kottke.org posts about travel

Anthony Bourdain, the future of cable newsSep 24 2014

When Anthony Bourdain's hour-long food and travel show first launched on CNN, it marked the network's step away from 24 hours news and towards more entertainment programming. But maybe Bourdain is just the reporter we need these days when most of what we see of other cultures is satellite images or shots of rubble. "I'm not a foreign policy wonk, but I see aspects of these countries that regular journalists don't." From FastCo: Anthony Bourdain has become the future of cable news, and he couldn't care less.

Anthony Bourdain's travel tipsSep 23 2014

Anthony Bourdain travels a lot; here's how he approaches flying, packing, getting good local recommendations, etc.

The other great way to figure out where to eat in a new city is to provoke nerd fury online. Go to a number of foodie websites with discussion boards. Let's say you're going to Kuala Lumpur -- just post on the Malaysia board that you recently returned and had the best rendang in the universe, and give the name of a place, and all these annoying foodies will bombard you with angry replies about how the place is bullshit, and give you a better place to go.

How to survive air travelJul 23 2014

Great piece from Craig Mod about how to survive air travel.

Authorities recommend arriving two hours before international flights. I say four. Get there four hours before your flight. You are a hundred and fifty years old. Your friends laugh at you. Have patience.

Arrive early and move through the airport like the Dalai Lama. You are in no rush. All obstacles are taken in stride, patiently, with a smile. Approach the nearly empty check-in counter. Walk up and say, I'm a bit early but I'm here to check in to ... Marvel at their surprise and then their generosity. Suddenly you are always able to get an exit row or bulkhead seat. Suddenly, sure, they can slip you into Business. Suddenly tickets that are supposedly unchangeable, cannot be modified, are, after a few calls, some frowns, upbeat goodbyes, specially modifiable for you. This is what happens when there is no one behind you in line to check in.

What Mod fails to mention here in regard to supposedly unchangeable tickets and the like is that he's one of the most disarmingly charming motherfuckers in the entire world. And here is the crux of the whole piece:

You are hacking the airport by arriving early, knowing that all the work you could have done at home -- the emails or writing or photo editing -- can be done at the airport.

I don't travel much anymore, but I've begun to arrive at the airport earlier than I need to because I got tired of rushing and I can work from pretty much anywhere with wifi. That mask shit though? That's too much.

Airship hangar waterpark funtimesJul 18 2014

In his new video, Casey Neistat and his son visit a German waterpark housed in a giant former airship hangar.

Some information on the structure from the waterpark's web site:

The Tropical Islands Dome is gigantic. In fact, it is the largest free-standing hall in the world: 360 metres long, 210 metres wide and an incredible 107 metres high.

That is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in standing up and the Eiffel Tower lying on its side. The Tropical Islands Dome covers an area of 66,000 m², the size of eight football fields. And it is high enough to fit in the whole of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, with all its skyscrapers.

(via john hodgman)

The Grand Budapest Hotel reviewedJul 17 2014

There are 46 reviews (and counting) of The Grand Budapest Hotel on TripAdvisor, which is ranked "#1 of 1 hotels in The Republic of Zubrowka".

As an elderly women I was thoroughly delighted by the attention of the staff! Particularly the concierge, what a thoughtful generous man! Wish I could take him home to service me there! I also loved the food and the chocolate treats from mendls. Tip top!

See also Schrute Farms on TripAdvisor and TripAdvisor reviews for the Overlook Hotel. Oh and The Grand Budapest Hotel movie is now available for digital rental. (via @khoi)

Music for Real AirportsJul 02 2014

Today's jam -- ok, not a jam exactly but more like marmalade spread on soft white bread -- is Music for Real Airports by The Black Dog.

The title of the album is a play on Brian Eno's Music for Airports:

Airports have some of the glossiest surfaces in modern culture, but the fear underneath remains. Hence this record is not a utilitarian accompaniment to airports, in the sense of reinforcing the false utopia and fake idealism of air travel. Unlike Eno's Music for Airports, this is not a record to be used by airport authorities to lull their customers. The album is a bittersweet, enveloping and enormously engaging listen. It is ambient, but focused. This is not sonic mush, nor adolescent noise. Nor is it a dance album. Much of the raw material of the album was made in airports over the last three years. While on tour, the Black Dog made 200 hours of field recordings, much of which was processed and combined with new music in the airport itself, waiting for the next flight. This vast amount of content has been slowly distilled into a set of particularly evocative pieces of music.

(via the scissors video)

1920s guide to NYC tourist etiquetteJan 27 2014

Gothamist uncovered a NYC guide book from the 1920s called Valentine's City of New York: A Guide Book. Some of the tips include:

Don't take the recommendation of strangers regarding hotels... Don't get too friendly with plausible strangers.

Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable. They are also "smart."

Don't forget to tip. Tip early and tip often.

(via @DavidGrann)

Big Thanksgiving storm brewing on the east coast?Nov 22 2013

The internet's resident meteorologist Eric Holthaus (who incidentally has given up flying because of climate change) warns that a major storm could be on its way to the East Coast in time for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (which overlap this year and then not again until the year 79811).

Technically, the storm is a nor'easter but is looking more like a tropical storm in the computer models:

At this point, the most likely scenario would be cold, wind-driven rain in the big coastal US cities, with up to a foot of snow stretching from inland New England as far south as the Carolinas. The cold would stick around after the storm exits, with high temperatures in the 20s and wind chills possibly in the single digits as far south as New Jersey on Black Friday.

According to this afternoon's iteration of the Euro model (a meteorological model that famously predicted superstorm Sandy's rare left hook into New Jersey six days out), at the storm's peak, wind gusts on Cape Cod could approach hurricane force.

We're still a ways out, so things might change, but travel safely next week, folks. (via @marcprecipice)

The Scooter DiariesOct 03 2013

Bowman Kickstarter

Gordon Bowman is doing a Kickstarter to fund the publication of a book chronicling a journey his parents took shortly after meeting.

When my Dad was a boy growing up in the 1930's, he heard stories of the "Lost City of the Incas" that had been discovered deep in the Peruvian jungle. It must have made a lasting impression on him because in November 1959, he quit his job as a newspaper reporter, sold his car and bought a 150cc Lambretta scooter. He intended to ride it from his hometown of Thorold, in Ontario Canada, all the way down to Peru. As far as he knew, he would be the first person to ever attempt such a journey.

Backed.

How to beat jet lagSep 26 2013

In the 1980s, Charles Ehret developed an antidote to jet lag called The Argonne Anti-Jet-Lag-Diet.

After experimenting on protozoa, rats, and his eight children, Ehret recommended that the international traveler, in the several days before his flight, alternate days of feasting with days of very light eating. Come the flight, the traveler would nibble sparsely until eating a big breakfast at about 7:30 a.m. in his new time zone -- no matter that it was still 1:30 a.m. in the old time zone or that the airline wasn't serving breakfast until 10:00 a.m. His reward would be little or no jet lag.

The diet was adopted by US government agencies and other groups as well as Ronald Reagan, but it difficult to stick to. Recently, researchers in Boston have devised a simpler anti-jet lag remedy:

The international traveler, they counsel, can avoid jet lag by simply not eating for twelve to sixteen hours before breakfast time in the new time zone-at which point, as in Ehret's diet, he should break his fast. Since most of us go twelve to sixteen hours between dinner and breakfast anyway, the abstention is a small hardship.

According to the Harvard team, the fast works because our bodies have, in addition to our circadian clock, a second clock that might be thought of as a food clock or, perhaps better, a master clock. When food is scarce, this master clock suspends the circadian clock and commands the body to sleep much less than normally. Only after the body starts eating again does the master clock switch the circadian clock back on.

Totally trying this the next time I have to travel, although the Advil PM/melatonin combination my doctor suggested worked really well for me on my trip to New Zealand. (via @genmon)

The 80s!Apr 04 2013

After an exhaustive search, I have decided this photo most exemplifies life in these United States during the 1980s:

Roger Minick Sightseer

And if not that one, then one of several other possible candidates from Roger Minick's Sightseer project, for which he took photos of tourists at popular US tourist destinations during the early 1980s and into the 2000s.

When I approached people for a portrait, I tried to make my request clear and to the point, making it clear that I was not trying to sell them anything. I explained that my wife and I were traveling around the country visiting most of the major tourist destinations so that I could photograph the activity of sightseeing. I would quickly add that I hoped the project would have cultural value and might be seen in years to come as a kind of time capsule of what Americans looked like at the end of the Twentieth Century; at which, to my surprise, I would see people often begin to nod their heads as if they knew what I was talking about.

Slate did a feature on this series last week.

The 25 least visited countries in the worldMar 28 2013

A somewhat surprising list of the least visited countries in the world in that North Korea is not even in the top 15. Somalia, with 500 annual tourists, is #2:

Why so few?

War, lack of a government for many years, violent muslim extremists, sharia law. The reputation of Somalia is extremelly close to rock bottom.

Why you may still want to visit

The government has started to function again. Mogadishu is now relatively safe and businesses are thriving. Turkish Airlines has even opened a direct twice weekly route from Istanbul.

What else

Go to the beach just outside Mogadishu or visit the Bakaara market where you can even buy your own semi-genuine Somalian passport. You may not want to use it anywhere, though. Your travel experience doesn't extend beyond the Bahamas, Paris or Gran Canaria, you say? First of all; Why are you reading this blog post? Secondly, do not go to Somalia!

