Category: Travel Hacks

Travel Hacks

Best San Francisco Travel Apps Include City Walks, Eats, Wine

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and you’re planning on a visit to San Francisco, then you’ve a wealth of travel apps to choose from. Apps may not replace guidebooks, and you will probably still want a printed guide too, but apps can do things that guidebooks can’t do. They can provide in-depth coverage of special interests, like San Francisco for Families, a Wine Lover’s Guide, and one aimed primarily at photographers, and it’s also easier to keep an app up-to-date than it is a printed guide. For the price of one printed guidebook, you could buy most of the San Francisco travel apps listed below.

Important: You can download all of these apps quickly and easily using something like 9apps.

Cheap Eats in San Francisco

San Francisco has some of the best restaurants in California, but not everyone has the budget to be able to afford them. This cheap $0.99 app reviews dozens of the city’s best budget eating options, is searchable by district or type of cuisine, will find the ones closest to you, and tell you how to get to them using GPS technology.

San Francisco Exploration Guide

Over 2000 photos illustrate this guide to San Francisco’s main attractions, written by two San Francisco residents. It covers the must-see sights like Alcatraz, Chinatown, and Golden Gate Park, but also some of the authors’ favorite and lesser-known places, such as the city’s oldest brewery and the world’s premier custom corsetiere!

San Francisco Families

Author Michele Bigley is a San Francisco mom herself, and here she covers visiting San Francisco with kids. She lists the best family-friendly eating places, where the playgrounds are, the best rainy-day activities, and even where to find bathrooms with changing tables – your smartphone and app will tell you how to get right to them!

San Francisco Restaurants

San Francisco has about 3500 restaurants, and for 99 cents this app will guide you to the best of them. Not necessarily the most expensive, but it will help you avoid the tourist traps, and you can search by district or by cuisine, see photos and reviews of the restaurants, check where they are and how to get there, and call to make a reservation.

San Francisco Stairways

This is the kind of specialist subject that is hard to do in printed form, not least because the cost of color photography would be prohibitive. Enter the app. This cheap app by a San Francisco writer covers 49 of the city’s public staircases, which are of interest whether you admire the architecture, or just want to take some short cuts. You can find the staircases that lead to the best views, ones that take you to city gardens, search by neighborhood, and all the other typical app features.

San Francisco Travel Photo Guide

They always say that if you want to discover the best views of a place, check out the local picture postcards. For San Francisco, one of the most photogenic cities in the world, you need to check out this $1.99 app. Local resident and award-winning photographer Lee Foster has chosen 500 of his photos to illustrate the 100 best views in the city. This app not only helps you decide which views you want to see and to take photos of for yourself, but how to get to them, which are best at different times of day, and so on. If pushed for time, the city’s 10 Best Views are listed.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Wine Lover’s Guide

Author Kim Westerman knows her wine as she has her Level 1 Sommelier’s certificate, and as she also lives in Berkeley and drinks wine every day, you’d expect her app to be good. It covers the best places in San Francisco to drink wine, whether it be at one of the top end restaurants with a great wine list, or a tiny wine bar which dishes up atmosphere and a bargain. There are tips on happy hour specials, and on how to get into a restaurant that’s hot and fully-booked, by way of the bar. For a wine lover it’s $1.99 well spent.

San Francisco’s Chinatown

From picturesque passageways to the best dim sum, and from family-friendly ideas for Chinatown to the district’s nightclubs, this app tells you where they are, what they are, when they’re open, what they cost, shows you what they look like, and provides phone numbers and website links too.

San Francisco’s North Beach and Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is on every visitor’s list, and nearby North Beach is where you’ll find Little Italy. This app explores both areas in full – what to see, where to eat, where to shop – with plenty of photos to inspire you, and interactive maps to guide you.

San Francisco 49-Mile Scenic Drive

This drive is a great trip but local author Steve Faber points out that it can be hard to follow as some of the signs are missing in places and directions aren’t always obvious. That’s where an app comes into its own, guiding you on the way using GPS, making sure you don’t get lost. This app also covers the best spots for photos, so you can get ready to stop, the best restaurants on the drive, the hikes you can do at different places, and 15 museums too.

San Francisco City Walks and Walking Tours

This is an incredibly useful travel app for those who enjoy walking tours. The $4.99 app includes 12 different walks around San Francisco, including Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Japantown, Gay Life, Nightclubs, Shopping, and Architecture. Each walk has its own map with directions, a separate page of written directions, an estimate of the time it will take, and descriptions and photos of the sights along the way. A ‘Find Me’ feature pinpoints your own location on the map, and highlights your movement, so you always know where you are and where you’re headed.

Combining traditional guidebook features with GPS technology, Google mapping, the ability to display lots of photographs, and inexpensive pricing are all reasons why travel apps are taking off. As Conde Nast Traveler continually votes San Francisco their favorite US city to visit, it’s hardly surprising there are so many good San Francisco travel apps.

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Travel Hacks

London’s Secret Gardens

London’s Secret Gardens provide a restful haven for the weary soul away from the frenzied pace of a capital city.

