Maybe it is my age (only in my 40’s, but still!), I have now reached a point whereby ticking off a list of places and things to do are not on my priority list on my holiday. I do my research before I travel and figure out things I would like to see / do and spend time doing them well. I do not like wasting my precious holiday time on things I know I would not enjoy. It certainly has something to do with my profession too. I am in the travel business and to give honest feedback to clients I do have to try out all the sightseeing tours. My friends often comment sarcastically “things you HAVE to do for a living”. Don’t mean to sound pompous, but I do find it cumbersome and needless to say quite tiring.
The one good thing that has come out of these endless inspections, is that I have realised how much I love walking tours. They are quite common these days and they do seem expensive when compared to the regular ‘seat in coach’ city tours, however I have become a big fan of these tours. I particularly like them for the following reasons:
- I can decide the area I am most interested in. For example in Paris, I can decide between Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain and so on. I can do multiple walks over a number of days and just chill after the 2 or 3 hour of walk to soak up the atmosphere in that area. Also, one doesn’t waste their time in Latin Quarter if they are not into Roman history and architecture.
- I can also pick the walking tour based on my interests, like in Athens one can pick from food walks, political / historical walks, street art, daily life of the Athenians and more.
- You get to walk with an educated and aware local. As per me, the best experience. My husband and I had done a food walk in Athens, he being a vegetarian got hardly anything to eat. But he loved it as he kept asking the guide a lot of non-food questions, which the gracious guide patiently replied. Of course, the organic 99cents olive oil soap bar from a local store was the bonus too.
- You burn calories….. he he!
As I mentioned above, some people find them expensive, not me. I find them absolutely value for money. Of course, it all depends on the guide. Like in Toulouse I tried the same walking tour from 2 different companies and realised the stark difference. My travel colleagues thought I was stupid to go for the second walk the very next day, but I wanted to know the difference. I was so glad I did. The second guide, though not a native from the region, was way better. She did not rattle off facts, was smart enough to gauge my response and divert the conversation accordingly. That is what smart guides are supposed to do, gauge the response and be crafty enough to change the spiel. She was brilliant, she knew that and hence charged more. I would pay EUR 10 more to her rather than get bored after 30 mins of the walk and lose my money paid for 2 hours of the walk.