The author of the list, Gunnar Garfors, has visited 196 of the 198 countries in the world; he's hitting the last two in the next few months: Kiribati and Cape Verde. (via @DavidGrann)

The professor and the bikini modelMar 08 2013

Paul Frampton is a 69-year-old theoretical particle physicist who has co-authored papers with Nobel laureates. In late 2011, the absentminded professor met a Czech bikini model online. Over email and Yahoo chat, they became romantically involved and she sent him a plane ticket to come meet her at a photo shoot in Bolivia. Then she asked him to bring a bag of hers with him on his flight.

While in Bolivia, Frampton corresponded with an old friend, John Dixon, a physicist and lawyer who lives in Ontario. When Frampton explained what he was up to, Dixon became alarmed. His warnings to Frampton were unequivocal, Dixon told me not long ago, still clearly upset: "I said: 'Well, inside that suitcase sewn into the lining will be cocaine. You're in big trouble.' Paul said, 'I'll be careful, I'll make sure there isn't cocaine in there and if there is, I'll ask them to remove it.' I thought they were probably going to kidnap him and torture him to get his money. I didn't know he didn't have money. I said, 'Well, you're going to be killed, Paul, so whom should I contact when you disappear?' And he said, 'You can contact my brother and my former wife.' " Frampton later told me that he shrugged off Dixon's warnings about drugs as melodramatic, adding that he rarely pays attention to the opinions of others.

On the evening of Jan. 20, nine days after he arrived in Bolivia, a man Frampton describes as Hispanic but whom he didn't get a good look at handed him a bag out on the dark street in front of his hotel. Frampton was expecting to be given an Hermès or a Louis Vuitton, but the bag was an utterly commonplace black cloth suitcase with wheels. Once he was back in his room, he opened it. It was empty. He wrote to Milani, asking why this particular suitcase was so important. She told him it had "sentimental value." The next morning, he filled it with his dirty laundry and headed to the airport.

Crazy story. (via @stevenstrogatz)

Reminder: The Mind of a ChefMar 04 2013

In case you missed it a few months ago on PBS, the excellent The Mind of a Chef is out in downloadable form on iTunes and at Amazon. The first episode is available for free on the PBS site for try-before-you-buy purposes.

Perennial Plate's A Day in India Feb 01 2013

The Perennial Plate videos always make me jealous, and this beautiful cut of a "day" in India is no exception. This is gorgeous and you should watch it on full screen.

Account of a trip to North KoreaJan 23 2013

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of Google, recently visited North Korea and took his daughter Sophie along. Upon her return, she wrote up a very interesting account of her trip. Her report contained a surprising number of Twitter-length nuggets of goodness1; here are some of them:

Our trip was a mixture of highly staged encounters, tightly-orchestrated viewings and what seemed like genuine human moments.

The longer I think about what we saw and heard, the less sure I am about what any of it actually meant.

Nothing I'd read or heard beforehand really prepared me for what we saw.

Most of the buildings they visited -- offices, libraries, etc. -- were not heated:

They're proudly showing you their latest technology or best library, and you can see your breath

They weren't allowed to have mobile phones, there were no alarm clocks, and they were told their rooms were probably bugged:

One person suggested announcing "I'm awake" to the room, and then waiting until someone came to fetch you.

It's like The Truman Show, at country scale.

Very little in North Korea, it seemed to us, was built to be inviting.

You could almost forget you were in North Korea in this city, until you noticed little things, like the lack of commercial storefronts.

There is only revolutionary art. There is only revolutionary music.

I was delighted to learn that [Kim Jong Il] and I shared a taste in laptops: 15" Macbook Pro.

No one was actually doing anything.

They're building products for a market that doesn't exist.

It's a fascinating piece and worth putting up with the weird 2-column layout to read the whole thing.

[1] In fact, almost every sentence is tweet-length. Do young people naturally write in SMS/tweet-length sentences these days?

Sixteen-part PBS travel/food show with David ChangNov 10 2012

How had I not heard about this before now? The Mind of a Chef is a PBS consisting of sixteen half-hour shows that follows David Chang through his world of food. As far as I can tell, this series is basically the TV version of Lucky Peach. Episode one is about ramen:

In the series premiere, David dissects the roots of his passion for ramen dishes and tsukemen on a trip to Japan. Learn the history of this famous noodle as David visits a ramen factory, has a bowl of the original tsukemen, and examines how alkalinity makes noodles chewier and less prone to dissolving in broth.

Check out an excerpt here, in which Chang reveals how he used to eat instant ramen noodles right out of the bag with the pork flavor powder sprinkled on top. The series starts this weekend...check your local listings, as they say. (via ny times)

The Mac taxJun 26 2012

According to the Wall Street Journal, Orbitz has determined that Mac users spend 30% more per night on lodging. Obviously, this is an opportunity for Orbitz to display more expensive hotel options to Mac users.

The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people's online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information--in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac--to start predicting their tastes and spending habits.

Here's a fairly concise rundown of shady marketing tactics Orbitz has used in the past. (via @delfuego)

What travel guide books say about the USJun 07 2012

Max Fisher has a piece at The Atlantic about what travel guidebooks tell foreign visitors to the US.

Politics get heavy treatment in the books, as do the subtleties of discussing them, maybe more so than in any other guidebook I've read (what can I say, it's an addiction). Lonely Planet urges caution when discussing immigration. "This is the issue that makes Americans edgy, especially when it gets politicized," they write, subtly suggesting that some Americans might approach the issue differently than others. "Age has a lot to do with Americans' multicultural tolerance."

Rough Guide doesn't shy away from the fact that many non-Americans are less-than-crazy about U.S. politics and foreign policy, and encouragingly notes that many Americans are just as "infuriated" about it as visitors might be. Still, it warns that the political culture saturates everything, and that "The combination of shoot-from-the-hip mentality with laissez-faire capitalism and religious fervor can make the U.S. maddening at times, even to its own residents."

Girls Gone Slightly Less Wholesome: Amish spring breakApr 16 2012

Pinecraft, Florida is a popular spring vacation destination for Amish and Mennonites, a place where they can let their hair down by using cellphones and electricity.

Walking around Pinecraft is like entering an idyllic time warp. White bungalows and honeybell orange trees line streets named after Amish families: Kaufman, Schrock, Yoder. The local Laundromat keeps lines outside to hang clothes to dry. (You have to bring your own pins.) And the techiest piece of equipment at the post office is a calculator. The Sarasota county government plans to designate the village, which spreads out over 178 acres, as a cultural heritage district.

Many travelers I spoke to jokingly call it the "Amish Las Vegas," riffing off the clich'e that what happens in Pinecraft stays in Pinecraft. Cellphone and cameras, normally off-limits to Amish, occasionally make appearances, and almost everyone uses electricity in their rental homes. Three-wheeled bicycles, instead of horses and buggies, are ubiquitous.

"When you come down here, you can pitch religion a little bit and let loose," said Amanda Yoder, 19, from Missouri. "What I'm wearing right now, I wouldn't at home," she said, gesturing at sunglasses with sparkly rhinestones and bikini strings peeking out of a tight black tank top. On the outskirts of the village, she boarded public bus No. 11 with six other sunburned teenagers. They were bound for Siesta Key, a quartz-sand beach about eight miles away.

Tips for traveling the worldApr 09 2012

From Jodi at Legal Nomads, a list of 21 practical tips she's gleaned from traveling the world for the past four years. One tip is to take oranges with you on public transportation:

I started bringing a bag of oranges with me for long bus rides, primarily because they quench thirst and smell delicious. I quickly learned that many Thai and Burmese busgoers sniff the peels to stave off nausea, and that kids love oranges. Really: kids LOVE oranges. So for those who want to bring something for the bus ride but rightfully worry about giving sweets to kids, oranges are your friend. You will win over the parents, make the kids happy, occupy your hours and eventually get fed by everyone on the bus. Trust me. You should always have a bag of oranges on hand, the smaller the orange the better.

She also lists the five things she always carries with her while traveling...one of which, unusually, is a doorstop. I'm guessing that's for keeping people out of rooms without door locks?

Social media shaming tames Spring BreakMar 16 2012

Maybe Facebook *is* good for society: teens aren't acting as crazy during Spring Break because they don't want to get caught doing inappropriate things on camera.

They are so afraid everyone is going to take their picture and put it online.

You don't want to have to defend yourself later, so you don't do it.

But spring break [in Key West] has been Facebooked into greater respectability.

"At the beach yesterday, I would put my beer can down, out of the picture every time," Ms. Sawyer said. "I do worry about Facebook. I just know I need a job eventually."

"Oh, no," she recoiled. "I'm friends with my mom on Facebook."

Facebook: Society's Self-Surveillance Network™. (via @gavinpurcell)

Airport security: "so much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost"Dec 22 2011

Charles Mann visits the airport with security expert Bruce Schneier and a fake boarding pass. What he finds is a lot of security theater and not much security.

"The only useful airport security measures since 9/11," he says, "were locking and reinforcing the cockpit doors, so terrorists can't break in, positive baggage matching" -- ensuring that people can't put luggage on planes, and then not board them -- "and teaching the passengers to fight back. The rest is security theater."

(via df)

Golden rules to live by while travelling the worldNov 30 2011

Lists of travel tips usually suck (get to the aiport early! make sure your passport is up to date!) but this list contains a number of good ideas that I haven't really seen before.

