1 June 2019

Vienna and Salzburg Travel Guide

VIENNA

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.
http://www.wienerlinien.at/eportal3/ep/tab.do?tabId=0

Vienna Hotels:

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

Hilton Vienna Plaza
Schottenring 11
http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/austria/hilton-vienna-plaza-VIEPWTW/index.html
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
http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/austria/hilton-vienna-danube-waterfront-VIEHAHI/index.html
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
https://www.parkinn.com/hotel-vienna
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

Eating:

Bitzinger Würstelstand Albertina
Operngasse, just behind the Theatre and the Opera
https://www.bitzinger-wien.at/
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

Kolar
Kleeblattgasse 5
http://kolar-beisl.at/index.htm
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.

Naschmarkt
http://www.naschmarkt-vienna.com/
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!

Sightseeing:

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
http://www.wienmuseum.at/en/locations/wien-museum-karlsplatz.html
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
Stephansplatz
https://www.stephanskirche.at/index.jsp?menuekeyvalue=11&langid=2
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.

Prater
http://www.prater.at/GeneralInformation.php?LI=1
http://www.wienerriesenrad.com/en/?_wb=en/&lang=EN
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
https://www.wienerlinien.at/eportal3/ep/channelView.do/pageTypeId/66533/channelId/-47394
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
https://www.mqw.at/en/
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.
https://www.viennapass.com/vienna-attractions/city-cruises-vienna.html



SALZBURG

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
https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/gb/en/salzburg/szghi/hoteldetail
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.

Sightseeing:

St Peter's Bakery
Kapitelplatz 8
http://www.salzburg.info/en/shopping/long-_established_shops/bakeries/stiftsbaeckerei_st_peter
Salzburg's oldest bakery, cooking sourdough in the wood-fired oven, using wheat ground by the waterwheel

Festung Hohensalzburg (Fortress and Funicular)
http://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/hohensalzburg/
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
http://www.salzburg.info/de/sehenswertes/museen_in_salzburg/museen/salzburger_weihnachtsmuseum
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
http://www.mozarteum.at/en/museums/mozarts-birthplace.html
if two Mozart museums in Vienna weren't enough, there are another two here!

Museum of Modern Art - high and low
http://www.museumdermoderne.at/en/home/
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
Residenzplatz
http://www.salzburgmuseum.at/index.php?id=1830
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!
https://www.salzburghighlights.at/en/Boat-Sightseeing/Boat-Sightseeing



Day Trips:


Innsbruck

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!

https://www.innsbruck.info/en/innsbruck-city.html
http://www.nordkette.com/en/home.html


Kufstein

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.

https://www.kufstein.com/en/
http://www.festung.kufstein.at/index.php/en/


Linz

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.
http://www.linzag.at/portal/portal/linzag/privatkunden/freizeitfamilie/erlebniswelt_poestlingberg/poestlingbergbahn_poestlingbergbahnmuseum

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.



