"Let me have the straight tip and you won't be a loser" [SILV]
With the BSI Weekend coming up, we thought it might be helpful to provide a series of tips for the veteran attendees and the newbies alike.
The Baker Street Irregulars Weekend is happening January 14-19, 2020, and it's usually a pretty big deal if you're taking time out of your life to head into New York City for 3+ days of activities with people you haven't seen in a year (or years!) or those you may have only known online until now. Whether you're making the trip for the first or twenty-first time, you know that the Weekend provides the same level of excitement, anticipation and giddiness as Christmas morning does to a child.
|All tips gladly accepted|
It's usually during those anxious moments that our brain-attic tends to forget some of the essentials that help make a great trip perfect. And for the uninitiated, it's just a matter of not knowing what you need to survive the BSI Weekend.
This is the eighth annual installment of this post — the first of which was inspired by interviewing several members of the Baker Street Irregulars — including some newer members who might have a less distant memory of their first Weekend, and some who have been at it literally for decades. Information has been updated to reflect changes in the city as well as in technology.
While we know how many well-informed and helpful readers we have, we were once again impressed with the thoughtful suggestions that can make the BSI Weekend an enjoyable and stress-free one for you.
And if there are any additional tips that you think would be helpful to attendees, please feel free to add your own as a comment below. And if you'd like a sense as to what happens, listen to Episode 74:
Herewith the suggestions:
- Make sure that you have plenty of room to bring home books that you bought. If you have to bring an extra bag that you can fold up and put in your suitcase, do so.
- Some suggest bringing a plastic shopping bag to the BSI dinner, as it makes carrying the dinner packet around a little easier, especially if you plan to go to another venue afterward.
- You might also consider bringing a shopping bag to the Merchants Room on Saturday to carry your various purchases. Not all merchants provide bags; carting away your haul is your responsibility.
Meeting Others 📇
- Bring business cards. You will be meeting a lot of new people, and you will be sharing contact information. Put as many as you think that you will need in your pack, and then double it. And be sure to include all modes of contacting you, including website, Twitter handle, etc.
- If you're in need of a good card, the Moo does a splendid job and VistaPrint has a fast turnaround time.
- If you want to make sure you get your table mates to sign your menu, bring a pen to the dinner.
- Allow yourself time to schmooze with other Sherlockians. This is the fastest way to make new friends, who will quickly become old friends.
Comportment / Etiquette 🤝
- Do tell people how good it is to see them again — or to meet them for the first time after having known them only online. Do tell them that you miss them in the intervening months between BSI weekends. Do tell them how invaluable they are to you as a Sherlockian comrade-in-arms and friend and how much you value their friendship.
- If you're scheduled to speak at an event, be mindful not to overdo the alcohol beforehand. Dutch courage is usually inappropriate in such circumstances.
- In this hyper-connected world, it's easy to forget that there are those attending the weekend for whom "it is always 1895" — or nearly so. When you're taking photographs, please be mindful of those who are firmly rooted in the 20th century and who might not want to appear on your timeline by asking their permission to share your photos of them online.
Attire 🥿 🧥
- Bring comfortable shoes. The weekend inevitably includes a lot of walking.
- This one is especially for the ladies: it's useful to have a change of shoes in your handbag so the stilettos don't murder you by the end of the evening (or vice versa).
- Bring warm clothes. It is winter in New York, and non-Sherlockian New York friends say they know when we are in town because we bring really bad weather.
- Dress in layers. Many times the weather can be cold, but there have been instances in New York in January when we could – and did – comfortably walk about the streets without even a jacket on.
- Bring small bills. They will come in handy as you share taxis going from place to place, and you’ll find them handy when tipping helpful service employees. We prefer withdrawing $2 bills from the bank and bringing them with us to make things extra efficient.
- Bring a checkbook to the Merchants Room as not everyone takes credit cards and you may find an item you must have.
- If you see something you're interested in at the Merchants Room and you can afford it, don't wait until your second sweep of the room – it will probably be gone by then.
- Most of the vendors in the Merchants Room are very kind and understanding people, and many are also collectors or Sherlockians themselves. If you would care to haggle with them, they're likely open to it. It can't hurt to ask.
- The BSI and Wessex Press tables will accept credit cards, PayPal and Apple Pay.
- Estimate, on the top side, what you expect to spend – and then double it. That might get you through. 💸
- If you have any health conditions, allow yourself time to go back to your hotel room for periodic rests. Many find these rests invaluable, enabling them to enjoy the weekend despite their condition. Schedule your time.
- Know when you need to be places (including when you need to catch the train/plane back home).
