Some Of My Favorite Tour Guides

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Some Of My Favorite Tour Guides

“To let life happen to you is irresponsible. To create your day is your divine right.”Ramtha

A great tour guide is one that creates an experience that you will remember. The best guides I’ve had have left me wanting to go back to the destination or have left me feeling like I’ve made a new friend. I have had many amazing tour guides but I picked ten in no particular order.

Ogus Kaya, Turkey

Ogus is such a warm, friendly and truly motivated guide. He is organized and punctual. We traveled for a few weeks in Turkey with him. He taught us a tremendous amount about the history and architecture. I was obsessed with the Mosque architecture of Sinan. We felt that he wanted us to love Turkey as much as he did and i think everyone did.

One of the highlights of the trip was the balloon ride over Cappodocia. I like my feet on the ground and was not going to do it. He finally said that he would go with me. He reminded me that he had two small children and one on the way. This balloon ride became one of my most cherished travel memories which I would never have done without him. ogus 51@yahoo.com

Petar Vlasik, Croatia

Petar was my first internet tour guide. After a land tour and small boat tour both cancelled, I decided to take my kids and plan a trip through Croatia by myself with Petar. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this without a husband. It was before Trip Advisor. He was recommended by Rick Steves  (so i knew he wasn’t a serial killer). Petar was smart, funny and so knowledgeable about his beautiful country.

We had a wonderful trip. Croatia is still one of my favorite countries for those who have not been there yet. I did not listen to him about hotels and I was sorry. I learned from Petar that a good tour guide always knows best and to trust my instincts about internet tour guides. http://www.dubrovnikrivieratours.com

Dvir Hollander, Jerusalem, Israel

Dvir’s knowledge, insight, humor, non judgmental world view and kindness made touring this amazing city with him a special experience. We met at lunchtime and we were hungry. When Dvir recognized that we were kindred spirits about food, he described himself as a “ friendly dictator” when it came to where we should eat.

If you are going to Jerusalem, I highly recommend hiring him – not just for the delicious food, but for how much you will learn and experience. He has the unique ability to figure out just what you want to do and then he casually adds in what he feels you are missing. The trip was perfect. Contact him at hollander2000@gmail.com.

Guide Gift Bangkok,Thailand

Gift was another guide that I found online before trip advisor. I read the reviews on her page and went with my gut. She is knowledgeable, kind, and fun to be with. I felt like I was seeing Bangkok and Ayuthetta with one of my friends.

She has her plan but is always ready to change if there is something you want to do. She also knows a very good place for Thai Massage. When you are in a part of the world that feels very different from yours, Gift can make it feel like home.
http://www.privatetourthailand.com)

  Do Sy Quy “Buffalo Joe”Hanoi, Viet Nam

My guide in Hanoi  was Mr. Do Sy Quy. He was my first guide in Viet Nam  and set the tone for an amazing experience. “Buffalo Joe” is kind, friendly, funny, intuitive and very knowledgeable about Hanoi and Viet Nam history.

I connected with him immediately and feel like I have a friend in Hanoi. i will always remember our drive to and from Ha Long Bay and everything we did –  especially the Thanh Chuong Viet Palace. http://www.incensetravel.com

Andres Miguel, Buenos Aires, Argentina

i have had a few great guides in Argentina but I had to pick Andres Miguel because he is a tango dancer.  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food, shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He changed things around and went with what interested me.

The boat ride was an impromptu surprise as was eating at a family restaurant on Sunday for the best empanadas. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect Buenos Aires day.  tango@culturacercana.com.ar

Jose Villa, Cartagena,Colombia

The hot, sleepy city of Cartagena is such a special place and seeing it with Jose is the way to go. Being alone he let me tag along to teach English at their church and visit the music school his son Kevin attended..They were both knowledgeable and fun.

We saw the old city, beaches, markets, took a private boat to the islands, visited a fishing village, paddled a canoe through the mangrove tunnels and strolled the streets of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I stayed an extra few days because I loved this city and felt so safe and taken care of. http://cartagenadestiny.com

Carolina Velasquez Obreque, Santiago, Chile

Carolina was our tour guide in Santiago and Valparaiso. She was funny, knowledgeable and organized. She came to us through Vaya Adventures. We spent a beautiful day with her exploring the Casablanca wine region between Valpo and Santiago.

The trip was seamless – except when I lost that paper that they give you at customs when you land. Apparently it’s very important in Chile. She went with me to get a new one before driving to Valpo which is why I am home and able to write this. I highly recommend spending some time in Chile with her. https://www.vayaadventures.com

Michai Bojanowski , Wroclaw, Poland

Michai is a wonderful guide who loves his country. With knowledge and humor, we spent a long day in Wroclaw exploring the beauty of the city. He incorporates the darkness of the past as we explore the Jewish quarter. He has such passion for passing on the truth.