13. Buy your own fruit. It sounds simple. It is simple. Just do it. You'll love it. And I don't mean, if there happens to be a fruit stand outside your hotel door you should buy some, because you need to have 9 servings a day. What I mean is, find fruit and buy it. Make it a daily task that you're going to track down a fruit stand, a farmers' market (they're not just in San Francisco) and get some good fresh fruit. The entire process will expose you to elements of daily life you would have otherwise ignored. Trust me: You'll have memories from your trips to buy fresh fruit.

How to speed up plane boardingAug 31 2011

Physicist Jason Steffen has discovered a possible method for getting passengers onto airplanes twice as fast as the usual method.

The fastest method is one of Steffen's own design: boarding alternating rows at the same time, starting with the window seats. The secret, he says, is that it leaves passengers elbow room to stow their luggage at the same time.

Even random boarding is faster than the back-to-front boarding the airlines currently use. (via jcn)

Collaborative tourist snapsFeb 24 2011

For her Photo Opportunities project, Corrine Vionnet finds tourist photos of famous landmarks online and layers them to make images like this:

Corinne Vionnet

(thx, reed)

The tragedy of NepalJan 19 2011

Andrew Hyde travels to Nepal and doesn't find a must-see travel destination.

A deep depression hit me about an hour into my visit to Nepal and lasted for the first two weeks. Nepal, as a travel destination, is nothing short of raved about. "The Himalayan Mountains are majestic and the people are the nicest in the world!" was a common travel tidbit I heard. What I found was a developing nation with deep problems becoming worse by the month with tourism hastening the poisoning of the well. The pollution is the worst I have ever seen. Air, land, sound and water, nothing is spared the careless trash. The people are wonderful and also skillful about exploiting the tourist scene. Everyone you meet has a friend that is in the business of what you want to do, and they have a vested commission in getting you to open up.

Peak transportationJan 11 2011

Or so says a new study:

A study of eight industrialized countries, including the United States, shows that seemingly inexorable trends -- ever more people, more cars and more driving -- came to a halt in the early years of the 21st century, well before the recent escalation in fuel prices.

Airport security: the Dick-Measuring Device or molestation?Oct 29 2010

Jeffrey Goldberg on the TSA's new security theater measures, including pat-downs that are so humiliating and uncomfortable that people won't mind using the scanning machine that shows them naked.

I asked him if he was looking forward to conducting the full-on pat-downs. "Nobody's going to do it," he said, "once they find out that we're going to do."

In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the Dick-Measuring Device over molestation? "That's what we're hoping for. We're trying to get everyone into the machine." He called over a colleague. "Tell him what you call the back-scatter," he said. "The Dick-Measuring Device," I said. "That's the truth," the other officer responded.

The pat-down at BWI was fairly vigorous, by the usual tame standards of the TSA, but it was nothing like the one I received the next day at T.F. Green in Providence. Apparently, I was the very first passenger to ask to opt-out of back-scatter imaging. Several TSA officers heard me choose the pat-down, and they reacted in a way meant to make the ordinary passenger feel very badly about his decision. One officer said to a colleague who was obviously going to be assigned to me, "Get new gloves, man, you're going to need them where you're going."

The agent snapped on his blue gloves, and patiently explained exactly where he was going to touch me. I felt like a sophomore at Oberlin.

A boring drill builds an exciting tunnelOct 19 2010

This is the massive drill that was used to bore a 35-mile-long tunnel underneath the Alps from mid-Switzerland to near the Italian border:

Big drill

Boring operations in the east tunnel were completed on 15 October 2010 in a cut-through ceremony broadcast live on Swiss TV. When it opens for traffic in late 2017, the tunnel will cut the 3.5-hour travel time from Zurich to Milan by an hour and from Zurich to Lugano to 1 hour 40 minutes.

Tips for travelling with kidsOct 01 2010

A great list of tips, tricks, and advice for travelling with kids.

18. Don't do too much BUT don't do too little either. I think the biggest mistake parents traveling with kids make is doing too little not too much. Get out there. Enjoy. Experience. Wear the kids out and get them tired.

(thx, meg)

Rough seasSep 21 2010

This is footage from a camera on board a cruise ship from when some rough weather hit.

On August 1, the Pacific Sun ran into a heavy storm 400 miles north of New Zealand, hitting 25-foot-tall waves and 50-knot winds. Its 1732 passengers weren't prepared to endure the madness that ensued. Absolutely crazy.

(via clusterflock)

A talk by Khoi Vinh on design and the newsSep 15 2010

Khoi also has an interesting travel packing tip to share. (via swissmiss)

TransatlanticAug 18 2010

For his excellent NY Times blog, Christoph Niemann visually documents his flight from New York to Berlin.

Niemann Red Eye

I am ashamed to admit just how many hours of my life I have spent "contemplating the little hole in [the] airplane window". And that's not even a euphemism! Seriously, what is that thing for?!

Airport contrabandJul 30 2010

Taryn Simon spent five days photographing items confiscated from people flying into New York's JFK airport. This one is "mystery meat":

Airport contraband

These images are from a set of 1,075 photographs -- shot over five days last year for the book and exhibition, "Contraband" -- of items detained or seized from passengers or express mail entering the United States from abroad at the New York airport. The miscellany of prohibited objects -- from the everyday to the illegal to the just plain odd -- attests to a growing worldwide traffic in counterfeit goods and natural exotica and offers a snapshot of the United States as seen through its illicit material needs and desires.

Here's more about the project, which will be released in book form and also put on display in galleries in LA and NYC.

Pre-paid plan options for smartphone travellersJul 26 2010

If you're going on an overseas trip and want to use your phone (with data) while you're there, check out this new wiki on what plans are available in several countries. I hope this develops into a solid resource...I never know where to look for this stuff before I go. (via dj)

I've got $400. Where can I go?Jun 11 2010

Kayak's Explore feature is a fantastic tool for flexible vacationers on a budget. You enter your home airport, ticket price range, roughly when you want to travel, and it shows you a map of where you can fly for that much money. You can optionally specific your destination's average temperature, spoken languages, available activities, and flight time.

OffMapsJun 01 2010

If you're travelling abroad with the iPhone and understandably wish to avoid AT&T's ridiculously high data roaming charges when trying to find the train station in a new city, I would highly recommend OffMaps.

OffMaps lets you take your maps offline. It is the ideal companion for any iPhone and iPod Touch user, who wants to access maps when travelling abroad (and avoid data roaming charges) and who wants to have fast access to maps at all times. This app (and the icon) just has to be on the right hand side of Apple's built-in maps app.

OffMaps uses OpenStreetMap that include a lot more information than simple road maps: from ATMs and train stations to restaurants and pubs! You choose which areas to download instead of buying a new app for every city you want to visit.

I used it for a week in Paris and it worked great; the GPS and compass both still work when data is off so locating yourself isn't a problem. Just download the proper maps before you leave for your trip and you're good to go.

The dangers of travel writing to the selfMay 14 2010

David Farley wrote a travel article for the New York Times about the eccentric small town of Calcata, Italy. When he went back, he found that the article had changed the character of the town for him.

The problem went beyond some of the local artists' anger about not making it into the article. Some were angry that I included their arch-enemies. Others were angry that they were in it but not quoted. I had once loved living in Calcata, a fortress town where dinner parties on the square would often erupt in singing and joint smoking; where you could walk 50 feet and eat at an amazing restaurant; where you could make the intimate square your living room. But now, after the article came out, I felt like a persona non grata for at least half of the place. I hated that I was hated.

Oyster Hotel ReviewsApr 26 2010

Oyster is a hotel review site. By far the best feature is that they take their own photos of the hotel rooms and facilities; the photos taken by the hotels make everything look bigger (wide-angle lenses) and brighter (professional lighting) than they usually are. (via svn)

Schrute Farms on TripAdvisorApr 01 2010

One of the many places reviewed on TripAdvisor is a small Pennsylvania B&B called Schrute Farms...which you might recall is from The Office. From the NY Times:

Carla Harrington of Fredricksburg, Va., was surprised to find 82 percent of reviews recommended Schrute Farms. "I thought about what it would feel like not to know them as TV characters but to really go to this B & B," she said in an interview. Her one-star slam called Dwight "an overbearing survivalist who appears to have escaped from the local mental asylum."

(via mrod)

Danish tourism ads by Lars Von TrierFeb 23 2010

Lars Von Trier has directed a bunch of tourism ads for Denmark; here's a sneak peek.

How to book a cheap airline flightFeb 18 2010

The NY Times' Frugal Traveler blog has a detailed post on how to go about searching for cheap flights online. Saving this mainly for my own information, for 10-15 years from now, when frequent travel becomes an option again.

My year in cities 2009Dec 29 2009

Not sure why I'm bothering to do this list for 2009 as I didn't really go anywhere, but here it is for posterity:

Waitsfield, VT*
New York City, NY*
Boston, MA*
Orange, MA*
Springfield, MA
Nantucket, MA

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Here are my lists for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Brilliant frequent flyer miles schemeDec 08 2009

At least with the cheese and pudding, you were actually buying perishable non-returnable products. But hundreds of travelers recently discovered the mother of all frequent flyer schemes: buying legal-tender $1 coins from the US Mint with free shipping and paying for them with miles-offering credit cards. Take the coins to the bank, use them to pay off the credit card, and keep the miles. Brilliant.

