Tag Archives: city tour

New York for the Weekend

We just spent a great weekend in New York City. Well, everything was great except how it ended. We needed to rush out much earlier than planned since it was announced that all public transit will shut down late afternoon Sunday due to Hurricane Sandy.

Anyway, here’s a few exciting (and interesting) things you should put on your list when visiting NYC; well not all of this…

Windows 8 GA @ Times Square

Just when we arrived later Friday evening, Microsoft did a big roadshow pretty much all over Time Square due to their GA of Windows 8. Tons of booths. And you were convinced why you should have a surface. Of course.

One thing I really recommend is visiting the Empire State Building at night. It’s open until 2am and there is no line and no crowd if you go up late. This was my second time up and I find it very impressive to listen to the sound of the city below even at the late hour. I could stay up there for several hours. There is not much to going all the way up to the 102nd floor other than crossing it from your bucket list. There is no difference in the view and you probably hurt your head in the tiny room.

North East View Empire State Bldg

Visiting the Wall Street Bull (which is actually located on Broadway) is touristy thing you shouldn’t miss. I couldn’t find it the first time and ran out of time so I was happy doing it this time.

Sort of around the corner is the 9/11 Memorial which I highly recommend visiting. Admission is for free but you need to make your reservation at least a day prior to your planned visit. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about that but randomly found out you could tours with the 9/11 Tribute Center which happened to have two leftover tickets for the next upcoming tour. We didn’t know how lucky we were at this point. The tours are led by people who have a personal connection to the 9/11 attacks. Firemen, people working in the towers or living across the street. You very much will be moved having that whole additional dimension added while walking that ground.

The remainder of the day we spent with walking up the rest of Broadway up to Time Square. Only do that with a really comfortable pair of shoes. But it’s rewarding. You only really embrace a city by walking it.

Always a good place for breakfast, lunch or dinner is Ellens Stardust Diner located on Broadway at 51st. Enjoy your food while listen to Broadway youngsters. Be prepared to throw some bucks in their bucket to honor their performance. Food is delicious.

MoMA Sculpture Garden

Sunday was pretty lazy except a visit at the Museum of Modern Arts. Probably worth seeing but we both agreed that we’ve done more exciting things. If you want you can easily spend an entire day there.

As I said, we needed to rush out much earlier than scheduled. There was a substantial chaos at the Port Authority and the Greyhound folks were quite challenged with handling the crowd. All bus lines pretty much ran all buses available as soon as they got filled until the last seat regardless the schedule. Anyway, we got out.

Check out the updated New York photo stream.

The Charles River

So I’m in Boston for almost three weeks now! I started to work right away, pretty much in the first night I got here. And then, there is a lot of bureaucratic stuff to deal with. But that’s another story.

Spectators at the DeWolfe Boathouse
Spectators at the DeWolfe Boathouse

Today I finally was able to cut out some quiet hours. I grabbed my well used camera and started an easy city stroll. From my yet poorly furnished apartment I walked over to the Charles River, over the BU Bridge and through the Boston University campus. Dozens of people were heading the same direction to be a spectator of the yearly Head of the Charles Regatta. I watched a few rowboats and then continued to walk eastwards along the esplanade. The trees are featuring bright fall colors, well known across all New England as the Indian Summer.

Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden

The ultimate target was my every-Sunday-late-afternoon Starbucks at Winter Street. Yes, that’s right, there is such a thing already! After a few moments at the DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell and the Public Garden the sun was setting and the warm fall day started to end. It became chilli almost instantly. Time to zip up your jacket. And for Starbucks. Here are the photos.


I just came back from my first trip to Spain. The journey started with a train ride to Vienna, the city I lived for the last year. Vienna’s West Train Station was reopened recently after two years of reconstruction–and it looked beautiful: lots of space in the waiting area and comfortable places to stay. But I don’t understand why there is no free wireless. Anyway, my flight was late-evening from VIE and I arrived shortly before midnight at Plaza de Cataluña after taking the Aerobus. After walking down La Rambla, I met my friend at the hostel in Carrer de la Unió. We walked around the nearby neighborhood and the harbor.

Barcelona Harbor with L’Aquarium de Barcelona (red) and W Barcelona

Next day, early morning we took the metro to Vallcara and walked up to Parc Güell (actually escalatored up :)). Parc Güell is famous for the architectural elements designed by Antoni Gaudi. We continued to walk down to Sagrada Família. Later that day we had a short walk along the beach.

