Tag Archives: Traveltip

Travelling without guide books. Google maps not accessible anymore

Last week I referred to an article ‘Ditch the guidebook’ in my post and mentioned that I use Google maps to mark all my points of interest and when being abroad I would use an App to have access to my maps . With the GPS function I was able to locate myself in the city and walk down my pins.

Well, happiness has ended and I am back with paper 😦 at least that in style.

Seems that not many people travel the way I do. I keep my eyes constantly open for interesting places; be it for restaurants, cafes, deli shopping, museums, culture, party places and anything with food. Anything I consider ‘good’ goes on my custom Google maps and whenever I go somewhere, I would be ready have great things at hand immediately. Sources are: other travel guides, newsletter, newspaper, friends, Facebook, internet in general, etc.

But I hardly know anyone who does it like that. Seems that most people buy a travel guide and pick things from there.

I am not satisfied with that – I want only my top picks, my personal creme de la creme at hand. Everytime, immediately. I have a good nose for quality, good stuff and trends. A truffle pig doesn’t settle for anything else/less than truffle or bellota (=jamon de bellota) once it tasted it …

As I noticed this weekend in Barcelona; Google stopped this service. Meaning, I can’t synch my maps to my iPhone anymore. Although there is a workaround, but it’s not very handy. I can access my individual cards via the Safari browser on the Google Maps App. But all my special marks and notes are not available.

I have found alternative Apps that I will test. They’re called oMaps, OffMaps, Galileo, OpenMaps and use opensource maps. But as I see from reading the descriptions I can not create custom maps, nor set personal pins nor import other maps. They offer additional service like what is near you and other peoples marks. But I am not interested in other users content, only mine.

Maybe I’m lucky with The Cartographer, I have to find out if they’re also effected by the recent change and if it suits my needs.


Ditch the guidebook – trend in travelling

The Guardian has written an article on how to discover a city best – through people living there.

I started to collect all my travel tips and discoveries via my google map account quiet a while ago. There reason for it was to get around carrying all my travel guides and being noisy to discover new places constantly AND being pretty particular in my choices I needed one central place to store them.

See here some maps I made for Paris; sorted by arrondissement for better overview:

Overview of all arrondissements, 3ième, 4ième, etc. and it looks like this on my iPhone.

Since I have found this App I have access to them while abroad – I’m quiet happy with it. And my maps keep growing. Whenever I read something, I would add it. Read my update on this.

No need to buy paper anymore!

Just now I have discovered that SpottedbyLocals have launched their city apps – great! I get one for my next city, probably Prague. Or shall I go to Istanbul?

Another favourite information source of mine is Smart Travelling the publisher of the German weekend guides ‘A perfect weekend in…[name of city]’, they have annouced that they will also issue an iPhone App. I hope to see it soon. And of course not to forget, I like the Hedonist Guides for eating and deli shopping recommendations.

Read also this PDF article ‘Guidebook Alternatives‘ of Sunday Times listing free guides.

Don’t need to travel alone – meet a fellow on the plane

Ever wondered where the other passengers of your plane travel to? Or are you travelling somewhere alone and like to meet a similar minded person for a cup of tea? Give Planley a try – I will the soon I know my next travel plans.

Handy travel apps for your iPhone

Having expressed to Google that I wish to have my Google-Maps at hand while travelling , I still yearn for cool travel apps. So I took the quest to find out what kind of travel apps are around and pick the coolest and most practical ones.


  • network necessary – hey, you don’t want to spend your money on roaming cost but on shopping, right? But most need them. My tip: get a hotel with free wi-fi access, prepare your ‘trips’ when being there by copying the content (screenshots). Press the home button and the switch-off button (top right) at the same time. If you hear a camera clicking noise – you were successful. Also check your album to be sure. So I will not mention it separately. Unless it is NOT needed.
  • easy to use – you don’t want to waste time finding out how that GUI really works, right?
  • Price $£€

New York: NY Times The Scoop NYC

  • Description: tips on where to eat, what to see and what to do.  Structured as a tick-off list for the things you have done. Very nice for your ego if you have ‘completed’ some of the locations – in particular when not being a New Yorker 😉
  • ease of use: very simple, very nicely designed. Check out the section ‘Only in New York’
  • $£€: FREE

Paris: a guide to flea markets and brocantes (Keys to the fleas)

  • ease of use: not yet tested, only discovered today! I’ll keep you posted
  • $£€: USD 1.99 or CHF 2.20

TripWolf: Guides to several cities vs TripAdvisor

  • ease of use: register first, confirm agb’s, complement your profile online and download a guide. Do this best when having a wireless connection available. Although you have the choice on how big your downloaded guide shall be – it takes quiet some time. I went straight away to the maxi version of Barcelona and it indicated a downloading time of 40min
  • Summary: If you know nothing about the city you are going to visit AND you want to stay on the beaten track, then this is the right app for you. It’s not really a guide, it provides you lists of the usual suspects. Similar style like tripadvisor, but has more categories and seems to me more organised
  • Conclusion I: I rather go and buy a small booklet. I will not depend on online capacity and I can read the content before I buy it.
  • Conclusion II: If you want to find a real treasure you won’t find it with the two of them. Too much information to dig through, too small the chances to find something good in a reasonable time
  • $£€: FREE in the beginning. Upgrade it with Marco Polo’s guide fo CHF 5.50

