travel, novelty, and a pinch of snark

welcome to newelty. image (c) Genna Campton

Travel Movies We Love: 2010′s Best

February 7th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Travel Movies We Love

Earlier last year, Betty and I recapped our favorite travel movies of all time. Here’s a new one for the list: Exit Through the Gift Shop which made me want to visit London and encapsulated something intrinstic about Los Angeles better than 1,000 Hollywood-directed flicks.

I’ll admit that for the first thirty minutes I thought I had the film figured out. But the last section of it completely upended what I expected, and reminded me of everything I find fascinating about L.A. Even though it’s kind of slam on the city and its naive residents, it made me want to go back, which is the point of any good travel movie, right?

→ Add a commentTags:···

Come and Look at Both of Our Buildings–Cleveland!

January 5th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia

Over at GOOD, Alissa Walker writes that funny videos that tell the truth about our burned-out the U.S.’s midwest cities might be a good thing. The argument seems to be that these are labors of love, and might actually be beneficial as tourism drivers.

What do you think?

Personally, I can’t see any upside for tourism boards. But then again, I’ve actually been to Cleveland. Of course, it may not be much worse than what the actual tourist board is doing to Baltimore, either.

→ Add a commentTags:·

Defending the Low-Speed Train

January 4th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Good design

Via Design Observer

Via Design Observer

One of my favorite things is to look beyond the travel-blog circuit for interesting posts on the future of travel. On Design Observer, John Thackara has a thought-provoking piece on the whole high-speed train push of the eco-conscious western world. It’s a contrarian thought, but an interesting one.

In short and at its core, he questions whether the modern push of convenience and mobility is actually a good idea.

Personally, I think infrastructure is a necessity, and am willing to put my tax dollars where my money is. Here in my home town of Seattle, there’s a big kerfuffle about a similar issue–a big dig to replace an ailing highway that will collapse if we have a significant earthquake. I’m pro.

That said, I think it’s interesting when someone points out the ecological costs–if not the financial cost–of what Norway is attempting to do with their own high-speed rail:

UC Berkeley has measured the vast amounts of environmentally intensive materials that are needed to build an HST [high-speed train] infrastructure. The Berkeley team analyzed hundreds of life-cycle processes — from construction equipment (for example, emissions from bulldozers, dump trucks, excavators and frontloaders) to the supply-chain effects of producing the concrete and steel needed to construct hundreds of miles of track and stations.

Prices really soar when an HST requires bridges, tunnels and winding mountain routes to cover difficult terrain. On the flat run from Madrid to Seville, the bridge-and-tunnel share is only 3.8 percent — but on the line between Wurzburg and Hanover, the share is 37 percent. In Norway, with its mountainous topography, the resource costs and carbon footprint of its tracks would surely be astronomical.”

Another point I found interesting:

“Although time-savings provide the principal economic justification for HST schemes, the expansion of these networks does not, in the long run, give people more free time. On the contrary: We spend the same amount of time traveling today as we did 50 years ago — but we use that time to travel longer distances.

…Are there new ways to think about the space-time geography of Norway? To re-imagine its wide spaces and long distances as assets rather than as obstacles to be overcome?

Space, like oil is a finite resource. Worldwide, space is at a premium. Norway has lots of space; this makes her rich. So why try to compress this valuable national resource? Why try to make it smaller?”

Needless to say, in the India-Norway competition, India comes out on top. It’s a wonky but thought-provoking piece on what’s really “better” when it comes to train travel. That said, I’ll still always prefer the more convenient as a traveler, but thinking ahead on unintended consequences is an interesting mental exercise.

Read the full blog post over at Design Observer.

→ Add a commentTags:···

Try the Catfish Tacos

January 4th, 2011 · Blog posts by Lia, Recommended sights

Flying Fish, Fort Worth Texas

I spent the New Year’s in Texas, and the hands-down highlight of the whole affair was a trip to a funky little joint named the Flying Fish in Joshua, near Fort Worth, Texas.

Now, one disclaimer: We at newelty try not to write about food very much since 1) everyone and your grandma has a food blog and 2) most of it reads like people trying to sound like Top Chef judges. So I’ll keep this simple: The catfish tacos were out of this world, and mostly, the Flying Fish was exactly the kind of place that’s fun to travel to, that reminds you that there are hidden away backwaters that seem to sum up everything about the place you’re visiting.

Photo tour, y’all, after the jump.

[Keep reading →]

→ Add a commentTags:···

What Do You Want Your Year to Be?

December 31st, 2010 · Blog posts by Lia, Quick Post


I’m off to Texas to ring in the new year. Yee ha! Which got me thinking about this year that almost was no more.

I don’t like everything in the video below, but that’s okay. I absolutely love that image of his wife standing in front of the train at one minute in. And I think this Lonely Planet video seems like a nice coda for the last day of the year.

Here’s hoping for a beautiful, magical 2011, and to staying open to wherever it takes us.

→ Add a commentTags:·

Have Yourself a Fail-ish Little Christmas

December 24th, 2010 · Blog posts by Lia, Fail 'o' the Day

Gift-giving can be a challenge. What I might want for xmas might not be your travel-gifts cup of tea.

But I was reminded of a previous fail ‘o’ the day involving backpacking in a floral onesie when I flipped through Travel + Leisure’s Best Travel Gifts of 2010. While there was one item (out of 68) that I liked, the rest seemed almost determined to avoid being useful to people who actually travel.

Via Travel + Leisure

Via Travel + Leisure

Hope your gift-giving and gift-receiving goes a little better than this, and happy xmas!

→ Add a commentTags:··

I’m back. And I miss New York and Paris.

