Museums

One of the great things about being in a big city is the choice of museums and galleries available. Actually, I know people who would refuse to go in any gallery regardless of what it is about, but I am sure they are in a minority.

Here in London we have some great places to visit. Some are free. The National Gallery, the British Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A are. If there is a special exhibition on you will probably need to pay and I suggest booking in advance (on line) to avoid disappointment.

For most places there will be security checks and limits on bags that can be carried around.

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NYC

As I mentioned, I have been in New York City for a while.

There are lots of nice things there and it is a great place to visit, but I wanted to write about a couple of matters that were not so good.

First, the exchange rate is bad, very close to being £1 = $1. Given the generally high prices there, it makes shopping, especially clothes, almost impossible for anyone not extremely rich. Yes, places do have “knock 30% off” labels, but they are still a lot of money.

The big bugbear is tipping. You have to tip virtually everyone now. It’s not like these people don’t get paid, but they do expect extra. The rule used to be twice the tax, but now, especially in restaurants, suggested tip is printed at the bottom. Mostly they start at 25%. There were one or two going from 20%, but none in the teens. An extra 25%+ on an already expensive meal is something that, well, let’s not say it is a con or a liberty, but something you have to watch out for.

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Holidays

As you read this, I am coming back from a nice holiday to the United States of America, and New York city in particular.

I have been many times before, of course, usually in the spring or autumn/fall. It’s not too hot, not too cold, just comfortable for walking round, and the flights are less expensive than school holiday time.

Going back to a place many times is great, because there is no presure on you to do the ‘touristy’ things. Yes, you can go up the Empire State Building if you want to (but it’s so expensive these days) but you don’t have to if you have done it before.

Instead you can explore the less obvious places, be more like a local, have a day trip somewhere, just sit in a park with a book drinking cider and soaking up the atmosphere of somewhere that is not home.