Jose, Ingrid, Zuhair, Simon, Siseko, all introduced me to their worlds, but in these times we will make do with the virtual tour de force of guides.
As more and more of our leaders close more and more of our borders our immediate concern is how and when we can rebook our holidays.
We should though also give a thought to our dream makers, our travel providers, for whom this is their very livelihood.
And for the tour guides, the above mentioned for me who gave of their every waking moment to show me…
Portugal Centro, Dresden, Jordan, the World War battlefields of Flanders and South Africa.
And, of course, there have been many, many more.
So what do tour guides do when they don’t have tours to guide?
Well, they still take them virtually.
And that is where ToursByLocals come in.
With 231 live virtual tours in 39 countries, those spending more time than anticipated stuck indoors in the coming weeks can escape with local guides all over the world.
And they pledge that 100% of the value of a Live Virtual Tour (to a limit of $150) can be redeemed when travellers book a future, in-person tour with the same guide.
O little town of Bethlehem
Ramzi is a born and bred Bethlehemite.
He begins his tour in the old city of Jerusalem where he will introduce you to each of its four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian, before journeying to Bethlehem.
You will ‘visit’ Manger Square with its giant tree where locals sing carols.
Virtual visitors can also spot the Mosque of Omar and The Church of the Nativity.
Yes, that one, the birthplace of Jesus… you’ll probably spot it because of the star above it (although I can’t verify that).
ToursByLocals offers a one-and-a-half-hour Jerusalem and Bethlehem live virtual tour for £113 per tour for up to 10 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system.
Silent Scandinavian night
And like so many of the breaks you take your gaze is often drawn to the close horizon and the next place.
While in Jordan with G Adventures (Zuhair country), it was to Palestine and Israel, in Denmark it was to Sweden.
Per is your man in Stockholm.
He’ll take you around the winding streets of the canal-snaking city.
Start this virtual evening tour at the illuminated display windows at Stockholm’s famous department store, NK, and stroll past “gingerbread” style houses with festive lights.
You’ll get to see the Parliament, the Royal Palace, Royal Opera and Lutheran Cathedral.
Navigate through medieval alleyways, passages and tiny squares, virtually squeezing through the 3ft wide Mårten Trotzigs gränd (alley), before ending at an iconic site in Old Town, soaking up Swedish history and picturesque buildings.
The one-hour Swedish Christmas live virtual tour comes in at £172 per tour for up to 10 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. Tours can be customised according to interests.
Everyone I met and befriended in my 13 years in Ireland, and in a lifetime visiting with my Irish mammy, is a tour guide.
In Dingle in Kerry the foremost of them is Deirdre.
Get a taste of why Dingle is one of the top foodie towns in Ireland by meeting resident producers and be inspired by a mouth-watering local recipe to try at home this Christmas. And keep an eye out for most famous local, Fungi the dolphin.
The one-hour live virtual Christmas in Dingle tour for £88 per tour for up to 10 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system.
Fairytale of New York
Yes, you’ve been listening to it on a loop these weeks, and with apologies to Shane and Kirsty, it’s too good to ignore as a label to dress up this virtual tour.
Ibrahima is your gal in the Big Apple.
She knows Central Park like the back of her hand.
Grab a mug of hot chocolate at home and join Ibrahima on a virtual tour gazing at pretty lakes and waterfalls with highlights including Belvedere Castle and the Bow Bridge.
Guests might even spot a horse and carriage for a magical Christmas touch.
The one-hour-30-minute Central Park Hidden Gems live virtual tour for £140 per tour for up to 10 users or £218 per tour for up to 50 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system.
A Down Under Christmas
Christmases for the Scary One when she was just a lass were in Australia when it was still Roast Turkey despite the roasting weather.
Delve deep into Melbourne’s vibrant Central Business District with Leanne.
Be wowed by the street art and ‘hole in the wall’ cafes selling the best coffee in town and hidden bars.
The one-hour Melbourne’s Laneways and Arcades live virtual tour comes in at £61 per tour for up to six users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. Guests will also be provided with a digital resource pack to complement the tour itinerary after booking.
So treat yourself this Christmas to a virtual tour of the world.
I think you’ll agree it’s a virtual tour de force of guides.