Oslo and Bergen Travel Guide



Getting there
  • There are about 12 NOK to the pound. Dividing by 12 is annoying, but develops good mental strategies at Level 5.
  • The Flytoget train from the airport is 140 NOK one-way to the city centre.
Where NOT to stay
  • We made the mistake of booking the Radisson SAS Park Hotel, which is in Lyseker, a bus and train ride, and with poor facilities.
Sightseeing
  • When shopping or sightseeing in Oslo you will spend most of your time walking between the National Theatre and the Central Station along Karl Johans Gate
  • Buy the Oslo Card - you can choose when it starts and then you have 1, 2 or 3 days to travel and sightsee for free. 180 NOK for 24 hours up to 360 NOK for 72 hours.
  • Museum of Modern Art (Samtidskunst) - buy your ticket, then put your all bags in the lockers (10 NOK coin needed) then go in to the gallery. Failure to follow these rules will mean getting shouted at.
  • On Bygdoy, get the boat from the Radhus to the second stop for Fram, Maritime, and Kon-Tiki. Then get bus 30B to the Viking Ship Museum and walk to the Folk Museum. From there you can catch the 30 back into town.
  • Line up for the 10am Stortinget tour on the north side of the building at 9.45am
  • If you really want to see the Vigeland Park, full of weird nude sculptures, and you can face 30 coachloads of old bored American tourists, catch trams 12 or 15 from the Central Station or the National Theatre. You get to see some nice suburbs on the way.
Eating out
  • Cafe Europa does ciabattas for 70 NOK and main courses for 120 NOK all day with cheap drink prices. It's quiet and has good service. It's north of the National Theatre on the corner of St Olavsgate and Fredriksgate.
  • Clodion Art Cafe is a trendy cafe with great decor and does great house specials. The street it's just off, Bygdoy Alle, has lots of nice design shops. Get off buses 30/31/32 at Frogner Kirke or Olav Kyrres Plass.
  • Dolly Dimples has many branches. You eat with your hands unless you ask for cutlery. The pizzas are big and one 40cm pizza will do for 2 people.
  • Pasta Basta is pricey (140 NOK main course) but the food is far better presented than most Italian restaurants.
  • At 100 NOK for a large plate, Vegeta Vertshus has a vegetarian buffet with salads, hot dishes, pizza, potato cakes, and the drinks are cheap too. It's just south of the National Theatre on Munkedamsveien
  • MacDonald's and Burger King are all over town. A 'menu' i.e. meal deal, is usually 70 NOK
  • Avoid eating in Aker Brygge if you're on a budget, most main courses are about 200 NOK
Shopping
  • Karl Johans Gate is mainly clothes shops and tacky tat. There are some good bookshops at the National Theatre end.
  • For internationally-known stores and some decent food courts try OsloCity, just north of the Central Station
  • Narveset are the equivalent of WHSmith and are everywhere. For international magazines try the Central Station or National Theatre branches
  • If you're from the EU, you can claim tax back on purchases over £25 or so - look for the signs in the window - you need your passport with you - but beware stores who 'have run out of forms'
  • Not all credit cards work in all stores - our VISA was rejected by a big music store - so have back-up plans
  • The second-hand record market is on Storgata, running north-west from the Central Station - it looks like a wild-west saloon!
Getting about
  • The most useful leaflet is the bus/tram/metro 'Visitor's map Oslo' in Tourist Information
  • Any journey within city boundaries by bus, tram or metro is 22 NOK. A day card is 50 NOK and must be stamped at the start of the first journey. Oslo Card holders travel free.

BERGEN:

  • The station is very small, but the ticket office is an ideal place to buy your Bergen Card and Norway In A Nutshell tickets
  • Radisson SAS Hotel Norge
    • It's very central and you can walk with your cases from the station round the lake, though you may prefer to take a taxi.
    • The fitness centre has a swimming pool, get a key from reception.
    • There is a library (not very good books), a bar, and an activity room with table tennis, table football and Playstation.
  • Sightseeing
    • The Bergen Card gets you into almost everything free. 165 NOK for 24 hours, 245 NOK for 48 hours. Only buy it when you want to start using it.
    • The Floyen funicular runs from 7.30am every half an hour. For a fun ride, catch the 'kindergarten express' at 8.30am weekdays.
    • Bergen Art Museum on the lake is in three buildings. The main one requires you to put bags in lockers (10 NOK required).
    • Norway In A Nutshell is a must. Pick up leaflets and timetables and plan which time you want to travel. We recommend doing Flamsbana then boat then bus.
    • If you're really adventurous, combine the Nutshell tour with travelling between Bergen and Oslo - it saves doing the same 2 hour journey twice. You may have difficulty with heavy cases.
  • Shopping
    • While the shops on Bryggen are very nice, watch out for getting short-changed - this happened to us twice in one day
    • The main shopping centres are Galleriet in the centre of town, and Storcenter near the station. They have good supermarkets and cheap eateries.
  • Eating out
    • Dolly Dimples has many branches. You eat with your hands unless you ask for cutlery. The pizzas are big and one 40cm pizza will do for 2 people.
    • Pasta Basta is pricey (140 NOK main course) but the food is far better presented than most Italian restaurants. The one on Torget does excellent 'Tagliatelle alla marinara', and the tiramisu is fabulous.
    • MacDonald's and Burger King are all over town. A 'menu' i.e. meal deal, is usually 70 NOK

Munich Travel Guide



    Getting to Town
  • The subway system has two lines from the airport to the centre of Munich. Go to the Tourist Office on Level 3 at the airport and buy a Munchen Welcome Card. It is available for 1 or 3 days, 1 or up-to-5 people, and for the inner area or all of the transport system.
  • Visit www.s-bahn-muenchen.de for details of transport and www.munich-touristinfo.de for a list of discounts at attractions.
  • Note the airport is out of the inner area so you would have to get the total area card! If you had the time, you could travel 2 stops into town on a single ticket, and then use an inner area card. Not too much hassle for us! It was 26 Euro for the two of us for 3 days.

    Somewhere to Sleep
  • Don't stay at the Hotel Atrium on Landwehr Strasse. It might be near the station, but it's not on the nicest side of town.
  • A much better location is Amalien Strasse, north of the Ring Road and near the Pinakothek. There are plenty of hotels and it's much quieter.

