north. Will we see a rise in illegal street dealing? Well that's another story.

10. Korea's Attempt to Tackle Engrish

2011-12-19-EngrishBestof2011.jpg

Everyone loves a giggle at awkward translations on menus and signage. And the latest campaign from Korean Tourism Organisation draws on its natural resources to make the most of the country's quirky spelling mishaps. Travellers were asked to photograph evidence of Engrish for a chance to win a $45 gift card that could be redeemed at any venue accepting credit cards. View the 20 winners on the Visit Korea website from 22 December 2011.

To read the full article 'Best of 2011' please visit the HostelBookers blog.

What were your favourite world news stories of 2011?

Thanks to AmusingThailand and ND Strupler for the Flickr images. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons license.