Sagrada Família

On Sunday, on my way to the airport, I stopped by at Plaça d’Espanya, to see the Venetian Towers and enjoy a last view over the city, right next to the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña. Please have a look at the photography section for more photos of Barcelona; I’ll post them soon!

About Hong Kong

First thing you recognize in Hong Kong is left-hand traffic. But you are reminded at almost every crosswalk: “Look Right!”. Obviously, this is not astonishing at all as they were British until 12 years ago.

Hong Kong Traffic

Something else, which you’ll inevitably run into and which is quite unusual (but not unique though) is that three banks are licensed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for issuing Hong Kong Dollar bank notes. So don’t wonder once you have three different looking 20-Dollar notes in your purse. Also remarkable is the Ten-Dollar polymer note.

Time Square Shopping Center

However, what amazed me most is the Octopus Card. Initially, I perceived it as an RFID card for prepaid public transit payment (similar to the Breeze Card of MARTA in Atlanta, GA). But it turned out that this card is also widely accepted at grocery and convenience stores, coffee shops and even restaurants. So this card became a very convenient payment method–the most convenient I experienced so far. The idea is similar to the Quick system in Austria, but since the Octopus is contactless, it is way more practical.

Hong Kong Skyline from Kowloon

In general, Hong Kong is very much a western city. All the American chains are there, huge flagship stores of Europe’s and America’s most exclusive fashion brands are marking the city center. One will definitely smell the sea. It is very easy to get along with English only. And of course all the skyscrapers that are shaping one of the world’s most astonishing skyline.

Hong Kong Skyline from Victoria Peak

Here’s the updated photo stream!


After a lot of walking through three major and historic cities of the United States–especially after loud New York City–I was glad that I had the chance to stay with a family for Christmas and New Years Eve, and calm down. I was welcomed by the father at the train station in Harrisburg; unfortunately the train was late for over an hour, due to a mechanical defect of the locomotive. Before we drove to their house I got a brief Harrisburg-introduction, which was continued on the next morning.

Harrisburg, PA
Harrisburg, PA

The Christmas days were full of family parties. A lot of people and delicious food–what a great thing for Christmas! I am very thankful for the hospitality I experienced in those days.

New York City

Right after our arrival through the Holland Tunnel we went to see the Times Square. Billboards and displays all over the place and an unmanageable amount of people are shaping this place. What else is important to see if you are in NYC at Christmas time? Right. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree. But I need to warn you! It was way not the greatest Christmas Tree I saw!

Time Square

Brooklyn Bridge was our next place to go. What a fantastic bridge! If you saw Kate & Leopold you might even more appreciate it. Due to the temperature, we were not able to stay very long on the bridge. After dinner I decided spontaneously to go for the Empire State Building. No line at all! I ended up staying there from 11pm until 1am when they closed – always returning inside for warming up. I had also the chance to see the rising moon, which made the visit unforgettable.

Manhattan Skyline, from Empire State Building

Ground Zero, St. Pauls Chapel, M&M Shop next to Times Square and a lot of Starbucks due to much wet snow was the program for day #2. In the evening we watched 4 Christmases at the Regal Cinema at W 42 Street.

The Plaza and South Central Park

Day number 3, last Saturday before Christmas. Grand Central Station and a more or less quick visit at Macy’s. At around two o’clock I started lining up for ticket’s for The Phantom of The Opera at Broadway. Although the line was quite respectable, it just took me a little bit more than half an hour. Before I returned to the hostel for dressing up we did a little walk at Central Park. The musical was fabulous!

Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

Sunday. Started in Brooklyn, walked over Brooklyn Bridge, break at Starbucks. Wall Street and Staten Island Ferry to get close to the Statue of Liberty. The weather cleared up and I had the chance to enjoy a wonderful sunset from Brooklyn. After dinner we returned to Brooklyn to take some more pictures of Manhattan Downtown and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was super freezing! We ended this evening with a nice cocktail at The Plaza at Central Park.

Main Reading Room, Public Library

Monday, last day. Public Library and Bryton Park. At three o’clock I headed for Penn Station where I took an Amtrak train to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I’m going to stay with an American family for Christmas and New Years Eve.