- Count on it taking some time to get a cab amongst the other Sherlockians who may be headed to events on the other side of 5th Avenue.
- Alternatively, download a ride-hailing app (such as Uber, Lyft or Via) to help you avoid these waits. See below for more details and a way to save money on rides.
Getting Around 🚕 🚇 🚶
- Print out a street map of the city with the places you need to be circled or otherwise identified. Many things are within walking distance, but it is good to know you are starting out in the right direction (or know when to turn).
- If you're smartphone-enabled, there are plenty of map apps to choose from. Aside from the standard Google Maps, there's Citymapper, Gogobot's York City Guide for Android and iOS has the New York Travel Guide and Offline Map by Ulmon.
- Download and print the Summary of Weekend Events from bsiweekend.com (and seen below), or bookmark it on your smartphone.
- If you want to go to Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop and are staying at The Roosevelt Hotel, the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to go is by subway. From Grand Central take a 4 or 5 express train two stops to Brooklyn Bridge Station; it is a very short walk over to Otto's. Don't take a local (which makes 10 stops). The express is about five minutes.
- Download the MYmta app from the App Store or Google Play for navigating the subway.
- Pool funds with others to buy regular per-ride MetroCards. These can be shared by up to four people on each trip and are good for one transfer between subway/bus or between buses on uptown/crosstown routes within 2 hours.
- If you're 65 or older, present ID for a reduced fare MetroCard – $2.75 for two rides with the same transfer provisions noted above. Note: a 65+ MetroCard cannot be shared and you must find a live 'token booth' clerk to inspect your ID – reduced fare not available in machines.
- If you reach the end of the Weekend with a balance on your MetroCard, return to New York more frequently! Or give your card to local-area Sherlockians.
- Download a ride-hailing app such as Lyft or Uber.
- We highly recommend Via, which costs only $5 per ride anywhere in Manhattan and is one of the best values from the airport. Use the code scott5q3 to sign up and get a free ride.
- If you'd like a code for Lyft, use SCOTT726787 to sign up and receive a $5 credit towards rides.
- LaGuardia pro tip: Traffic to and from LaGuardia can be a bit of a gamble, and quite expensive. Consider taking a cab to the Jackson Heights - Roosevelt Ave. subway station in Queens, and then taking an E or F train to Grand Central Station.
- Bring your event payment confirmations, just in case of a glitch in the system.
- Also, everything is pretty centrally located, but it's a good idea to have a list of your schedule with the addresses of the venues so that you don't suddenly find yourself asking, where the devil am I supposed to be right now?
- The heat during the BSI dinner has been uncomfortable in years past in the Yale Club (potentially dangerously uncomfortable 6 years ago) – if this continues, vests/waistcoats are not advised. Unless you're Mattias Bostrom.
The Unscheduled 📅
- If possible, make breakfast plans with other Sherlockians (unless you prefer eat breakfast alone – saving energy for later conversations).
- To some, the secret to enjoying the jam-packed weekend is to find private, unpublicized events for more intimate interactions. How to find these? “You know my methods. Apply them.”
Dining 🍽️What? You’re not getting enough food between events? Thankfully there are gaps that allow a Sherlockian to venture places on his or her own. And of course, there are plenty of restaurants in and near Grand Central Station, which is in great proximity to the Yale Club and the Roosevelt Hotel.
- Several Sherlockians like to go to the Oyster Bar for dinner after the Thursday night lecture.
- There is Urban Space food court across the street from the Roosevelt, at Vanderbilt and East 45th Street, and of course Starbucks in the station and at nearly every corner.
- For a more comprehensive listing of eateries nearby, Serious Eats has a guide that breaks them down by category and of course Yelp has many suggestions as well.
- And heaven forbid, don't forget about the Red Flame, the perennial favorite next door to the Algonquin Hotel on W. 44th Street.
Online 📱Whether you're in New York for the festivities or sequestered at home, it might be worthwhile to follow along online. Some ways to do that:
- The official hashtag of the BSI Weekend on Twitter is #BSIWeekend. We have a feed set up on the BSI Weekend website, or you can simply follow along by clicking on the hashtag, or even on TweetDeck.
- We also have a list of Sherlockians on Twitter whom you might consider following. A number of them will be at the weekend as well.
Here is a handy downloadable and printable guide for the weekend; you may also bookmark it on your smartphone for easy reference (or download the Scribd app [iOS or Android] to make it easier).
That sums up our list. Do you have tips as well, dear readers? Please leave them in a comment here on our site or drop us a line and let us know what your secrets are so we can all be the beneficiaries.