The Best of TBL! Staff Picks for 2016

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2015 was a big year for company growth at ToursByLocals, as we hired a dozen new staff to work at our offices in Vancouver, London and Buenos Aires. What better way to introduce them to you than by sharing their top ToursByLocals picks for 2016? We asked each newbie – whether hired 11 months or 1 month ago – to share with us their dream ToursByLocals tour. Here are their choices!

Sanna-Mari, Customer Experience Specialist, London
Choice: Practice photography skills in Venice

My previous travels have inspired me to learn photography in order to capture the immense beauty of the places that I visit. I will be starting with photography in the coming year and would like nothing more than to travel somewhere new with the camera as soon as possible! Our guide Eva’s photography tour of Venice sounds very interesting because she would be able to take me to the less touristy areas of the city and as a professional photographer, she could also help me with taking the best travel shots of my life. I fully intend to visit Venice before it becomes the next Atlantis, and would ideally like to visit around the annual Carnival!

Javier, Guide Recruitment Manager, Buenos Aires
Choice: Traditional music and dinner in Granada, Spain

Since I started as Guide Recruitment Manager at ToursByLocals in August, I’ve had the chance to meet many fantastic new guide prospects. One that stuck with me is Federico in Granada, Spain. He is deeply knowledgeable about this medieval city, conducting tours that look at Granada through the lens of literature, philosophy, art, history, and local customs and traditions. I would love the chance to enjoy a meal and traditional Spanish guitar music on his “history and dinner tour.”

Pandora, Customer Experience Specialist, Vancouver
Choice: Venice, La Mancha, Florence…(Do I really have to choose??)

This was such a tough call. I imagine the romance of visiting the home of explorer Marco Polo in Venice. Or being spirited away alongside Don Quixote on our tour of the windmill crested slopes of La Mancha. Ultimately, however, more than one of my organs lead me to choose our Florentine cooking class with our guide Massimo. Visit a Tuscan olive farm, learn about making oil and make a meal from scratch. Dine on your creation in the sunshine while sipping local wines. After lunch, visit a medieval castle and then a rustic, family owned pasta factory (read: heaven). If you’re not a puddle after reading this, you’re simply not human.

Samantha, Customer Experience Specialist, Vancouver
Choice: Half Day Classic Tokyo Tour

I’ve always wanted to see Tokyo lit up at night but other than that I am not very familiar with all that the city offers. This tour covers the basics, and just reading about the giant robot statue on Odaiba Island gets me excited. This seems like a great tour to indulge my inner child and also appease my photography needs.

Gabriella, Customer Experience Specialist, London
Choice: Explore Egypt’s Black and White Desert

I’d love to go to Egypt and stare at the pyramids, be amazed by the Sahara desert, sail the Nile and discover the beauty of the ancient cities. It’s such a fascinating country with unique landscapes and interesting history. I would ask our local guide Adel to guide me in the White and Black desert to feel the spirit of Egypt. He is professional and deeply knowledgeable, but also friendly and fun to be with – the right choice for a multi-day tour!

Shawn, Customer Experience Specialist, Vancouver
Choice: Experience the Taj Mahal in person

The tour I would choose is our guide Shanoo’s full day tour of Agra. When I was little, my mother and I would create stories about the Taj Mahal. We didn’t know much about it except from a photo we’d seen of the exterior. We would tell each other about draw bridges and moats with crocodiles. We imagined ropes that you could swing on to cross the dangerous water. We also imagined the world’s most ostentatious collection of treasures. It was a fun game but I’ve always wanted to experience the reality of this wonder of the world. I also like that the guide is experienced, fluent in English and has a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle to escape the heat of Agra.

Courtney, Customer Experience Specialist, Vancouver
Choice: Learn about life in an Andean village

I’d like to experience the Andean Village home-stay tour with our guide Bryan in Peru. It sounds like a very unique type of experience to spend some time with a local family and eat their local foods, work with them and spend the night in their home rather than in a fancy hotel. Bryan also has a lot of other interesting tours in and around Cusco, which is a top travel destination for me! Bryan has a lot of 5 star reviews and the comments about how knowledgeable he is just reassures me even more that this tour would be my top pick!

Maria, International Area Coordinator, Buenos Aires
Choice: See St. Petersburg on a two-day tour

St Petersburg is at the top of my list of places to visit. I have always been intrigued by culturally diverse places and would definitely like to learn more about the life style and local traditions of Russia. Elina, one of our long-time partners in St Petersburg, is a guide who offers great tour experiences. I would chose her Two Day Tour of St Petersburg, which includes the main highlights of the city, a visit to the summer residences of the Tsars, and a taste of the local cuisine!

Sebastian, International Area Coordinator, Buenos Aires
Choice: Indulge my childhood passion for Greek mythology in Athens

My vote goes for Christina in Athens. Since I was a child, the Greek Mythology was my inspiration and passion. I spent lots of summers reading massive books about the gods, temples, history and myths of ancient Greece. I must say that this beautiful city and country was on my top list and unfortunately, when I lived in Europe, circumstances made it impossible for me to travel over there. Hopefully, I will make it some time and have the chance of taking this incredible full day tour with such an expert guide. With Christina I can experience the Acropolis, Zeus Museum and Stadium of the Olympic Games, while trying to imagine everything that I have read in books come to life.

Lucia, International Area Coordinator, Buenos Aires
Choice: See Malta through my camera lens

Being a passionate photographer, I’d love to photograph the amazing sights, architecture and coastline that Malta offers; I’d be delighted to take this tour with our guide Vince. I’m very interested in seeing the different locations of this unique place in the world, and get the recommendations of this great guide to be able to take home some amazing shots to brag about with my friends. Malta is for sure a place I would love to go to, and I would love to see it through my camera and through the eyes of a great guide and photographer like Vince.

Alex, Customer Experience Specialist, Vancouver
Choice: Be an adrenalin junkie in Belize

I’ve never been to the Caribbean but I’ve longtime dreamed of what my Caribbean holiday would look like. Our guide Javier has basically taken a screenshot from my mind in putting together this unforgettable tour in Belize, a country that intrigues me with its images of beauty and tranquility. I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie and Javier’s tour is pretty much an all-inclusive adventure that I think highlights the beauty and uniqueness of this tropical destination. If time permits, I may even tack on a jet-ski ride to cap off the most perfect vacation day that I could possibly imagine.

Abhay, Customer Experience Specialist, Delhi
Choice: Explore the Titlis Glacier near Lucerne, Switzerland

I’m planning a trip to Switzerland this year. After doing hours of research on the internet and asking my friends about the things to do in Switzerland, I learned that the Titlis Glacier near Lucerne is one of the most famous mountains in the Alps. And we have a guide who offers tours there! Cristiana is an experienced local guide in Lucerne, so it would be helpful, educational and fun to see both the mountain and the city sights through the eyes of a long-time local resident.
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