I’m not a guy who is big on the tours. Matter of fact, I quite abhor them, if not with the burning passion of a thousand exploding suns, then mildly, like the dislike I have for people who get in the ten-items-or-less line with twelve items. I especially detest big tour groups, especially in museums. I prefer quiet when contemplating works of art, historical objects or suits of armor. Some hushed expressions of delight (a low squeee, for instance) are allowed, like whilst admiring wicked medieval battleaxes, otherwise please, only the gentle discordant whine of the poorly maintained climate control system should disturb the peace.
So I’m standing there, gazing thoughtfully at a Cezanne or Monet, and pondering the eternal questions, like, when would be a good time to suggest a break and a glass of wine, cause this is Europe after all (although it applies quite well to New York, Seattle and even Des Moines). And then a big group of white sneaker and windbreaker clad old folks (everyone older then me are old folks, everyone younger is a either a disrespectful lout, or an annoyingly smug hipster that will get his comeuppance one day, you’ll see) interrupt my train of thought and/or my nap. They’ll walk right in front of me as I pretend to admire the art, stop to listen to a person with a reedy off-key voice and a violently colored umbrella give them a capsule summary of the artwork in front of them, well, at least the ones that didn’t get lost at the last bathroom break, and then swarm off to the next room on the itinerary. So yeah, those kind of tours I don’t like.
But, even though I do not like organized tour groups, I will admit that we have found a couple of companies that do tour-group-like things that we really, really enjoy. Our all time favorite is “London Walks”. Every time we’re in London we try and make some time to take one of their walks. I especially like their pub crawls where they will take you to experience the best of the old fashioned pubs still remaining in London. And you get some exercise too, because the pubs are usually a fair distance apart and you only get twenty minutes at each to down a pint and then walk quite briskly to the next pub. History, exercise and alcoholic beverages, what more could you want?
I should note that there are also a disconcertingly large number of walks that absolutely nothing to do with alcohol consumption. Walks about history, art, culture, and other things that get in the way of the search for a pint. Mary keeps insisting that we have to divide our time and take the non-boozing walks too, and learn a little history or culture. And amazingly they’re pretty damn good too. Not as good as a pub crawl but then there’s little that will compare to that, I mean, cause come on, we’re talking about a pub crawl. For tour guides, London Walks seem to have cornered the market on part-time actors, temporarily unengaged archaeologists, and those neighborhood characters that are usually found standing on the corner muttering to themselves. Here they take you on a grand tour and fill you in with witty bon-mots and salacious gossip. Of course, it’s salacious gossip about people who’ve been dead for three hundred years, but still.
Anyway, if you’re in the neighborhood, that being London, in case you weren’t paying attention, check out their site and just show up for a walk. No reservations necessary. Cash only, but all things considered quite reasonable.
In a future post I’ll also address Context Tours. Or I’ll promise it, and four or five months from now I’ll come across the draft for that and wonder why I ever wrote it. Let’s roll the dice shall we?
London Walks http://www.walks.com/