Gadling + BootsnAll – Picks of the Week (3.6.09)

Last week we announced a new partnership between Gadling and the self-styled “independent travel” specialists over at BootsnAll. Every Friday we’ll be taking a look at some of our favorite BootsnAll content from the past week, along with a few choice words about why you should check it out. Sound good? Read on below for this week’s picks…

  • Navigate South America’s “Visa Obstacles” – the idea of a South American backpacking trip has always appealed to me. Between the mostly common language of Spanish and some amazing sights, the continent seems ripe for exploring. But as BootsnAll writer Eileen Smith reports, keeping track of each country’s constantly changing visa rules can be a real pain. Never fear, Eileen lays out some easy strategies to make that pan-South American trek a bit less costly and just a bit easier.
  • Europe Disappoints? – the Mona Lisa sucks. There, I said it. Yes, it was painted by one of history’s most famous men, Leonardo da Vinci, but beyond that, it’s just a painting of a woman surrounded by hundreds of tourists and a plexiglass box for protection. Roger Wade has a couple other complaints with disappointing tourist attractions in Europe, and for the most part I agree with him. Sorry Roger, I have to disagree with you on the interior of the Sagrada Familia. What do you think? Check out his list.
  • France’s Unofficial Dress Code – some of us like to blend in with the locals when we travel, going to great lengths to dress, act and behave much like the locals would. Others couldn’t give a damn what the locals think. Whatever your stance, BootsnAll’s France guide has the low-down on what to wear in France for that next trip Think you know how to blend in? Want some tips? Check it out.
  • Caffeine Junkies, Unite! – does your morning demand you start with a cup of coffee? It can be tricky to find sometimes when you’re on the road, especially in out of the way countries where coffee is not a common drink. Writer Eileen Smith comes through with yet another great piece on how to handle your caffeine addiction on the road. Check out her piece for some tips on how to cope and remember to stay away from that weak Nescafe stuff if you can help it.
  • Building Bridges – I’ve always found bridges to be one of the most underrated landmarks in any tourist destination. They serve such a pragmatic, obvious purpose that you sometimes forget the degree of craftsmanship, ingenuity and expertise that goes into their creation. Cristina Dima is on the same page – this week she takes a look at 12 of Europe’s most beautiful bridges. Some are ancient wonders, some are modern marvels. Have a look for yourself.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned next Friday for more Gadling and BootsnAll Picks of the Week!

Southwest Airlines Imposes Dress Code Yet Again: Passenger Ordered to Change T-shirt

What’s going on with Southwest Airlines? Surely with all the negative media coverage the airline’s flight attendants should know better than to impose any kind of dress code — not with the very real potential for lawsuits these days.

Then again, every time a Southwest employee has made a judgment call on a passenger’s duds, the company gets loads of media attention. And all this attention means that Southwest is in the spotlight — never mind why. This attention — and the “specials” that have followed — makes all this clothing-censor business mighty suspicious as far as I’m concerned.

First it was Kyla Ebbert and her teeny-tiny skirt (which appears to be conservative for her, based on her MySpace page photos). This time, the passenger, Joe Winiecki, was a male wearing a “sexually suggestive” t-shirt. Although Winiecki felt that the employee’s request that he change his shirt or leave the plane was a violation of his First Amendment rights, he changed rather than risk missing a day of work. Naturally, a Southwest spokesperson said the employee made a mistake.

I wonder how Southwest will spin this latest incident into a fare special? Last time it was “mini” fares. I’m sure they can find some clever double-entendre in this case as well.

Suing Over the Southwest Dresscode Controversy?

For some reason, Dr. Phil is blaring in my house and while I’m usually good at tuning his Texas accent out, I find I’m catching bits of the show today. Dr. Phil’s ‘special’ guest is Kyla Ebbert, the girl who was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight because her outfit was too skimpy. She’s on the show with her lawyer to draw publicity to her unfortunate experience, and after a representative from Southwest Airlines came on the show and apologized, she accepted the apology and insisted she wouldn’t go on any more TV shows to gain publicity.

However, her lawyer would not agree to not sue Southwest Airlines. Huh? Sue? Just what are the damages? Ebbert claims that her publicity-hoarding and lawsuit threats are in an attempt to make sure this kind of embarrassment doesn’t happen to anyone else, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t. I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil, but he did put both she and her lawyer in their place so for that I applaud him. .


Theater: Dress Up (or Not)

I have had this conversation with numerous travelers (typically backpackers) in Europe: they want to go to the theater, opera, classical music concert but have no dressy clothes. The theater usually says that it encourages people to dress up but it is not enforced. Yet, all the locals dress up. Should they still go in jeans?

Most of them do. They justify it by saying that the real experience of Aida at the Opera in Vienna should not be dilluted by people wearing jeans (and taking pictures inside the Opera house – like the Stanford U students in the picture) and on the contrary, it shouldn’t be enhanced by wearing a gown.

So why do locals usually dress up? Are they just shallow and think that cultural experience will come with nice clothes?

Over the years, I have adopted the “when in Rome, do as Romans do” point of view when it comes to theater-going. Dress the way the locals dress, even though it might be inconvenient and mean buying an outfit. It doesn’t have to be a gown, but at least a skirt and a shirt (long pants and long-sleeve, collared shirt for men). If you can’t afford it, it might be a good idea to go to see a small, independent show instead. Consider that those locals may have saved up a lot of money to see a show in a majestic theater building and expect it would be special. By wearing jeans and “not caring”, you may just be ruining it for them. You might be able to enjoy the show regardless of the clothes you wear, but they might not.

In most European theaters, you will notice that the people dressed up are the locals and the people in jeans are the tourists. Many shows featuring a high concentration of jeans are thus called “tourist shows.” And that is certainly not a compliment.

Then again, who knows, “dressing up for culture” might be a thing of the past…