Before lunch I saw a street art drawing of man looking out the window. I ask about it. He tells me it is Poland’s most famous poet and playwright Tadeusz Różewicz.

After lunch, he has brought copies of a beautiful poem that he thought would go with what he was speaking about.He made sure we learned a little extra. I love that.  michal.bojanowski@chidusz.com

Wayne Thomas, Aukland, New Zealand

I usually don’t write  about a half day group tour of a city but I learned and retained more information with Wayne Thomas of Bush and Beach Tours http://www.bushandbeach.co.nz/, then any day tour I have ever been on.

He has a way of passing on knowledge that is sometimes funny and sometimes personal  that makes you remember it.  This is a wonderful welcome tour of New Zealand. I highly recommend him.

Fly safe,
JAZ

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A Perfect Day In Buenos Aires

A Perfect Day In Buenos Aires

“Without the streets nor dusks of Buenos Aires a Tango cannot be written.” Jorge Luis Borges

Every morning is a new beginning.   Sometimes, when you are fortunate, it is just another perfect day.

It started in Tigre. Tigre is still an important timber processing port about a half hour outside of Buenos Aires. The “Puerto de Frutos” (fruit port) is now a crafts fair located in the old fruit market by the riverside.

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I looked at the brown murky water (it is clean but filled with sediment not pollution) and lush foliage and really wanted to explore.  Andres, my tour guide said his boat was nearby. (unplanned). His boat is named Juan D’Arienzo after a famous tango orchestra director.

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We sailed off through the different rivers of the Delta del Parana. It was Sunday and many people were out in their rowboats. We passed the supermarket boat bringing supplies and also the public bus boat.  We saw the church and school and many of the homes on the islands.

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I loved being on that river, It was a calm and peaceful day but I knew it could change in a minute  with a rainstorm, wind or dry spell.  Are we like that also? Always moving and then  changing when things happen?

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Tres Esquinas means three corners and is named after a famous tango.  The restaurant is located in Barracas, a working class barrio in Buenos Aires .  It is definitely a local place to have steak and empanadas. It was filled with families having their large midday meal. We had a couple of empanadas each.  They were muy sabroso. I think it was about two dollars. (I am bad at conversion) delicious and economical.

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I love outdoor markets but the Sunday antiques market in Plaza Dorrego  in San Telmo is a phenomenon. The antiques are around the plaza but the shopping continues with arts and crafts vendors for many blocks. It is curbside capitalism at its finest.

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There  is so much to see – vintage soda water bottles, old telephones, mate cups and  kitchenware  are on display everywhere.  There is also a produce market. Tango dancers are on every corner. It seems as if everyone in Buenos Aires is here, shopping or hanging out. It was overwhelming even for a professional shopper like myself and so much fun to see.

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La Confiteria Ideal did not start as a tango hall but as  a pastry café in 1912. In the seventies it became a venue for concerts and many famous people performed here. But it the nineties it became a tango hall. It has been the location of many tango scenes from movies. Its faded glamour was a perfect background for the faded glamour of the tango dancers I saw that day.

I was there on a Sunday afternoon . They dance from three until nine. This is  very early for a milonga (place where people gather to dance tango) which doesn’t usually start until eleven. The dancers were mostly older and seemed to know each other. They had come here for many years. The men sat on one side and the women on the other.  The men signal silently for a dance across a crowded room with the nod of their head, a wink, or a raised eyebrow.

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The older generation danced with the awkward sensual grace of people whose bodies no longer moved the way they used to but their soul remembers.

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Tango is about emotional connection and trust. There’s a saying in Spanish that captures the importance of the embrace in tango: “El abrazo es mas importante que el paso” (The embrace is more important than the step) ). In the embrace there is trust without intellectual analysis.

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There was a lesson in watching these older people completely submit themselves to the dance and the moment. There was no before and no after  -simply dancing.

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The music of the tango is from the orchestras of the thirties fourties and fifties. It is the music of Buenos Aires. It is also some of the music of my childhood. My parents were folk and ballroom dancers. I learned the tango steps when I was five.  I can  play a few songs on the accordian. I never thought I would ever admit to that.  Watching the milonga tango dancers, brought back many memories of my childhood. It’s amazing how much you can remember with a few notes of a song. (Juan D’Arienzo , tango orchestra-I love this video)

Dance has been a big part of my life. Andres Miguel my tour guide is a tango dancer.  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food and shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect day. Muchas, muchas gracias Andres. tango@culturacercana.com.ar

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Buen Dia and Fly Safe

JAZ