5 Tours Made for Walking
Bus and Segway tours are fine, but to really experience a city, stop riding and start walking — or crawling with a walking tour. It may eat up more of your itinerary, but a tour on foot provides a more sensory experience of the destination you're visiting: Its identity comes alive during strolls through its history, literature, food and drink. That said, some places are better suited for exploring on foot than others. Whether you're a bookworm, a foodie, a history buff or an adventure-lover, there's a walking tour for you.
With the title of UNESCO World City of Literature, it should come as no surprise that several of Edinburgh's walking tours revolve around the city's role in literary history. Allan Foster, author of "The Literary Traveller in Edinburgh" and "The Literary Traveller in Scotland," leads both the Edinburgh Literary Pub Crawl and the Edinburgh Book Lovers' Walking Tour, offering dramatizations, readings and wry humor along the way. On your tour, you'll visit pubs once enjoyed by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling and Muriel Spark, among other Scottish writers in Edinburgh's Old Town. All this may inspire you to stroll along Sir Walter Scott Way, a 92-mile walking trail in the Scottish Borders region. Scott walked as many as 30 miles a day along the ruins and dramatic landscapes reflected in "Ivanhoe," and "Rob Roy," among the writer's other novels and poems. The Literary Pub Crawl costs 8 pounds (about $12), while the Edinburgh Book Lovers' Walking Tour costs 10 pounds (about $15). Each tours lasts about 90 minutes. For more information, consult the Edinburgh Literary Tours website.
New York City has its fair share of walking tours. But if you're a history buff, look no further than "Downtown Graveyards — Where They Came To Rest," led by Joyce Gold, an author and teacher of Manhattan history at the New School and New York Universities. During the tour through Lower Manhattan, you'll visit the oldest Jewish graveyard in North America and the nation's earliest known African and African American cemetery. The cemetery had been buried, literally, until 1991, when it was rediscovered during construction of a federal office building, according to the National Park Service. Now it's a proclaimed National Monument, a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Historic District. You'll also visit the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton, who is buried near fellow signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The tour begins at Trinity Church on Wall Street and Broadway. Since this is a private tour, it'll cost you: A two-hour walk with up to six people will set you back $320. If you're on a budget, consider Gold's public walking tours, descriptions for which can be found on her site.
If you're interested in the life and work of Sigmund Freud, the interrelationship between him and the Austrian city of his birth, and Vienna's collective postwar conscience, consider "City of Dreams, Freud's Vienna." The father of psychoanalysis spent 47 years, most of his life and career, in Vienna until Nazism forced him to flee in 1938. The walk begins at the Sigmund Freud Museum, once the city center apartment where he lived and worked, where a local specialist offers a brief history of psychoanalysis. From there, the tour continues past the 18th-century Narrenturm, Europe's first building created for treating mental patients, and on to Sigmund Freud Park. Cap off your tour with a stop at Café Landtmann, one of Freud's favorite spots, also enjoyed by Marlene Dietrich, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Sir Paul McCartney. The three-hour tour costs 80 euros (about $90).
This "Flavors of Philly" City Food Tour lets your stomach do the walking through the heart of Philadelphia. Along the way, you'll get a big dollop of Philly's quirky foodie history. For example, did you know a hot dog stand operator in South Philadelphia's Italian Market supposedly created the cheesesteak in 1930? And the hoagie is believed to have begun as "hoggies" at a World War I shipyard on Hog Island, now Philadelphia International Airport. In between walking off a few calories, you'll make a stop for dessert at the renowned Reading Terminal Market. The two-and-a-half-hour tour begins near City Hall; it costs $39 for adults and $29 for children 10 to 14 years old.
Traverse Botswana's Okavango Delta, called the earth's largest oasis, and the last unspoiled wetland in southern Africa, with the "Footsteps Across the Delta" walking safari. The Okavango Delta, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Kalahari Desert, is home to some of the world's most endangered species of large mammals (think cheetahs, the white and the black rhinos, lions, and almost 500 species of birds). When you're not marveling at the wildlife, take a look at the Okavango River: its crystal clear waters occasionally reverse in the opposite direction. Thanks to this rare water supply, and to Botswana's conservation policy, the big game life is plentiful in the Delta. And a flexible, leisurely walking safari is a great way to see it. The walks last a maximum of four to five hours in the morning and two to three hours in the evening, depending on the season. Returning to the tented Footsteps camp for rest or lunch can break up walks; a three-night package begins at $2,055 per person, based on double occupancy.
About the author: Marsha Dubrow writes about travel and the arts for examiner.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MarshaDubrow and connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. She earned an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature at Bennington College, which published her book "Single Blessedness."
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