City Nicknames We’d Rather Not Hear

laundromatAs a native Californian, few things get on my nerves more than hearing the abbreviation, “Cali.” I don’t know why it irritates me so much, but I suspect it’s the knowing, insider-y tone that usually accompanies it. “Yeah, man, I just got back from a trip to Cali. It was hella cool.”

Aaargh. Also right up there is “Frisco.” Let me just tell you that Californians do not, ever, under any circumstances, refer to their state as “Cali,” nor “The City” as “Frisco.” San Francisco even famously had a laundromat called, “Don’t Call it Frisco.” I also dislike “Berzerkley,” “San Berdoo (San Bernadino)” and “The States (anyone in Hawaii referring to the Mainland).”

With these grating abbreviations in mind, I asked my Gadling colleagues what city nicknames bug them. The response was fast, furious and lengthy. Below, some highlights:

Anna Brones: Portlandia. Don’t even get me started.

Libby Zay: I personally hate “Hotlanta.” It’s also pretty annoying when people add “tucky” or “neck” as suffixes. As in, Fredneck, Maryland, or Brunstucky, instead of Brunswick, Ohio … I suppose Pennslytucky would be more of a geographic region.”

Author admission: Guilty as charged, Libby.

Kyle Ellison:Lost Wages,” for Las Vegas, and “N’awlins” for New Orleans.

Elizabeth Seward: It depends on the day whether or not these bug me. I wish I didn’t know so many. “Beantown”; “Chi-town”; “Sin City”; “Nasty Nati (Cinncinati)”, “C-town (Columbus)”; “SoBro (South Bronx, oy)”; “Marighetto (what locals call my hometown of Marietta)”; “City of Angeles”/”LaLaLand”/”Tinseltown”; “The Big Easy.”

Elizabeth, I promise to never refer to my hometown of Thousand Oaks as “Thousand Jokes” again.

McLean Robbins: “Naptown” for Annapolis and “The District” from anyone not a local to Washington, DC.

Meg Nesterov: Calling cities the Paris/Venice/X/ of the North/East, et al.

Sean McLachlan, resident history buff: Missouri is often called “Misery,” generally by outsiders from northern states and occasionally by frustrated Missourians. The term actually has old roots. The 18th century French settlers in Ste. Genevieve found the place so boggy and full of mosquitoes that they nicknamed it misère.

[Photo credit: Flickr user knitgrrldotcom]

Halloween Costumes For Travel Lovers

harajuku girlIs your love of travel part of your identity? Have you trawled every Southeast Asian backwater, and explored the twisting streets and alleyways of little-known European cities? Whether your adventurous spirit takes you abroad for work or pleasure, chances are you’ve seen enough of the planet to know that certain stereotypes exist for a reason.

This year, Gadling decided to come up with some Halloween costume ideas based upon our collective experience as world travelers. Don’t take offense: We’ve all been guilty of travel crimes or attire that make our country of origin painfully obvious. Just remember, there’s a fine line between funny and racist. Don’t cross it.

Trustafarian Backpacker in Southeast Asia (gender-neutral)
Your costume consists of dreadlocks, “indigenous” necklace and bracelet, Lao beer T-shirt, Thai fisherman’s pants, and at least one tribal/Chinese character tattoo (mistranslation optional). This is my variation on Pam Mandel’s “Chiang Mai Blogger,” which includes “a MacBook Air, Nikon DX000 (one-year old, bought at bugout time), fully-stocked 401k, and crumpled-up absentee ballot, because ‘it hardly matters.'”

Euro Trash Guy
Super pointy, expensive leather shoes, douchey scarf, and tight pants n’ high thread-count tee are de riguer. Style a fashion mullet, don your trendy shades, and talk about your last holiday on Ibiza. Chain smoke, and offer mints to fellow partygoers, telling them it’s Ecstasy. Eek!

Harajuku Girl
Striped thigh-high socks, baby-doll dress or plaid school girl skirt, choppy blond or colored wig, outlandish eye makeup (or try mega-size false lashes), and crazy-high platform shoes. Don’t forget the “Hello Kitty” accessories.

hippyLas Vegas Bachelorette Party Chick
“A sash, saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” says McLean Robbins. I suggest adding a tiara, and perhaps some type of phallic paraphernalia as accessory.

Travel Writer (gender neutral)
Do not shower for several days prior. Wear whatever clothes you can find crumpled up in your dirty laundry, and carry an overstuffed daypack filled with coffee- and -wine-stained notebook, decrepit laptop, tattered guide book, and much-abused passport. Look stressed. Mutter about deadlines and bus schedules. Feign confusion, and ask partygoers what city/country you’re in. Scary.

Hawaiian Honeymooners
An easy costume for couples: just wear matching his n’ hers outfits, leis, sparkly wedding bands, and big smiles. Carry a camera and mai tais garnished with orchids. For a group, go as “Midwestern Family on Hawaiian Vacation,” and have everyone wear matching Hilo Hattie attire and leis. Before I get angry comments, allow me to note that I’ve lived on Maui twice and yes, these are both a thing.

Ashram Girl
Yoga pants, kurti blouse, hemp necklace, handmade sandals (barefoot optional), bindi, and glazed eyes. Refer to your spiritual leader by name, often. Cue ghostly sounds.

Canadian (gender neutral)
Sew the national flag on a backpack, deploy lots of “eh’s” and “aboots” in conversation, and you’re good to go. Ask partygoers if they can spare a loonie.

