be.WELCOME – Brussels

The very festive "be.WELCOME sign on the outskirts of Brusses.

The very festive “be.WELCOME sign on the outskirts of Brusses.

 

Marketing isn’t everything, but it is something.

As for what that something actually is, well, it’s a bit of a mystery.

Not the kind of Agatha Christie deal where all of the suspects are gathered together, (like some flock of frightened sheep watching the wolves circling as they look for the weak one),  in the drawing room of some dreamy (in the nightmarish kind of way) castle as the detective begins to spell out the really bizarre story of how the German archaelogist secretly fell in love with the Spanish fly fisherwoman, who neglected to tell him about her secret affair with King Ludwig MCM, or her illegitamate child, Bastard King Ludwig MCMI – so WOEFULTOURIST won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t read the movie, as yet.

After all, if it’s good enough for Dame Agatha, it’s good enough for him.

As for marketing, he prefers the large, full service ones as opposed to the small mom and pop chains.

Sorry, but variety is king.

Although, it too, is not everything.

Location used to be everything.

Then cost took over and remained the headliner for everything, until it too was replaced by something, although WOEFULTOURIST is not privy to exactly what that thing actually is.

Only that the current everything/something is not marketing.

Well, that’s something at least.

The reason that  WOEFULTOURIST has spewed forth about “something” – in this case, marketing, is because it’s very appropriate, especially when it comes to Amsterdam and Brussels.

Why those two fine cities?

Why not.

For whatever reason, Amsterdam has been able to market itself as a hip, cool, fun place to be;  whereas, Brussels finds itself being seen as home to a hard working,  nose to the grindstone, beer loving, chocolate loving populace.

Which, for the marketing people of Brussels was just not enough.

Rather, they longed to become the hip, cool and fun place to be that they really weren’t.

So they had to come up with a marketing scheme to try and make it happen.

And then it hit them like a waffle dropped from the top of a ten story bar of chocolate.

Why not just take away some of Amsterdam’s hype by stealing, er, co-opting their successful marketing campaign.

The biggest of which is known as “I amsterdam”.

This iconic sign is located on Museumplein, just behind the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam.

No one except the Amsterdam marketing firm that came up with the slogan really knows what it actually means, and no one really seems to care.

Because all that does matter in marketing circles is success.

And the “ I amsterdam” campaign is so successful that one of the must do things in that fine city is to pose on top of, next to, in front of, or in side of the larger than life letters which compose the message.

So the Brussels marketers decided to outdo their Amsterdam counterparts at their own game.

They came up with their Brusself’s version and called it, “be.Welcome” – where the “be.” refers to the internet abbreviation for Belgium.

Got it?!  “be.” is for Belgium, while  “Welcome” is for “welcome”.  In essence marketing Brussels, Belgium as the more hip, much cooler “Belgium, welcome” – with Brussels itself getting lost in the truffle, so to-speak.

And then for good measure, the marketing geniuses had the sign placed on the outskirts of town, in a park where everyone who is there, has come to see something other than the sign.

Brilliant marketing strategy as far as WOEFULTOURIST is concerned.

And being someone woefully ignorant of what brilliant marketing strategy actually refers to, that’s as good of a recommendation as one can expect.

Still, it seems the right thing to say when one doesn’t really know what one is talkng about.

Which for WOEFULTOLURIST, seems to occur more often and not.

That’s something, at least.

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Wacky Travel News

Fake Sputnik Capsule – Berlin

Wacky Travel News that’s out of this world – (as is the totally inappropriate commentary that follows.

January 18, 2018 Edition

40,000 people spent Christmas Eve watching a video game designer do nothing
Tristram Fane Saunders / 25 DECEMBER 2017

A top video game designer spent 10 hours sat silently in front of a crackling fire yesterday – while being watched by an audience of around 40,000 people.

Thousands visited the online streaming video platform Twitch to watch the broadcast from Jeff Kaplan, head designer of the popular game Overwatch.

In a video which recalled the Scandanavian “slow TV” trend, Kaplan sat in complete silence for most of the day, staring placidly into the middle distance – except for a moment when a boom microphone bumped into his head, knocking off his glasses.

