By the end of 2012, Barbara and her husband Robert will have taken an incredible 39 tours with ToursByLocals guides. They are recently retired and have spent the past several years traveling all over the world. Their eagerness to learn from and interact with people of other cultures really helps them get under the skin of the places they visit. Born and raised in New York, they now live in Florida, with 5 grown children and 5 grandchildren spread throughout North America and Europe.
Where was your favourite trip in the past year, Barbara?
Our favorite trip this past year was a cruise around the Black Sea. It was partly a historical journey, and we had the most wonderful ToursByLocals guides along the way, at several of our shore stops. Of particular interest were the stops in Sevastopol and Yalta, seeing the secret Russian underground submarine base, and the table where the Yalta agreement was signed. Our guide was a walking encyclopedia of information!
Where are you most looking forward to going next?
Our upcoming trip to Africa is one which we have been planning for a long time. We spend hours researching every destination and that helps us to choose our guide, and make our trip even more enriching. We will visit Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park in Botswana, Cape Town, and then board a cruise ship bound for the entire west coast of Africa, finally disembarking in Dover (London). Our ToursByLocals guides on this trip will take us to Lisbon, Gibraltar, Normandy, and Casablanca.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve had recently on your travels?
The most memorable meal we have had on our travels was in Beijing. Our ToursByLocals guide, Caspar, took us to her favorite local restaurant, on the first floor of her grandmother's building, where we were DEFINITELY the only Americans. She had called ahead while we were at the Beijing Zoo, so our Peking duck dinner was ready when we arrived. She instructed us on the proper etiquette of eating the duck and we truly enjoyed the experience. Sometimes the best meals are at the most unlikely locations.
Do you have a favourite ToursByLocals travel experience you’d like to share?
Our favorite ToursByLocals experience came about as the result of a cancelled cruise! We had flown to Athens and after one day on the ship the captain announced that the entire 14 day cruise was cancelled due to "propeller problems". We were fortunate enough to secure one of six available cabins on a ship at the adjacent dock, with a nearly identical itinerary. However, we now had no guide for Cairo, since the date of arrival there was different than the original ship. My husband, from the new ship, text messaged David at ToursByLocals, and he arranged a fantastic guide, Moustafa, to take us to the pyramids for the day! All the arrangements were made by texting – our hats off to your incredible team! The pyramids had been our dream destination and ToursByLocals did not disappoint.
What do you appreciate most about hiring a local guide?
Having a private guide gives you much more flexibilty in your day, and makes much better use of your time. After all, who wants to be rushed while shopping for that special "must-have?" And our days of getting on and off buses for the required bathroom stops are over.
How did you find ToursByLocals – and what keeps you coming back?
We were directed to ToursByLocals by another friend, and have continued to recommend your company to everyone. I love the way you can interact online with several guides in a location and then choose the one who suits you best. We also love the feeling that the guide really knows YOU and caters to YOU, not just a group of 10, 20, or 30 others. We are hooked!
Editor's note: Barbara and Robert have not slowed down! As of June 2015, they have taken 59 tours with ToursByLocals guides.