One FlyerTalker, identified by his online moniker, Mr. Pickles, claims to have bought $800,000 in coins. [...] He earned enough miles to put him over two million total at AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, giving him lifetime platinum-elite status -- early availability of upgrades for life and other perks on American and its partners around the world. He also pumped miles into his account at UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and points into his Starwood Preferred Guest program account.

(via mr)

The last opium den in the worldNov 18 2009

In 2000, Nick Tosches went in search of something that he was told didn't exist anymore: the opium den.

In the early decades of the 20th century, as the drug trade was taken over by the Judeo-Christian coalition that came to control crime, Jewish and Italian names became almost as common as Chinese names in the reports of those arrested for smuggling, selling, and den-running. While the old Chinese opium smokers died off, the new drug lords actively cultivated a market for the opium derivatives, first morphine and then heroin, two 19th-century inventions that offered far greater profit margins than opium itself.

...

The last known opium den in New York was a second-floor tenement apartment at 295 Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets, at the northeastern edge of Chinatown. It was run by the apartment's tenant, a Chinese immigrant named Lau, who was 57 when the joint got raided and his ass got hauled away. There were a few old pipes and lamps, 10 ounces of opium. And 40 ounces of heroin. The date was June 28, 1957. That was it. The end of the final relic of a bygone day.

Denver to Singapore in 5 minutesNov 05 2009

Timelapse video of a trip from Denver to Singapore and back again.

I made a time lapse video of a weekend trip I did to singapore by hanging a point and shoot around my neck, taking a snapshot every couple minutes/hours.

On donkeys, the "little pistons" of MoroccoAug 28 2009

Susan Orlean travels to Morocco to find out about donkeys for Smithsonian magazine.

The medina in Fez may well be the largest urbanized area in the world impassable to cars and trucks, where anything that a human being can't carry or push in a handcart is conveyed by a donkey, a horse or a mule. If you need lumber and rebar to add a new room to your house in the medina, a donkey will carry it in for you. If you have a heart attack while building the new room on your house, a donkey might well serve as your ambulance and carry you out. If you realize your new room didn't solve the overcrowding in your house and you decide to move to a bigger house, donkeys will carry your belongings and furniture from your old house to your new one. Your garbage is picked up by donkeys; your food supplies are delivered to the medina's stores and restaurants by mule; when you decide to decamp from the tangle of the medina, donkeys might carry your luggage out or carry it back in when you decide to return. In Fez, it has always been thus, and so it will always be. No car is small enough or nimble enough to squeeze through the medina's byways; most motorbikes cannot make it up the steep, slippery alleys. The medina is now a World Heritage site. Its roads can never be widened, and they will never be changed; the donkeys might carry in computers and flat-screen televisions and satellite dishes and video equipment, but they will never be replaced.

This is probably the most interesting thing you'll ever read about donkeys.

The Geek AtlasJun 10 2009

The Geek Atlas is a travel guide for those interested in science, math, and technology.

The history of science is all around us, if you know where to look. With this unique traveler's guide, you'll learn about 128 destinations around the world where discoveries in science, mathematics, or technology occurred or is happening now. Travel to Munich to see the world's largest science museum, watch Foucault's pendulum swinging in Paris, ponder a descendant of Newton's apple tree at Trinity College, Cambridge, and more.

Sounds interesting. It's selling surprisingly well at Amazon right now.

How introverts travelMay 26 2009

It might surprise you that introverts travel differently than extroverts, particularly because most travel magazines, guidebooks, and TV shows are produced by and for extroverts.

I don't seek people out, I am terrible at striking up conversations with strangers and I am happy exploring a strange city alone. I don't seek out political discourse with opinionated cab drivers or boozy bonding with locals over beers into the wee hours. By the time the hours get wee, I'm usually in bed in my hotel room, appreciating local color TV. (So sue me, but I contend that television is a valid reflection of a society.)

I almost broke my neck extensively nodding in agreement while reading this article. The author also has some tips for the introverted traveler. And if you haven't read it, Jonathan Rauch's Caring for Your Introvert remains one of my favorite things that I've ever featured on kottke.org.

WayfarersApr 15 2009

David Sedaris finds lust, love, and laughter on long train trips.

Not that Johnny was bad company-it's just that the things we had in common were all so depressing. Unemployment, for instance. My last job had been as an elf at Macy's.

"Personal assistant" was how I phrased it, hoping he wouldn't ask for whom.

"Uh-Santa?"

If you've been following his work/life at all, the last paragraph will probably make you smile.

Jet lagApr 06 2009

Amalfitano had some rather idiosyncratic ideas about jet lag. They weren't consistent, so it might be an exaggeration to call them ideas. They were feelings. Make-believe ideas. As if he were looking out the window and forcing himself to see an extraterrestrial landscape He believed (or rather like to think he believed) that when a person was in Barcelona, the people living and present in Buenos Aires and Mexico City didn't exist. The time difference only masked their nonexistence. And so if you suddenly traveled to cities that, according to this theory, didn't exist or hadn't yet had time to put themselves together, the result was the phenomenon known as jet lag, which arose not from your exhaustion but from the exhaustion of the people who would still have been asleep if you hadn't traveled. This was something he'd probably read in some science fiction novel or story and that he'd forgotten having read.

2666 by Roberto Bolaño, page 189.

Update: From this post and its comments, it seems likely that the "science fiction novel or story and that he'd forgotten having read" was William Gibson's Pattern Recognition or Brian Fawcett's Soul Walker. From Pattern Recognition:

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

(thx, thessaly & michael)

AmsterdamnMar 27 2009

From the YesButNoButYes Guide to Dutch Women:

Yfke Sturm - It must have been hard for Yfke growing up. With a name that sounds like it came from Return of the Jedi, she was probably the subject of ridicule and name-calling. I too had those evils done to me, and I'd be happy to console her.

Educational.

Flight 1549 simulationJan 19 2009

The BBC did a flight simulation of US Airways flight 1549 that shows what the water approach looked like from the cockpit. (thx, david)

Video footage of Hudson River plane crashJan 18 2009

I'm still fascinated by the water landing of US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River late last week. Here are a few more things I've seen related to it over the last couple of days.

First the videos. Someone visiting the Bronx Zoo caught the plane on video, flying low in the sky just after the bird strike. A Coast Guard video monitoring station got a shot of the plane just after it splashed down...you can see the spray from the impact flying in from the left of the video just after the 2:00 mark.

Soon after the plane hits, the camera zooms in and you can see just how quickly people get out and onto the wings. And then this video shows it most clearly:

Look how low and level and steady Sully guided that thing in! Amazing!

The NY Times has a couple of good pieces in their extensive crash coverage. I loved reading what various passengers had to say about the crash, lots of little moments of heroism in there.

The life raft attached to the plane was upside down in the river, just out of reach. Mr. Wentzell turned and found another passenger, Carl Bazarian, an investment banker from Florida who, at 62, was twice his age. Mr. Wentzell grabbed the wrist of Mr. Bazarian, who grabbed a third man who held onto the plane. Mr. Wentzell then leaned out to flip the raft. "Carl was Iron Man that day," Mr. Wentzell said. "We got the raft stabilized and we got on." A man went into the water, and the door salesman and the banker hauled him aboard. He curled in a fetal position, freezing.

The Times also comes through with the 3-D flight graphic I asked for the other day but they upped the ante with a seating chart of the plane where you can click on certain passengers' seats to read their thoughts. Mark Hood in seat 2A described the landing:

When we touched down, it was like a log ride at Six Flags. It was that smooth.

The whole thing is still so amazing. Looking at the underside of the plane as they lifted it from the water last night, you can see the damage to the bottom of the plane and just how close they all were to being flung all over the place or sinking quickly or a number of other different outcomes.

Obama's personal annual reportJan 15 2009

Dopplr is doing 2008 personal annual reports for all their users that shows "data, visualisations and factoids" about their 2008 travel. They've also done one for Barack Obama on his behalf that you can download for free. Obama took a whopping 234 trips in 2008 and traveled 92% of the distance to the moon!

Travel deals for New YorkersJan 12 2009

Jauntsetter does a useful weekly roundup of travels deals specifically for New Yorkers. This week's selection includes cheap fares to Cancun and Europe.

My year in cities, 2008Dec 29 2008

For the fourth year in a row, a list of all the places I visited in 2008.

Waitsfield, VT*
New York City, NY*
Boston, MA*
Orange, MA*
Springfield, MA
London, UK
Paris, France
Buffalo, NY
Binghamton, NY
Cedar Rapids, IA
Nantucket, MA
Las Vegas, NV
Washington DC

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Note: We didn't actually spend the night in Paris, but we were there all day so I threw it in there. Here are the lists for 2005, 2006, and 2007.

In which we meet the Emirati Winston WolfNov 20 2008

I've been reading this site called I Keep a Diary for I don't know how long, six years at least. The site is a hand-crafted throwback to an earlier web era, a series of annotated photo galleries that document the life, times, adventures, and friends of Brian Battjer Jr. Like its proprietor, the site is funny, enthusiastic, and good-natured, and that's what keeps me coming back for more. I even visit the splash page each time I go because I like the quote that appears on it so much:

i feel nostalgia for things i've never known

IKAD is one of my favorite things on the web and the most recent entry is so truly magical that I had to share. Brian is more than a year behind in documenting his adventures so he's just now getting around to telling the story of his July 2007 trip to Thailand and the United Arab Emirates with his girlfriend, Meredith. After telling his boss that he's taking a month off of work, subletting his apartment, and arranging to stay with a friend in Dubai, he and Meredith speed off to the airport.