At one point, he answered a phone-call. “I’m really sorry, I can’t take a call from a telemarketer right now,” he said. “I’m doing this thing where I sit in front of a fire for 10 hours. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’m going to have to call you back.”

Later, he ate a chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with salt, telling the camera, “That’s delicious! I could eat this all day long.”

Surprisingly, this uneventful video has become extraordinarily popular. One fan said they had “zero regrets” after watching Kaplan for three straight hours, while another wrote: “Jeff Kaplan sitting by a fireplace is the mood I want to have for the entirety of 2018.”

Kaplan, 45, has previously worked on the best-selling World of Warcraft game series. His enigmatic video put several viewers in a philosophical frame of mind.

Yesterday morning, the website Gamespot reported that at its peak the video was being watch by an audience of 39,434 simultaneous viewers. As of noon on Christmas Day, more than 250,000 people had watched at least part of it.

Any patient readers with no other plans for Christmas Day can watch the entirety of Kaplan’s 10-hour broadcast below.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “That’s right, if you missed Mr. Kaplan doing nothing for 10 hours Christmas Eve, you had the option of watching a re-broadcast of the whole thing on Christmas day.

 

Driver mistook monkey’s red backside for traffic light
By Ben Hooper | Dec. 28, 2017

Dec. 28 (UPI) — A woman was rear-ended at an intersection in China when she stopped for an unusual reason — she mistook an escaped circus monkey’s butt for a red light.

The woman was quoted by Sin Chew Daily as saying she glanced at the pole over the intersection in Zunyi City, Guizhou Province, and slammed on her brakes when she saw a flash of red that she mistook for a red stop light.

The abrupt stop led the woman’s car to be rear-ended by the car behind her.

The woman said she looked back at the pole after the crash and realized the red she had seen was actually the rear end of a golden monkey perched next to the light.

Police discovered the monkey had escaped from a nearby circus. A circus manager agreed to pay for the cost of the damage to the vehicles involved in the minor crash.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Too bad the circus did not have any green-butted monkeys in their menagerie.”

 

 

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Newark Liberty International Airport – Newark, Jersey

Just two of the many signs at Newark Liberty International  Airport.  For those wondering, the picture was not Photoshopped, the signs really are that close together and there’s plenty more  to absorb as you try to enter, pr leave the airport.

WOEFULTOURIST is very happy to live in Jersey.

Frankly, he is sick and tired of the Garden State being the “but” of jokes from all sorts of people, most of whom have never even been here.

He is especially upset when he hears his state being bad mouthed by some toothless bozo who lives in a rented trailer (single wide) in the middle of tornado alley (seems that nobody told him that tornadoes are attracted to single wide trailers) who has never traveled further than 30 miles from his home for any number of reasons, number one being that his pickup truck has had 4 flat tires on it since he bought it from the previous tenant of the single wide and is only used now for storage.

Oh and by the way, for reference sake, the only people who say “Joisey” are people who don’t live here.

Which is why WOEFULTOURIST is always happy when the old image of Jersey can be shattered by some one, or some thing from the Garden State making someone else’s Top 7 List.

So he was filled with pride to learn that Jersey’s own, Newark Liberty International Airport was recently named the Second Worst Airport in all of America.

That’s right, people, not just the east coast, but second worst in the whole darned country!

How many other airports can lay claim to that accolade?!  Not many.  WOEFULTOURIST has done the math so he can assure you of that fact.

While some pessimists will inevitably try and douse water onto the fire of his celebration by pointing out that we only came in second, WOEFULTOURIST will hear none of it.

We may not be the worst, but we sure as heck are trying.  Remember, there’s no shame in coming in second.  It just means we will have to try harder next year to be even worse.

“How is that possible?” one might ask.

Well, consider the fact that Newark Liberty remains in a perpetual state of construction.  That scenario provides the perfect opportunity to make the process of actually getting to the airport even more of a burden than it currently is.

WOEFULTOURIST can hear the naysayers expressing doubt already.

Yet, he has faith in the management of the airport to find even more ridiculous ways to ruin the beginning and end of a potentially wonderful trip.