We traveled to Philly from DC by Greyhound. Unfortunately, the bus broke down after short time in the middle of a five lane highway. We transferred to another bus which took us to Baltimore. There we were waiting for the final transportation to Philadelphia. We took the subway from the bus terminal to our hostel located in Bank Street, a side road from Market Street.

Liberty Bell with Independence Hall in Background

On the rest of the first day we visited the Liberty Bell and walked up all Market Street until the City Hall. On the place right in front of the City Hall was a little Christmas village; very similar to what we Austrians are used to. I enjoyed this a lot! We proceeded along Broad Street southwards to The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts where we ended up listening for a little concert for a while. After that we went to get a “Philly Cheese Steak”. Don’t expect a hearty steak topped with cheese – Americans are making a sandwich out of everything *haha*. We went to Jim’s located at the corner of South Street and 4th. The rest of the evening was about hanging out in the hostel, playing pool and meeting other guys there.

Love Park / JFK Plaza with Philadelphia Museum of Art in Background

We started our second day, Wednesday, at the Reading Terminal Market where we had breakfast. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was the next sight to see. The steps in front of this building are especially famous trough the movie Rocky. (And we went there just because of this.) We planned to attend a tour at the City Hall but finally we canceled it because it lasted for two hours and we didn’t have so much time. We took some pictures at the Love-Sign at JFK Plaza and continued with the Independence Hall.

Independence Hall

It was impressive to see the original place where once the Declaration of Independence was signed. This building is listed as a World Heritage Site. Before we went to see the Masonic Temple we went very quickly to see the Betsy Ross House. On the way there i jumped into the Benjamin Franklin Post Office, first post office of the United States, to send my postcards. The tour in the Masonic Temple was very spectacular for me. We saw all the halls where the lodges are meeting. Each hall illustrates another theme – the Egypt Hall was my favorite one. After the tour we went to Rittenhouse Square for dinner and then back to South Street in Old City for a drink.

Pennsylvania Grand Masters Lodge, Egypt Hall

We stayed for another night and left Philadelphia on Thursday at 9am with the Chinatown Bus.

Philadelphia Skyline from Penn Square / City Hall

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. – a good place to start my Christmas Journey. A city full of monuments and museums. A city full of history.

World War II Memorial / Washington Monument
World War II Memorial / Washington Monument

In the evening of the first day I started a little night-shooting (The Ellipse, World War II Memorial, Washington Monument, The Mall). It was super freezing but I was too anxious to explore the city and get some good pictures!

The Donkey and The Elephant
The Donkey and The Elephant

On Saturday I started with looking for a grocery store, which was not as easy as I expected – shops are obviously rare in the area I stayed and are opening not early on Saturdays. But I had a chance to see a nice area of the city 😉 . After breakfast I headed for the White House, The Ellipse and finally for the Washington Monument where I queued for some minutes to go up to the observation deck. The view is just amazing! Down again, I walked down to the World War II Memorial and along the Reflection Pool to the Lincoln Memorial – a great place to hang out! Right next, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an even imposing place. So many people bring flowers and candles to this place.

The White House

On my way home I passed once more The Ellipse, where I stopped a few minutes for listening to a little Christmas concert. At night I did almost the same tour once more to experience the impression from all these monuments in the dark. Additionally, I visited the in the dark almost scary appearing Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the magnificent Jefferson Memorial.

Washington Monument at Night / Reflection Pool

Day number three. The Pentagon and the Arlington Cemetery were waiting for me. At the Pentagon, a memorial to the 9/11 attacks was founded. The Arlington Cemetery is really huge. I spent several hours there to see the Tomb of the Unknowns, the memorial to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger and the JFK Eternal Flame. Later this day I visited the Holocaust Museum. Unfortunately I got there short before they closed. In the evening we’ve been to Madame Tussuad’s – funny place!

JFK Eternal Flame

On my last day I visited the Library of Congress, the Capitol and the Air and Space Museum. The Library of Congress was very impressive. The first map of the United States was exhibited there as well as one of the Gutenberg Bibles. The building is impressive too. Through the connecting tunnel I walked over to the Capitol. I was really lucky to get right on a guided tour. It’s obviously a great time of the year for going there – we where just three people on this tour! At the Air and Space Museum I had a chance to see the Apollo 11 command capsule. So impressive! This thing has been to the moon!

Library of Congress

After all these impressions I really need to say that Washington is one of my favorite so far!