At this point, I urge you to just go read the story -- it's great and Brian tells it *way* better than I could -- because I'm going to ruin a lot of it. If you need more convincing of this story's wonderfulness, read on.

Anyway, off they go to JFK for their flight to Dubai. The woman at the Emirates check-in desk has no record of their tickets...becaue they got to the airport a whole day late. After some nervous moments, the woman finds them some seats on the plane.

Fast forward 12 hours or so: they land and deplane. Meredith discovers that she lost her passport and she swears that the thing is still on the plane. Emirates won't let her get back on the plane to look for it but they send an employee to look for it. No dice. They then spent several hours trying to find somone to let them on the plane to search. No luck. Intense panic sets in; the plane is scheduled to leave for NYC in an hour or two.

At this point, Brian phones his friend in Dubai, Bernadette, whom he has never met in person, and explains to her the situation. She says, "I'm on the way to the airport now...I'll see what I can do." It turns out that Bernadette's boss is a sheikh, one of the richest men in the world, and one of the most powerful men in Dubai. Bernadette arrives and tells them that her boss has dispatched his "fixer", his Mr. Wolf. "You ain't got no problems, Brian. I'm on the motherfucker. Chill out and wait for Mahmoun, who should be comin' directly."

"Shit Negro, that's all you had to say."

Sure enough, about ten minutes later a very large, serious-looking Emirati man walked up to the armed guards at immigration and with a nod, they let the dude through! We were like "Whoa." Mahmoun came over to us, and asked us to tell him the problem (and he even whipped out a little pad to take notes just like Mr. Wolf!). After we'd finished explaining to him that we were almost 100% sure that the passport was still on the plane, he was like "Meredith you come with me. Bernadette and Brian, you wait here."

He came back like two minutes later with ten airline employees in tow and said something like "This airplane is supposed to fly back to New York in forty-five minutes, but it's not going anywhere until the passport that's on there is found. So let's go find it."

Did Meredith recover the passport? Does Mahmoun go medieval on anyone's ass? Oh, you'll have to find out for yourself.

Airport security theaterOct 17 2008

I don't know if this is sadly hilarious or hilariously sad. Jeffrey Goldberg took all sorts of crazy stuff through airport security -- "al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really), pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters" -- and almost nothing was ever taken away from him or was a source of concern for airport security personnel.

We took our shoes off and placed our laptops in bins. Schneier took from his bag a 12-ounce container labeled "saline solution."

"It's allowed," he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, don't fall under the TSA's three-ounce rule.

"What's allowed?" I asked. "Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?"

"Bottles labeled saline solution. They won't check what's in it, trust me."

They did not check. As we gathered our belongings, Schneier held up the bottle and said to the nearest security officer, "This is okay, right?" "Yep," the officer said. "Just have to put it in the tray."

"Maybe if you lit it on fire, he'd pay attention," I said, risking arrest for making a joke at airport security. (Later, Schneier would carry two bottles labeled saline solution-24 ounces in total-through security. An officer asked him why he needed two bottles. "Two eyes," he said. He was allowed to keep the bottles.)

So hard to pick just one excerpt from this one...it's full of ridiculousness. I don't care how many blogs the TSA launches, this is a farce. (thx, anthony)

19th century Arctic exploration photosSep 17 2008

Photos from two Arctic expeditions, one in 1854 and the other in 1875-6.

Inuit group, 1854

This photo is part of the National Maritime Museum's contribution to Flickr's Commons project.

Travel by container shipSep 16 2008

Another story of traveling by cargo ship.

The stevedores, or as we call them in the states, longshoremen, are becoming the latest group of tradespeople to be put out of their jobs by robots. The ships already practically steer themselves, that's why I'm staying in the pilot's cabin, "there is no pilot". The course of the ship is plotted in advance as a series of vectors with turns at key points. The ship's computer lets the officer on duty know when it's time to make a turn, and corrects itself with GPS as a reference during the straight runs. The origin of word "cybernetic" is "kybernetes" -- 'steersman' in Greek. So the arrangement of cargo and the logistics of operations are already optimized by software, the next step will be to link that software directly to the hardware of cranes and harvesters and turn them into robots. They will have a set of broad goals and priorities (the strategy), and the kind of basic decision making processes (the tactics) that the ship uses to stay on course autonomously: avoidance and correction.

People who travel by container ship also seem to be able to write well about the experience. Previously. Even more previously.

The most famous trips in historyAug 19 2008

Good Magazine has a nice little map feature on some of the world's greatest journeys, including Magellan's circumnavigation, the old Silk Road, and Around the World in 80 Days. (via justin blanton)

Nathan Myhrvold in the northJul 24 2008

Nathan Myhrvold, billionaire polymath, recently wrote a series of three posts for the Freakonomics blog about his trips to Iceland and Greenland.

I'd like to say that global warming was evident during my visit, but that is not really the case. Indeed, [my guide] Salik tells me that he and most Greenlanders are pretty skeptical about it. The local fishing industry used to be based on arctic prawns, but the sea temperature has changed just enough that the prawns are much further north, so now they fish for cod.

But, as Salik points out, this cycle has happened several times in living memory. The same with the glaciers: yes they are retreating, but at least in his area, they have yet to reach the limits that the locals remember them. Objective measurements do show that climate change is happening. Nevertheless I was amused that the locals don't seem to think it is such a big deal.

The photos are worth a look by themselves.

Around the world with Dorothy GambrellJul 24 2008

I mentioned passenger travel on cargo ships the other day. Dorothy Gambrell and her companion went on an around-the-world trip a couple of years ago, traveling mostly by boat and train. To get from North America to Asia, they booked passage on a cargo ship leaving from Oakland and bound for Taiwan. You can read about their adventures online...start here and use the "next entries" link at the bottom of the page to keep reading.

They warned us. They warned us about the food. The freighter agency literature mentions several times that the food may not be what Americans are accustomed to -- for example, it says, "there may not be dessert." The first morning's breakfast is called "Hunter's Toast," which turns out to be toast smothered in something like liverwurst and topped by a fried egg. Breakfast is usually one part egg, one part meat, and one part toast except when it is sausage and a puddle of tomato sauce. Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 8:00am, which means arrive at 7:30 and leave at eight. One pot of coffee and one pot of hot water sit on the table next to the basket of tea bags and peanut gallery of condiments.

What a great adventure wonderfully told. (thx, matt)

How to travel by cargo shipJul 22 2008

Booking passage on a cargo ship is an easy and unusual way to travel.

Most of the major global shipping lines CMA-CGM, Canada Maritime, and Bank Line offer paying passengers to hop on one of their lines. As a paying passenger you are accommodated in guest cabins and have access to most areas of the ship.

Captains and crew spend a lot of time on the water, and they are usually happy to have a fresh face walking around their workplace, meaning that they may even invite you to eat with them, give you tours of the ship and maybe even have you over for an Officer's happy hour.

You'd think it would be cheap but tickets can run you more than airfare...$80-140 per day, meals & lodging included.

Hay hotelsJul 21 2008

See if this makes any sense out of context: hay hotels in the Lederhosen belt.

The hay is from the second harvest rather than the first -- it's softer -- and it gets changed once or twice a year. Meanwhile there's strictly no smoking and there isn't a hospital corner in sight: making the bed means fluffing up the hay with a pitchfork.

Read on if you're still confused.

Amtrak across AmericaJul 16 2008

A cross-country Amtrak travelogue. The trip is not without its charms but overall sounds like torture.

A raspy-voiced woman in her 40s, one of the engineers, calls down from the cab and invites a few of us to come take a look. Without hesitation we clamber up. She tells us that they're off duty, as her partner, a mustachioed, red-faced man with faded tattoos, nods. When engineers hit their driving quota, apparently, they're done. It's an unbendable rule. "They knew, though," the woman says, speaking of Amtrak. "They should have had someone here." So this could've been prevented? "Oh yeah," the man says, "but leave it to them and they'll fuck it up." And so we wait, in the middle of nowhere, for new engineers. After a couple of hours a truck pulls up with the new drivers.

$50 airlineJul 01 2008

Almost everything on David Owen's airline costs $50.

Laughing out loud at anything in any movie, whether it is playing on the cabin system or on your own DVD player, is fifty dollars per incident. Asking me to turn off my reading light so that you can see the screen better: also fifty dollars.

If you and your spouse are dressed almost identically, or if you are carrying your passport in a thing around your neck, or if you are wearing any form of footwear or pants that you clearly purchased specifically to wear on airplanes, or if you make it obvious (by repeatedly turning around and talking to passengers in seats not adjacent to yours) that you are travelling with a group, the charge is fifty dollars.

No Americans allowedJun 10 2008

A list of the top tourist spots that Americans can't visit.

Jet lag will kill youMay 23 2008

From an article on jet lag, the story of Sarah Krasnoff's fatal jet setting:

One day in 1971, a woman called Sarah Krasnoff made off with her 14-year-old grandson, who was caught up in an unseemly custody dispute, and took him into the sky. In a plane, she knew, they were subject to no laws, and if they never stopped moving, the law could never catch up with them. They flew from New York to Amsterdam. When they arrived, they turned around and flew from Amsterdam to New York. Then they flew from New York to Amsterdam again, and from Amsterdam to New York, again and again and again, month after month.

