Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weird Tours That Make You Scratch Your Head And Say…Huh?

The month of May is just a few days away and with that, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, people are thinking about summer vacation. Where to go. What to do. Travel far from home. Stay close by. Fly. Go by train. Drive. Take a cruise. So many decisions.

I came across a series of articles geared toward vacation activities and travel that I'd like to share with you over the next few weeks.

And first in the seems that any place of even minimal interest to the average tourist offers a tour. All major travel destinations have a variety of tours from which to choose. However, there are a few tours out there that are really out there as far as their subject matter. Here are a few legitimate tours of the unusual, weird, and even bizarre.

In The Ghetto—Los Angeles, California: This bus tour goes through what is locally known as South Central, an area of Los Angeles that has become synonymous with gang warfare and poverty. The tour guides are former gang members. Passengers must sign a release waiver before embarking on the tour. And with the sight seeing comes some education. Reformed gang members recall their lives on the streets. All proceeds go toward helping gang members find jobs. The sights include LA County Jail and a graffiti lab. The price, at the time I read about this tour, was $65 per person which includes lunch.

Tour de Sewer—Paris, France: If your fantasy is to live underground, indulge in a little Phantom Of The Opera role playing, then you'll be happy to know that there are several tour companies that offer the experience of exploring the underground sewers of Paris. There is even a museum dedicated to the below street environs where you can see videos and displays showing the evolution of sewer technology. The tour sights include drain pipes and underground tunnels. The price, at the time I read about this tour, was 4.2 Euros per person (less than $6 at that time).

A Paranormal Activity—Edinburgh, United Kingdom: If you're afraid of the dark, you might want to think twice before embarking on this tour. High levels of paranormal activity have been reported in the cramped passageways below Edinburgh's South Street bridge, a space once used as storage vaults for merchants in the 1700s. Then the spaces were used as living quarters for the city's poor. Rumors have long circulated that the underground lairs were used as dumping sites for murder victims. In order to help detect ghostly presences, tour members are issued hand held Electro Magnetic Field recorders to carry with them as they tour the vaults. The price, at the time I read about this tour, was 8.50 pounds per adult (about $13.50 at that time).

Love For The Slums—Mumbai, India: With the success of 8 time Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire, what has been termed "poverty tourism" has become popular. Over a million people live in the 550 acre area known as Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia. Whether the tour is considered exploitation or educational is up to you, but 80% of the profits are donated to help Mumbai's poor. Similar tours are offered in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, as well as Kenya. The price, at the time I read about this tour, was $10-$20 per person, depending on the length of the tour.

Dead Celebrities—Hollywood, California: The "Deadly Departed Tour" explores nearly 100 sites of celebrity scandal and death, a feast for pop culture lovers. The tabloid tour lasts over three hours and is usually offered Wednesday through Sunday. The price, at the time I read about this tour, was $40 per person.

Hunt Or Be Hunted—Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada: For over ten years Great Bear Nature Tours has been taking visitors into the wilderness in search of grizzlies. For anywhere from two to seven nights you go into the wilderness searching for bears with a biologist as your guide. Binoculars and rain gear is provided. Also included is a private room at the Great Bear Lodge with meals. This is an ecotour in a remote wilderness with breathtaking scenery. The only shooting is done with a camera. The price varies according to length of tour.

Scandal Sightseeing—Washington, D.C.: There are an abundance of tours available in and around Washington, D.C., but this one is done with wit and irreverence by the comedy troupe "Gross National Product." On this tour you'll visit the familiar such as the Jefferson Memorial and the White House, but the guides let you in on the juicy details other tour operators tend to leave out. The price, at the time I read about this tour, was $30 per person.

Have any of you ever taken a weird, off beat type of tour?

For the next few weeks my blogs will be about vacation type stuff. This blog is tours from the unusual to the bizarre. Next week (Sunday, May 2) I'll be talking about how to determine if a tour is right for you or if you're better off traveling to a vacation destination and sight seeing on your own.


Darah Lace said...

LOL These are too funny. I particularly like Tour de Sewer. Never quite thought about Phantom of the Opera that way. I guess the closest I've been to being on a tour is the riverboat on San Antonio's Riverwalk. Really very interesting.

Samantha Gentry said...

Hi, Darah. The Travel Channel has shown scenes from the Paris sewer tours. It was interesting, but I think I'll opt for an elevator ride to the top of the Eifle Tower instead. :)

Ilona Fridl said...


It's not a tour, per se, but in Mt. Horub, Wisconsin, they have a mustard museum. Everything you could possibly care to know about mustard.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ilona: Some of those local museums dedicated to weird and quirky things are fascinating. All kinds of interesting facts.