Ugly American (gender neutral)
If under 30, wear Greek letters/house party shirt of choice, or opt for a tee with an obnoxious saying (“Diva,” “Princess,” “Where’s the Beer?” “I’m with Stupid”). Add inappropriately short-shorts (if female) or saggy pants (male). Carry a copy of a Let’s Go guidebook, spendy tennis shoes, and spanking new backpack. Talk loudly about how hungover you are, how much all of your material goods cost (the more expensive, the better), and complain about how no one speaks any English. Shudder.
t-shirt
Older folks can wear a favorite sports team or logo T-shirt (baseball cap optional) or something comparably lacking in style, with khaki shorts, dark socks, and sandals. Carry a map and camera, and in your “outdoor” voice, ask where you can find the nearest McDonald’s, or “why no one in this goddamn country wears deodorant.” Spooky!

Aussie-on-holiday Guy
Bring lots of beer (not Fosters!), a wandering eye, and a good attitude.

Happy Halloween, fellow travelers!

[Photo credits: Harajuku Girl, Flick user Leishangthem; hippie, Flickr user madaboutasia; with Stupid, OneHorseShy.com]

Hotel News We Noted: October 5, 2012

the d las vegasHappy Columbus Day weekend, everyone. We’d wish you a happy holiday, but we’re not sure that anyone other than postal carriers really get the day off for this anymore.

Lucky for you, we have lots of fun news this week to keep you busy reading over your two (or three) day weekend.

As always, email us with questions, comments or tips. We love to hear from our HNWN fans!

Hotel News We’re Noting: Birth of a Hotel
If you haven’t already, take the time to check out our newest series on Gadling, “The Birth of a Hotel.” We’ll be following the development and opening of Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown, and talking all about the hotel industry as well. We’d love for you to tune in!

Hotel Openings, Renovations & Rezzies Galore in Las Vegas: The D, Nobu, Wynn and Golden Gate
It has been a busy few weeks in Las Vegas. Recently, one of our favorite ultra-luxe hotels, Wynn, unveiled a major renovation of its spa space. The Zen-themed spa has 45 updated treatment rooms and a new menu. Nobu’s first hotel, inside Caesar’s Palace, has started taking 2013 reservations (about $250/night).

But it isn’t just the strip that’s booming. Downtown Las Vegas is going through a massive overhaul. Doors opened at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the National Mob Museum. Zappos announced plans to build its corporate headquarters in the historic neighborhood as well.

Hotel-wise, next week the downtown area will welcome the D Las Vegas, a soaring renovation of the former Fitzgeralds property and sister hotel to Las Vegas’ original Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. Golden Gate announced completed renovations last month. Looks like there’s a lot to see in the Glitter Gulch. We hope to bring you a live report soon.Hotel Openings: Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
There’s more to love in Toronto today with the grand opening (or shall we say re-opening) of the all-new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. The hotel moved buildings and closed for several months while it moved into the new space. The location will be the brand’s new flagship, and, as can be expected, cool perks, design additions and amenities abound. Enjoy Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud’s latest dining experience, a massive art collection, in-room iPads and house cars with WiFi. The spa should also be impressive. It’s the largest not only in the city but of any Four Seasons worldwide.

Hotel Spotlight: Chile
Things have been heating up in Chile over the past few months. The South American country has seen the launch of several ultra-luxe hotels, including: Hotel Palacio Astoreca (in Valparasio), a 1920s-era Victorian mansion featuring a wine cava, library, a piano bar lounge and a chic spa. The hotel’s restaurant Alegre, is even helmed by an ex-chef of El Bulli.

In more remote settings, we can’t wait to visit Refugia Lodge, the first luxury lodge on Chiloé Island in southern Chile, a region chosen by the New York Times in “45 Places to Go in 2012.” The 12-room property offers all-inclusive packages that tie in trips to remote islands aboard the lodge’s custom-built Chilote boat, visits to penguin colonies, UNESCO Jesuit churches and more.

And, for a true bucket-list adventure, we’d head to Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa on Easter Island. The Hangaroa is Chile’s most ecologically sustainable hotel, modeled after the Orongo ceremonial village with curvilinear walls and grass roofs. In addition to awesome water views, you’ll find a 75-person cinema, spa and two restaurants. It’s a big deal … this hotel is located in the only village on Easter Island.

‘Undercity: Las Vegas’ Takes You Above And Below Sin City



Just last month, Gadling took you on a journey inside the world of urban exploration, bringing you on a behind-the-scenes look at the urban explorers who are inventing new ways of visiting the areas under, above and inside the cities we traverse every day. Today, we’ve got another intriguing look at the urban exploring phenomenon to share with you, courtesy of the short film series above called “Undercity: Las Vegas.”

Part of an interesting collaboration with shoe company Palladium, the film series follows the exploits of urban historian Steve Duncan, profiled in Gadling’s recent feature, along with director Andrew Wonder, as they investigate the subterranean water tunnels and unfinished construction sites that comprise the lesser-known side of this urban neon mecca of gambling and nightlife. In this particular clip, Duncan manages to sneak inside the as yet unfinished Fontainebleu Resort Las Vegas, climbing nearly 60 floors to take in an eye-popping view of the early Vegas dawn.

Though the trespassing on the construction site is clearly illegal, it’s an intriguing look inside the urban underbelly that few Las Vegas visitors ever see. Those interested in seeing the full film can head over to Palladium’s video hub to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this ongoing series.


Photo Of The Day: Howard Johnson Neon Signage

There’s something so mundane yet fascinating about neon road signage. The services advertised are simple: a clean bed, a comforting meal or a quirky roadside attraction. Yet visually, these neon wonders never fail to grab drivers’ (or photographers’) attention. Today’s photo by Flickr user JasonBechtel is case in point. The brilliant pinks, blues and greens combined with the unique typeface are both eye-catching a familiar: like an old friend from the road welcoming you back into town.

Taken any great photos of neon signs during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.