The App Store came out with its best iPad apps of 2012, and among them, in the “Hidden Gem” category, is the Travel Channel Layover Guide, featuring Anthony Bourdain’s favorite spots and accompanying iTunes playlists, for 24- to 48-hour stopovers in big cities around the world.
The App Store designated the Layover Guide, which also is available for the iPhone and features videos from the Travel Channel show of the same name, as an “outlier.” It was cited for breaking new ground while not fitting neatly into other categories, including “travel,” for example.
The Layover Guide iPad app is indeed refreshing, and hip, melding the charms of the big city with the sensibilities of a seeming local.
You can customize your own layovers using the app, filtering Tony’s Picks, for example, or adding your own. In New York City, those picks range from A1 Music Co. on First Avenue to the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck on East 7th Street, and Crif Dogs on Saint Marks Place.
Most are hardly must-see entrants in standard guidebooks.
But, you can also follow Bourdain’s suggested Layovers for particular cities, and they include optimal times spent at each location, and even the walking distance to the next stop.
Bourdain’s New York City Layover includes visits to Bemelmans Bar in the iconic hotel, The Carlyle; the Kitchen Arts & Letters, also on the Upper East Side, for rare books on all things culinary; and The High Line off the meatpacking district for views of the no-longer used railway tracks, sprouting weeds and flowers, and the Hudson River and New Jersey to the west.
Of New York City, Bourdain says he’s inspired by the city’s books, and informs people they can brush up on the city in advance by watching the Martin Scorsese films Mean Streets and Taxi Driver.
And, for mood music, Bourdain provides a playlist, including Subway Train by New York Dolls, Beat on the Brat by the Ramones, and Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack, to name a few of the jingles. You can tap a button and buy each song from iTunes.
For things to do between your flights, Bourdain also offers Layover guides to Amsterdam, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Toronto.
One of the most compelling things about these Layovers is that you can use them — in the city or on your couch — to make new, urban discoveries even if you are a lifelong resident of that particular city.
And, you can discover new and old tunes along the way to help you feel the vibe.