2 June 2019

Travel Guides

Based on information we've collected over many years of travel, these are our City (and country) Guides for the places we've been. They may not be iPhone apps or feature Dorling Kindersley cutaways, but they have the info you need to hit the ground running and get a good dinner on the first night, or get directions for places only locals normally go.

If you have any updates, comments or questions, let us know at the usual address, adamcreen@hotmail.com

1 June 2019

Vienna and Salzburg Travel Guide


Getting There:

As well as flights to Flughafen Wien, you may want to consider travelling by train. Eurostar to Brussels, then Thalys or DB ICE to Köln, and finally the ÖBB Nightjet to Vienna. Your go-to guide is at http://www.seat61.com/Austria.htm
One bonus of booking a sleeper is access to the First Class lounge at Vienna on arrival, a chance to relax and freshen up before heading to your hotel. In fact, first class travel within Austria is usually only €5 or €10 more than standard, and you can then use the lounges at both ends of your journey - free drinks, food, wifi, and a space to relax.
Check prices at both www.bahn.de and www.oebb.at

Getting into town:

If coming from the airport, the S7 train (€4) and the CAT train (€11) both stop at Wien Mitte, which is an interchange with the U-Bahn system. Alternatively you can get the Railjet train (€4) to the Hauptbahnhof.
The Hauptbahnhof is also out of town, on the U1 line, so it is easy to get into the city and change.

Vienna Hotels:

You're in luck! We stayed at 3 different hotels and would recommend all of them.

Hilton Vienna Plaza
Schottenring 11
In the heart of town, with very easy access to Metro and trams, this luxury hotel is the priciest, but is absolutely beautiful, has a great bar, and the rooms are splendid.

Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront
Handelskai 269
This stylish hotel is right on the Danube, so has amazing views. In the summer you can use the outdoor pool. It's a little out beyond Prater, so you have to get the U-Bahn to Stadion, then walk (following the very clear signs) for less than 10 minutes through housing to a bridge over the Handelskai main road. It's a very safe area and has a local supermarket on the way for provisions.

Park Inn Uno City
Wagramerstrasse 16-18
This was our cheap hotel taking advantage of a weekend deal, but in fact it was just perfect in terms of service and rest. Uno City is a modern area on an island on the east of the Danube, with futuristic U-Bahn stations. The hotel is less than 10 minutes from Kaisermuhlen VIC station, and its rooms are behind the hotel front, in a very peaceful courtyard.

Tourist Information:

Vienna Pass
We don't often buy city passes, and never go on the open-topped buses, but for Vienna we made an exception. Buy your pass in the Opernpassage, near the U-Bahn concourse at Opera station.

From 1 day for €70 up to 3 days for €110, it includes free travel on U-Bahn and city buses (though not the train to the airport). But you also get free, unlimited Hop On Hop Off bus access, which is the only way to Schönbrunn, and is a quick way of getting around the city without trying to find underground stations (which are few in the central pedestrianised area).

And then you get entry to 60 attractions: we used it for Ferris Wheel (€10), Cathedral (€5), Belvedere (€20), Schönbrunn (€15), City Cruise (€20 - AVOID, see below), Museum of Art History (€15), National Library (€7), Literature Museum (€7), Mozarthaus (€11), Jewish Museum (€10), Museum of Modern Art (€11), Freud Museum (€10), Transport Museum (€8) and the Prater Museum (€5). And that was in 3 days!

The full list is here: https://www.viennapass.com/vienna-attractions/

If you just want to get a travel pass, then the week-long pass runs Monday to Sunday and is worth it if arriving near the start of the week. It's under €20. Day passes are around €8. More info at http://www.wienerlinien.at/eportal3/ep/channelView.do/pageTypeId/66533/channelId/-47382


Bitzinger Würstelstand Albertina
Operngasse, just behind the Theatre and the Opera
The best hotdog stand in the city. The rest are all pretty good, but this one has the best sausage selection, the best beer selection, and the best service
Also at the Ferris Wheel in Prater
Backup plan: the hotdog stand on Kupferschmiedgasse

Kleeblattgasse 5
In the back streets near Judenplatz, we sought out this little bar that serves the best Fladenbroten (filled pita breads) in town. They have 40 different fillings and a great beer selection.

A market half a mile long, with food stalls, small eateries, and sit-down restaurants, all in the middle of a busy street. You can buy anything here, the problem is deciding where to have lunch!


We're not going to list all the places we used the Vienna Pass for! Here are some tips for seeing a different selection.

