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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Being a Tourist by Margot Justes

I often wonder how most people tour a big foreign city. How do they prepare? Is everything left to the tour company, with that extra half day on their own? Or do tourists venture out on their own?

I'll be in Rome in four months and have already selected specific sites I do not want to miss. I've visited Rome but it was many, many years ago and I want a refresher course.

I've selected three walking tours, my favorite way to see a city and not get lost. A map is very handy, if you know how to read one, for me that is a useless effort, I can't read maps, and if on my own, North happens to be wherever I'm facing-not a good thing. However, I'm not afraid to ask a stranger for directions, and I do carry a small city map with me, after being told which way to go and where to turn, I can generally find my way.

A few years ago I was in Berlin with my daughter, she was there to do research, and I had the days to myself. The morning I wondered about the city, and of course I got lost but in the process I discovered some wondrous little side streets, stopped for a delicious cup of coffee and wound up at Check Point Charlie, from there it was an easy walk back to the hotel. I had a terrific time.

I digress, back to Rome, I've selected an afternoon walking tour to get familiar with the city and its monuments, one evening walk, sort of a lover's look at romantic Rome, and of course given Rome's age I'm sure there are a few ghosts and goblins scattered around, and I aim to find them with the help of a guide of course.

The must see stuff I do first and I leave myself some breathing space for the unexpected treasures, a cafe, a sit down on the Spanish Steps, a small neighborhood church, an art gallery, all those delicious incidental discoveries that are so memorable.

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris


Vivienne Courtoise said...

When I went to Paris, I did all the research ahead of time. I had only 5 days to see the city and Versailles and wanted to make the most of it. I researched the walking tours. I bought Rick Steves Paris - audio tour for my Ipod and I was set. I downloaded Rick Steves on my Kindle too. When I got there, I used all the information to tour on my own. This way I knew where I wanted to go and I recognized the streets. It was the most fun I have ever had. I can't wait to do it again.

Patg said...

Sorry, Margot, but as a professional tourist, all I can do is have a shoulder slump. I will only say that the only times I arrived in famous cities with tour books in hand, I eventually found out I missed way too much.
I had way more to write but deleted it all. Way too negative.
Oh well.

Margot Justes said...

Each to his own, but I've never felt I missed much, in fact quite the opposite.

Margot Justes said...

I absolutely agree with you, that is what I do as well. If I'm on a cruise and have only 1 day to spend, by all means I book the tour that interests me the most, and take full advantage of the available services.