Photo of the Day – Field of red flowers

Somewhere in your imagination, there’s a valley like this one, its verdant slopes carpeted with a bursting red patchwork of flowers. Except, in this case, the valley is real. Photo of the Day regular jrodmanjr found this amazing patch of red clover while exploring Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The image’s visual appeal is intensified by the macro focus on a single bunch of the colorful plants in the foreground, a blurred field or red dots stretching as far as the eye can see in the background. Beautiful.

Have any great travel photos to share with the world? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Virgin America improves inflight entertainment system

Part of the reason that Virgin America keeps getting voted the best domestic carrier is because of their Inflight Entertainment (IFE). Called RED, the seatback system lets passengers browse live television, catch up pre-recorded shows, watch movies and participate in a whole host of other fancy activities from ordering food to browsing around a real-time Google map.

To stay on top of the industry though, the airline needs to keep adapting their system, and they’re starting the process this week with the announcement of the integration of the Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect platform into their fleet.
Basically, the BoardConnect platform is a completely new engine on top of which the RED system is going to live, meaning that the IFE will look similar moving forward but will be completely overhauled under the hood. The technology leverages a wireless internet network to maintain and update its data, which means that content will now be updated faster and at lower cost. In turn, this translates to a better experience for the passengers on board, which is always great to hear about.

Hopefully it also means that we can get our boys from Travel Talk churning within the RED channels once more.

BoardConnect technology has already been unrolled on the airplane #nerdbird. More updates are expected on later aircraft.

Useful foreign phrases, Part 1: how to say, “I’m just looking” in 10 languages

useful foreign phrasesI’ve frequently pimped Lonely Planet’s Phrasebooks on this site, but I swear I don’t get kickbacks from the company. It’s just that I’m a big believer in not being a). A Tourist (although, let’s face it, if I’m not at home, I am indeed A Tourist) and b). helpless.

Even if you’re the biggest xenophobe on earth–which would make foreign travel a really weird and pointless pastime you might want to reconsider– it’s hard to dispute the importance of knowing how ask “Where’s the bathroom?” in certain urgent circumstances.

It’s with such experiences in mind that I came up with this fun little series. There are a handful of phrases I’ve cultivated in various languages that have served me well, in situations both good and bad. Not only are they inscribed on the dog-eared inner covers of my trusty Phrasebooks; they’re etched into my mind, so I can summon them at will. Whether you need to ward off annoying vendors, personal humiliation, potential suitors, or would-be attackers, it pays to be prepared and know what to say, when. Since things like “Yes, No, Thank you, Please, Hello,” etc. are generally not too challenging, for the purposes of this series, I’ll leave them out. That doesn’t mean they’re not very important to learn, however.

This week’s lesson: “I’m just looking.” Invaluable for politely but firmly stating your desire to see with your eyes, not your wallet. It may not stop persistent hawkers from trying to close a deal, but at least you’re showing respect by speaking in their native tongue (or an approximation thereof). And who knows? If you change your mind, that alone may help you score a better bargain.

P.S. I don’t claim to be polylingual: I’m compiling phrases based on past experience or research. If I offend anyone’s native tongue, please provide a correction in the “Comments” section. Be nice!

1. Spanish: Solo estoy mirando.

2. Italian: Sto solo guardando.

3. French: Je regarde.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Gerry Balding]useful foreign phrases4. German: Nur schauen.

5. Czech: Jen se dívám.

6. Portuguese: Estou só a olhar.

Many languages, especially those spoken in Asia and the Middle East, use written characters. Transliteration will vary, depending upon the guidebook/translator, which is why the spelling or phonetics below may be different from other sources. Since these languages are largely tonal (and may require accents or characters not available on a Western computer), look at this way: odds are you’re going to mangle the pronunciation anyway, so just do your best! It’s the thought that counts.

7. Chinese (Cantonese): Tái haa.

8. Japanese: Watashi ga mite iru dakedesu (here’s to Japan getting back on its feet and attracting travelers soon!) To make a Red Cross donation, click here.

9. Vietnamese: Tôi chỉ xem thôi.

14. Moroccan Arabic: Ghir kanshuf.

What’s the most useful phrase you’ve ever learned in a foreign language? How has it helped your travels? We want to hear from you!

[Photo credit: Flickr user wanderer_by_trade]

Photo of the Day (10.10.10)

Spontaneity and travel go hand-in-hand. Those surprising moments, when we let down our guard and something unexpected happens, is what travel is all about, right? Today’s photo, from Flickr user Gus NYC, looks to me like one of those spontaneous moments. A brilliant red wall. A guard caught in a moment of repose. A photographer who’s cleverly framed the shot so it’s all pushed oddly to the right. It’s a strange subject for a photo, but it nevertheless manages to leave the viewer wanting more.

Have any great travel photos you’d like to share with the world? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Photo of the Day (9.12.10)

Who recognizes the subject of today’s Photo of the Day shot? Any guesses? This wild colored light show is actually the inside of a lighthouse, taken by Flickr user Theodore Scott. This is not your typical lighthouse photo, which is exactly what caught my eye. As you take your own photos, think about how you can get up close, inside or even underneath your photo subjects. You’re likely to capture a one-of-a-kind image that breaks with the usual “travel cliches.”

Have any great travel photos you’d like to share with the world? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.