Should You Use a Tourist Pass in New York?

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When I was researching things to do in New York, I kept on coming across tourist card type promotions – cards that you pay a one-off payment for, to let you into a number of top tourist attractions. I decided to look into it a bit further.

There are two main types of tourist card. One that restricts you by time, and one that restricts you by number of attractions.

So, for example the New York CityPass gives you a booklet of 6 coupons to get into 6 attractions. The New York Explorer Pass is a card which gives you a choice of a number of attractions, then you can use your card and visit that number of things. And then the New York Pass gives you a number of days within which you are free to visit as much as you can.

For me, it was a toss up between the last two options. What swung it for me in the end was that I know I can go around things really quickly because I’m by myself and also that they had an app which I found really useful.

I got the card for three days and I did over $200 worth of things, including going up both the Empire State and the Rockafeller Center, a walking tour, the museum of sex, the Lego exhibition…and so much more. I paid $160 for the pass, so although I could have saved a lot more if I’d tried (and if I’d have taken more walking tours which are expensive) but still, $4o is a couple of meals and so that was a good save for me.

The downside to the “time limit” option is that you really have to plan everything. I spent days working out a schedule for all the things I wanted to do – especially because I wanted to do tours as well. The walking tours you’re able to take with the card only happen once or twice a week and so, unless you take a week’s card, it’s really hard to do all of them. Also, you need to book the tours in advance and their websites aren’t the friendliest.

The upside of this type of pass is that I could fit in things last minute. When the weather turned icy cold, I decided to take a trip to see the Lego exhibition so I could warm up for a few hours. When I was on the way to somewhere else, I found I was near the Museum of Sex and so decided to pop in there for a while.

However, if you’ve seen the list of what’s on offer and know exactly what you do and don’t want to do, then the “limited by number of attractions” option would be better for you, I think. That way, you can take your sweet time over the course of your trip, and can spend time in other places on the way that aren’t part of your deal, and not feel like you’re wasting precious time and money.

The coupon option is good if you have a small budget. Though saving the least, you’ll also be spending the least as there are only 6 coupons and so you won’t be tempted to spend any more than that.

Have you ever used any tourist passes when traveling? Do you have any recommendations for other cities? I’d love to hear them!

Cafe Iroha Breakfast

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Cafe Iroha is one of my favourite places – not only because they let 15+ of us pile in every Sunday to practise speaking Japanese (and English), but also because they serve really great food.

Every Sunday it’s a toss up between having a regular breakfast of grapefruit and greek yoghurt, or going downstairs to buy a pastry from Simit Sarayi, or just leaving it until 11.30 when I go to the Japanese meetup, where I can have a traditional Japanese breakfast. Recently, the Japanese breakfast has been the winning option.

This is what most Japanese people eat for breakfast – especially when there is a wife or mother making it for them! Fish, rice, soup and things like fermented beans called natto are what fuels the land of the rising sun…and also me on occasion!

Find Cafe Iroha at Friedensstraße 6, 60311 FrankfurtIt’s usually open for food from 11.30am and here it their homepage

Kate Miller Photos

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So a few weeks back, I asked my friend Kate Miller to take some photos of me…mainly because the only recent photo I had of myself for LinkedIn was one of me holding two beers up while wearing a dirndl at the Nintendo Octoberfest.

You may have noticed these photos popping up around the place, so here are a few of my favourites! If you are in the Frankfurt area and want an amazing photographer then please contact Kate through her website.

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Friday Links 18/04

 

The gif will never not be funny.

YAY for Easter! I shall be spending my Easter time sitting around reading, blogging and spending a ridiculous amount of time on Instagram and Twitter. HAZZAH.

I started doing couch to 5k this week. After two running sessions, I feel pretty good but on Wednesday night when I ran outside for the first time the cold air was really hard to deal with.

 

LET’S LINKIES

Firstly, I was asked to write a little something for Tipsylit, a great blog I linked to last week. Check out my post on the value of travel blogging here!

Here’s a really great blog post about anxiety and the importance of letting ourselves play.

A school in Japan removed a boy with Down’s syndrome from their school photo. Sigh.

An open letter to people who write open letters. So perfect.

After a funny comment left here on this blog made me laugh, I checked out the guy’s blog and found these really funny Shakespeare comics.

I met up with my blogger friend Laura while in New York and this week she wrote a great post on some theatre she saw there. As if to make me jealous…

Some anime/manga redrawn in western comic styles. I love the Death Note ones…but not sure about the Naruto…

I feel your pain mr Japanese baseball man. Hang in there, you’ll be able to speak English soon! [Video]

Venture Village has some great ways to find a place to live in Berlin.

These condoms seem amazing. Delivery, good materials AND they give condoms to developing countries? Also, the advert is hilarious.

I should really go and make myself some breakfast now. Have a good Easter everyone! I’ll leave you with the question – why do Germans dig holes in The Netherlands?

Best & Worst Airports

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Sometimes, when you plan an amazing trip abroad, the quality of the airport can be the icing on the cake to a perfect holiday…or can be the thing that drags the whole trip down.

Airports can be small, remote, busy, whatever. But there’s one thing that makes an airport terrible for me and that’s bumping up the prices of everything inside it. I recently took this photo of water bottles inside Frankfurt Airport -

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3 euros for a small bottle of water??!! We can’t take water in from the outside, so if we want water we HAVE to pay these prices!

Another airport that I remember being particularly bad for this was Helsinki airport, which I used when I went back to Japan a few years ago. I was so hungry after the flight having only RyanAir style expensive food available to buy, so I went to get a sandwich at the airport. It was something like 7 or 8 euros for just a sandwich! That’s just crazy!