    Eating Out
  • There's always the beer cellars, of which there are many!
  • For a new type of pasta experience, visit Vapiano in the Funf Hofe arcade. You collect a smart card as you enter, then upstairs the chefs will cook your pasta in front of you as you select the ingredients, and then you find a seat. Top up with drinks at the bar, and pay off the card when you leave. www.vapiano.de
  • If you're out to the north of town, near the university and art galleries, a great place to eat is Cohen's, a Jewish restaurant. There's all sorts of starters, tasty mains, and a homely atmosphere. Theresien Strasse 31, phone 280 9545. Universitat is the closest subway station.www.cohens.de
  • For afternoon tea in the classiest surroundings, Cafe Luitpold at Brienner Strasse 11 (near Odeonsplatz) has been open since 1888 and has a fantastic selection of cakes and drinks. When you arrive, choose your cake in the shop before taking your seat, and then give the receipt to the waitress. There's a Palm Garden with regular tea dances. www.cafe-luitpold.de
  • There's also great places to eat in the Schrannenhalle (see below).
    Shopping
  • The 150-year-old market hall in the centre of the Viktualienmarkt is called the Schrannenhalle, and has lots of boutiques and craft stalls, as well as cafes and bars. Every day there is entertainment on the main stage, in a communal German sort of way. Think Butlins or informercials, I suppose.
  • It's a good place to buy gifts or just stop off for a coffee (or a wee). Open 24 hours.
  • The Viktualienmarkt has meats, cheeses, alcoholic drinks, flowers and traditional crafts.
  • Eclectic (and cheap) homewares can be found at Kehraus Outletstore, at Tal 21. Tal runs from Marienplatz to Isartor, and has lots of little shops of varying quality.
    Must-See SIghts
  • There are three Pinakothek museums, Alte (Old), Neue (New) and Moderne (Modern). Take Tram 27 up Barer Strasse, or it's a short walk from the centre of town.
  • The first two cost 5 Euro each, and Moderne is 9 Euro. On Sunday each is only 1 Euro and absoultely packed out.
  • Pinakothek der Moderne is an innovative piece of modern architecture which can be disorientating but worth exploring. It is split into sections for Design, Art, Architecture and Works on Paper.
  • The art is international and there are special exhibitions in each section of the gallery. Visit www.pinakothek.de.
  • There are three good churches in the centre to visit. Frauenkirche and St Michael's Church are to the west of Marienplatz, and Alter Peter is to the south. All have fantastic architecture and atmosphere.
  • The Olympic Park dates from 1972 and still has the original buildings. The Tower is worth a visit, with a Rock Museum and great views. Open 9am - midnight, only 3 Euro with the Welcome Card.
  • The Stadium has seen better days, and is mainly used for concerts. There is an ice rink, a swimming pool, and a park and lake to walk round. Of course there's fab 70s typography too, and Olympic memorabilia in the Tower shop.
  • On the walk back to Olympia-Zentrum station (on line U3) visit the Olympic Village, all ziggurat tower-blocks and communal spaces.
  • History? You want history? Munich has it in spades. Start with the Residence, on Residenz Strasse. There are 4 centuries of architecture, art, jewellery and royal possessions. All over town are historic buildings, including the Neues Rathaus with its famous carillon performing daily at 1200 and 1700.
  • Further out of town you have the palaces of Nymphenburg and Dachau, well worth a visit.
    Our Top Tip: Funf Hofe
  • This is a new shopping and dining arcade, made up of covered walkways between 5 redeveloped city blocks. It was designed by Herzog and de Meuron, famous for Tate Modern.
  • Best shops: Butlers for eclectic homewares and gifts, Muji for Japanese style, Manufactum for German design, Hugendubel for books
  • Best restaurant: Vapiano (see above)
  • Best art: Hypokunsthalle has a shop and cafe, and special exhibitions each quarter. It's half price on Monday evening.
  • Information at www.fuenfhoefe.de

New York Travel Guide

New York

Getting into Town (and back again)

At JFK, ignore the taxi touts. They will lie to you and cheat you.

You could take a SuperShuttle bus, but book in advance and only talk to the uniformed guys managing the Ground Transportation Desk. They will drop you to your door for a reasonable rate, and you get an early chance to see some sights on the way. You can also book your return trip at the same time.

But why pay over the odds? It’s so easy to get to Brooklyn or Manhattan for the price of one subway ride, plus the airport train.
Get on the AirTrain at JFK Terminal 7 towards Howard Beach, this has an additional $5 fare
Buy subway ticket (or use MTA pass – see below)
Get on the back of the A train here and go through to Broadway Junction.
Get off here, go up the stairs, go up the escalator, and over to the L Platform towards Manhattan.