They took about 160 flights in all, one after the other, according to the stage piece "Jet Lag." They saw 22 movies an average of seven times each. They ate lunch again and again and turned their watches six hours forward, then six hours back. The whole fugitive enterprise ended when Krasnoff, 74, finally collapsed and died, the victim, doctors could only suppose, of terminal jet lag.

(via things magazine)

Tips for NYC visitorsMay 14 2008

A list of unconventional but useful tips for visitors to NYC.

Do a bunch of local New York things: Hang out in Central Park, Explore Brooklyn, wear black, enjoy the free WiFi in Bryant Park (use the bathroom there -- nice). Attend a lecture at the 92nd ST Y, go to Chinatown in Queens. Buy junk at a street fair, and eat street meat (don't ask). Have a cigar at the Grand Havana Room (members only). Catch an author speak at a Barnes & Noble (use the bathroom while you are there).

Eventually I hope to write up my How To Be A Pedestrian In NYC guide, a companion to my rules for the NYC subway, only a bit more helpful and less ranty.

Mobile phone companies are evil, irritating, and stupid defacto monopoliesMay 14 2008

[I'm sure this is nothing new and has been amply documented elsewhere but I'm in rant mode, not research mode, so here we go.] We're going to London soon so my wife calls up AT&T to make sure our iPhones will work in the UK. We already knew all about the ridiculous prices they charge for international data roaming (viewing a 3-minute video on YouTube would cost about $40!), so turning that feature off for the duration is not going to be a problem. After unlocking the phones for international access, the woman informed Meg of two other tidbits of mobile phone company idiocy:

1. If my iPhone is on in the UK and the phone rings but I don't answer, the call goes to voicemail. As it should. But somehow, I get charged for that call at $1.29/minute *and* perhaps an additional call from my phone to the US, also billed at $1.29/minute. Individual voicemails are limited to 2 minutes, but if I get 10 2-minute voicemails over the course of a couple days, I'm charged $25 for not answering my phone. And then I have to listen to all the voicemails...that's another $25. Insane and inane.

2. But it gets even more unbelievable! Then the woman tells Meg that when the iPhone is hooked up to a computer via USB, you shouldn't download the photos from the phone to the computer because you'll incur international data roaming charges and further that the only way to deal with this is to wait to sync your photos when you get back to the US. W! T! F! How is that even possible? This sounds like complete bullshit to me. The iPhone somehow calls AT&T to ask permission to d/l photos? Verifies the EXIF data? Informs the US government what you've been taking pictures of...some kind of distributed self-surveillance system? Is this really the case or was this woman just really confused about what she was reading off of her script?

Packing lightMay 13 2008

Doug Dyment reveals his secrets to packing light for trips.

Dyment has two big tricks for packing a bag correctly: Don't let any space go unused, and wrap your clothes in bundles.

"If you're packing a pair of running shoes, say, don't forget there's a lot of space inside those shoes that you can use to pack stuff," he says.

When it comes to clothing, Dyment says travelers who fold items individually, put them in a stack and force them in the suitcase are making a huge mistake.

More info here, including a diagram of how to bundle wrap your clothes to save space.

The "open-skies" agreement goes into effect atMar 25 2008

The "open-skies" agreement goes into effect at the end of this month, which means that airlines based in the US and Europe can fly into and out of any two airports in each area.

The new pact is expected to be game-changing for Europe-bound travel. More routes are expected to open, and prices could fall thanks to the new competition. The agreement is also likely to encourage European carriers to compete more aggressively with one another across the Continent. Lufthansa, the German airline, for example, could set up a hub in Paris; or Air France could set up a hub in Frankfurt.

The article also states that Ireland-based Ryanair wants to offer fares to/from secondary markets in the US and Europe as low as $16. !!!

My Year in Cities, 2007Jan 01 2008

Here are all the places I visited last year...much less travel than in previous years. Having a baby will do that to your schedule. For a few months there, I don't think I left a 20-block radius of Manhattan.

New York City, NY*
Rochester, VT
Anguilla
Boston, MA*
Orange, MA*
Waitsfield, VT*
San Francisco, CA
McMinnville, OR
Portland, OR

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Here are my lists from 2005 and 2006.

The NY Times list of the 53 placesDec 10 2007

The NY Times list of the 53 places to go in 2008.

Update: Greg notes something about the list that I noticed as well:

I was intrigued as the next guy by the list of 53 Places we're supposed to go in 2008, then I realized that almost without exception, the "reason" to go is the opening at long last of that destination's first "luxury" accommodations. Which seems about the dumbest reason I can think of for choosing where to travel.

Posting will be pretty light (or nonexistent)Nov 07 2007

Posting will be pretty light (or nonexistent) today. We had a grueling day of travel yesterday that's not over just yet (I'm going back out to JFK this morning to retrieve some tardy baggage). A quick thanks to Joel for minding the site while I was gone.

Update: Back from JFK. I have deodorant again!

Long piece about the changes being madeSep 25 2007

Long piece about the changes being made to the typography of the US highway signs, switching from Highway Gothic (on which Interstate is based) to Clearview.

"Travel is the starting point of learningJun 11 2007

"Travel is the starting point of learning social science." -- Tyler Cowen

Twelve tips for travelling across the UnitedMay 29 2007

Twelve tips for travelling across the United States by train. "12. Train Love. I wish you the best of luck in finding a soulmate via subsidized government transportation."

10 mph, the documentary about two guys travellingMay 23 2007

10 mph, the documentary about two guys travelling across the US on a Segway, comes out on DVD on May 29 (buy at Amazon).

Timelapse of a boat going through theMay 03 2007

Timelapse of a boat going through the Panama Canal. How the boat moves reminds me of Doom or Quake. This couple's vacation write-up includes a trip through the canal. "The never to be forgotten trip lasted ten hours and cost Princess Cruise Lines more than $150,000 in tolls."

HotelChatter lists their picks for hotels withMay 01 2007

HotelChatter lists their picks for hotels with the best Wifi experiences. (via bb)

This article on commuting is from lastApr 19 2007

This article on commuting is from last week's New Yorker, but I read it while commuting -- my commute is a relatively short 15 minutes door-to-door -- so it took until today to finish it. Anyway, well worth the read...in some ways, the long commute is one of the USA's defining characteristics. People like Judy Rossi, who commutes 6.5 hours a day, are increasing in number. "[Rossi's] alarm goes off at 4:30 A.M. She's out of the house by six-fifteen and at her desk at nine-thirty. She gets home each evening at around eight-forty-five. The first thing Rossi said to me, when we met during her lunch break one day, was 'I am not insane.'"

In 1998, Barry Stiefel took off from workMar 13 2007

In 1998, Barry Stiefel took off from work on Friday at 5pm and was back at his desk a little more than a week later on Monday at 8am, having visited every US state in the interim (48 by car, Hawaii and Alaska by air). I love the map...except for the jog to San Francisco, it looks pretty optimized.

Reading at a 4th grade levelFeb 02 2007

We're leaving tomorrow for a trip of the relaxing sort, so I went to the bookstore this morning to collect some reading material. I had decided not to read anything that felt too much like work or that I had to think about. What I needed was fiction like television: passive but engaging. Having procured a paperback copy of The Da Vinci Code in the B section, I wandered over to the Rs. Robbins. Roth. Rowlandson. Salinger. Hmm. No luck in the Teen section either. Finally I hit paydirt in the Kids section: the 1085 pages of the first three years of Harry Potter's adventures at Hogwarts.

Perfect.

So, I'll see you in a week. Posting will be light until then, but feel free to enjoy some random posts from the last 9 years of kottke.org, peruse the Best Links of 2006 list again, look at some of my photos from Anguilla in 2004, dream of NYC in the snow (will it ever again?), imagine if Manhattan visited other US cities, or visit the many fine sites in the sidebar of the front page. I'll send you a postcard when I get back.

Beginning January 23, 2007, US citizens need a passportJan 19 2007

Beginning January 23, 2007, US citizens need a passport if they're travelling by air to/from Canada or Mexico.

The dance of the flight attendant.Jan 11 2007

The dance of the flight attendant.

America the Overfull, Paul Theroux's New Year'sJan 03 2007

America the Overfull, Paul Theroux's New Year's musing on an America with twice as many people as when he grew up. "We are passing through a confused period of aggression and fear, characterized by our confrontational government, the decline of diplomacy, a pugnacious foreign policy and a settled belief that the surest way to get people to tell the truth is to torture them. It is no wonder we have begun to squint at strangers. This is a corrosive situation in a country where more and more people, most of them strangers, are a feature of daily life. Americans as a people I believe to be easygoing, compassionate, not looking for a fight. But surely I am not the only one who has noticed that we are ruder, more offhand, readier to take offense, a nation of shouters and blamers." (thx, youngna)

Diagram that shows what it takes toDec 28 2006

Diagram that shows what it takes to move 15,000 people/hour using different modes of transportation (car, bus, light rail, etc.). A fast train with one track going each way (using a space 8 meters wide) moves as many people as a freeway with 7 lanes in each direction (51 meters wide).

