IHOSE header

"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 12-16, 2022, and it's usually a pretty big deal if you're taking time out of your life to head into New York City for three or more 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 ninth 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.

And this year, the ongoing pandemic has incurred some changes as well.

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 are the suggestions:

Health πŸ’‰

  • While Sherlockians like to imagine a world where "it's always 1895," the reality of the present day is that we are still fighting a global pandemic. While it's not Tapanuli fever or the black Formosa corruption, it's a good idea to take precautions.
  • The first thing to note is that all events hosted by the Baker Street Irregulars require proof of vaccination for entry. The virus situation is always changing, so please visit the BSI Event Covid-19 requirements PDF for the latest details. And check that PDF again on January 11 in case there are any last-minute changes.
  • If you're doing non-BSI things in New York, the city also requires proof of vaccination for indoor activities such as dining.
  • And it wouldn't hurt to wear a mask when you're indoors and around a lot of people as well. 
  • Remember: Your health and the health of loved ones at home when you return are of great concern to people who like to share your company at these events. ❤️
  • PLEASE NOTE: To get the latest BSI event news, go to the BSI website and sign up for the free News from the BSI email service.

Bags πŸ§³

  • Make sure that you have plenty of room to bring home books that you buy. 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. And you do want a haul, don't you?

Meeting Others πŸ“‡

  • 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.
    • Pro tip: there's usually a pen in the dinner packet.
  • 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 πŸ€

  • 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. Common courtesy is timeless.

Attire πŸ₯Ώ πŸ§₯

  • 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. 

Money πŸ’°

  • 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. 
    • Pro tip: 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. πŸ’Έ

Time πŸ•°️

  • 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 the same events as you.
  • 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 πŸš• πŸš‡ πŸšΆ

  • Hey, Magellan, guess what? You have the power of a global satellite navigation system in the palm of your hand. That is, if you have a smartphone. Google Maps or Apple Maps are indispensable for getting around, by foot, taxi, or public transportation.
  • If you want something customized to New York, there are other apps to choose from: CitymapperNew York Guide for Android and iOS has the New York Travel Guide and Offline Map.

  • If you don't like using the map app on your phone, 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). 
  • 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 Westin Grand Central 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.
  • Pro Tip: 
    • Via offers the 1-week Manhattan 24/7 ViaPass, which is a great option if you're planning on non-subway transportation. It will give you up to 4 rides per day (all day!) of up to $12 each in Manhattan (most Via rides are $5 or less) and will give you 20% off any rides to the boroughs or airports. There is an additional nominal charge for +1s. The cost for a 1-week Manhattan 24/7 ViaPass is $89 + tax.

Logistics πŸ“

  • 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 a few years ago) – if this happens again, vests/waistcoats are not advised. Unless you're Mattias Bostrom

The Unscheduled πŸ“…

  • If possible, make breakfast plans with other Sherlockians (unless you prefer to 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 πŸ½️

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 Westin Grand Central Hotel.
  • The restaurant scene in NYC has changed drastically during the pandemic. Some old favorites may no longer be there; some may have restricted hours or dining arrangements.
  • Check Open Table for restaurants that take reservations; they offer free booking and allow you to see availability of tables by time and by number of seats. 
  • Several Sherlockians like to go to the Oyster Bar for dinner after the Thursday night lecture. There are a number of Grand Central Restaurants inside. 
  • For a more comprehensive listing of eateries nearby, check TripAdvisor, Yelp,
  • And heaven forbid, don't forget about the Red Flame, the perennial favorite next door to the Algonquin Hotel on W. 44th Street.

Online πŸ“±

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:

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).

The 2022 BSI Weekend 

And this year, Monica Schmidt has created a handy schedule for those who are more visually inclined.

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.