At the end of your holiday, you may leave your suitcase at your hotel. But what if you’re in an apartment? There’s only one solution:

Luggage Storage – Schwartz Travel
visit
355 W 36th St, between 8th & 9th Ave. – 2nd Floor
Close to MSG, Penn Station (West Side) & Port Authority
A.C.E. Subway stop, next to the Wyndham Hotel
Open Everyday: 8am - 11pm
or
34 W 46th St, between 5th & 6th Ave. –  4th Floor
Close to Times Square & Grand Central Terminal
Same Building as Via Brasil & Subway
Open Everyday: 8am - 11pm

Travelling from Penn Station back to JFK:
Take LIRR train, get off at Jamaica Station, $7 – it might cost more but it’s much quicker
Take AirTrain, get off at Terminal 7, $5

Somewhere to Sleep

It used to be so easy to rent an apartment in NYC. Now the law forbids holiday lets unless the landlord is resident. Don’t take the chance – you could arrive and find that your let was illegal.
We can’t recommend particular hotels, but we can recommend where we stayed:

19 Conselyea Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
2 minutes walk from Lorimer St subway stop on the L train
https://www.vrbo.com/321592 1 bed Parlour apartment
https://www.vrbo.com/318560 1 bed Garden apartment
https://www.vrbo.com/344739 2 bed Williamsburg apartment
Because Brad and Sean (both professionals, with a lovely daughter) live in one of the 4 apartments, it’s perfectly legal. We took the 1st floor apartment, but you have 3 to choose from. There are supermarkets nearby and the kitchen is fully equipped. Check it out!

Getting Out

MTA 7-Day Unlimited Ride Card, $30 for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight on the seventh day following first usage
Use the subway. Use buses. Get on a ferry. Get on the Roosevelt Island cablecar. Explore!

Eating In or Out

On the corner of Bleeker Street and Broadway is Han’s Deli (245 Broadway) which has a self-serve salad bar and a hot buffet, with vegetarian, noodles, meat, and lots beside. You’d get more organic stuff at a Whole Foods but if you’re after a quick and cheap dinner, fill up a big container! We went back several times.

Reputedly the best pizza in town ... John's of Bleecker Street, 278 Bleecker St.

Noodles as good as Wagamama and just as stylish can be found at Republic, 37 Union Square West
It gets busy but if you don’t mind a short wait it is worth it. Delicious starters, Pad Thai, and more.

When we heard about Rice to Riches we couldn't believe it. A cafe that just sells rice pudding? But dozens of flavours… even a small portion will fill you right up.
37 Spring St at Mott St

Two Boots Pizza, Grand Central Station Dining Concourse, Lower Level
Even when everything is shutting down for the night, Two Boots stay open with some of the wackiest (and drunkest) patrons around. The TV shows the sports channels (we caught another baseball game, not as much fun as being there though) and the pizzas were amazing. Adam had “The Dude” – a Cajun bacon cheeseburger pizza pie! They have other locations around town, and a concession at Citifield.

Whole Foods Market
Choose from fresh salads, Asian food, sushi and curries. Put your choice in a plastic box and pay by weight.
Union Square South and other locations

Original SoupMan (aka Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi)
259A W 55th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
Fantastic fresh soup, go for the clam chowder, comes with bread and fruit and an NY attitude!

A selection of diners we have tried:

Skylight Diner
407 W 34th Street at 9th Avenue, near Penn Station

Westway Diner
614 9th Avenue (between 43rd and 44th Streets), near the Port Authority Bus Station

Comfort Diner
214 East 45th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue), between Grand Central Terminal and the UN

Brooklyn Diner
212 West 57th Street (between Broadway and 7th Ave), near Central Park
155 West 43rd Street and Broadway, just off Times Square

Shop Til You Drop

Big Department Stores:
Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave at 61st St
Bloomingdale's, 1000 3rd Ave at 59th St and Lexington
Macy's, 151 W 34th St at 7th Ave
Saks Fifth Avenue
get a tourist discount card from these (showing your passport) with limited discounts

FAO Schwarz
767 5th Ave at 58th and 59th St
best toy shop in New York

Crate & Barrel
650 Madison Avenue at E 60th St
611 Broadway at Bleeker St
979 3rd Avenue at E 59th St
451 Broadway at Grand St
amazing homewares

Old Navy
503 Broadway at Broome St
144 W 34th St at 7th (Fashion) Ave
GAP-quality clothes but at much cheaper prices – stock up on tshirts, jeans, chinos and more – don’t buy all at once and you get a discount coupon on your next purchase!