My Year in Cities, 2006Dec 21 2006

Last year I listed all the places I visited during the course of the year. My friend Zach already posted his 2006 list, so following his lead, here's mine:

Waitsfield, VT*
New York City, NY*
Boston, MA*
Albany, NY
Austin, TX
Tulum, Mexico
Valladolid, Mexico
Chicago, IL
Orange, MA
Napa, CA
Minneapolis, MN
Cameron, WI
Linz, Austria
Salzburg, Austria
Innsbruck, Austria
Zurich, Switzerland
Camden, ME
Rochester, VT

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Less travel than last year, thank goodness. Where's your list?

TSA travel tip: cheesecake is not aDec 19 2006

TSA travel tip: cheesecake is not a gel. "So, as you're traveling for the holidays, if you should feel the urge to surprise a loved one with a piece of cheesecake or some other gelatinous food product and are questioned by the TSA, make sure you remind them about the 'LaGuardia Cheesecake Precedent of October 2006' and claim your right to bring that cheesecake on the plane with you." Consider this a companion piece to the security theater article from earlier in the week.

The top 5 most dangerous roads in theDec 18 2006

The top 5 most dangerous roads in the world, but I liked these roads carved through rock better.

The inept security theater at the airport. "Dec 18 2006

The inept security theater at the airport. "For theater on a grand scale, you can't do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration."

David Pogue and Boing Boing have beenDec 13 2006

David Pogue and Boing Boing have been ensnared by the airplane-on-a-treadmill problem we debated here last February. The airplane still takes off. :)

On a recent visit to New York,Dec 06 2006

On a recent visit to New York, writer Will Self walked the 20 miles from JFK to his hotel in Manhattan...and this was after walking 26 miles to Heathrow to catch the plane to JFK. "There were not many pedestrians out at 11:30 in the morning, and dressed all in black and snapping pictures with a digital camera, Mr. Self was a sight sufficiently exotic that he was tailed for a while by a black S.U.V."

Buy cheese, fly for freeNov 28 2006

In P.T. Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, Adam Sandler's character takes advantage of a Healthy Choice promotion for frequent flier miles, buying 1000s of miles and lots of pudding for just a few dollars. This aspect of Sandler's character was based on a caper well-known within the frequent flier community when David Phillips purchased over 1.2 million frequent flyer miles for just under $2400, which has allowed him and his family to fly to over 20 countries for free.

Now the big thing is cheese. This weekend I was handed an opened wheel of processed cheeses by a friend. He said that his brother-in-law had caught wind of a frequent flyer promotion whereby you get 500 miles for each purchase of this cheese wheel and had purchased 75,000 miles for ~$300, which also means he's got more opened cheese wheels than he knows what to do with. The frequent flyer forums and blogs are already on the case. These forums are actually pretty fascinating...there's a lot of free/cheap travel to be had for those with a little time on their hands. This fellow claims to have taken advantage of airline pricing errors to fly 16 flights this year for a total cost of $77.57.

Cool composite photo of planes taking offNov 28 2006

Cool composite photo of planes taking off from a busy airport. (via nickbaum)

An imperfect metaphor many of you probably won't getNov 16 2006

Driving on the Interstate through the metropolitan tri-state area during a 1.5 hour downpour is like playing 700 continuous laps of Baby Park against 7 other players. I'm beat. (ps. It's a simile anyway.)

Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM, andNov 14 2006

Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM, and United are integrating the iPod into their airplanes, so that you can plug in to charge and view movies on the seatback video screens. How about some standard 120V AC power outlets instead?

Update: KLM and Air France say that there's no formal deal between them and Apple. (thx, maaike)

Hong Kong architect Gary Chang travels soNov 06 2006

Hong Kong architect Gary Chang travels so often that he's become an expert hotel enthusiast. I spoke with Gary at Ars Electronica this year; he showed me some of his drawings and photos (he extensively documents his hotel stays in the form of photos and hand-drawn floor plans)...really cool. Chang's Suitcase House is also worth a look.

The Moleskine City Notebooks, the cool make-your-ownOct 24 2006

The Moleskine City Notebooks, the cool make-your-own travel books, are being released in the US on Nov 1 and moleskinerie has information on where to find them.

Austria in picturesSep 20 2006

Austria

Some photos from a recent trip to Austria, featuring shots from near Linz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. I went so crazy with the photos in Austria that I didn't take a single picture once we got to Zurich...I was all photographed out.

A gay couple on a recent AmericanSep 19 2006

A gay couple on a recent American Airlines flight was told by a flight attendant to stop kissing and touching, then got the run-around from the chief flight attendant (who first told them that their behavior was perfectly fine and then reversed her stance after being asked if their sexuality is at issue), and was finally told by the captain to behave the plane will be diverted. The whole "shut up or you'll get the full you're-a-terrorist treatment with no recourse" vibe on the plane creeps me out. Something tells me this won't get coverage in American Way next month.

What an honest pre-flight announcement would soundSep 14 2006

What an honest pre-flight announcement would sound like. "We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction." Cutting through institutional rhetoric seems to be a reoccuring theme this week, see also honest advice to incoming college freshman and how design works.

Wurst vacation everSep 13 2006

For some, a trip to Austria steers their gastronomic attention to wiener schnitzel, but for me, it's all about the wurst.1 Following the good advice of a reader to ignore the sausages on offer in cafes and restaurants, we hit up every lunchtime sausage stand we could find during our visit for the real deal.

In Salzburg, the typical stand offers 8-10 different kinds of wurst, from the familiar frankfurter to the spicy pusztakrainer. You can get your wurst on a plate with mustard and a piece of bread or as a "hot dog" (in a bun with mustard and ketchup). For my first wurst, I had a kasekrainer, hot dog-style with ketchup, and it turned out to be my favorite of the trip. Melted cheese (kase) filled the sausage and the bun was perfectly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Meg sampled a burenwurst. The next day, we hit up another stand; I tried the frankfurter while Meg had a delicately flavored weisswurst (her favorite of the trip). She speculated they didn't grill the weisswurst because it would interfere with mild flavor; the spicer wursts seemed to be grilled.

From thence to Innsbruck in the Austrian Alps. At 10,000 feet above sea level, we had an unspecifed wurst (the restaurant called it, basically, "the sausage of the day") that ranks among the best food I've ever tasted, but that assessment may have been colored by the fact that we'd hiked up a glacier to get it. On our last day in Innsbruck, we surrendered to the comfort of cafe chairs and had bratwurst (mit sauerkraut und mustard) at a small place in the old town. After a hard day of walking, it beats eating standing up, which is how it works at the wurst stand.

Our final link in the sausage trail was Zurich, which is not in Austria but in the section of Switzerland near Austria and Germany. From a stand by the lake, we shared a pork-based sausage I forget the name of and another beloved weisswurst. Based on the relative unavailability of the wurst there, I get the feeling that the Swiss don't take their sausages as seriously as the Austrians, at least in cosmopolitan Zurich. Not that the Swiss wurst wasn't good; they just have other things to worry about...like fondue.2

But to focus entirely on the wurst is to ignore the equally fantastic brot (bread) that accompanies it and many other Austrian dishes. My favorite bread growing up in Wisconsin was called "Vienna bread" and I had always assumed that the cheap loaves we got at the local chain supermarket approximated something found in the Austrian capital. We didn't get to Vienna, but the Austrian bread we had was indeed like the bread of my childhood...except about 1000 times better. The small, crisp roll we got with our wurst, called a semmel, was not unlike what's called a roll or kaiser roll at an NYC deli. These rolls, accompanied by some richly flavorful butter, were also available at the complementary breakfast served at our hotel and I was tempted to violate the no-taking-food-from-the-breakfast-area rule and cram my bag full of them. If the bread at our hotel was that good, I can't imagine what the best bakeries of the region have to offer. The French, whom I've always considered the champions of all things bread, might have something to worry about from Austria. Clearly, more delicious research is called for.

[1] Not that the rest of Austrian cuisine wasn't uniformly excellent. I had a pork dish with spatzle in a creamy mushroom sauce at a Salzburg restaurant that I will crave for months to come. And that garlic soup at Ottoburg in Innsbruck!

[2] I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for the title of this post (the other option was "It was the wurst of times"). But count your blessings that you're not reading an article on the yummy fondue we had in Zurich entitled "You're damned if you fondue, and you're damned if you fondon't". (I know what you're thinking: "oh no, he fondidn't...")

What happens to a blog when itsSep 12 2006

What happens to a blog when its editor goes on vacation? Glenn Reynolds: "I need a vacation more than I care about the traffic."

Ars ElectronicaAug 30 2006

On Friday, September 1, I'll be speaking at the 2006 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. I'll be taking part in a symposium on simplicity organized by John Maeda (schedules: part 1, part 2). I've been furiously preparing my slides in Keynote for the past week or so. It's my first talk using either Keynote or Powerpoint and I'm having fun messing around in Keynote. It's a great little program. Thanks to John and the folks at Ars for including me...it's a real honor.

Updates for the next few days will be spotty at best; the internet connection situation at both the conference and our hotel is unknown and I'll likely be busy preparing for my talk1. And after the conference, we're heading into the Alpine wilderness for a few days (maybe Salzburg, Munich, or Zurich as well) during which my internet status will likely be "offline" and my sausage intake status will be "every 6 hours". See you when I get back.

So, now's your chance to catch up on some recent doings around the site. Here are some of my favorites from the past few weeks/months:

[1] "Preparing for my talk" may or may not be a euphemism for "throwing up repeatedly in worry about my talk". (Actually, practice is a wonderful thing. It makes perfect, builds confidence, and reduces abdominal discomfort.)

