Humorous round up of 2008 and 10 Gadling posts connected to this year’s news

Here’s a humorous round-up of news stories that made it big in 2008. Uncle Jay, whoever he is, sings a medley of carols with the words changed to offer a unique twist in the explanation of some of this year’s major events. His cast of characters and happenings include Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, gas prices, the economy , the Olympics and more. While watching the video, I thought of Gadling posts that also made reference to the themes of these stories.

Here are 10 Gadling posts by 10 different bloggers that have related to the news. There are scads of other posts. This is merely a sampling.

Galley Gossip: Flight attendant vacation – Venice (Cannaregio)

You’ve thought about going to Venice. Come on, admit it. Don’t deny it. Of course you immediately talked yourself out of it, considering you absolutely detest crowds and tourist traps. Yet Venice, you must admit, does look magical, like the kind of tourist trap you should see at least once in your life. But the problem is you can’t stand crowds and tourist traps. And that’s a problem. A very big problem.

For me, too!

When a flight attendant takes a vacation, the flight attendant will do everything possible to avoid anything that resembles a layover. Layovers equate to work. Yeah, I know, work ain’t so bad when you’re laying over someplace nice, but at the same time, laying over somewhere nice usually means you’re at a chain hotel surrounded by chain restaurants, not too far from the airport. Of course, life could be worse, I know. But when you’ve been doing the layover-chain-thing for thirteen years, it doesn’t matter where you are – New York, Paris, Rome – it all starts to look the same. Which is why a flight attendant looks for something different, someplace unusual, somewhere special, when it comes to a vacation – wherever that vacation may be.

When I went to Venice in May, I stayed in Cannaregio, otherwise known as the Jewish Ghetto. You don’t have to be Jewish to stay in the ghetto. And don’t let the word “ghetto” fool you, because this ghetto, is unlike any other ghetto. It’s amazing. And quiet. And tourist free. Okay fine, as tourist free as a tourist trap can be.

I knew Cannaregio was the place for me when I read in Frommer’s Italy 2008 the following…
It’s outer reaches are quiet, unspoiled, and residential (What high season tourist crowds, you may wonder?) One third of Venice’s ever shrinking population of 20,000 is said to live here…”
So where, exactly, did I stay in Cannaregio? See that picture on the right? That’s where. At the hotel Ai Mori D’Oriente, a small Turkish hotel located on a quiet canal, just a fifteen minute walk from the Rialto Bridge. Where did I eat? When we weren’t enjoying the complimentary breakfast of fresh fruit and salami and ham on a crusty roll at the hotel (the husband was in heaven), or the pizza, anywhere pizza could be found, which was pretty much everywhere, we’d go wherever Guido, the concierge at the hotel, suggested.
“You want something rustic, some place not too much money, someplace I’d go?” he asked, looking at my heavy travel book with disdain.
The husband and I nodded frantically, as I placed the 2008 edition of Frommer’s Italy back in my bag. It was a big bag.
Not once did one of Guido’s recommendations let us down. Especially the night we visited Osteria Ai 40 Ladroni (right down the street/canal from the hotel) where I found myself sitting at a candlelit table under the stars, beside a quiet canal, surrounded by other tourists looking for something not-so-touristy, immersed in a small plate of heaven – gnocchi with crab smothered in a delicate tomato sauce.
Did I just use the word delicate? I did. It was delish!
I don’t need to remind you that Cannaregio is in Venice, not too far from everything you ever wanted to avoid. Yet won’t. Because even that is a must see. But then, as soon as you’ve had enough (which won’t take long), it’s back to the ghetto for you, where all of the other tourists who don’t like tourists find themselves. On your brisk walk back to the hotel, make sure to run into a loaf of crusty bread, a bottle of olive oil, a hunk of cheese, and half a pound of salami at the local grocery store, the store where you see that little yappy dog staring intensely into the window. Trust me, this will be one of the best (and cheapest) meals you’ll ever experience. In your room. Away from the crowds. Don’t worry about all those calories, you’ve already burned them off walking from San Marco Square back to the peace and quiet. And yes, you really do need to experience Venice. At least once in your lifetime. For the gnocchi alone.

Time Magazine’s top travel related websites 2008

Lists are great. Especially website lists that have been selected by a reliable body after combing through the abundant clutter on the world wide web.

Undoubtedly, Time Magazine’s list of 50 top websites is one such great list and here are their travel-related website selections for 2008: (no particular order)

  • Wikitravel & Wikisky: After much contradiction on the value of Wikitravel, it’s interesting to see it on here. Wikisky is new for me; it allows you to Wiki the Universe’s sky!
  • Tripkick: Launched in May 2008, Trip Kick reviews hotel floors and rooms of 250 hotels in 12 US cities, to help you avoid getting a crappy room in a good hotel.
  • Gasbuddy: Particularly useful if you are taking a road-trip in the US or Canada, GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas prices in your city.
  • Serious Eats: Is a food blog based on sharing your food enthusiasm with others.
  • MapJack: According to Time, it is an alternative to Google Street View and Live Search Map, with brighter/sharper photos and better navigation tools.
  • Carbon Rally: Specially for those who want to be green, Carbon Rally posts challenges (example: line-drying your laundry for a month) to motivate you to reduce your carbon footprint. (Hmmm…why is this site blocked in Dubai!?)
  • Free Rice: Where you get to learn a word and feed the hungry in exchange, reviewed before on Gadling here.

You can check out the full list of Time Magazine’s top websites for 2008 here.

New Year’s Travel-utions

When I quit my restrictive day job last June to pursue a career as a impoverished writer freelancer, I narrowed my focus to first half of the word: Free. I envisioned myself travelling the world at the drop of a hat. But although I did visit two countries I’ve never been to before in 2007 (Australia and New Zealand,) I didn’t travel nearly as much as I would have liked to. Reflecting to the year past, I saw a distinct change in my behaviour — Instead of keeping up my usual pattern of working to to earn money to travel, I mostly just worked. I was too wrapped up in making money and building a name for myself that I forgot why I wanted this in the first place– for the freedom.

2008 will be different, though. I’ll make sure of that. This year, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to visit at least one country I’ve never been to before, and I’m hoping it will be either in Africa, South America or Asia. That’s not all — I’m going resolving to get out of town once a month for a weekend trip. Lofty goals for someone who still has to worry about paying the rent? Perhaps, but I think I can manage it. Afterall, I have my whole life to sit at home and work.

NY Times: 53 places to go in 2008

Yesterday’s NY Times travel section depicted the 53 “it” destinations of 2008.

Laos made number 1, as the new Vietnam and Cambodia of Indochina. The photo, by Tanja Geis for the NY Times, is of stupas on the grounds of Pha That Luang in Vientiane, Laos.

My home town, Prague, made number 14, apparently because Prague is still the new Prague. Other than that, I have only been to about one third of these. So many places, so little time!

Here is the top 10:

  1. Laos
  2. Lisbon
  3. Tunisia
  4. Mauritius
  5. Mid-Beach Miami
  6. South Beach, Miami
  7. Maldives
  8. Death Valley
  9. Courchevel, France
  10. Libya

The complete list is here.