The hustle and bustle of London can leave many bewildered and stressed. While short respites can be found in the many city parks, beautiful gardens are a rarer find. Below are the top three ‘secret gardens’ in London.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Aptly described as a ‘secret walled garden’ in London, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a startling find in fashionable Sloane Square.

Founded in 1673, by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, it is London’s oldest botanic garden dedicated to medicinal botany. Harbouring exotic plants and herbs from different regions across the globe, the garden is filled with alternative therapy cures. Need a cure for toothache? Chew on some Aboriginal eucalyptus. Nerve damage? Try some capsicum to alleviate the pain.

Europe’s oldest rock garden sits at the center of an unmarked crossroads, each path leading off to a distinct carefully laid out section. Like the city it resides in, the garden is a diverse, global village with South African, North American, Maori, Chinese, Indian and European medicinal plants lying harmoniously within high red bricked walls, carefully preserving centuries of fragile collections.

I was so inspired by these gardens that when I came back home, I had my own little garden built so I could enjoy it everyday. Now you might be wondering how I built a garden all by myself, I didn’t, I called Dial A Shed and they did everything for me. I had a whole garden built for less than $1000, which is amazing.

Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

Holland Park in Kensington hides a beautiful Japanese Kyoto Garden a stone’s throw away from the busy London streets. Truly an unknown city gem, the garden was built in the early 1990s to celebrate the Japanese Festival in London.

In the midst of Holland Park’s spacious grounds, a gently cascading waterfall leads into a brightly colored koi –filled (carp) pond. Surrounding maple trees and Japanese topiaries painted upon the pond’s obsidian-like surface lends to the feeling of tranquillity and peace you associate with a Japanese garden.

A roaming peacock struts nonchalantly on a pebbled path, slowly walking the distance around the small pond while a short stone platform is perfect for sitting and contemplating the meaning of life.

Geffrye Museum Gardens

Nestled in Shoreditch, close to the City of London, the Geffrye Museum Gardens is a delightful surprise to find London’s inner city. Housed behind a museum, the gardens are also reflective of the history of English gardens in the past few centuries. Starting from the 17th century to the 20th, the gardens are a timeline of style and changing tastes amongst the English middle-class.

Fragrant flowers, leafy shrubs and a walled herb garden transcend time and give an insight into town gardens of the day. Flowing wisteria and climbing roses lend an elegance and charm to the fortunate wanderer. The romantic Jane Austen like settings takes you on an imaginative journey into the past where petticoats and parasols were the order of the day!

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Travel Hacks

Lyon’s Public Transportation System

Lyon boasts an extensive and modern public transportation network, allowing the city and some of its suburbs to be accessible to those without cars. Visitors may choose from a number of transportation modes: Métro, tramway, trolley, funicular, bus, and last but not least, Velo’v, Lyon’s bicycles sharing program. Purchasing tickets is simple, convenient and again, with a variety of options to accommodate diverse needs.

Lyon’s Métro System

Unlike Paris or New York, Lyon has a straightforward and easy to navigate Métro system. Four Métro lines operate in the city: red, blue, yellow, and green. Entrances to the Métro are marked with the letter M. Train frequency depends on the time of the day and differs from line to line. Waiting time, however, is seldom more than 10 minutes. Major Métro stations and connecting points include: Bellecour, Charpennes, Gare Perrache and Gare Part-Dieu.

Tramway and Trolley Lines in Lyon

After the Métro, the tram and trolley are the next fastest modes of transport in the city. There are four tramway lines (T1, T2, T3 and T4) and three trolley lines (C1, C2 and C3) in Lyon. Unlike the Métro, riders have to validate their own tickets on the tram and trolley. Tickets validation machines can be found near the doors. Don’t forget this step as officers from the TCL, Lyon’s public transportation agency, frequently carry out random checks.

Using Buses in Lyon

Many buses circulate in the city. Some go out to neighboring towns and the suburbs of Lyon. Buses usually take the longest time, but they often go the furthest and to places where other types of transport do not.

Buying Tickets for Public Transportation in Lyon

Tickets for buses and trolleys can be purchased from the driver. For the Métro and tramway, tickets need to be bought in advance. Ticket machines are available at all Métro and tramway stations. Riders can pay by cash or card. A single ride costs €1.60. A set of ten rides costs €13.70. A day pass, at €4.70, allows unlimited number of rides on the Métro, tramway, trolley, funicular and bus.

I just want to put in a quick plug for friends at Go Green Taxis, they have an awesome taxi service in the Newbury area, if you are in the area and need a taxi then you have to give them a call, you will be happy you did.

Maps and Schedules of Lyon’s Transportation Network

Métro and tramway stations have comprehensive maps of all the Métro, tramway, trolley, and bus routes. Free copies of these maps and bus schedules are available at all TCL branch offices. The TCL website has electronic versions of maps and schedules, as well as minutely updated information on delays, route changes, and more.

While Lyon is probably best explored on foot, walking everywhere can get tiring and unpleasant, especially during the cold months of winter and hot months of summer. Visitors to Lyon should plan out the sites they want to see and get a day pass or two, that way they can freely enjoy the city’s beauty without having to keep track of transportation cost.

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