Perhaps, in addition to the existing access road that haphazardly goes from 2 lanes back to 1, back to 2, back to 1, back to 2, back to 1, they might provide an exit ramp that leads to nowhere – with no signs telling the commuter where they are, or how to find their way out of the mess they find themselves in.

Then there’s the possibility that they might remove the one existing sign that actually says, “Airport Exit” and replace it with yet another sign for “Airport Parking”, since exits don’t generate any income and are not considered important.

Speaking of signage, while WOEFULTOURIST can’t possibly imagine how Newark Liberty can improve on the horrific state of signage claiming to show you how to get to the highway of your choice upon leaving that fine facility (the exit for Rt 22 is about 50 feet after the partially hidden sign for it appears – how can you top that), he has always thought that the small, dark brown signs pointing the way to the airport could be worse and even more difficult to see at night, if they were painted jet black, instead.

Speaking of parking, WOEFULTOURIST feels that the current state of the parking options at Newark Liberty, while confusing, could be even more so with a little bit of creative thinking.

Yes, they currently have short term parking facilities, which should not be confused with daily parking facilities, which should not be confused with long term parking facilities – but is that enough?

Perhaps a “more than daily, less than weekly” parking facility might confuse the public even more.

Or instead of parking fees calculated on the half hour, they could be calculated on 12 and a half minute intervals.

So while Newark Liberty International is doing everything in their power to keep their Second Worst Airport in America ranking, WOEFULTOURIST feels that if they just tweak some of the things they are already very bad at, they have a legitimate shot at being number 1.

Now, wouldn’t that be something to write home about!

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Wacky Travel News

Fake Sputnik Capsule – Berlin

Wacky Travel News that’s out of this world – (as is the totally inappropriate commentary that follows.

January 16, 2018 Edition

2017 Was Safest Year On Record For Air Travel
Nick Visser,HuffPost•January 2, 2018

Last year was the safest on record for commercial jetliners, several industry groups reported.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, no one died in 2017 due to an aviation accident aboard a commercial passenger jet.

For trips made by cargo and commercial turboprop planes, there were 10 accidents in 2017 that resulted in 44 onboard fatalities and 35 on the ground. The most recent incident included in those numbers was the Dec. 31 crash in Costa Rica that killed 12 people, including 10 American tourists. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff. It was the deadliest such accident in Costa Rica since 1990.

For the past two decades, there has been a downward trend in accidents and fatalities in the airline industry.

“Since 1997, the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations,” Harro Ranter, president of the Aviation Safety Network, said in a statement.

The agency also noted that as of Dec. 31, the world had gone 398 days without a passenger jet accident, and 792 days since a civil aircraft accident had killed more than 100 people.

The last fatal crash of a passenger plane in the United States involving a U.S.-certified airline occurred in February 2009, when a flight operated by Colgan Air crashed in New York, Reuters reported. Forty-nine people were killed onboard and one person on the ground died.

A separate airline monitoring agency, the Dutch group To70, estimated that there was just one fatal accident for every 16 million flights.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “So to summarize, stay away from turboprops, and stick with jets.”

 

 

Here’s the chilling reason some Disney hotels are getting rid of ‘do not disturb’ signs
AOL.com Alex Lasker,AOL.com Fri, Dec 29, 2017

Walt Disney World resorts are beginning to do away with one traditional hotel feature — and the possible reason why is haunting.

Four of the Florida theme park’s main hotels, The Polynesian, The Grand Floridian, The Contemporary and The Bay Lake Resorts, will now have “room occupied” signs in place of the usual “do not disturb” signs.

Guests can use the new “room occupied” signs to let maintenance and housekeeping staff know that they are still in their rooms, but it will not prevent employees from entering.

The switch is being implemented by the properties just months after the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, where gunman Stephen Paddock rained down bullets on a music festival from his Mandalay Bay hotel room, killing 58 concertgoers and injuring hundreds of others.

In the days before the Oct. 1 massacre, Paddock hid his arsenal of weapons from hotel staff by hanging a “do not disturb” sign on the door of his 32nd-floor hotel room.

