All posts tagged: walking tour

Wholesome Amsterdam

Cannabis, canals and carnal pursuits pretty much sum up the tourist’s image of Amsterdam. And you really can’t blame them when Google serves up “Tips for Getting Stoned like a Pro” or “Best Places for Cannabis Shopping” when you type in “Amsterdam travel.” In the capital of the Netherlands, you will learn the big difference between a coffeeshop, which sells weed, and a coffee shop, which sells coffee. You will see prostitution in a different light at the, well, Red Light District, and realize how everything is strictly business in this part of the world, just as it has been hundreds of years ago when the merchant city was built. But Amsterdam has Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Anne Frank, too. If, like me, you have little interest in smoking joints, fret not—you can still experience a high in Amsterdam. The city is loaded with interesting streets, colorful flea markets, great museums and cool places to just chill and watch those happy folk go by. Despite what people might think—with Amsterdam’s anything-goes attitude—safety is not an issue …

Kyoto’s Eternally Old Soul

Everything in Kyoto is old. Our private guide, Shihoko Hirooka, was 73. My entire family’s jaw dropped when she entered the hotel lobby and introduced herself as the one who will shepherd our group of nine, young, hyper-excited tourists. “This is our guide?” my sister Abbie whispered as she pulled me aside and cast me a worried look. “That woman is older than Ma and Pa! We’ll be walking the whole day…” Shihoko’s website boasted of her more than 30 years of experience as a tour guide in Japan, so I knew our guide wouldn’t be young. But I didn’t imagine she would be this old, either. “So, are you from Kyoto?” I asked Shihoko as we walked to the train station. It was a lame attempt at conversation but somebody had to talk—my companions were still in shock that our guide was as old as my grandmother. “Well, I’ve lived here for 40 years, but I can’t really say I’m from here. In Kyoto, for you to be able to say that you are …

Why Walk with Carlos Celdran

If you’re a foreigner or balikbayan, then I get why you would join Carlos Celdran’s “If These Walls Could Talk” tour. TIME has mentioned a few good reasons, so did the Asian Wall Street Journal. Plus you’re probably a little sentimental about your roots. But if like me, you live and breathe the smog of Manila more often than you’d like, you might be more skeptical about forking over Php1,100 for a tour of Intramuros, that “Walled City” that could not even hold off vandals, vendors, jeepney barkers, and a growing number of informal settlers. The not-so-friendly fee stings a little more when, again, like me, you actually already did a solo walking tour of Intramuros not too long ago (and in fact, even wrote about it). So why would you, a Pinoy familiar familiar with Manila, spend Php1,100 and three hours with Carlos Celdran? Well, after the tour, I got 10 very good reasons: You think Manila has more filth than history. Surprisingly, that is not true. You tell people that Rizal Park is the original Kilometer Zero. Again, …