Wiener Museum
Karlsplatz 8
Not much of a looker from the outside, but the architectural detail inside is amazing, it has a well-designed extension, plus the smallest lift you have ever seen. Temporary exhibitions on aspects of Viennese life, plus maps and models of the city in development.

St Stephen's Cathedral
An incredible building, for many the highlight of Vienna, with a decorated roof, and two towers, one accessible by stairs, the other by a lift. The tour takes in views of the organ loft and cathedral treasures.

Not just for fans of the film The Third Man, this Ferris Wheel and amusement park date back to the 1760s, though they have been renovated since then. You arrive at Praterstern station, and follow the crowds into the park. It's worth getting tickets for the Wheel online, though you still have to queue. Some people book a private compartment to have dinner on the wheel, but you have a lot of eyes on you! Amazing views at any time, but twilight as the city dims and the lights come up below, is a great time to travel.

Ring Tram
This distinctive yellow tram is the only one to completely circumnavigate the Ring. It runs every 30 minutes. Board at Schwedenplatz and pay the €8 on board - travel passes not accepted.

Museum Quarter
Four big hitters here - Architekturzentrum Wien, Kunsthalle Wien, LEOPOLD MUSEUM, mumok - plus 10 cafes and 9 shops. Plenty of lounging space in the courtyards.

Boat Trip:

AVOID. Of all the cities and boats we've been on, this is the one time we say no go. The DDSG boats from Schwedenplatz do not go on the beautiful Blue Danube. They go along a narrow canal backed onto by graffitied walls and office buildings. Just as you get within sight of the Danube, it turns around and heads back. It's not even a nice canal like in Copenhagen. Wait until you get to Salzburg. Now THAT'S a boat trip.


Getting There (and Back):

Travelling on ÖBB, we'd again recommend first class travel as it's not that much more expensive, and you can use the lounges at both ends of your journey. www.oebb.at
There is another train company, Westbahn, which has a fixed price that you can buy on the train without reservation. It depends how organised you want to be. Note these leave from Westbahnhof, not Hauptbahnhof. https://westbahn.at/en
Again, a go-to guide is http://www.seat61.com/trains-and-routes/vienna-to-salzburg-by-train.htm

A final tip. If you plan to break your journey, eg at Linz (see below), it may be cheaper to buy a through ticket, and just get off at Linz. There's no barriers to stop you doing this. Obviously you'd need a separate ticket for the rest of your journey, but it's still an economy.

Tourist Information:

Salzburg Card
Another good value card, €27 for 24 hours, including buses, free boat trip, and entry to lots of museums, some of which are worthwhile.

Salzburg Hotels:

Holiday Inn Salzburg
Sterneckstrasse 21
A 15 minute walk from the east side of Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, along a safe main road, served by buses 12 (to the station) and 2 (to the centre of town). Friendly, spacious, and quiet.


St Peter's Bakery
Kapitelplatz 8
Salzburg's oldest bakery, cooking sourdough in the wood-fired oven, using wheat ground by the waterwheel

Festung Hohensalzburg (Fortress and Funicular)
open from 9.30am, worth getting there early for a prompt ride up to the fortress and lots of viewpoints, Regency State Rooms and the marionette museum

Weihnachtsmuseum (Christmas Museum)
Mozartplatz 2
opposite the Mozart statue, this collection of German and other Christmas decorations and traditions was accumulated over 40 years. Unsurprisingly there is also a Christmas shop!

Mozart Birthplace and Mozart Residence
Getreidegasse 9 and Makartplatz 8
if two Mozart museums in Vienna weren't enough, there are another two here!

Museum of Modern Art - high and low
take the Mönschsberg Elevator for clifftop views across the city and the river and the upper museum. The lower one is behind the Franciscan church in the Old Town. The lift costs money but is cheaper with a museum ticket, valid at both venues.

Panorama Museum
Dating from 1829, this panorama shows Salzburg and the surrounding countryside, and went on tour around Europe at the height of the panorama craze

Boat Trip:

Free with the Salzburg Card, these trips are very popular so you will want to book one early in the day and come back later. If there aren't cheap spaces, you can upgrade to A Class, which gets you into a different queue, and better seats on the boat, behind a velvet rope! Only €3 extra!
The boat gives excellent views up and down the river, and it shows off its speedboat motors right at the end!

Day Trips:


If you want to explore the Tirol region of Austria, Innsbruck is a great place to start. The train journey from Salzburg is mostly in Germany so have your passport handy, but you won't need it. Railjet trains make it in under 2 hours, and run every hour.

