I don’t know about you, but I always think the word tour conjures up all sorts of images to which I am not particularly drawn. I think, for instance, of traipsing around in slightly mistaken footwear either feeling a little bit too hot or a tad too cold as I was optimistic about the weather in early March on that soggy plain in Spain.
I think of being semi-implicated in this complex route with too much information and all the wrong delivery from our leader at the front of the group brandishing a big red umbrella.
And I also think of sitting on a bus, feeling a bit passive as I watch the locals out and about doing their thing.
I suppose it if I had my way, I would call it getting down with things, getting to the point, getting the real deal and falling in love with it at the same time or just making some new friends in a completely new place while finding out exactly where you should be eating dinner that night. “A little bit too long “ the marketing department would say delicately.
Basically it’s about making it mine, making it about me. It’s called personalizing a tour and it is all the rage. But what does that mean exactly?
Well, after years of thinking I could do it myself, I started to find that there was nothing more relaxing then having someone take us to their favorite places, introduce us to the people they have known for years – be it Pepe from the fruit stall in the market or Pepita from the Café Comercial who knows exactly how you like your coffee, and she hasn’t even met you yet.
Yes, those people. Taking you to places that you might not have ventured into alone: like the sherry bodega which during the daytime could pass as the front end of a mechanic’s garage (yes local Madrileños, you know which one!). Also, if you pick the right person, that guide is an expert in art, history, social studies, anthropology or cooking. They have quite a few credits from the University of life and can easily predict what you might like, what your husband would prefer to see, and most definitely what your children or grandchildren are going to go insane about. In a good way of course.
They have that ability to keep everyone happy, engaged, and make each family member or friend feel that this trip was designed specifically with them in mind.
You are going to meet people, shake them by the hand and even try to communicate whether that be through a pidgen version of the local language or some wild gesticulating – either will be fine. For me, this is what a tour should really be.
Yes, it’s about learning things, but it’s also about checking things out, getting the scoop, meeting the locals, having a chat with them and by end of the day feeling like a part of you already belongs. And that my friends, is where the true journey starts.