A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Discover Walks Paris about my love for the City of Light. They have a program of walking tours for those wanting to see more than just the main tourist attractions. It got me to thinking. The best way to see any city is to walk, to wander the streets, get some exercise and get a little lost. And what better way to do that than with some locals. Here are some of the best walking tours I have done around the world.
The World’s Largest Flea Market (And no, you can’t buy fleas)
Discover Walks Paris run a great half-day tour of one of Paris’ biggest tourist attractions – the largest flea market in Europe, some say the world – Marché aux Puces. This tour is a great way to get an overview of this huge and potentially overwhelming market. Located over seven hectares it contains 14 separate markets, some undercover, some in the open air. And they are full of all manner of bric-a-brac, vintage items, restored retro furniture, posters, vinyl records, tapestries, artworks, magazines, photographs, old postcards, vintage clothes, and genuine – read ‘very expensive’ – antiques. In fact it has the largest concentration of antique and second hand dealers in the world. Whilst the tour doesn’t give you a lot of time to actually haggle and shop it is a great way to get a good overview and to mark places you wish to return to later. Our guide also gave some useful tips and hints of where to shop for particular items and how to navigate your way through this spectacular array of markets. More information can be found at the markets website: Marché aux Puces in both french and english.
The Art Studios of Belleville
If you are in Paris in the beautiful month of May be sure to catch the Belleville Artists’ Open Studios. Started in 1990 and run by the Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville, it is now the largest event of its kind in France with more than 250 exhibitors and 120 open artist studios. This is a self-guided walking tour so put on your walking shoes, find your way to Belleville via the metro, grab a map of the studios and venture forth to meet the areas bohemian artists in their own habitat. Information on the festival and the exhibiting artists and their work can be found at the official website: Open Studios – Portes-Ouverte
Walk and Eat Your Way Through the Barri Gottic
Of all the walking tours food based ones are my favourite. Barcelona is a food lovers paradise. What better way to explore the culinary side of this city than a food tour through the Barri Gottic with a Barcelonian local to explore the many restaurants, tapas bars and cafes. Barcelona Food Tour runs small groups tours which include tapas, cheese and wine tastings at local, out of the way places you would not have discovered on your own. And given the maze like layout of this area of Barcelona, are never likely to find again. Tours start in the evening and run for about 4 hours. Bring good walking shoes and an empty stomach. Oh, and enjoy while you can because you will never find your way back to that charming little bar she took you to that you thought was really just around that corner. Bookings can be made through their website.
Wander the Streets of Chawri Bazaar with Your Camera
walking tours involving photography are also very popular. This one run by a group of avid photography enthusiasts -the Delhi Photography Club (DPC) – offers a number of workshops and courses for those looking to improve their photography be it technical or creative. Always on the lookout for opportunities to develop my skills in travel and street photography, I contacted the DPC and organised a customised street photography workshop with Virendra Shekhawat. We wandered the tangled streets of Old Delhi for four hours, meeting many people, taking hundreds of photos, learning new skills with a lot of trial and error, and making new friends. I was given access to parts of the city I would be too intimidated to visit alone and left with renewed appreciation of the skills and courage required to push past the initial fears and trepidation that often accompanies street photography. Its certainly not easy, but it is definitely worth it and is a very novel way to get to know a foreign city. They also offer group workshops in food photography, architectural photography and landscape as well as more technically focussed courses. Check their website for details and tell Virendra we said ‘Hi”. Website: www.delhiphotographyclub.com
Learn About the Street Children of New Delhi
Salaam Balaak Trust is a non-governmental organisation that provides a safe environment for street and working children in Delhi to gain an education and ultimately, and where appropriate, be reunited with their families. It has, over its 26 years in operation, aided more than 50 000 of Delhi’s street children. Salaam Baalak translates as Salute the Child and the stories on their website are inspiring – children who have been supported to gain an education and pursue their dreams into careers in engineering, the arts and tourism. Some make it, but still some don’t. To help fund their work and bring some recognition of the problem they offer City Walks to take tourists beyond the facade of Delhi’s tourist attractions, its forts and its palaces, and to provide an insight into the plight of these forgotten and neglected children of India. It’s sobering but inspiring at the same time. For more information on Salaam Baalak Trust visit their website at www.salaambaalaktrust.com Their City Walks are held every day except Sundays and public holidays. Payment is by donation. Bookings can be made on-line. The walk lasts for around 2 hours and involves quite a bit of walking so wear comfortable shoes, take some water and wear a hat. Look out for your guide at the meeting place in the blue and white Salaam Balaak t-shirt!