I was also disappointed in New York’s JFK airport. The prices weren’t as jacked up as they are in other places but in terminal 1, where I was, it was shaped like an L and the whole area was just repetitions of the same 3 or 4 shops. What’s more, all the food places sold exactly the same things at the same prices. There was no variation and I didn’t want to eat sandwiches or Pringles.

So what makes a good airport? Let me tell you about my favourite in the world – Singapore airport.

Imagine an airport that has -

Lots of shops with lots of variety.

The ability to just pop out the airport and go to the amazing food court in the basement.

A butterfly farm.

A cinema showing all the latest movies – just walk in and chill out for a bit!

A massive slide.

Did I mention the butterfly farm?

It’s amazing. I’ve been through there 4 times now and I would happily pay extra to go there when I fly to Asia. I’ve even slept there overnight, and that was even great, since they have shower units you can use for a small fee. I’ve never used the cinema, but I love the butterfly garden. They have pineapple everywhere because apparently it’s the catnip of the butterfly world. The city is just a short taxi ride away from the airport and so if you have a connecting flight your suitcases are sorted and you can just drive into town and go eat some delicious local food. Omg.

Frankfurt airport gets a mention in the list of good airports, though. It just tries so hard to be good. Outside the check-in area there are loads of shops and restaurants (all of which are open on Sundays), and the security staff are pretty friendly as far as security staff go. Their motto is “security with a smile” which, admittedly, isn’t always the case, but they have always been super nice to me when I’ve been through there. The downside to Frankfurt airport for me is that although it’s only a short train ride to get there, getting from the train station to the departures is a mighty faff. It’s just so far. And it’s even further walking from your plane to the baggage collection area, then to try and find the train station and then the right platform to get back to town. That last part is very poorly signposted.

What’s your favourite and least favourite airports? Have you spotted outrageously overpriced food and drink in airports?

What I Ate in New York (Part 1)

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The first thing I learnt in New York was to not buy things from street vendors. This was a “chilli dog” I bought for $5. It was disgusting, but I have heard lots of other worse stories so I think I may have gotten off lightly.

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The second thing I learnt was that if I forgot to eat the whole day and then at around 4pm went to the first place nearby, I’d end up eating crappy food. Here is a cob salad I had at TGI Fridays. I seem to remember eating at TGI’s in Miami and really loving their salads, but this wasn’t so good. But yay for avocado!

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NOW we’re talking! I wanted to compare 5 Guys and Shake Shack, and ended up finding a 5 Guys first. I loved it. I loved the burger, I loved the peanuts and I loved the malt vinegar to go on the fries. Love love love.

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I had to go to Magnolia Bakery. I have to say, being a person who is not too fond of cupcakes normally, this was one of the best desserts I have ever had.

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A little over exposed, I apologise. I walked around for SO LONG trying to find K-Town, the Korean part of New York. It sucks relying on screenshots of maps I took in the morning. But when I found it, I was HUNGRY. There were so many places to choose from so I ended up going for Kunjip. Luckily for me, Kunip appears to be one of the best places in town and was super busy with people wanting to try his top restaurant.

I was seated with a young lady (whose name I have forgotten – sorry, if you’re reading this!!) and we had a blast talking while we ate our bibimbaps. The food was excellent value for money (less than $10) with loads of sides. My only thing about it would be that there wasn’t any sesame oil to put in the bibimbap, which would have made it taste even better.

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I was trying all the glitter polish in Sephora…

On the way out of K-Town I decided to try some frozen yoghurt! It was soooo good. So good, in fact, that I had more every time I went by a red mango place again!

Friday Links 11/04

This week has been a blur. I’ve not finished editing all my New York photos yet, and it took me a good few days to stop being sleepy.

I also have to get my bum in gear and arrange the whole Leaving Frankfurt thing. Why do things have to be so energy draining?

But I have a load of really cool posts lined up. I can’t wait to share all my adventures with all of you!

 

LET’S LINKIE!

For people who like their links a little creepy, here’s a 19 year old photographer who reenacts his nightmares in photos. Really creepy…

Here are some more options I’m considering for my next career move. Chocolate beer specialist sounds like a good fit for me!

I love old time photos of Japan. I wish I could jump through the photo and walk in that world.

I’m definitely using this next time someone makes me really angry.

Here’s a blog post from a woman doing amazing things in Uganda. That must be such an amazing adventure to be on, and it seems she’s learning so much through the experience.

I found in New York it was really hard to get out of Times Square sometimes. I wanted to go to other areas but then the thing I wanted to do happened to be in or near Times Square. But I do wish I’d had the time to go find these hidden things to go see in that area – although I did go to the comic shop!

Here’s a very long read that I’m actually only a part way though. It’s a diary of 40 dates between a guy and a girl. It’s really interesting, and I LOVE the website design. But like I said, it’s a long read!

If you’ve ever written a thesis, how would you sum it up in one sentence? Mine would have been “Why the TOIEC [an English exam for Japanese people] is a pile of shit”. Enjoy the thesis themes of other people on Lol My Thesis.

Here’s another blogger who went to Dublin recently, but experienced the gorgeous city in a very different way to me. A very interesting read!

Here are some great apps for people living and also visiting London! Some really handy tips there.

My blogger buddy Bevchen shared a sausage roll recipe and every time I look at it I’m hungry again. She’s such a troll!

I want to dress our cats up as cat busses.

Another blogger buddy of mine, Lehrer Werkstatt wrote a great post on the differences between American and German organised labor. Another excellent read!

Tipsylit is a great literature blog that you’re going to get to hear a lot more about in the very near future! In the meantime, have an awesome post full of made up greetings cards. I think my favourite is “Another baby.  Well, if you’re okay with that then I guess I am, too” because that’s how I feel when people get pregnant.

Here’s an old video from Daily Grace. Who I love.