A cruise along the Seine, transformative stories inside the Vatican—traveler Chimdi experienced all this and more when she set off on our tour of London, Paris & Rome (and she documented it all in a review on her YouTube page!). We caught up with her to hear how she and her friends made the most of long summer days on tour, and to find out why going guided made such an impression. (One reason? Getting to skip the lines.)
Getting in step with the Queen’s guards
London has so many icons like the red phone booths, Big Ben, and black cabs. You see them and are like, “Boom, that’s London.” You also always see the Changing of the Guard, but I didn’t know that was a much longer march. As the guards were marching, all the folks who were there to watch were running along with them. My friends and I did a solid power walk-slash-trot for the experience!
Finding magic along the Seine
We did a sunset river cruise and passed the Eiffel Tower when it was lit up with sparkling lights. We saw couples picnicking along the Seine and I think there was a ballroom class going on because people were dancing along the water. It was great to see folks of all ages just keeping things really simple while spending time with people they loved. It was just beautiful.
Uncovering history around every corner
What struck me about Rome is the history. Our first night, we hopped on a train and literally turned a corner, and there was the Colosseum. That was pretty cool. Rome has these crazy juxtapositions of modern life and history.
Seeing the places from the stories
I saw so many things on the trip that I’d only seen in movies and television shows, like the Sistine Chapel. There’s such power in realizing that everything that exists in this world is a place that you can visit for yourself. It’s within reach. It’s not impossible. Get on a plane and go and then you can be the one looking at the chapel’s ceiling and marveling at it. That was kind of mind-blowing for me.
Hearing stories that knock your socks off
I still think about the value of education that came with the guided excursions you provided. It was transformative and made me see things in a new way. I’m a Christian and the Iconic Sights: Vatican City excursion was really powerful. Our guide’s storytelling was phenomenal and I still reflect on the things I learned.
Skipping the lines
Oh my gosh, easily the best part of going on the added excursions was getting taken care of and going right on through. Those are the small things you don’t think about when you’re planning a trip by yourself. If my friends and I went by ourselves, we’d have to wait for hours just to get through on top of not having someone to guide us and show us why what we saw was important. Waiting in line is the antithesis to having a good time. I can’t even handle a line in the grocery store, so getting to skip the lines was fantastic!
Making the most of free time
I think the key to a good tour is making sure you’re balancing your free time between what you love, what you can only do because you’re in a certain location, and the stuff that’s already been curated for you by Go Ahead Tours so you don’t have to do the extra work of reinventing the wheel. You want to make sure you’re seeing the things that actually resonate with you. So, go to the Vatican in Rome if you’re a religious person, or see the history and art when you’re in Paris. Also, take some time to just relax and enjoy yourself! If you fill your time with too much stuff, you end up a little burnt out.
I got so used to a life where food was waiting for me every morning in our hotels, and it was delicious. We walked into these nice hotels and there were these beautiful buffets. I was just like, this is truly living. We’ve made it.
Tapping in to the experts
I saw the value of traveling with a Tour Director who genuinely cares about you having a good time, and is armed with the knowledge and resources to help you. It just makes it so much easier. I could ask “How does the metro work?” or “Is tipping okay in this culture?” or “What time do things close?” Having someone there to give you tips saves you the hassle of having to figure out every single thing by yourself. They help you avoid so many tiny mistakes you could easily make.