Friday, July 10, 2015

A Tour

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.


  1. How double-down dare you, ALL history is fascinating !. (chuckle) That is, if the person doing the telling isn't a complete moron and the type of person telling about him/herself getting stung by a scorpion, AND you feel reeeeely sorry for the insect in case some of the boring rubs off.
    I can't say I know that much about V, or even BC as a whole beyond that it was established as a quasi naval outpost, and existed more to counter the US connection on the Pacific in California. Had Mexico not lost Cali, I really doubt the UK would've been all that bothered. Oddly if memory serves, after the gold rush in New Zealand lots moved up and across. But it didn't really get going until the trans continental was up and running.
    In truth though, V wouldn't be on my itinerary. I truly cannot think of one thing that lifts it above Seattle and Spokane. In fact I'd sooner go to Spokane just to shock people into saying why ffs.
    The city-tour is a good idea, really good. I wish I'd thought of it when I was visiting cities on my own. I found that having a companion to be a good thing for it wasn't as mystifying. When someone from these islands ges to Europe or anywhere else, the traffic causes real disorientation. We may be on a street pointing north and our heads are saying we're pointing south cause the traffic is on the other side of the road. Two really aid each other in that situation for one goes hold up we're going wrong. What's less good is when one thinks it's a romantic city break and has images of being pampered in a hotel and the other drags her up hl and down dale into galleries and museums. It usually leads to a lock change a few weeks down the line :-).

    1. Yah, going to Canada is not at the top of my travel list, either. It certainly doesn't have the allure for me, as say, the European countries or South America. It's so similar to here. It felt like being in CA, but then every-so-often I'd see or hear something and be reminded that I wasn't. It is very nice though, and we had a good time. But there were no, "Oh, I've just got to see (fill in the blank)!" Although, all the islands off the coast are pretty mind boggling. Victoria was quite fun and unique. I definitely wouldn't turn down a trip back there and to explore those islands.
      The history "teller" definitely has a lot to do with its interesting factor. I have found that those teachers/professors of it have also shaped my interest. Some time periods/locales are of little interest to me, and I can link that to a school experience. Where as others are of great interest, also pinpointing a history class's experience.
      I couldn't spend a visit to a new place solely inside a hotel room. However, the "pampering" can occur before/after/in between the exploring. Those museums and galleries are just as romantic, in my opinion.

    2. I know some people from salt spring island. It's a sort of hippy dippy place filled with wealthy rockstars organic farmers artists and writers. A Canadian version of topanga canyon or Austin Texas. But very lovely I heard.

    3. I had a read about it. We must have sailed right past it on the ferry. What an interesting place to live. A disappointing link with CA though.
      What is it about Canada? There's this inferiority complex stereotype about them, but shoot, they've surpassed us (and most countries) on pretty much all the progressive social issues. It's the "green"ist country I've ever been to. And most recently we had many outraged clergymen threatening to move to Canada after the SCOTUS marriage equality decision...unfortunately for the clergy, Canada came to that decision 10 years ago.

    4. Yeah, I've been reading about the ire caused by the SCOTUS decision. Didn't hear to many bitchin about the one allowing a man to be killed though.
      I thought Topanga Canyon was lovely from the trip I took with Google maps, and it's only by reputation that I hear it was a spot for hippies.

      If I moved to Canada I'd have to go way north. There would be no point otherwise. Vancouver is Ireland with trees and money. But in truth if I ever move permanently itwill be to someplace with sunlight and a bit of heat. Winters here are getting to me a bit.

    5. Winter? What is that? ;)
      Topanga is very nice, it's still hippyish, but now it's hippies with gobs of money. I couldn't afford to rent an apartment there let alone buy a house. It's beautiful though with views of the ocean and the mountains - a place that I really like to go hiking.
      As with pretty much all of our social issues, the uber-conservative right flipped out. I had to stop reading about it. Their outrage greatly differs from mine. :)

  2. I would love to have a tour of all of our history sites in Philly. I love stories. I think that is why History was always my favorite subject. What's not to love about a story? : ). I am so glad you cold go on a fun summer adventure.

    1. I've never been to Pennsylvania, other than as state to drive through on my way to and from New England. A Philadelphia tour would be great. It surprises me that you haven't, but then again we often don't visit the historical sites in our own backyard. I love when friends come to visit me here because it gives me an excuse to go see stuff a local never does.

  3. There are definitely pros and cons to traveling in a group vs. not. I've done both and think a lot depends on who is doing the traveling.

    I would be a stickler in wanting a guide to keep to fact. History is interesting enough on its own without needing fictional embellishment...or at least acknowledge that it might not be true while sharing it!

    My younger daughter got her Masters in history and has always bemoaned that fact that it's so often taught in school as purely the memorization of names, places, and dates. How boring can you get!

    But back to the topic at hand... the last couple of trips I've made, I've tried to plan and research in advance. It's amazing how much you can find out about a place before visiting in order to save yourself time trying to figure out what to do once you get there. Everything from transportation, to activities, to places to eat.

    Still looking forward to visuals from the trip! ;)

    1. I've gone through 100 pictures so far...only 500 to go, plus the ones taken on the iPhone!
      I agree on the history teacher who just requires rote memorization of dates. That's not learning. As I mentioned up above, a bad teacher of it can shape the way you view it, view any subject really.
      My favorite way to travel is just by wandering around and stumbling upon things that might not even be in the guide books. So I don't tend to do that kind of research, liking to be a bit unplanned, but the transportation info is a biggie for me. I don't like not knowing how I'm going to get from one place to another.
      I will say, when I first heard the story about making up the Hollywood stories years ago, it made me laugh. They were funny. But, I agree, when thinking about it this past week I was a little outraged. I want to know the truth! :)