Have a Rest

Bryant Park, 6th Ave between 40th and 42nd Streets. Round the back of the NY Public Library. Free wifi. Nice café.

Symphony Plaza, 8th Avenue and West 56th Street. Perfect if you are eating soup from the SoupMan – see above. Not too noisy and good seating. Watch the office workers and tourists pass you by.

Special Tips

Easter Sunday

Williamsburg Ascension Church, 127 Kent between Franklin St/Manhattan Ave
(walk or take line G to Greenpoint Avenue)
very welcoming, with post-service reception & desserts
or
Church of the Ascension, Fifth Ave at 10th St, Manhattan
traditional service (people dress quite smartly here) and a great welcome
then
Easter Parade 10am
Fifth Av from 49th to 57th Sts
bonnets optional!

Seinfeld

Maybe like us you're a Seinfeld fan. In which case you have GOT to go on the Kramer's Reality Tour. Kenny Kramer, Larry David's ex-neighbour and the inspiration for Cosmo Kramer, runs his bus tour with all the Seinfeld sights. Book well in advance!

Baseball Game

This is unlike any other sport anywhere. Forget the game. It’s like a combination of pantomime, rounders, eating, patriotism, and more eating. Don’t worry about the scoring system. Or the fact that despite lasting for 4 hours the score is only 6-2. Just go, eat, enjoy, and eat some more!




Must-See Sights: Manhattan

Museum of City of New York
1220 Fifth Av (between 103rd-104th)
Subway 6 to 103rd St, open 10-18, $10

Grand Central Terminal
Tours: Audio Tour $7 from GCT Tour windows 9am-6pm
Municipal Art Society – tour window on Main Concourse – 12.30pm every day $20

Empire State Building
350 5th Ave at W 34th St
8am-2am $25
Whatever time of day or night you decide to go, you have got to do this once!

United Nations Building
1st Ave at 46th St
10am-5pm
$16 for a tour, but we showed our passports and went in, saw some great exhibitions, visited the shop and café, and didn’t really need to see the General Assembly. Expect school groups aplenty.
Check http://visit.un.org/wcm/content/ as they are having building work done until 2015.

Federal Reserve Bank
This is one for nerds, the exhibition is good, the tour a little slow, but you get to see the gold deposits and the history of the US banking system.
Book a tour 2 weeks in advance at http://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/visiting.html
Meet at 44 Maiden Lane with ticket and passport

High Line
Best idea ever – an elevated railway that was ready to be demolished is turned into an elevated garden walk high above the Manhattan streets. See New York from a different angle, enjoy the space, the quiet, and the plants.
The south end is near 8th Ave subway on the L line. The north end is not really near anywhere, but Penn Station is closest.
It’s also handy for Chelsea Market, which has nice shops and eateries.

MOMATH: The National Museum of Mathematics
11 East 26th Street on 5th Ave
A pricey nerd visit but if you’re reading this you might be just the type!
10am–5pm, 7 days a week, $16

New York Public Library, Schwarzman Building
5th Ave at 42nd St
10-6 Tu We 10-8, Su 1-5
Free tours at 11am and 2pm daily

9/11 Memorial
You must get tickets in advance, and you purchase them at a different place to the memorial itself:
The Preview Site is at 20 Vesey Street between Church St and Broadway, round the corner from St Peter’s Church
If you haven’t bought tickets online, you can get them here, but there’s a queue. It opens at 9am so it’s worth getting there beforehand. If you need to pick up breakfast, there is two great Pret A Mangers just round the block: 100 Church Street, or 179 Broadway.
When you have your ticket, it’s 5 minutes walk to entry at 1 Albany Street at Greenwich St.
Daily, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
The whole place is a building site so allow time to get through the traffic, and cross safely.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
103 Orchard St (Broome-Delancey), Lower East Side, 10-18, $22
It offers tours of an apartment building recreating the 1870s and 1930s.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Av (82nd St), Upper East Side, Tu-Su 9.5-17.5, Fr Sa 9.5-21, Subway 4,5,6 to 86th St
They claim it costs $25 but it REALLY is optional. HONESTLY. Pay what you can afford, or what you think it’s worth. If you’re only popping in for a break, don’t pay full whack. They won’t be rude to you when you say “I’d like to pay this much”.

Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Av (89th), Upper East Side, 456 to 8th St
Fri-Wed 10-18, Sa 10-20
$22

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Ave at 75th St (take 6 train to 77th)
Wed-Sun 11-6 (Fri to 9)
$18, or pay-what-you-wish Friday 6-9pm

MOMA – Museum of Modern Art
11 W 53rd St between 5th & 6th Aves
1000-1730 and Fridays until 2000
usually $25, free Fridays 4pm to 8pm, but the queues for this are horrendous – easier to pay!
Design store across the street, and another at 81 Spring Street in Soho, which are open M-Sa 1000-2000 and  Sunday 1100-1900


Must-See Sights: Brooklyn

New York Transit Museum
Boerum Pl, Tu-Fr 10-16 Sa Su 12-17,
Subway lines A,C,F,R to Jay St/MetroTech, or subway lines 2,3,4,5 to Borough Hall, $7
The only subway museum that’s actually a whole subway station in itself – with carriages from the past centuries on the original tracks!

Brooklyn Museum of Art
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington Ave

Artists & Fleas
70 North 7th Street between Kent & Wythe Avenues, 3 blocks from the Bedford Avenue L train
Indoor market near East River State Park (see Smorgasburg below)

Brooklyn Public Library
Grand Army Plaza, corner of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway

SHOPPING:

Atlantic Terminal Shopping Mall
Atlantic Ave at Flatbush Ave (Metro 2,3,4,5 Atlantic Av at Barclays Center)
best buys: Old Navy, Target, Uniqlo

826NYC/Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co
372 5th Ave at 5th St, Brooklyn
Part of a literacy project, your kid can also buy all of their superhero needs! Seriously!

Spoonbill & Sugartown bookstore
Bedford Avenue between N 4th and N 5th Aves
10am-10pm

Williamsburg browsing streets:
North 6th Street
Metropolitan Avenue
Bedford Avenue
Berry Street
Wythe Avenue
Franklin Street

EATING:

Smorgasburg
an open air food festival that happens each weekend from Spring to Autumn
East River State Park at N 7th St and Kent Ave
176 Lafayette Avenue (between Clermont and Vanderbilt)
80 North 5th Street at Wythe Avenue (Winter only)
Also hosts a great fleamarket, Brooklyn Flea

Corner Burger
381 5th Ave, Park Slope
10 different versions of poutine, including the classic Montreal original – chips, gravy and curds

Junior's Cheesecake
386 Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue
home to the original 'New York Style' cheesecake

Kellogg’s Diner
514 Metropolitan Avenue, at Union Avenue, near Lorimer St subway
The diner near our apartment, which provided breakfast, dinner, shelter from the rain, and a great place to meet the local community. Great corned beef hash!

Dar
525 Grand Street, at Union Avenue, near Lorimer St and Metropolitan Av subways
authentic Mediterranean cuisine


Must-See Sights: The Islands


ELLIS ISLAND

Ellis Island is more than just a stop on the Liberty Island ferry. Immigrants to America were kept here until processed, and even quarantined if necessary. It’s worth at least half a day’s visit, if you’re interested  in the history of American immigration, and you want to search for your own relatives.
Book tickets in advance at http://www.statuecruises.com/


STATEN ISLAND

Staten Island Ferry
Whitehall Terminal near South Ferry subway
free trip with great views of Statue of Liberty

When you arrive on the island, talk the footpath to the right of the terminal and walk up the hill turning left onto Wall Street. You will shortly reach the Island Museum on your right. This is like stepping back in time. There’s a “Wall of Weird”, a fluorescent mineral room, and some original sketches of the ferry from 100 years ago.

For details of other sights on the island, such as a fort and Historic Richmond Town, go to http://www.visitstatenisland.com/


CONEY ISLAND

This of course isn’t an island you get to by boat. Instead, take the F, D, N or Q lines from Manhattan or Brooklyn and get off at Coney Island Terminal, or other stops W 8th St NY Aquarium, or Brighton Beach (see below).

Damaged by storms in 2012, there is an enormous amount of heritage to visit here. We took bus 74 to the end of Mermaid Avenue, at the west end of the island, and then walked back along the (very windy) Boardwalk promenade. When you’re up to W 19th St, head inland and check out some of the more famous attractions:

Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs
1310 Surf Ave

Coney Island Museum
1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  at W 12st St

There are two big amusement parks, Luna Park and WonderWheel, right next door to each other. Both have lots of rides and stalls, and different pricing points. What you need to know: the free restrooms are in the Lunapark. FREE LOOS! You’ll need them. Thank us later.

If you carry on walking East past the Aquarium, or catch the subway another couple of stops, you come to Brighton Beach. This is not only chock-full of Russian émigrés, but has some amazing shops full of Russian gifts, clothing, books and DVDs. Check out St Petersburg at 230 Brighton Beach Avenue.