Squish A Week’s Worth of Food Experiences into a Few Hours
Feast On Foot have developed a great food itinerary combined with a tour of the stunning street art for which Adelaide is also becoming famous. With support from Adelaide City Council’s Splash Adelaide, they have become one of the best food tours on offer. The tours run every Saturday from 10am -1pm and includes stops at a number of different venues offering very generous tastings both sweet and savoury. But it’s not just the food that makes this tour unmissable. The guides have a lot of local information and lead the tour with a commentary of local history, quirky facts and in depth knowledge of the street art scene and the artists behind the works. The tour also takes you behind the scenes as you get to chat with the people who are putting the Adelaide food scene up front and centre. I won’t go into too much detail on the venues themselves as it is nice to be surprised but let’s just say it’s best not to eat breakfast before you go!
While You’re There, Indulge in a Little Wine-Bar Hopping
The Foodi Wine Bars Walking Tour takes you to a number of Adelaide’s finest wine-bars to taste what South Australia is most famous for – premium wine. The evening of my tour I joined a very convivial group who were obviously ready to enjoy a tipple and make new friends. The tour started at a bar called The Treasury and then took us around the CBD to small intimate bars and larger, more commercial ones. Wine tastings were offered at most venues and the tour also included a quite generous share-plate of nibbles. This is a fabulous way to access local out of the way venues, try some delicious wine, learn a little about the city and even explore under-ground. By the end of the night I guarantee you will be slightly tipsy, very jovial and will possibly have made new friends.
Take a trip to Vietnam – No Passport Needed
Sydney ranks as one of the world’s most multicultural cities and one nationality that is well represented are the Vietnamese. Not yet having had the good fortune to travel to Vietnam I took the opportunity to take a walking food and photography tour of Sydney’s Little Saigon – Cabramatta – a suburb of Sydney with a distinct Vietnamese flavour. The tour, run by Sarah Jenkins from SignaturePhoto, takes around four hours and leads you through the vibrant and colourful outdoor and indoor markets around the suburb. With abundant fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables, flowers and exotic Vietnamese delicacies on offer, the trade is hectic and boisterous as the predominantly Vietnamese women haggle and shop in earnest.
Improve Your Street Photography on the Gritty Streets of Newtown
If you want to improve your street photography skills take a photography workshop with a group call The Aperture Club. They run out of Sydney and offer all manner of courses from basic camera operation, one-day walking tours and 5-6 day photography tours. The workshop I took focussed on street photography, mainly photographing the people and the fascinating street art of Newtown, a funky, gritty and fashionable inner city suburb of Sydney. This course does assume technical knowledge on how your camera works and is more focussed on the creative and observation side of photography. And you also get a great walking tour of Newtown and it’s inner-city grunginess.
Discover FoodMania in TasMania
Gourmania Food Tours – Led by a sixth-generation Tasmanian and ex-pastry-chef, they show you the best places to eat in Hobart. Mary McNeil leads a number of different walking tours to show you the delights of the blossoming food industry in Hobart.This walking tour is focussed on gourmet food though the Tasmanian capital, Hobart. We booked the 4-hour City Tour which took us on a meandering walk through the streets of Sullivan’s Cove, Battery Point and the CBD. Good thing there was a lot of walking because this tour includes a lot of eating. Starting off at the Tassal Salmon Centre in Salamanca, the tour saw us tasting seafood, charcuterie, pastries, pub food, sushi , local wines and finishing off with a scoop of ice-cream and chocolates at Smolt. The groups are small and the nature of the tour means it is very convivial and friendly and a lovely way to spend the morning.
If you have any favourite walking tours to add to this list let us know in the comments below.