Farecast, a site which predicts airline ticketAug 29 2006

Farecast, a site which predicts airline ticket prices so that you know when to buy them cheap, has added more than 50 cities to its roster.

A list of non-liquid items like mouthwashAug 22 2006

A list of non-liquid items like mouthwash powder, shampoo bars, and powdered tooth cleaners that are safe to carry on commercial airline flights.

The middle of nowhere, a changing definitionAug 18 2006

From the August 2006 issue of enRoute magazine:

Middle of Nowhere isn't a physical location. Not anymore. In this era, when we have Google Mapped every corner of the earth (and some other planets), almost no place is so remote it's truly nowhere.

No, we think the Middle of Nowhere is a state of mind. It's the satisfied pleasure-tinged-with-insider's-delight that you feel when you discover something pretty great in a place where you didn't know it thrived. So that when you experience this thing, whether it's in the middle of a major city or a cornfield, you think, This? Is here? I had no idea!

I encountered this sensation in Minneapolis last week with the Mill City Museum, a place I didn't know existed in a location I was intimately familiar with. It happens all the time in NYC too...there's always some great little spot you haven't discovered in Central Park, a shop in Chinatown selling who knows what, or even a place just around the corner from the apartment that you've lived in for three years that, unbeknownst to you, has served fantastic pot stickers all this time. (via moon river)

The Mill City MuseumAug 15 2006

In 1965, the Washburn A mill, the last operating flour mill in Minneapolis, became also the last flour mill to close its doors, having been preceded by an entire industry that, at one time, produced more flour than any other place in the U.S. The closure came when the mill's operating company, General Mills, moved its headquarters to Golden Valley, where real estate was plentiful and inexpensive. The area around St. Anthony Falls, the geological feature responsible for the beginnings of industry in the area, had long since fallen into general disrepair and it wasn't long before the Washburn A was deserted and inhabited by the homeless.

The area started to show signs of life again in the 70s and 80s after being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Old mill buildings were converted for non-industrial business and residential use as people began to recognize the unique character and history of the area around the falls. In 1991, the Washburn A building burned and part of its structure collapsed, but firefighters saved the rest of the historic building from destruction. The remnants of the building and the adjacent grain elevators remained empty for years afterwards, save for the occasional graffiti artist and urban spelunker.

I knew very little of this when I moved to the Twin Cities in 1996 and not much more when I left Minneapolis for San Francisco in 2000. Almost every weekday for two years I drove or pedaled past the shell of the Washburn A mill on the way to and from work on Washington Avenue in the warehouse district, where we manufactured web pages to fill a growing online space. Topped by the Gold Medal Flour sign, the mill became my favorite building in the Twin Cities, leading me to include it in The Minneapolis Sign Project I did for 0sil8 shortly before I left for the West Coast.

Gold Medal Flour sign on the grain elevators next to the Washburn A Mill, Minneapolis, MN

It seemed the perfect symbol of a time and industry long past, broken down but not entirely wiped away. I returned to visit Minneapolis occasionally and would drive past the Falls, wondering what would happen to my building, hoping against hope that they wouldn't eventually tear it down. With the structure in such bad shape, demolition seemed to be the only option.

Last week, Meg and I spent a day in Minneapolis on our way to visit my parents in Wisconsin, my first stay in Mpls since mid-2002. Meg wanted to investigate running trails and I wanted to sneak a peek at the Gold Medal Flour Building (as I had taken to calling it), so we walked the three blocks to the river from our hotel, housed in the former Milwaukee Depot. The Gold Medal Flour sign was visible from several blocks away, so I knew they hadn't torn down the grain elevators, but it wasn't until I saw the shell of the Washburn A building peeking out around one of the other mill buildings that I knew it had been spared as well. As more of the building came into view, I saw a glass elevator rising from the ruins, backed by a glass facade.

What the??!?

Now practically running along the river in excitement and bewilderment, dragging poor Meg along with me in a preview of her jog the next morning, I saw a wooden boardwalk in front of the building and headed for what looked like the entrance. The burned out windows and broken glass remained; except for the elevator and the 8-story glass building sticking out the top, it looked much the same as it had after burning in 1991. I scrambled through the entrance and, lo, the Mill City Museum.

Mill City Museum

And what a museum. It was just closing when we got there, but we returned the next morning for a full tour of the museum and the Mill Ruins Park. The highlight of the museum is an elevator tour of the mill as it was back in the early 20th century. They load 30 people at a time into a giant freight elevator, which takes the group up to the 8th floor of the museum, stopping at floors along the way to view and hear scenes from the mills workings, narrated by former mill workers. After the elevator tour, you're directed to an outdoor deck on the 9th floor, where you can view the shell of the mill building, St. Anthony Falls, the Stone Arch Bridge, the Gold Medal Flour sign, and the rest of the historic area.

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle are the architects responsible for the project, and they deserve all the accolades they get from one of the most unique museums I've ever been to. The statement from the American Institute of Architects jury explains the design of the museum:

A creative adaptive reuse of an extant shell of a mill building, with contrasting insertion of contemporary materials, weaving the old and the new into a seamless whole...A complex and intriguing social and regional story that reveals itself as the visitor progresses through the spaces. It is museum as a verb...A gutsy, crystalline, glowing courtyard for a reemerging waterfront district that attracts young and old and has stimulated adjacent development.

I still can't quite believe they turned my favorite Minneapolis building (of all buildings) into a museum....and that it was done so well. More than anything, I'm happy and relieved that the Gold Medal Flour Building will always be there when I go back to visit. If you're ever in Minneapolis, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Photos on Flickr tagged "mill city"
Photos on Flickr tagged "mill city museum"
Mill City: A Visual History of the Minneapolis Mill District was helpful in writing this post
A Washington Post review of the museum from September 2005
The new Guthrie Theater is right next door and is a dazzling building in its own right (photo, more photos)

Lifehacker has a great thread going aboutAug 10 2006

Lifehacker has a great thread going about how to find cheap airline travel, online and off. Going through a travel agency situated in a neighborhood populated by people from the location you're travelling to is a great tip.

Thought-provoking essay on hating America. "I findAug 07 2006

Thought-provoking essay on hating America. "I find that my cultural observations about Guatemala are usually really about me. 'These people are mean' means 'I am lonely.' 'Those people are loud' means 'I feel excluded.' 'This country is great' means 'I love being unemployed and drunk.' When I start talking about AMERICA on the return, I'm usually still just talking about myself."

Farecast, which I wrote about here, isJun 27 2006

Farecast, which I wrote about here, is now out of private beta, meaning anyone can use the site.

FareCastJun 13 2006

A few months ago, I took a look at FlySpy, a site that will help people buy the lowest priced airplane ticket for a given destination. It was a good step in the right direction, but I wanted more:

The killer airline reservation app that I've been wanting for several years would tell you when to buy your ticket for a particular flight. Airlines update their fares several times a day and hundreds of times over the course of a month. Depending on when you buy, it might cost you $250 or $620 for the same exact ticket.

A new site called FareCast does exactly that. It shows you the price history of a particular ticket and tells you what the price forecast is...if the price is trending up/down, how much confidence they have in that prediction, and whether you should buy your ticket now or not. FareCast also shows you price differences based on time of day, so if you've got a flexible schedule, you can fly in the cheap early afternoon rather than the expensive early morning.

The site's currently in a closed beta, the data is restricted to outgoing flights from Boston and Seattle, and they've got a challenging data-mining problem ahead of them, but the early offerings are quite impressive, helpful, and promising.

If you'd like to try it out, I'm giving away 10 invites to the FareCast beta...but you're going to have to work for it a little bit. Email me a link/article/site that you think I would find interesting/relevant enough to post on kottke.org *and* that I haven't seen before. I'll pick the 10 best and give out the invites accordingly. Be sure to send me the email address you'd like to be invited at if it's different from the one you're using to email me. Thx everyone...all the invites have been given out; if you got one, you'll be receiving your invite soon.

What's the fastest way to get toMay 11 2006

What's the fastest way to get to the JFK airport in NYC? Helicopter, bus, subway, car, or cab? (Didn't the NY Times or the NYer do a piece like this several months ago?)

Update: New York magazine and the NY Times both did stories on getting to JFK. (thx, kyu)

Mexico photosMay 01 2006

For our honeymoon, we stayed right on the ocean near Tulum in the Yucatan, about two hours south of Cancun by car. Most of these photos are taken near Tulum, at Chichen Itza, or in Valladolid.

Mexico photos

Color palette of the CaribbeanApr 21 2006

Luke Wroblewski wrote an article for Boxes and Arrows about using colors found in nature as inspiration for color palettes used in designing web sites. Unfortunately, the photos showing Luke's examples don't appear to be working on the site (the images have been fixed...thx, Lars), but Dave Shea published an image that illustrates Luke's technique.

When you're on the beach in the Caribbean as I was recently, it's difficult for the color palette to escape your notice. I whipped up this collection of colors from some of my photos (coming soon) from Mexico:

Caribbean color palette

From left to right, you've got the pale blue of the ocean close to shore, the light brown of the sand, the green of the lush vegetation, and the deep clear blue of the sky.

Update: A couple people asked, so here are the hex values for the above colors: 3DB8AE, FFEDD8, 396600, and 0050A2, respectively.

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