While traveling with a tour group has a lot of conveniences (prearranged transportation, help from a tour guide, and bag assistance), moving through a destination in a giant group of people like a swarm of bees is not my cup of tea. The recent trip to Vancouver was essentially unplanned other than flights and hotel rooms. That's my favorite way to travel. The one thing that you miss out on with independent travel is the tour guide information. I do like to hear the ins-and-outs of a new place and its stories, and that's not as easy to come by when traveling without an organized group. That's why I always try to sign up for a short city tour within the first day of arriving in a new city. It's nice to get the lay of the land so to speak and hear about the highlights that might warrant learning more about. And in Vancouver and Victoria that's just what we did.
On both city overview tours, the guides were very good. They both gave us chance to see where everything was in relation to hotels. The best part though was the stories, the crazy history behind each city. These are stories that aren't in the travel books or on the travel websites.
The thing is, I wonder how many of them are actually true. After our drive around Vancouver, the guide had us laughing out loud with tales about the people behind each city. And that reminded me of another story I was told about tour guides. A work colleague of mine worked as a tour guide in Hollywood and at Universal Studios when she was in college. According to her, all the tour guides she worked with often embellished their stories and sometimes even made them up altogether. Most people probably wouldn't know any better. My Canadian history is spotty at best, so I wouldn't have known any better if our tour guides were pulling our legs. I have to admit that to me, some history is like watching paint dry, but most of it is like listening to a really great story. I wouldn't think they'd need to make it up to make their talks interesting. On the other hand, maybe they're just messing with the tourists.
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