David, one of our Originals Guide Champions, based in Madrid traveled to Athens this summer and wrote in to tell us about his experience. David took the opportunity to use the mystery shopping programme for Originals guides, whereby you can join any Originals tour in the world free of charge. David told us he was really excited for his tour of the Acropolis in Athens as he knows how incredible Originals tours are and he knew he was in for a great time.
- The Originals factor
We asked David what made this tour an Originals. He replied “The Acropolis is the most important sight in Athens so it is a must-see. The fact that there was a reduced number of visitors in the group, that we skipped the line at the entrance and that the tour guide had such remarkable knowledge all allowed for a wonderful atmosphere. It felt like the best way to discover this beauty.”
2. The highlight of the tour
David went on to tell us about his favourite parts of the tour. We weren’t surprised to hear that it was the guide of course! He told us “Her introduction was brilliant, it was about the society created in the V BC during Greece’s classical time: teachers, politicians, philosophers, the Mediterranean diet… It was impressive learning about the development of classical architecture to a level that humanity had never seen before.”
3. David’s interaction with the guide
We wanted to know whether David told his guide that he was also part of the Originals community. He said “Of course! We were talking during and after the tour, her name was Sissy. It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to meet up with your coworkers from abroad. We talked a bit during the tour and after. I told her what a great job she’d done and we also talked about how much we struggled during this pandemic.” We really loved hearing about this connection between guides who hadn’t even met before.
David went on to say “She’s a brilliant tour guide. She explained that the first time she saw a picture of the Caryatids, she knew she wanted to be a tour guide and this passion still shows today”. David had actually experienced something similar. He explained that when he was 19 in his first year of college, he was on a school trip when he saw a tour guide in action and he knew someday he would be a tour guide too. He even remembers the guide’s name: José Luis Navazos.
4. David’s tips following the tour
We finished up by asking David if he took any tips away from his experience and how he will apply them to his tours in Madrid. He said he had learnt a lot from Sissy, especially with regards to the perfect balance between the Greek gods and classical architecture. There is a lot of Greek mythology represented on several fresco paintings and statues at Madrid’s Royal Palace. We loved hearing that David will now be able to talk about these in more detail having learnt from an expert in the country they originate from.
David finished by giving us some tips for our trip to Athens:
- Have breakfast at the meeting point of the tour. The yoghurt is amazing!
- Do not miss the beautiful sunset at Poseidon temple by the Greek Riviera; it was one of the best sunsets I have ever seen!
I was taking my first trip to Lisbon this summer and I thought what better way to discover the local area than to take an Originals tour? So I booked the Sintra, Pena Palace and Cascais Day Trip and I am so glad I did as it was an unforgettable experience!
- Branding and the Meeting Point
It was quite an early start but I was excited as I arrived at the meeting point and saw two beautifully bright GetYourGuide minibuses waiting for us. Out jumped the guide, who greeted us with such enthusiasm and warmth making it clear straight away that we were in for a great day. She was wearing the GetYourGuide polo shirt so it was immediately clear that she was our guide.
I had forgotten to inform the operator that I was travelling with my partner (we had booked separately) and so we were due to be in different minibuses to start with. Maria quickly resolved it, moved people around and we got to spend the day together. There were also only 6 of us in the minibus so it made for a nice, intimate group, where we really got to ask all our questions and get great value for money.
2. The benefits of an Originals tour
What was excellent about this tour was that we left Lisbon nice and early so that we would arrive well before the crowds at Pena Palace. At first you don’t notice it and you imagine it would always be so quiet but when you leave around 11am, you realise just how busy it’s become and how lucky you were to arrive before.
We went on to visit the town of Sintra itself. We received a number of recommendations from Maria for lunch and local specialities to try in Sintra. We followed 3 of these bits of advice and they were all great, especially the local sweet pastries.
3. Top tips learnt from the guide
Maria was extremely friendly, passionate, very knowledgeable, interesting and engaging. We learnt a lot from her but she also built great rapport with the group throughout the day which meant we had such a fun, enjoyable time! She was excellent at remembering names and facts about people and getting them involved with info like where each person was from, our background, etc. She had a great balance of sharing stories and history and personal touch.
At the end of the tour, I loved how Maria asked the group to write a review about our experience. As we were approaching Lisbon she asked us what our favourite part of the day was. We all shared our personal highlights, and then she encouraged us to write about these in our reviews. I thought this was a lovely way of rounding off the day and getting us to remember and share our best bits.
My favourite bit by the way was the visit of the fairytale Pena Palace, its colourful exterior with its humble internal features, and the stories about the Portuguese royal family that Maria made so relatable. You’ll have to visit yourself to see!
Are you an Originals guide or partner and would like to test Originals like Elise and David? Get in touch with us at toms@getyourguide, and we’ll help you arrange a mystery shopping of the Originals tours!