The Hauptbahnhof is to the east of the city, and it is easy to get about on foot. The biggest highlights are the Hofkirche (a memorial tomb surrounded by 28 giant bronze statues), the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl) and the Cathedral (Dom).

There's an even bigger attraction that you can get to with zero effort, and it's 2,256 metres high! Right from the centre of town (find Congress station) there is a cable train that goes under the river, then up to 860 metres stopping at Hungerburg. From there you can take a series of cable cars to Seegrube and Hafelekar, a short walk from the summit. There are views over Innsbruck itself, and the Karwendel national park.

We recommend lunch at the Seegrube restaurant, on the first floor (not the self-service cafe). The views from there are amazing, and on a warm day you can dine outside. We had 2 types of soup with meatballs, and then Hünnerbrust and Käsespätzle for some local flavour.

Buy your tickets at Congress station, €30 isn't cheap but they are the best and easiest views in Austria!



This fortress town is on the border of Austria and Germany, and in fact the train journey is mostly in Germany! Have your passport handy, but you won't need it. Railjet trains make it in just over an hour, and run every two hours, so avoid catching local trains that need a change at Rosenheim.

The fortress dates from 1205 and is reached by a funicular. One of the best things about the fortress is the pipe organ, which booms out from the tower each day at noon, and you can watch the organist at the foot of the fortress playing remotely in a small shed. The restaurant in the fortress is great with genuine local fare, like Gröstl and Schnitzel.

Also in the town are a distinctive City Hall, a fountain, two churches and the Old Town.



Halfway between Salzburg and Vienna, this is a good place to stop off at on your way between the two, or even for a night in itself. Remember our tip: it may be cheaper to buy a Salzburg-Vienna ticket, and just get off at Linz. There's no barriers to stop you doing this. Obviously you'd need a separate ticket for the rest of your journey, but it can work out a lot cheaper.

Next tip: the Hauptbahnhof is about 30 minutes walk from the town square, and there are lots of trams, but you need to get the right ticket! The Mini-Karte is €1.10 and good for 4 stops, but cunningly the town square is 5 stops from the station. Up to you how you want to risk this! A Midi-Karte will get you all across town, but is €2.20. The Maxi-Karte is €4.40 and lasts for 24 hours.

One more ticket fact ... to get a ride on the funicular (Pöstlingbergbahn), tram 50 leaving regularly from Hauptplatz (which has ticket machines), it's a further €6.20 return (the ticket is called Berg Und Tal), and Maxi-Karte is not valid. OK?

The funicular is amazing. Taking in gradients of up to 12%, it wanders through some pretty suburbs and cottages, until reaching Pöstlingberg at an altitude of 540 metres. There's a church, a cafe, an art gallery and incredible views.

Linz has set itself up as a centre of excellence for technology, and has some of the most modern museums and galleries in the world. There's the ARS Electronica Center on the north bank of the river, and the modern art gallery Lentos on the south bank. Further into town is the Nordico city museum. The Tooth Museum (yes, really) is in the Old Town Hall next to the Tourist Information.

One shopping tip: the chocolate shop Isabella Confiserie, at Landstrasse 33, has a great selection, and is a good place to buy the famous Linzer Torte.

Los Angeles Travel Guide

UPDATED for 2017

Travel from Airport:

FlyAway bus to Union Station
each terminal has a FlyAway bus stop near the shuttle buses
around $10 per person, they run every 30 minutes or so
pay when you disembark at Union Station, debit or credit cards only

Super Shuttle to your hotel
after Baggage Claim go out to the Shared Ride Van area for your terminal and find the blue uniformed attendant
around $18 per person

Taxi to your hotel

fixed rate of around $50 from LAX to downtown


Doubletree by Hilton Downtown
120 South Los Angeles Street
a nicely presented hotel, some dated decor in the lobby, with an outdoor Japanese garden above reception, and a Starbucks next door; three blocks from City Center station

Standard Downtown
550 South Flower Street
a rather trendy hotel, with a rooftop bar and pool, 24-7 restaurant, and rooms with gigantic beds and baths; two blocks from 7th & Metro station

Travel Card:

Metro card
You first need to buy a plastic TAP card for $1 (like an Oyster card in London) then load your day’s travel onto it - at Union Station ignore the "Metrolink" machines, that's a different company
Day pass $7, week's pass $25, pay in cash, credit or debit cards
Valid on all Metro trains and buses, but not on other bus company lines

Local Info:

LA Downtowner newspaper
Downtown News newspaper
LA Weekly newspaper
all available free in eg Grand Central Market



Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street, enter from Main Street
built in 1928, this iconic structure appears on LAPD badges and feature in an enormous number of films.
To visit the free observation deck on the 27th floor, you need to take your passport to the Main Street entrance and get a visitor sticker. Lifts take you to the 22nd floor, then another to the 26th floor, then stairs to the 27th.
On your way out take the lift to the 3rd floor and see the impressive rotunda, then at the Spring St exit is the Olympic torch from 1984. Spring Street has the most monumental staircase.

