Although it’s being posted much later, I’m currently drafting this on my iPhone from the bus that’s taking us back to Central London. We just left what’s the most exciting tour I’ve ever been on. Exciting may not be the best word but maybe I should say privileged. I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to experience what we did in the way that we did.
Every once in a while you may discover an opportunity to take a normal, everybody’s doing it, experience and get insider access that very few others get. This was one of those experiences.
Last fall when we were in New York City we, of course, went to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty up close. But prior to leaving home Marla discovered a way to one up the normal tour, Crown Access.
Out of the thousands of people who visit the monument every day only 100 or so people are allowed to climb the 344 stairs up into the crown, and it was only 8 or so at a time due to the tight quarters.
It is so exciting to see the internals of the statue in a way that very few ever do, so I always highly recommend it to anyone who visits. If you do go though, you have to book early.
Beyond the Ropes
Today we experienced another one of those exclusive tours, this time at Stonehenge, where we were allowed to go beyond the ropes. First timers to Stonehenge are sometimes disappointed when they arrive and learn that you’re only allowed viewing from afar. The entire area is roped off to a distance of about 40 yards where, although you can admire the structure, you’re amongst hundreds of others and have no feeling of the size and texture of the stones. There’s nothing like standing inside.
The beyond the ropes tour only runs through a select few tour companies and has just 2 time slots everyday, one before the monument opens and one after.
Aside from seeing something as iconic as Stonehenge up close, we had the Stonehenge tour guide. I don’t mean he’s the only one, but he’s the best. I know that’s a bold statement, but believe me when I say that he knew everything about the history of the entire area and was extremely passionate about it. He was so passionate that I envied his knowledge and love for the history of it all.
He went in casually remarking that after leaving this tour we would know more about the area than 90% of tour guides and after experiencing it all I actually believe he may be right.
He was a passionate leader who taught in a way that led us to discover things that we couldn’t see on our own. For example, we initially walk through, examine, take pictures and feel that we’ve “seen” Stonehenge. But then when he started talking he pointed out things in a way that in that instant made me feel like I was in National Treasure where suddenly hundreds of pieces to a puzzle started to move before my eyes. He was a magician who could bring the stones to life.
It was such an eye opening experience, but I don’t feel like I can do the tour any justice whatsoever by trying to explain it. It’s simply something that needs to be added to your bucket list, pronto. The tour was from Salisbury Guided Tours, the website in no way matches the quality of the tour so I almost hate linking to it, but you need to know who to go with if you do it. If you do book tell him Jeff & Marla from the September 10th AM tour sent you :)
Slow Ride London
Stonehenge wasn’t the first tour of our trip that I highly recommend, however I think all others will only pale in comparison from here on in.
Yesterday’s tour, the Fat Tire Bike Tour was one that I want to recommend for 2 reasons, the enjoyment of leisurely riding around London (and not like the crazy bikers weaving in and out of traffic) and the great tour guide.
Our guide yesterday grew up just outside Central London and his love of London history and heritage shown brightly. Overall a bike tour through London is an excellent idea because it’s easily accessible, even if you’re not an avid biker, and it’s a unique perspective that a bus tour or something of the like can’t offer.
What tours have you been on in the past that you absolutely loved and find yourself constantly recommending? Let us know in the comments.