Must-See Sights: Queens

Queens has lots to offer, even if it seems relatively out of town.

The Queens Museum of Art has a fantastic scale model of Manhattan and the surrounding area - try to find your hotel! It also has good temporary exhibitions. Corona Park, Queens

Explore round the rest of the Park, site of the 1965 World's Fair. Marvel at the Unisphere. Flushing Meadows is nearby, where the tennis US Open happens each year.

There’s a Zoo, and also the New York Hall Of Science http://www.nysci.org/location/

Then get back on Line 7 and go to Flushing. This town has fantastic sights and shops, and one of the oldest buildings in New York, the Bowne Meeting House. http://www.bownehouse.org/

The best place to eat is Szechuan Gourmet, a really good Chinese restaurant. 135-15 37th Ave, between Main St and Princes St, 718 888 9388.

Ireland Travel Guide

Getting there:
The fastest ferry is from Holyhead with Irish Ferries. The Dublin Swift takes under 2 hours and for a little extra you can get reserved seating in Club Class with free refreshments (think wine, sodas, tea and coffee, pastries, crisps).

Tolls:
The road from Dublin ferry port to the city centre is a toll road, as are stretches of motorway radiating out from Dublin. Unless you are planning on doing lots of driving in and out, it's easier to pay as you go. This can be done in cash at most tollbooths, except for the ringroad which has to be done online like the London Congestion Charge or Dartmouth Tunnel.

DUBLIN

Hotel:
Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan
Despite being only 20 minutes outside the city centre, in a residential district, this has the look and feel of a country house hotel, with extensive gardens, beautifully furnished rooms, a conservatory bar and a nice breakfast offer. Buses 46A and 145 run from outside the hotel gates into town.
For a similar hotel a lot closer to the centre, try the Doubletree By Hilton, also on the same bus line.

Getting Around:
The Leap Card is Dublin's answer to the London Oyster card, which you can preload with money and use on buses, trains, trams etc. It can be bought in many places in the city centre, but closest to the hotel is Clark's Newsagent in Booterstown, at 87 Booterstown Ave. You pay a deposit but can get this back, along with any unused money, after your holiday by going online.
Top Tip: For a refund you need a bank account that accepts SEPA payments - many UK banks don't. Contact me for a handy free alternative.

Tourist Information:
There are two main Tourist Information Centres, one at 25 Suffolk Street for Dublin, and another at 14 Upper O’Connell Street covering the whole of Ireland.

Dublin Pass:
If you're in Dublin for several days, the Dublin Pass gets you free entry to the Guinness Storehouse, the Cathedral, a free Bus Tour, and some other stuff. It's up to you if you feel you will do enough of the listed things.
https://www.dublinpass.com/what-you-get/

Eating:

Le Bon Crubeen, Talbot Street (reservations recommended)
http://leboncrubeen.ie/
Recommended by a work colleague, Adam was particularly interested in the crubeens, which are pigs' trotters. They're not compulsory, there are many different meat and fish dishes, and divine desserts. Don't be put off by the neighbourhood which is safe but not comparable with the quality of the restaurant, which is bistro dining.

Beshoffs, O'Connell Street (near the Spire of Dublin)
http://www.beshoffrestaurant.com/
The best fish and chips in Dublin (though they have stiff competition), this family firm has a take-out downstairs and a restaurant upstairs.

Café La Cocotte, Kildare Street
http://alliance-francaise.ie/cafe/
In the French Cultural Centre, this authentic café has delicious soups, baguettes and hot dishes. Come for the food, stay for the old copies of Paris Match!

Sights:

Guinness Storehouse, St James's Gate
https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en
This was recommended by everyone, and even if Guinness sounds disgusting to drink, it's still a grand day out. You can walk from the city centre, or take the bus or tram to St James's Church.
Top Tip: Book online even on the day of your visit, you get 10% off. Even better, in the summer season if you go before 11.30am you get student rates!