Avila Adobe
125 Paseo de la Plaza, enter from Olvera Street
built 1818, the oldest house in LA, part of the El Pueblo district with Mexican market
and stop off at Mr Churro next door for some great filled churros

Union Station
800 North Alameda Street
in a Dutch Colonial Revival style, this ornate and historic Amtrack station is a pleasure to visit and has ornamental gardens

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 West Temple Street, Downtown
modern Catholic cathedral, fantastic tapestries by John Nava, 9am-6pm
there's always lots of priests around

The Broad
221 S Grand Avenue
even though it is free, booking is essential, months in advance, as numbers are very tightly controlled and they have a Twitter feed just for daily ticket unavailability
Impressive international art works
PS It's pronounced "Brode" after the philanthropists who paid for it.

Department of Water and Power
111 N Hope St, opposite the Music Center
free, open 8am-4pm, take your passport, get a visitor sticker at reception, and ask to see the exhibition/museum which is on the ground floor and in the lower atrium
a history of water and power in Los Angeles, including things belonging to William Mulholland

The Bradbury Building
built in 1893, this is a landmark in its own right, as well as a film setting for movies from Double Indemnity to Blade Runner; visitors are allowed to the first floor landing, but not in the lifts

Los Angeles Central Library
630 West Fifth Street, Downtown
even though the whole exterior is in a bland beige stone, it has an amazing pyramid on top that looks like an illustrated manuscript. Inside are large atriums and a decent shop.


The Last Bookstore
453 South Spring Street
cavernous, with new and used books, including the arts, graphic novels, and California's favourite social issues


Grand Central Market
between Broadway and Hill St, at 3rd
this used to be a fruit and veg market, but now has a wide range of great eating places, including Eggslut (coddled eggs and sandwiches), Mexican taquerias, pizza, bagels for breakfast (at Wexler's Deli), and great Chinese and Thai at Sticky Rice Co.
evening events include live music, a pub quiz (free to enter, win free food!) and more

Nickel Diner 

524 South Main St, between 5th and 6th
modern reinterpetation of diner food, good breakfasts, popular with cops
closed Monday, open 8-3 and 6-9pm

The Original Pantry Café
Figueroa St at 9th
open 24-7 since 1924, bread and gravy and meat and all in gigantic portions, this is an eating experience with a sense of history

George’s Greek Café
Figueroa St at 7th, downstairs in the "Fig at 7th" shopping centre
fantastic authentic food, quickly served, lots of variety, take away also available


Getting there:
Take the Gold Line Metro to Little Tokyo station and walk south on Alameda until you reach 2nd St. Turn left along Traction Avenue and this takes you past the shops and cafes below.


Hauser Wirth Schimmel
901 E 3rd St
large art gallery with cafe and bookshop
open 11am-6pm, closed Mon Tue

Architecture and Design Museum
900 E 4th St

Sci Architecture Gallery
960 E 3rd St


Poketo gift shop
820 E 3rd St
open 12 noon - 7pm all week, Japanese stationery, homewares, clothing

Apolis bags & clothing shop
806 E 3rd St

Hennessey and Ingalls Art Bookstore
300 S Santa Fe Avenue


The Pie Hole
714 Traction Avenue
amazing pies, including Shepherds Pie Pie, open 7am-10pm

800 E 3rd St at Traction Avenue
sausages, open 11am - 1.30am all week

Zinc Cafe
580 Mateo St


Getting there:

The Metro Red Line has 3 stations along Hollywood Boulevard. There's not a lot at the first, so get off at Hollywood/Vine or Hollywood/Highland to be in the centre of things


The Hollywood/Highland complex has views to the Hollywood sign, street entertainers outside, big cinemas, and the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre. There's also the Hollywood Walk Of Fame (find your favourite actors/bands at http://walkoffame.com/) and cement handprints of early film stars.


Amoeba Music
6400 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood (two blocks south of Hollywood/Vine)
the best record store you’ll find in Los Angeles, super-friendly and knowledgable staff, you’ll browse for hours before coming away with something you didn’t know existed; good range of DVDs but remember about NTSC and Region 1!


