Sidenotes: Facts and Thoughts Beyond Travel

Facts + Thoughts Beyond Travel

Just OpEds: The Hammer that Turned Out to Be a Boomerang

Apple imagines and builds a sad, predictable world where all apps do more or less the same things. The difference is only a matter of price. For example, you look for a customizable GPS tracker and they assume that you want to monitor your amazing sports performance, keep an eye on your employees, or look for your lost phone. Unlike Android, you are trapped in an immutable ecosystem.

Why one would ever want to freely access their app files, easily disable location tracking, or connect a wired headset? BTW, did you know that to perform many tasks you still have to use the crappy iTunes software? As in a historical nemesis, Apple’s fans today are the brainwashed viewers. So, who throws the hammer?

Filed under , , , , , , , on December, 2017

Top Tens: Good New Movies to Watch from 2017

Everybody is trying to convince you to buy a book for Christmas, so why don’t you watch a good movie instead? Here are some of our favorites from 2017:

1. Motherland by Ramona S. Diaz (Doc) – Masterpiece of Filipino neorealism.
2. The Rider by Chloé Zhao (Drama) – Frail human nature in the “Wild West”.
3. Can’t Say Goodbye by Lino Escalera (Drama) – Debut film with great acting.
4. Just Like Our Parents by Laís Bodanzky (Drama) – Brazilian cinema at its best.
5. The Sea Stares at Us from Afar by Manuel M. Rivas (Doc) – Time and the land.
6. Faces Places by JR, Agnès Varda (Doc) – A very special journey in rural France.
7. Under the Tree by Hafsteinn Sigurðsson (Drama) – Pitch-dark Icelandic humor.
8. Taste of Cement by Ziad Kalthoum (Doc) – War as the only travel opportunity.
9. The Insult by Ziad Doueiri (Drama) – Latent conflicts in tormented Lebanon.
10. Devil’s Freedom by Everardo González (Doc) – Mexico’s violence unmasked.

Filed under , , on December, 2017

Italian Villages: In Between Sustainability and Cultural Heritage

If 2017 was the Year of Sustainable Tourism, 2018, at least in Europe, will be that of Cultural Heritage. Well, the tourism project that probably best represents this transition bears the signature of home rental giant Airbnb, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture and the National Association of Municipalities.

Italian Villages Project: Sharing Rural Italy
Italian Villages Project: Sharing Rural Italy – Illustration by Airbnb

Italian Villages, this is the name of the interesting joint project, supports and promotes internationally twenty small rural communities, from north to south of the country. We like it for at least three good reasons:

  • Offers an alternative to the usual tourist routes;
  • Can guarantee the survival of villages otherwise destined to disappear;
  • In the country with the largest number of World Heritage sites (53), it shows that there can be life beyond World Heritage sites.

The “Italian Villages” project is part of a wider national initiative, which involves 1,000 towns throughout Italy, and provides a rich and varied calendar of events.

T&A: Do Travelers Really Need a Boring Remote Control?

To understand what most travel companies really think and expect from you, you’d better read between the lines when they are in “B2B mode”. Take for example this revealing phrase from one of EyeforTravel’s reports:

According to Reck, GetYourGuide sees the mobile phone becoming a remote control with which travelers can select whatever they want to do in a destination at any time, with instant booking available.

Exactly, be humble, sit down, and choose your fictitious experience from the menu. This is what tours and activities today are all about. It’s kind of an old dial TV with many identical channels. The Netflixization of travel is here to stay but, of course, you can always decide to turn it off until the programming changes.

Filed under , , , , , on December, 2017

Of Headphone Jacks, Pirouettes in the Snow, and Mushrooms

Apple’s main reason for eliminating the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 was to make the phone water resistant without compromising its stylish design. It’s interesting to note how a year later, with the launch of iPhone X, the company continues to praise that choice, as if the AirPods were the “final tech frontier”, able to project us into a new dimension made of pirouettes in the snow.

The truth is that now the lady can throw her smartphone in a puddle (perhaps) but will no longer be able to use Augment, a really strong argument to choose Apple over other manufacturers. The app, in fact, is only available for iOS.

According to Pharrell Williams and other testimonials, Augment’s effects are even more powerful than those shown in the commercial above. So what to do? Buy the SE if you can’t resist to “hear the world your way” (or save big money).

Filed under , , , , , , , on December, 2017

Ecotourism: 7 Rural Wonders of Spain 2017 by Toprural

As every year since 2012, Toprural, a platform for booking rural vacation rentals launched in 2000 and now part of the HomeAway Network, has organized an online contest to select the seven rural wonders of Spain.

Royal Monastery of Santa María of Guadalupe
Royal Monastery of Santa María of Guadalupe – Photo Courtesy: Rpmayor @ Wikimedia Commons

The 2017 winner is Guadalupe, a village with just over 2,000 inhabitants located in Extremadura known for its beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Monastery, which is the second most important pilgrimage site in the country.

Looking back at the previous editions, Toprural’s users seem to really love this relatively poor area of western Iberian Peninsula. And you can’t blame them. Extremadura is also one of Europe’s least visited regions with only 71 yearly nights spent per square km. What better to enjoy ecotourism in Spain?

Filed under , , , , , on December, 2017