My Amsterdam Free Tour
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a tour in a foreign city. Raise it again if you found it mind-numbingly boring, and CPR had to be used to bring you back to life afterwards. Yeah, thought so.
Now, this might come as a shock to you; but there actually IS a tour of Amsterdam that’s CPR-free. I swear, it’s no joke. And wait, it gets even better… the tour is FREE (as in, you don’t have to pay a cent for it)! I know, I know, you just fell off your chair didn’t you?
So, to my own surprise I took this tour a few days ago, and I discovered it’s actually a great way to experience Amsterdam and get a good overview of the history and sights of the city.
Basilio is the name, and touring is his game! Basilio was the guide on my tour, and let me tell you, this guy is amazing. I’m in love…seriously. Crazy, fun, deep, serious, beautiful, illegal… hold on, you’re not thinking I’m talking about Basilio are you?…oh, no…he only justified the huge crush I have on this amazing city! Besides, I think he has a girlfriend anyway…
Nonetheless, I’d recommend his tours any day, but to be fair, I’m sure all the tour guides who work the tours are equally amazing!
Basically, the tour takes you through most of the major sites in Amsterdam including Dam Square, the Red Light District, The Royal Palace, Amsterdam Historical Museum, The Anne Frank House… and my personal favorite… the smallest house in Amsterdam! The facts given on the tour are really informative and done in a way that you actually want to listen to what the guide is saying. The sites chosen for the tours were clearly very thought through, and as I said, gives a great overview of the city. There are also some interesting spots (not history related) that instantly make the question “Holy crap! REALLY?” pop into your head.
Here is some information about how the concept of the Free Tour started, and the company that’s been running it:
Once upon a time…long, long ago, a man called Christopher Sandeman started the concept of Free Tours. His idea started in a far away city, which you might know as Berlin. He had the idea that regardless of his or her budget, every tourist should be able to experience the city in the best way possible: “We believe that each one of our customers deserves the same honest advice and guidance that we would give to any friend visiting from abroad”. This is of course true, because the guides are really open to any dumb, nasty or embarrassing questions you might have. They bring the old history back to life, and make it relevant by today’s standards with a technique called ‘Info-Tainment’ (yeah, yeah, I know, its information and entertainment meshed into one word, but come on, it’s catchy right?).This technique is quite effective, considering the number of facts I can still remember from the tour…contrary to my 10th grade history class, where I couldn’t even remember which dictator we were learning about that week…
But, I know what you’re thinking: “How can the tours be so good if the guides don’t even get PAID for their hard work?”
Well, the guides do work on tips, which is actually sort of an incentive for them to give you the best tour they can give. It basically comes down to how much YOU think the tour was worth.
At the moment, the tours are running in Berlin, Munich, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. But, coming to a European city near you… they’re also expanding the tours to Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels and Bruges in 2008.
And since Amsterdam is basically the bike capital of the world, they are bringing in even more direction retarded tourists on bikes next year! Yep, you got it…a free bike tour. Ahhh, I hear Spanish people all over the world saying ‘hallelujah’ right at this very moment.
Summing it all up, I would recommend this tour to anyone…from the Amsterdam first-timer, to frequent Amsterdam visitors. Hell, even if you’ve been living here for a while I’d still recommend it! It’s fun, it’s energetic, you learn a lot about the city, and you get a chance to chat to other like-minded travelers as yourself. Plus, you get a free pint at the end…ahhh, there goes the English ‘hallelujah’.
This great opportunity shouldn’t be passed by!
Free Amsterdam tours can be viewed at: www.newamsterdamtours.com