travel, novelty, and a pinch of snark

welcome to newelty. image (c) Genna Campton

Fail ‘o the Day: Seat 52F

November 11th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Fail 'o' the Day, Quick Post

Via Pleated Jeans

Happily, my last few big flights have been business class (which I’ve already enthused about), but who hasn’t been in this seat at least once? See also: the Travel Annoyance-Off.

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16 Best iPad Apps for Travel

September 6th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Good design, Novelty, Transportation bliss

One of the most popular posts ever on newelty has been our list of top iPhone apps, so it’s no surprise that I received a request for the best iPad apps from a friend. Having made it happily from Seattle to Nairobi to Copenhagen back to Seattle again–and having found this travel easier and more pleasant than ever before, thanks to my iPad–I can say authoritatively that it has changed my travel life for the better. Period.

Here are the apps I use to fight jet lag’s confusion, get work done even without a laptop, and stay entertained while the plane pops and rocks with turbulence. I also pan some apps that aren’t worth their salt.

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The “Real” Nairobi

August 8th, 2011 · Africa, Blog posts by Lia, Novelty, Recommended sights

In Nairobi

I recently started reading and enjoying the blog called “Sociological Images,” which I find to be provocative and insightful. But a recent post by Lisa Wade gave me pause. From the post:

Sadie M. sent in an example of the reproduction of the idea that “Africa” is an arid, desolate place where nature still dominates civilization…Despite all of this, Sadie’s snapshot shows that an in flight magazine depicted Nairobi as a savanna full of elephants and bereft of people. The other two destinations featured – New York and Sydney — are pictured as they are.”

Basically, the argument is that in the promotional material covering Nairobi–a huge metropolis–the PR people are falling for an “Out of Africa” style fantasia. This seems like a good concept to be vigilant about, but misguided in this specific case.

To be clear, I agree with Lisa’s impulse–Betty has also blogged in a similar vein, about the concerns that a poverty tour in South Africa veers too close to the concept of a tour of the “human zoo.” Defining South Africa, or Kenya, for Western eyes is a fraught business. But in this particular case, a national park located inside the city of Nairobi makes this particular criticism incorrect.

Photos and video from the park after the jump.

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Travel Movies We Love: Pardon, But Is This Balmoral?

April 27th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Travel Movies We Love

This week on newelty, we’re indulging in all things British to celebrate the Wills & Kate-athon. Evidently, a million stories are released every single day about them and the wedding. Yeesh!

But it is a fun bit of escapism that reminds most Americans of everything we like about the Brits. Which is why “The Queen” is such an excellent film–it reminds us of everything we don’t–the haughtiness, the snobbery, the downright old-fashioned undemocratic silliness of it all.

The reason is counts as a Travel Movie We Love is because it includes fantastic footage of rugged Scotland as seen from the immense grounds of Balmoral Castle. You can see snippets of the beautiful grandeur in this trailer:

Are you familiar with Dame Helen Mirren? If not, off with your head! Because when you see her transformation for this role, it’s impossible not to be impressed.

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Cycle Chic–But Guess Where?

April 25th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Euro-style cycle chic, Transportation bliss

Bicycles Outside the Ashmolean

The word that I think of when I see the photo above is “dapper.” Those bikes look dapper posed against the white stone of the building. (Close newelty readers will also recall when I described this older gentleman as dapper, as well. Similar feel to both.)

And what about this huge fiestsenstalling pictured below? Any idea where all this wonderful bicycleness was captured?

Bike Garage

The answer after the jump!

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Club World Has Ruined Me for Life

April 24th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Novelty, Transportation bliss

Personal zone buttons in Club World

I am in love with British Airways. There’s no other way to say it. I’m obsessed (having signed up for a credit card with them to get more miles). I spend time thinking about them, and how to fly them next. It’s like the worst high-school crush ever, and all because of Club World.