City Hall, Dame Street
http://www.dublincity.ie/dublincityhall
Enter through the city museum, to the left, and ascend the lift or staircase to the main meeting room. A fantastic ceiling dome, statues, and other decoration are worth a visit. Back in the vaults is a well-designed history of the city, looking at its people and its trade,

Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle
http://www.cbl.ie/
A large collection of manuscripts, paintings and books, acquired from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe

Trinity College & The Book Of Kells, College Green
https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/ Get there soon and prepare to queue, this is a big draw for coach parties and walking groups, you can buy tickets online

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham Lane
http://www.imma.ie/en/index.htmHoused in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, a fine 17th-century building, it has a varied collection of modern art from Ireland and abroad
It is near Heuston Station on the Red tram line, or there are plenty of buses from the centre of town

National Museum of Ireland
http://www.museum.ie/Home
This has 4 venues, each with an extensive collection. The first 3 are close to the centre of Dublin.
  • Archaeology, Kildare Street
  • Natural History, Merrion Street
  • Decorative Arts, Benburb Street
  • and Country Life, in Castlebar, County Mayo


AROUND IRELAND

County Kildare:

Newbridge Silverware
https://newbridgesilverware.com
Just outside Dublin is a factory and gift shop for an attractive and wide range of silverware, including gifts for weddings, births, Christmas decorations and more.

County Wicklow:

Avoca Mill and Tour
www.avoca.ie
In 1723 a weaving mill started creating Irish classics

Powerscourt Waterfall
http://powerscourt.com/waterfall

Glendalough
http://www.glendalough.ie/things-to-do/attractions/

Meeting of the Waters, Knockanode

County Tipperary:

Cashel
On the road from Dublin to Cork, this is a small town with a big rock. The Rock of Cashel is a limestone outcrop with medieval edifices, including a 12th-century tower and a Gothic cathedral, well worth a visit.

County Cork:

Cork
We stayed at the Cork International Hotel, which despite being on a business park next to the airport, was one of the most luxurious we have stayed in anywhere in the world. A lovely lobby and bar, spacious rooms, and handy for driving around. http://www.corkinternationalairporthotel.com/

Blarney Castle and Gardens
www.blarneycastle.ie
On a fine day, you could spend several hours walking round the impressive gardens. The Castle is a mixture of a Victorian tarted-up tourist trap, and some ruined battlements, but no real sense of history.

Cobh
This small coastal town is famous for being the last place Titanic made land. It was called Queenstown until 1920, and has an impressive cathedral, St Colman's (cue mustard joke), a museum in the White Star shipping offices (also an arts centre) and lots of places to eat, including Supermacs (supermacs.ie) an Irish fast food establishment purveying hamburgers. There is a pretty marina, sea views, and a ferry across a narrow stretch that takes 4 minutes and saves a long drive back to Cork.

County Kerry:

Ring of Kerry

County Clare:

Cliffs of Moher
cliffsofmoher.ie
West of Limerick is the Wild Atlantic Way, the whole west coast of Ireland going up past Castlebar and Sligo. A great place to walk and explore are the Cliffs of Moher which are such a tourist attraction the parking is very carefully controlled (and pricey). The cost of €6 per person covers parking, access to the modern Visitor Experience, well worth a visit, though the cliffs themselves are free to walk on. There are 3 viewing platforms and an observation tower,

County Galway:

Galway
h

NORTHERN IRELAND

Hotel:
Holiday Inn Antrim
M 2 Jct.1, Ballymena Rd, Antrim BT41 4LL
https://www.hiexpress.com/hotels/gb/en/antrim/bfsan/hoteldetail
We used this as our base for travelling round Northern Ireland, as it was only 30 minutes to Belfast city centre parking, and less than an hour to Giant's Causeway. Cheap, clean rooms, free breakfast.

Tourist Information:
You can get information about sights and tours from the office at 9 Donegall Square North.

Sights:

Titanic Belfast
http://titanicbelfast.com/
This is the must-see tourist attraction in town. You can easily walk from the centre along historic docks. Like any family-friendly attraction, it is heaving and hectic. Book tickets in advance at https://titanicbelfast.admit-one.eu/?p=calendar&style=titanic
If you want to see where the Titanic made its final landfall before its fateful journey, see below information on Cobh.

Giant's Causeway
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway
This is run by the National Trust, and they charge a lot to see it. Parking is usually £10.50 per person even before you see anything.
Our TOP TIP is get there one hour before the visitor centre closes, as you will not be allowed in, and so they can't charge you at all. You can then walk down to the Causeway for free and stay until it gets dark.
The visitor centre closes at: Nov Dec Jan 5pm, Feb Mar Oct 6pm, Apr May Jun Sep 7pm, Jul Aug 9pm
A tip for daytime travellers is, if there are a lot of you in the car, all but one get out before entering the car park, so you only pay for one person, and the rest can walk for free round the side of the visitor centre and down to the Causeway. You have to do the same trick on the way out too!

Enniskillen Castle
Wellington Road, Enniskillen
http://www.enniskillencastle.co.uk/visiting-us/
If you're driving through Enniskillen then stop off here to see an unbiased history of this part of the country. We normally hate "regimental museums" but this had a lot more to it.