This week's vacation related blog is about weird and unusual tours. It's May and people are thinking about summer vacation, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. Where to go. What to do. Travel far from home. Stay close by. Fly. Go by train. Drive. Take a cruise.
So many decisions.
It seems that any place of even minimal interest to the average vacationer offers a tour. All major travel destinations have a variety of tours from which to choose. However, there are also 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 which 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. And with the sight seeing comes some education. Reformed gang members recall their lives on the streets. All profits go toward economic development in the community and helping to provide jobs for the youth. The sights include LA County Jail and a graffiti lab.
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. This website is in French, but it offers a translation option that puts it into English.
A Paranormal Activity—Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Numerous locations in the U.S., and worldwide, have paranormal/ghost tours. This one is particularly interesting. 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. Something that makes this tour different is that tour members are issued hand held Electro Magnetic Field recorders to carry with them on the tour in order to detect ghostly presences.
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 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.
Dead Celebrities—Hollywood, California: The "Deadly Departed Tour" (one of several celebrity related tours) 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.
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 Eco tour in a remote wilderness with breathtaking scenery. The only shooting is done with a camera.
Scandal Sightseeing—Washington, D.C.: There are lots of different 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.
Have any of you ever taken a weird, off beat type of tour?
Stop by next week for another offering in my summer vacation blogs.