Sunday, February 7, 2010

Interesting Tours For Travel Experiences

At this time of year people begin to think about their summer vacations. I recently read a fascinating article titled "Tours To Make You Scratch Your Head," by Libby Zay and thought it would be "fun" to write a blog about some unusual tours. For people who like to do something different and exciting while on vacation, they're worth looking into. For those of us who live in or near New York City there are plenty of free walking tours that you can do on your own. NYC neighborhoods are filled with interesting, culturally diverse, ethnically rich places to visit, great restaurants to eat in and beautiful Churches to explore and stop in to pray. People watching is great in NY too!  Everything combined is what makes New York one of the greatest cities in the world.  I'm partial, of course. Great neighborhoods to explore include: Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, Red Hook, Bay Ridge and Coney Island in Brooklyn to name a few and then there's Astoria, Forest Hills, Long Island City in Queens. In Manhattan there are endless neighborhoods to explore. Relatives of mine just moved to the Lower East Side- very trendy and also there's the Village, SoHo and many others. But for those of us who plan on traveling out of NY here are some fascinating tours to consider.....
Love for the Slums-Mumbai, India-I can't imagine anyone wanting to visit a slum on vacation but there are people who want to see how people live firsthand. There is a new trend called "poverty tourism." I was upset enough when I watched the movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," if I ever visited the actual slum, I wouldn't sleep for a week. But in any event, whatever you think about this tour, 80% of the profits are donated to Mumbai's poor, so that's good. (By the way, I know an extraordinary Jesuit priest who is building a school outside one of the largest slums in the world in Nairobi, Kenya. That school will provide the children with a way out of that slum).
Tour de Sewer-Paris, France-Several tour companies allow tourists to visit underground arteries of Paris. There is even a museum called the Museum of the Sewers of Paris. Seeing drain pipes is a highlight of this tour. If I ever get to Paris, I want to see museums and Churches, not sewers but everyone's different.
When my sons were young, we would rent a house in the Pocono Mountains, PA, every summer, where there is a large population of black bears. So I've been in the situation where I was walking on a country road alone and a black bear walked right in front of me, turned around looked at me and continued walking. I was very relieved that he continued on his way. There are people who are interested in seeing bears in the wild and so the following tour would appeal to them. It's titled, "Hunt or Be Hunted"-British Columbia, Canada. "For over ten years, Great Bear Nature Tours has been taking tourists into the wilderness in search of Grizzlies. For 2 to 7 nights you can go into the wild with a biologist as a guide, searching for bears." As a person who came very close to a bear in the wild I can tell you, it's a frightening experience. Only the brave need apply for a brochure. By the way, Grizzlies are brown bears and they can be dangerous, it's rare for a black bear to attack a human being, but it does happen from time to time. 
As I told the two hundred Catholic parents that I spoke to today about deepening faith in their children, when on vacation always remember to visit a new Church and explore the architecture, stain glass and statues. We are blessed to have so many magnificent Churches all over the world.