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Monthly Archives: February 2009

Travel by Twitter: #Twitchhiker is Taking Off – First Leg #Amsterdam

Yesterday between noon GMT and 01.00PM the Twitchhiker project took off. Sunday 1rst of March in the evening The Twitchhiker will leave Great Britain with a ferry and he will arrive in Amsterdam at approximately 11.30hr AM in Amsterdam Central Station.

I admire the initiative and am fascinated by it.

I picked it up at the Guardian and posted about it earlier. In general the idea is that the Twitchhiker, Paul Smith, a gentlemen from Newcastle upon Tyne in North East Great Britain travels to the other side of the world solely relying on the hospitality and help of his followers on Twitter. As an aside he has decided to have Charity: Water as the beneficiary of donations which you can make at JustGiving.com/Twitchhiker. As of the moment I write this there are already donations of over UK pnd 1,800 of a targeted UK pnd 3,000.

Paul used to have a proper job in radio, but now writes about media for the Guardian, and blogs about radio, TV and tech for several other websites.

There are 5 rules to observe:

The are five rules I have to follow throughout the 30 days. Obviously I’m at liberty to bend them if certain death or amputation will otherwise occur, but I’ll do my best to stick to them. If I find myself in a situation that follows the letter of the rules but goes against their spirit, I’ll ask those following me for guidance:

I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation on Twitter, from users who are following @twitchhiker
This means if a Twitterer’s sister’s boyfriend’s father has a spare train ticket, I can’t use it; the help the person has to be a Twitter user, and they have to be able to directly action the offer of help. This may be too restrictive, but I want to draw on the support of the Twitter community, not to use Twitter as a search engine to find third party services.

I can’t make any plans further than three days in advance
It’s entirely possible that before I begin this challenge, I could have my entire route pre-determined and that would be no fun at all. So unless an offer of transport or accommodation is made within 72 hours of it being applicable, I can’t accept it. Damn.

I can only spend money on food, drink and anything that might fit in my suitcase
All travel and accommodation must be offered to me through Twitter. If I can’t, then I’m sleeping rough.

If there’s more than one offer on the table, I get to choose which I take. If there’s only one, I have to take it within 48 hours.
I’m not entirely happy about this bit. If any part of this challenge is going to see me dead in a ditch or under a patio, it’s this part.

If I’m unable to find a way to move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.
I hope my fellow Twitterers won’t let that happen.

If you follow his blog Twitchhiker you will see a description of all things involved in such adventure.

A similar experience on a one day trip is described by Guardian journalist Benji Lanyado Paris TwiTrip The Verdict who did find it a very positive experience.

See also Indie Travel Podcaster’s Interview of today.

The start was an amazing Tweetup where #twitchhiker reached no 1 hashtag status. He could choose to go to Amsterdam, London, or Paris and let the Twitterati vote:

This is the outcome of the poll:


As per my credo “You should Party in Amsterdam, but you should Sleep in The Hague” I’ve offered the Twitchhiker a night at our Haagsche Suites monday night, which he hasn’t accepted (yet?), as he has adopted the plan to go directly to Paris from Amsterdam. Apparently even without even spending a couple of hours in Amsterdam. I believe he could reach the other en of the world in 5 days….so in my view he could spend some time sleeping a bit here and there…maybe he will rethink his provisional decision and take a wiser decision on sunday.

I’ve also tried to wake up the Dutch Tourist Community to throw something in the throng, but they seem sound asleep (as usual).

DMO's Twittermania results in a Twitter Fail Whale Tattoo – How Bizarre can you Get!

This is the Tattoo
This is the example

Recently we have seen some twittermania about The ultimate Job and two other city DMO’s (stands for Destination Marketing Organization) hiring bloggers to further their goals. But this one is the ultimate (yet?).

According to the blog MGH Word of Mouth / Social Media Marketing- Baltimore This is the story:

What Won’t We Do For Our Clients?

It’s true – here at MGH WOM, we go the distance for our clients. We really mean this. In fact, there isn’t much we wouldn’t do for them, and that includes defacing our body for their benefit. And, in case you are wondering what the heck we are talking about, we’d love to give you a quick recap.