Google Earth: finding your way

  • ease of use: download and register (with your google account). The zooming from outer space to my current location is cumbersome. No possibility to switch of the satellite view
  • network: without it, it’s useless!
  • Conclusion: if you want your Google maps at hand at all times AND you don’t need to worry about roaming fees – go for it
  • See below how my GoogleMaps look like

World Customs & Cultures: a manual on how to approach people, talk and be polite in foreign countries

  • ease of use: very simple. Countries are sorted alphabetical. Once selected a country you can choose between different categories. Personal space & Touching, eye contact, gender issues, taboos, etc.
  • $£€: FREE

Smart Travelling, the publisher of the ‘smart’ travel guides ‘Ein perfektes Wochenende in…’ (a perfect weekend in …)

used to publish a key in their travel guides which gave you the possibility to look-up more information than the top highlight given in the book. I absolutely love these guides. Short, to the point and always quality tips! Just the right amount for a weekend, no frills no fuss. Guides are available for Amsterdam, Antwerpen, Barcelona, Berlin, Bruxelles, Budapest, Dublin, Firenze, Hamburg, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Lisboa, London, Madrid, Marseille, Miami, Milano, München, Napoli, New York, Nice, Palma, Paris, Praha, Roma, Salzburg, San Francisco, Stockholm, Valencia, Venezia, Wien, Zürich. They have announced recently that they changed their business model with the effect that you can access now all travel information online, but the most important THING I am looking for is their App! Please, please Dear Nicola Bramigk and Nancy Bachmann, let me be your App-Testing-Slave. I hope very much I can tell you all soon a bit more (super excited). And don’t miss their blog full of food tips ‘best of‘, aswell, short and precise. Meaning, only a picture of something yummy and where to get it. Ou ou, I get all experimental

Come back later for more information on travel preparation and other handy apps.

Mad as a hatter or hast Du eine Meise?

My dear friend Julia gave me a tip to a living room look a like cafe in Baden. It’s called ‘Frau Meise‘ meaning ‘Ms Titmouse’. I had to look up the word Meise in English, I admit. I decided to translated as written to prevent a double meaning with another possible word translation ‘tit’ 🙂

I adore the style of this page, it has sort of a french touch to me and that is always good. Mais oui!

But I also remembered the cafe because I read this article on tink.ch ‘Lieblingsplätze XV: Zu Gast bei Frau Meise‘. One of these articles I consider worth keeping and to remind me to visit Ms Tit, oops!

PS: I’ve you found my subject a bit funny, I looked up the translation for ‘Hast Du eine Meise’ by sheer curiosity and than I remembered hearing that at ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Tim Burton.

Note also that the cursor is a small pink bird and if you passover the menu a bigger bird in blue shows on the left. See also on the picture.

Zurich Brunch Location – Update

Here’s an addition to my post “Zurich’s Brunch location tips“. I stumbled upon a map I’ve made on GoogleMaps some time ago; sometimes I just forget how thorough I did something somewhere else… 🙂

PS: All you ladies put your ballerinas on for this brunch! Note that the Chäsalp has an unconventional price calculation – multiply your height in cm by 21 Rappen (for adults). I would pay 35.70CHF

Update (13.0110): There is a group of people, called Bloodysundaybrunch, who meet once a month for a Sunday brunch in Zurich. You’re welcome to join.

I actually create a lot of maps for my travel trips (Paris, Barcelona, London, New York, etc.) to keep an overview of all the tips I read in magazines, blogs, travel guides and so forth… I create them by category such as culinary, party, eat, sleep, shopping, etc. but I would like to be able to group them also by district/area. Especially handy in big cities. I would like also to have a iPhone app where I could access these maps and combine them with Wikipedia entries depending on my current location. Actually, the iPhone App AroundMe does that! Was very cool in NYC; so I could update my friends on special sites real-time. But I depended on free wi-fi. No problem in NYC but in other cities I hardly have access to free wi-fi spots and roaming can become veeeery expensive. I’ve tried to search a restaurant in BCN on Google Maps via iPhone. It took me about 2-3min and costed 33CHF (USD 32)…

If I could wish from GoogleMaps some other functions; these would it be

  • duplicate a created map
  • move a set point to another map
  • have them available on my iPhone

Christmas markets in Europe

I am in the midst of my next years planning of activities. Sounds a bit rigid and too organised, right?

The reason for this is simple; I just feel to miss many nice events. So I changed my strategy to select all the nice things I’d like to see and start to plan when I could go.

This is one thing I would like to see next year:

Basler Weihnacht

Speaking of markets; the Zwiebele-Märit in Bern is also on my list. Next 22nd November 2010.

Find here the list of Christmas markets as made by Livingathome.de in Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany and Europe.