Getting there:

The fastest buses are the express 720 from Downtown, also stopping at Wilshire stations on the Red/Purple lines. Don't get off at La Brea for the Tar Pits, they're actually further along at Wilshire/Fairfax, the same stop as for LACMA.
Bus 20 stops in more places but is much slower. 


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
11am-5pm, Fri 11am-8pm, Sat Sun 10am-7pm, closed Wednesdays
free on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, $15/$25 otherwise
permanent collection and lots of visiting art exhibitions, spread across 5 different buildings

La Brea Tar Pits & Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Boulevard
the outdoor tar pits are free to visit, the museum is 

Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Boulevard
open every day 10am-6pm, $15
honestly, the best thing about this museum is the outside cladding, but if you like cars you may want to go inside


5905 Wilshire Boulevard (in LACMA)
nice place at which to get a modern lunch while browsing the art at LACMA

Courtyard Place
opposite the Tar Pits
has an outdoor food market on Wednesday lunchtimes with lots of stalls and a nice park at the end to eat in


Getting there:
If you're already at LACMA, we'd recommend a nice walk north on Fairfax, stopping in at This Is Not Ikea (515 South Fairfax), a vintage store that supplies lots of film productions and is worth a browse.
Otherwise, from Downtown you can catch buses 16, 17 and 316 which rattle along at a fair pace

Shopping (the only reason you'd come here!):

The Grove
189 The Grove Drive, West Hollywood
shopping, trolleycars, cops on bikes, restaurants, hip destination as seen on The Hills

West 3rd Street
A new shopping district with cafes along its length from the Beverly Center to The Grove
We recommend:
Magnolia Bakery #8389
Plastica #8405
Joan's On Third #8350

Beverly Centre and Beverly Connection
Bloomingdales, Macys, Uniqlo, Old Navy, Target etc etc


The Original Farmers' Market
hundreds of grocers, shops, cafes and restaurants in a historic semi-covered area


Getting there:

The new Metro Expo line takes you from downtown LA to downtown Santa Monica, passing through Culver City. There are also buses but these tend to drive slowly through acres of tract houses.


Visitor Information Center, 1920 Main Street and a kiosk on Ocean Avenue

Santa Monica Pier
Aquarium run by Heal the Bay charity, volunteers explain how they are trying to conserve the local marine life. A 'petting zoo' has fish, eels, crabs etc.

You can walk East along the beach, or alternatively catch a bus from the corner of 3rd and Broadway which runs all the way along the coast road to the end of Venice Beach.
The Tide Shuttle every 15 minutes, only 25c.

Ocean Park Library
2601 Main St
built 1917-18 one of last of Carnegie Foundation libraries


Third Street Promenade

Ye Olde King's Head British Pub, Restaurant and Gift Shoppe
Santa Monica Blvd and 2nd St


Hummus Bar Express
1333 3rd St Promenade
delicious Mediterranean food


Getting there:

Metro Blue Line from Downtown
takes you through lots of suburbs, then travel alongside freeway
as street numbers get bigger and bigger – eventually 190th St!
loop at end goes along main shopping street


The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
vast ocean liner, now permanently berthed in Long Beach, a short bus ride (route C from Pine Avenue); shops, restaurants and historical exhibits of a life on the ocean wave

Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA)
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach
off the beaten track, but a nice walk from the centre of Long Beach, this new museum has art from a variety of cultures and styles

East Village Arts District

St Anthony's Church
600 Olive Avenue, Long Beach

City Center Motel, Atlantic Ave and 3rd St
classic motel architecture and typography


Getting there:

Metro Gold Line, get off at Del Mar station for a nice walk through a park into the central shopping district


Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
open 12-5, closed Mon Tue


The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
unless you have a hire car or know a friendly local who can drive you, you’ll have to catch the bus (234 and 734 from Expo/Sepulveda on the Expo Line) to this beautiful complex out of town.

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Metro Red Line to Vermont/Sunset - take the Vermont exit
DASH bus to the Observatory (a weekly Metro pass gets you free travel, ticket only 50c otherwise) which now runs 7 days a week from 12pm (10am on Sat Sun)
get there early to buy tickets for the Planetarium show which can only be bought on site, on the day
alternatively go in the evening to look at the real stars through free, public telescopes

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
the only Californian winery in central LA, including tastings, a shop and a great restaurant
open 8am-7pm
catch bus 76 from Downtown and get off at Main/Lamar just after it crosses the LA river and railroad tracks, the winery is down a side street about 5 minutes away

Exposition Park:
Museums of Natural History, Science, African American History
Coliseum, site of 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, tours for $25
take the Metro Expo line, and get off at Expo Park/USC or Expo/Vermont