On Monday, February 23, 2009, an innocent tweet went out on Twitter asking people what city would be the first to have 3,000 followers: @visitchicago or @travelportland? Both of the cities had around 2,700 followers at the time, and it was anyone’s game. But, one of our clients – the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association (@BaltimoreMD) – saw this tweet and decided that even though they only had 1,700 followers at the time, it was completely possible to hurry up and beat either one of them to it. That is where they called on MGH WOM.

So, we, being the “never turn down a challenge” competitive fools that we are, decided to stand behind @BaltimoreMD and join the challenge to see who could get 3,000 followers first by midnight.

Knowing that it was nearly impossible to collect that many new followers within the given time period, we knew we had to do something drastic. More specifically, Ryan – our WOM Strategy Director – put even more “skin in the game” by offering to get the very well-known Twitter fail whale tattoo (with Baltimore’s Natty Boh in it) if we succeeded in getting @BaltimoreMD a total of 3,000 followers by midnight. And the tattoo idea is what drove the followers.

To get the ball rolling, we tweeted from a fun account that MGH WOM built up (also known as tweetbomb) that had a big following to try to get the word out to follow @BaltimoreMD. And, within minutes of sending out the first request, the follower number began to increase…drastically.

Mashable picked up the story and thusfar got 93 diggs

ANSA.it – News in English – Pasta makers fined for price cartel

Photo by Photomequickbooth
(ANSA) – Rome, February 26 –

Italy’s anti-trust authority has slapped fines totalling 12.5 million euros on 26 pasta producers and the national producers’ union Unipi for creating a cartel with the aim of stifling competition and driving up prices.

Pasta prices have soared by two-digit percentages over the past year to the outrage of consumers and dismay of farmers, who have seen wheat prices at the farm fall while their production costs rocketed.

The producers fined by the anti-trust authority accounted for some 90% of the domestic market.

Also fined by the anti-trust authority were the national food market association Unionalimentari and the national union of small and medium-sized food businesses Unpmia, for issuing orders to their members to uniformly raise prices.

In reply to protests by consumer groups and farmers’ associations, Italy’s leading pasta makers at the time admitted that prices on the farm for wheat had declined, but justified their price hikes on the grounds that while prices had been stalled for years while on the commodities market, wheat prices had soared due to speculation on biofuels.

They also said that their costs had been driven up by higher fuel prices, which affected production and transport, and increased labor costs.

ANSA.it – News in English – Pasta makers fined for price cartel

#Schiphol: Turkish Airlines 737 Crashes with 135 Passengers on Board: Few Casualties – Correction 10 dead 60 Injured


Published 12.19hr PM

Approximately 11.3110.31hr AM local time a plane of Turkish Airlines crashed shortly before landing on Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS).

According to an eyewitness and this picture there was no sliding or skidding. The plane didn’t have enough speed and literally fell out of the air. Immediately passengers started to leave the plane.

There are some bodybags, probably 4 to 5 dead and many wounded people.

Off course Twitter was among the first to bring this news. See: Search Twitter #Schiphol.

Update 1:
Amsterdam University Hospital reports 7 heavy wounded passengers. Dutch Television Live coverage

Update 2:
At a press conference at 01.00hr PM it was announced there are 9 dead and 50 passengers injured. Some of them heavy.

Update 3:
Reportedly 4 crew and 2 pilots among the dead and 4 passengers as a 10th dead was confirmed at at Amsterdam University Hospital.

There is an English language Blog: Schipholcrash.web-log.nl.

Here is a link to traffic control radio shortly after the crash:

Here is a sketch of the crash location:


Update 4:
According to CNN Twitter was the first to spread the news. And here a link to IReport with some photos:

Lonely Planet Best Travel Blog Awards Open for Voting


Just another list I’m not on, an analogy of Don Meador’s post Lists that didn’t list “Get a Room”, sigh.

However I really want to congratulate my colleagues with their first ever competition at Lonely Planet

Matthew Cashmore had the good idea of having Lonely Planet organize a Travel Blog Award.

