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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Things I Have Learned In Auckland, New Zealand

Things I Have Learned In Auckland, New Zealand

“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.”  Simon Van Booy 

Auckland  is called Tamaki Makaurau in Maori. This area is known as the Tamaki plains. It means “Tamaki of a hundred lovers,” referring  to the many battles of tribes for the possession of this desirable region.

It is also known as “the city of sails”. It has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.  One in three Aucklanders have a boat.

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Kiwis are among the best sailors in the world. New Zealand won the last  America’s Cup .

The MPI ( Ministry For Prima industries) have serious recreational fishing rules. They want to keep fish available for everyone. There are rules around the number of fish and shellfish you can catch, the sizes of fish you are allowed to keep and where and how you can fish.

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Auckland  has largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. It was originally inhabited by Maori people.

The Sky Tower In Auckland  is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres. You can hurl yourself off and plummet 192 meters if you are looking for something to do in Auckland. Its called the Sky Jump and it has a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor which I guess makes it completely safe.

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Parnell and Ponsonby are trendy areas in Auckland full of bars, restaurants and cute stores.

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It is fun to walk around the lively marina and have green lipped mussels. I normally am not a fan of mussels but these are giant and delicious. They are supposed to be really healthy and help with joint inflammation.

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Waiheke Island is a beautiful island 40 minutes away by ferry from Auckland.

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It has become quite expensive in the last few years but still has a relaxed island feel.

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It is known as New Zealand’s island of wine.

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Mudbrick and Te Whau wineries stand out, with their stunning views, great food and superb wine.  

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There are  wine tasting tours or do it on your own.

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You can do it as a day trip as i did or stay a few days as my daughter and son-in-law do. It is one of their favorite places. I  can see why.

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The island is small but not walkable. We toured some art galleries and met local artists.(Gabriella Lewenz Studio Gallery)

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(Waiheke Community Art Gallery)

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We stopped in the little town of Oneroa with plenty of  restaurant options and on to the beach. I would have been happy to stay there with a book for the rest of the day.

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I spent a beautiful day on Waiheke Island with Niki Walker of Ananda Tours.www.ananda.co.nz/ She is fun, knowledgeable and clearly loves this island. Thanks for a lovely day.

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New Zealand’s most famous soap opera, Shortland Street, is filmed on the North Shore of Auckland.

Auckland is the largest as well as the most populous urban area of New Zealand.

One in three adults in New Zealand are obese. Though it is bad for their health, it makes it a great place to go to the beach as opposed to Los Angeles.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mt. Everest lived in Auckland. His number was in the phone book. When school children, did a report on him, some called him up to get the information directly from him. He was happy to help. Eighteen thousand people showed up for his funeral.

Australians love to tell sheep jokes to New Zealanders. New Zealanders laugh it off because they know Australians come from criminal stock. (Ha) They have a good-natured rivalry.

The Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest park, and one of the largest in the city.  The park is home to one of Auckland’s main tourist attractions, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which sits prominently on the crater rim of Pukekawa.

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Pukekawa, is one of the oldest volcanoes  in the Auckland Volcanic Field.

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Rangitoto is a baby volcano in Auckland and is only about 600-700 years old when compared to the other giant volcanoes.

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Auckland is built on a volcanic field. There are about 50 volcanoes in Auckland, all of which were active in the last 600 years or so and 96 per cent extinct. 

The city of Auckland  uses their volcanic craters as sports fields.

Auckland has two harbors on two separate major bodies of water, namely Manukau Harbor on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbor on the Pacific Ocean.

The Harbor Bridge in Auckland has 8 lanes and the central barrier in the bridge is moveable.

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Kauri trees in New Zealand are among the oldest trees in the world. By the time Auckland became the capital of New Zealand Kauri was being used  for building. It was a prestigious timber to have and nine out ten houses were being built from it inside and out. The supply of Kauri is dwindling so boats and houses made from kauri are worth a lot of money in Auckland. People try to keep them in the family.

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Auckland has a perfect, 100 km of coastline and is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world.

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You can get a government no interest loan for college if you stop the brain drain and stay in New Zealand. if you leave, the Kiwis say it raises the IQ of both countries.

If you have an engineering degree from the University of Auckland you are guaranteed a job around the world.

Auckland is the breeding ground for the New Zealand Sea Lion, which is the most endangered of the five species of sea-lion in the world.

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A very weird fact is that ‘pigeon post’ is still considered an official posting service in Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. Pigeon post refers to using pigeons to carry the mail. Pigeons were used to post letters between the North and South island before 1908. The stamps are very valuable now.

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In regard to the quality of life, Auckland currently ranks 5th among 218 major cities of the world.

I usually don’t write  about a half day 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.

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Fly safe,

JAZ