Although Disney declined to say whether the change was in direct response to the shooting, it said it made the decision for a variety of factors, including safety, security and overall guest experience.

In the weeks following the shooting, many Las Vegas hotels also changed their “do not disturb” policies in order to avoid similar tragedies.

Among the proactive properties was The Orleans Casino, which now says it conducts safety and welfare checks on rooms that have “do not disturb” signs on their doors for more two days straight. The previous policy stated such checks would be carried out after three days.

WOEFULTOURIST says, “Because a properly worded sign will prevent mass murders.”

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Horse Racing

The Inn at Saratoga.  If memory serves, there's a fine little horse race facility nearby.

The Inn at Saratoga, a lovely place to spend some time when not at the nearby  horse race facility.

 

There is something about the raw power of thoroughbred horses churning around the track, their smaller than normal human jockeys dressed in oddly colored outfits hanging on for dear life, sweat pouring down their necks (the horses, not the jockeys) that scares the living pants off of  WOEFULTOURIST.

He doesn’t know why.

Nor does he care to discover the reason.

It just is.

And sometimes that is enough.

Still, that doesn’t prevent WOEFULTOURIST from visiting the horse race track on occasion and betting wildly, without a clue. Let alone using some logical strataegy – like betting on his favorite color, or the date of his birth, to name too.

Since consistency is his monica, then why shouldn’t his gambling be as woeful as the rest of his existence.

Which is why he goes out of his way to keep even his gambling practices in woeful balance with the rest of his sad, strange lifestyle.

And while the diminished returns on his wagers might put others off, WOEFULTOURIST is made of sterner stuff.

Nor is he satisfied with losing on safe bets like win, place and show.

Pish posh, such lazy bets are far too pedestrian for someone who commutes daily by train.

Instead, WOEFULTOURIST only spends his money on exotic bets.

Multiple entrees.

Exactas and daily doubles – piece of cake with a hole in the middle.

Trifectas and quinellas – can’t spell ‘em, can’t pick ‘em.

Pick 4 and pick 6 – go in blind, come out broke.

After all, if you’re going to lose at the track, you might as well do it with confidence.

Yet, for those who partake in the sport of kings (how they get away with such blatant sexism in this modern age is beyond him, as are most things) the fact is that it’s not just about an itch to place ones scratch on some nag with a funny name – genetics be damned.

It’s about the whole horse racing experience.

Whether it’s the pleasure of getting stuck in a five mile traffic jam approaching the track because you decided to arrive late, on the biggest race day of the season, where free stuff of all kinds was being given out to all paying customers.

Or discovering the latest fad which the marketing department is promoting as a way to bring more families to the park – even though kids can’t legally bet and so take seats away from other patrons that do.

Seems you can’t hook ‘em on gambling early enough.

For those wondering, this years fad designed to put kids in the seats and long lines at the bathrooms, is lunch trucks.

No, not those short stainless steel sided deals that visit a construction site near you selling  plastic wrapped tuna fish sandwiches and coffee so powerful it will eat the paint right off your brush.

Rather, the fancy tall stainless trucks that serve fancy meals to fancy folk.

So if you want an asiago topped, shredded portabello sandwich on a stick with srirachi infused remoulade on the side, you’re in luck.

But get it soon, because today’s fad is tomorrows chia pet.

Still it’s good to know that for now, there’s a food truck with your name on it – and it’s getting ticketed for illegal parking so run, run, run you candidate for the glue factory.

Yet another losing bet.

Ah well, another tax write off.

WOEFULTOURIST urges his readers to go to the horse track and enjoy an afternoon, or evening where fortunes are lost and frittered away like the sands of our time.

Or is it sanded away like the lunch truck fritters of our time.

Or is it –

Never mind.

Wheel the 8 horse in the 7th, box the 6 horse in the 9th and you’ve got as good a chance as any of the other woefuls out there to pocket your earnings.

Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Oops, that’s the lottery.

Never mind.

Perhaps a cashew encrusted, seaweed and artichoke veggie burger topped with carrot slaw and balsamic fish sauce might help cheer you up.

Though better get ‘em while they’re hot.

In foresight.

Never mind.

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