He announced today that Voting is Open until March 20, 2009:

The results are in, we’ve run the figures and we present the top five nominated blogs in each category.

You can vote for one blog in each category. Please do only vote once – we’re sure there are ways you can get around the tech, but please, do only vote once. We reserve the right to remove votes we think are fraudulent – and remember – public voting will make up 50% of the overall score.

Voting will close at 12am on Wednesday 20th March 2009 Pacific Time USA

Best Destination Blog

* www.manzanilloblog.com
* whistlerblackcombsnowreport.com
* www.GoVisitHawaii.com
* www.spottedbylocals.com/berlin
* rwapplewannabe.wordpress.com

Best Expat Blog

* www.yucatanliving.com/
* www.notesfromspain.com
* roamingrachael.blogspot.com
* rwapplewannabe.wordpress.com
* bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com

Best Consumer Travel Blog

* travel-rants.com
* matadorgoods.com
* elliott.orgelliott.org
* blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/intelligenttravel/
* travelingmamas.com

Best Travelogue

* worldinslowmotion.com
* uncorneredmarket.com
* windyskies.blogspot.com
* everything-everywhere.com
* theprofessionalhobo.com

Best non-english Travel Blog

* lavoltadels25.cat
* triplib.de
* dulichbonmua.blogspot.com
* aatomiku-seiklused.blogspot.com
* amafrika.blogspot.com

Best Spanish Language Blog

* objetivolima.wordpress.com
* blogdeviajes.com.ar
* viajerasdelmundo.blogspot.com
* misviajesporahi.blogspot.com
* churuymarianenelbolson.blogspot.com

Best French Language Blog

* matetlola.uniterre.com
* panneauxdumonde.toile-libre.org
* tropic-of-capricorn.fr
* cathetyan.uniterre.com
* toothbrushnomads.com/dotclear

Best Italian Language Blog

* piedistanchi.com
* ilreporter.comilreporter.com
* avventuregialle.splinder.com
* turismolento.blogspot.com
* lafilibusta.blogspot.com

Best Micro-blogging

* twitter.com/HostelColonial
* twitter.com/nerdseyeview
* twitter.com/soultravelers3
* twitter.com/travelblissful
* twitter.com/travelsavvykayt

Best Video Blog

* scenicboys.typepad.com/scenicboys/
* youtube.com/user/soultravelers3
* twoguysaroundtheworld.com
* amtrekker.com
* youtube.com/user/GoHawaiiTV

Best Themed Blog

* walktalktour.com/~blog/
* mykugelhopf.ch
* bigbluetech.net/big-blue-tech-news/
* travelswithtwo.com
* soultravelers3.com

Best Image Blog

* everything-everywhere.com/Photography
* atodocaucho.blogspot.com
* elsuenodeindia.blogspot.com
* MyKugelhopf.ch
* tacogirlblog.blogspot.com

Best Group Authored Blog

* blog.mrandmrssmith.comblog.mrandmrssmith.com
* matadornetwork.com
* SpottedbyLocals.com
* travelgeneration.com
* travelingmamas.com

Best Podcast

* notesfromspain.com/podcasts
* indietravelpodcast.com
* notesinspanish.com/spanish-audio
* amateurtraveler.com
* viajerodelmundo.com

Interesting categories and for me many new names..well there can always be critique, I for instance miss an industry category and a one author blog category, but all in all I’m glad that the Travvies initiative that was started in 2007 and dropped in 2008 so enthusiastically by Upgrade, Travel Better has now a decent sequel.

On Twitter Matthew commented that more than 500 Blogs were nominated by the public and that the top 5 in the categories got more than 100 nominations. He promised me to publish the whole list with the results. That will be interesting, especially to compare with my sortable list of Travel Blogs.

Next year Matthew considers to have the nominations also judged on beforehand for 50%, like he will do now with the public voting outcome. That could prevent multiple nominations like now.

Added February 26:
After monitoring one day of voting It seems that the Spanish “voting posse” is much better organized that the English langguage “voting posse” ….