December 13th, 2010 · Blog posts by Betty, Good design, Quick Post

Forgive my absence. I started a new job about four months ago, and woo-nelly, it’s been an interesting…albeit challenging ride. Lia has, as always, taken up the reigns as blogger extraordinaire. I owe her big time.

I know this fantastic blog comparing Paris to New York has been flying around for a while now, but I will post again because it’s beyond accurate and the illustrations are completely awesome.

→ Add a commentTags:

Geeky and Chic-y: 14 Great Travel Gifts

December 8th, 2010 · Blog posts by Lia, Slightly unnatural love of luggage and bags

Hooray! It’s the season to start buying treats for those you love, and for me, that equals travel gadgets.

Some people can stay firm, keeping their college backpack and eschewing all unnecessary, overly designed items. Shopping at a travel-goods store with Betty was a hoot; she looked at the piles of neatly stacked organizers and rolled her eyes. I wanted all of them.

So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here are the items I can either vouch for (because they are a recent gift) or want want want.

Luggage and Bags

1. 19″ Jelly Bean Hideo Wakamatsu rolling suitcase, Flight 001, $185

I have already waxed rhapsodic about my love of my bright yellow rolling suitcase from Japan–how every time I’m in line, people cheerfully pipe up about how much they love it; how I get better service from the in-flight crew because they, too, love and covet it; and how it miraculously seems to carry everything I need for every trip.

Well, to cut a long story short: It comes in orange.

Via Rivendell Bicycle Works

2. Sackville Shop Sack, Rivendell Bikes, $40

If orange is a little over the top for you, consider this cargo tote–good for long weekends and–if you’re slightly obsessed with your bike, like me–can be used once you’re back home, as well.

3. MUJI Folding Travel Case, MOMA, $16

I love a no-frills-ish travel case, which is why I love this one from MUJI. To be honest, I like the aesthetic of all their stuff, and picked up a small purse insert at the MUJI mothership when I was there last month.

More non-luggage recommendations after the jump!

[Keep reading →]

→ Add a commentTags:····

KLM and Marcel Wanders’ Perfect, Practische Plates

December 7th, 2010 · Blog posts by Lia, Obsessed with the Dutch, Transportation bliss

Marcel Wanders/KLM collaboration, via Design.NL

Marcel Wanders/KLM collaboration, via Design.NL

As a little pick-me-up, I bought a cheerful new MAC lipstick recently, designed by Dutch wonder-designer Marcel Wanders. I liked the look of the lipstick tube itself, which resembles a turned wooden leg of a table.

Which leads me to the pleasing setup above, also from Meneer Wanders–the business-class table setting of KLM. Evidently, this has been a project of his for some time. It’s lovely, with the so-Dutch-seeming scalloped edges that instantly remind you that you’re not on US Airways.

An excerpt from the interview with him:

This type of project has always been an interest for me. People think I just design sofas. But we did biodegradable sets a long time ago — the first for the airline industry. And some time ago, I made the lightest and best stackable cup in the world. It’s this kind of thing no one knows about. It’s invisible work. I don’t even have an image of this cup because it’s just a cup. But these ideas have been near to me all the time.

It’s very difficult. It’s a very technical project. But you have to make it so it doesn’t look technical, so it just feels like, ‘Wow, we’re in a nice restaurant.’ What we designed for them is something which is beautifully calm.

“Beautifully calm.” That is exactly the experience I want out of every flight. Exactly. Like the blissful ignorance that anyone else is staying in the same hotel as you are and extra space before boarding a flight, a beautifully calm flight experience is an unbelievable luxury, and I love that someone’s designing with that in mind.

Also, it’s great that the cutlery and plates themselves are so lightweight and therefore saving on fuel. So practische. (The way the press release is written is just so Dutch–proud of itself for being so efficient and clever, but trying not to seem that way.)

Not that I’ll ever likely wind up using it, since business-class seats are a squinch out of my price range, but I like knowing that it’s there. More of this kind of thing, please, airlines of the world.

→ Add a commentTags:·····

Manzanita Is the Sufjan Stevens of the Oregon Coast

December 4th, 2010 · Blog posts by Lia, Recommended sights

I keep thinking of that line from Emily Dickinson: “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Such a precious little concept, with Emily holed up in her Amherst mansion, and yet…something important to keep in mind in the dead of midwinter.

Near Bayocean, Oregon

Manzanita is where I come to get my hope back. When I first visited here, all I could see was the run-downness: typical remnants of the boom times in logging days, sad strip malls of shops, empty streets, donuts and ice cream for sale. But I’ve come to appreciate it in a way that makes it one of my favorite places to visit in the world.

Manzanita is gentle. People talk softly in that Northwest way. In a place with only 250 people in the winter, you can still buy quinoa, some yarn, good books.

In New York, if you leave the house without combing your hair, you’re either a crazy person or a Brooklyn hipster. Here, it just might not be that important to you to do so. Or you just might keep on a knitted hat all day to fight the chill of shops that are creaky and without insulation.

The locals like it in the winter. They have to, I guess. The girl I talked to described the summer as chaos, when she wouldn’t even let here dogs run down the beach, there are too many people. (The aren’t.) In the winter, this place is quiet, still. Peaceful and beautiful.

P.S. The photo and video were taken at Bayocean, a state park 40 minutes down Highway 101 from Manzanita, near Tillamook. Don’t stay in Tillamook, though. It’s all Super-Safeways and cheese palaces. Manzanita has the feel that matches these pictures and videos.

P.P.S Bayocean has an absurdly fascinating, ramshackle history of its own–the city washed into the sea. It would probably have appealed to Emily, sentimentalist that she was.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

→ Add a commentTags:·