Sometimes, people say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. Unfortunately, my problem is of a literary nature - I have a book addiction.
Small. Large. Leather-bound. Antique. Blank. Fiction. Non-Fiction. I am moved very much by the moment on book purchases, and generally when I take solo trips, I traipse into a book shop at some point on the journey. It's how I've found some of my most beloved journals and reads. On a trip to San Francisco, I found four beloved additions to my collection - London, Paris, Tokyo and Rome. All in the forms of a "Wallpaper* City Guide."
The main reason why I love them is the same reason that's touted on Phaidon Press' home page - they're small enough to be discreet, so you don't look like a tourist when using them. The secondary reasons are many, but start with the very cover of the book. Each front cover flips out into a beautiful trifold of the city from far above it. There are flags denoting key areas that are described instantly for the reader on what would be the flyleaf of a normal book - called "The City at a Glance." At least six spots are listed that are known but not so well known that they're overrun. The back cover unfolds into a "Colour-Coded Guide to the City's Hot 'Hoods." City Guide, you had me at the flip fold.
Of course, immediately upon opening the city guide, your fingers fall to the convenient cut tabs of the pages, proudly pronouncing each section so it's easy to find your way from Hotels to Urban Life - which contains the wonderful dining options the city has to offer. One of my favorite sections that I've devoured in each book, however, is "24 Hours," which offers the best of the city in one day's time. The London guide starts us off in St. James Park at 9 AM and winds down with sunset at Primrose Park at 7 PM. Paris treks through the best of the city's many museums. It's a wonderful synopsis. The "Architour" section highlights the best of the city's buildings, and "Landmarks," "Shopping," and "Sports" sections are not to be ignored, either. The book even offers "Escapes," which lists the best of where to go when you want to leave town.
Wallpaper* City Guides are a fantastic little tour in and of themselves. Reasonably priced, they're a great bet for the solo traveler to have a guide through new cities without missing a thing.
Wallpaper City Guide: Paris 2009 (Wallpaper City Guides) (Wallpaper City Guides (Phaidon Press))
Wallpaper City Guide: Rome 2009 ("Wallpaper*" City Guides)
Wallpaper City Guide: Tokyo 2008 (Wallpaper City Guides (Phaidon Press))