The Life of a Tour Guide: Episode 3
Working as a tour guide has its challenges, it’s not all beautiful photos and eating great food. This week’s episode I’m going to discuss 3 challenges I face with my job and how I overcome them.
The first task may seem simple, but it’s most likely the hardest one I face every day. It’s to maintain the same level of enthusiasm for a city you’ve seen a dozen times. It might be my 36th time arriving into Paris, but it’ll be my customers first time seeing the Eiffel Tower. Like an actress performing the same production months on end, I find a way to improvise the show, just to keep things interesting. For example, finding out new facts and researching what’s new in the city. Large cosmopolitan cities are always evolving, which helps me revolutionise my talks to stop me from getting bored. Plus, place yourself in their position, remember your first time in that city and be excited for them.
At the start of my week, re-visited some of my favourite cities in Europe, such as Lisbon. Oh boy, it felt good to be home in Portugal – yes I now call it my home now! If like me, you have just one night in Lisbon, here’s 3 quick experiences not to miss:
- The best way to try the city is at the Time Out Market. It’s a large warehouse that roofs the best of Lisbon in one place. From artistically designed Michelin Star plates, to freshly baked Portuguese custard tarts (pastel de nata).
- Lisbon is a hilly city, therefore finding a perch for sunset is easy. But one of my favourite spots is by the hippy garden restaurant, Lost In. This restaurant has a beautiful view over the Alfama district (the old Jewish quarter), but if you can’t get seated, the large public terrace is open and offers the same view.
- Later in the evening, start at Ginginha do Carmo, for a famous Ginjinha in a chocolate shot. Ginjinha is cherry berries infused in alcohol, and it’s delicious! This will kick start a great night to continue at Barrio Alto, which is a neighbourhood filled with bars and vibrant atmosphere.
On the road you’re mostly alone or with your driver, so the second challenge is building strong friendships. Some days I meet our customers just for 4 hour, others 12 hours and rarely will I get to hang out with them for a whole week. I tackle this sense of isolation by keeping in touch with any connections I’ve made. Instagram is a great way to catch up with where people are, then with any luck, I’ll end up bumping into people again on my travels.
I was lucky this week to have one of my favourite drivers with me, Gabor from Hungary. His sense of humour comes across very well in the photo below! It helps long coach journeys go quicker when you have a good relationship with your driver, plus you have a buddy to explore with. Together we ventured around the streets of Santiago De Compostella. This city is known as the final destination for the famous Camino pilgrims walk, its Cathedral with the relic of Saint James and it’s old town, which is UNESCO.
This might also sound like an odd one, but the next challenge is having too much free time. I love having my freedom and own space, but a 14 hour coach journey is not the place to feel inspired. Twiddling your thumbs and staring out at a never ending motorway, is not what we picture when fantasising travel plans. I use this time wisely for essential research or dreaming, such as browsing Instagram for that boutique hotel I will build one day. When you’re stuck in a dull setting, find the tools that revive your energy and imagination. My tool is social media and the endless opportunities it proposes. I will make plans for my next few days, get excited about a new restaurant I want to try, just to give me a positive boost and motivation.
My top tip in life (not just on the road), is to always have something to look forward to. Don’t let your excitement disappear, enjoy the moment you’re in. Always have something next that excites the heck out of you, don’t make the next day boring. Have something every single day that excites you. It can be as simple as trying out a new recipe, having a glass of wine with a friend or planning your next trip. Plan your joy.