Betty has already shared the virtues of flying when there are only four seats across the plane (thanks, Singapore Air!) But I had no idea how lovely flat seats could be when combined with British politeness until last month. And now there’s no going back–Club World has ruined me forever.

See those arrows above? The ones all the way to the left of the photo? They allow you to micro-adjust your seat. See the photo that looks like a flat line? That sends you into heaven. I was obsessed with these buttons, floating up out of sleep to make sure they were still there, and it wasn’t all a dream and I was secretly stuffed into coach.

Full show and tell after the jump!

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Great Ideas: Send a New Yorker to Shoot Milan Fashion Week

February 24th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Novelty

New York Magazine has a fascinating photo series by Jeff Mermelstein, who normally takes super-earth New Yorky photos like this one:

How great is she? I also love this couldn’t-be-more-New-Yorky-shot:

It was a brilliant juxtaposition to send him to fashion weeks all over the world. How often have you seen photos of the front row of fashion shows, inevitably with Chloe Sevigny wearing bermudas and calling it “fashion”? Instead, consider this unscripted shot, where Mr. Gossip Girl is bringing the Blue Steel, but the guy in the third row back looks like he just wants a pastrami and a hot cup of coffee already:

That photo is 1,000 times more interesting, more evocative of the time and place than these mandatory B-listers-posing on the way into the fashion shows:

Why does anyone bother taking these? They almost always involve the mandatory hand-on-hip move to make a slimming figure and a bored look on the person’s face. If you’re bored, why should I care?

On the other side of the spectrum are the Mermelstein shots from Milan, after the jump, which are so Italy-meets-New-York, they should probably offer to make you a calzone.

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Sharing Bike-Love with Boneshaker

February 20th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Good design, Transportation bliss

As regular newelty readers know, I am obsessed with Dutch bikes, a result of being obsessed with the Dutch in general.

Which is why I was immediately drawn to Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac, which I picked up at one of my favorite bookstores today. It includes such novelties as a review of Swedish army bicycles, but, really, it was the poems and comics that drew me in.

All in all, without sounding too much like this “Portlandia” video, Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac–not be confused with British Boneshaker–is a complete treat for those of us who are fond of our bikes to the point of absurdity.

Also, I like their fonts. And feel as though they would probably enjoy this video, and forgive its shaky quality for the heartfelt statement of love for Euro-biking that it is.

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Good Bye, Waxy Lenin!

February 17th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Novelty

Movie poster for Good Bye, Lenin!

No, this post isn’t about our #6 favorite travel movie of all time, but about the actual Vladimir Lenin. As you probably know, he’s been on display as a kind of tourist trinket-slash-semi-religious icon since his death, in Red Square in all his waxy glory. But possibly not for much longer.

I went to check out the online poll, because, really–how funny is that? His mortal coil put to an online vote? (At least they didn’t use survey monkey, which would have added a layer of extra indignity.) It sounds like a hoax, but no, it’s legit.

Google translate says that the page says:

“I think every year we must raise the same question of the removal of the remains of Lenin’s body from the mausoleum – said in an interview with the official site of the party” United Russia Duma deputy Vladimir Medina – is well known that Lenin himself was not going to build a no mausoleums and his living relatives – a sister and brother were opposed. They wanted to bury him in St. Petersburg with his mother. But the Communists did not care about the desires and most of the leader and his relatives.

“Do you support the idea of dumping the body V. Lenin?

Maybe something got lost in translation for that last bit, but it seems like a particularly rough wording of that question, doesn’t it?

Go ahead, take the poll yourself. All glory to the Internets!

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Beware the “City View” Room

February 8th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Wary of the advice of others

I have a friend, a photographer, who loves photoshop mistakes. His favorites are more of the airbrushing gone wild variety, but I’m loving the travel equivalent:’s Photo Fakeouts.

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The one above, for a Dominican Republic hotel, makes for a pretty great side-by-side comparison. Enjoy the blissfully solitary view above with the reality down below. (Check it out after the jump.)

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