Join me as I quite literally retrace my steps along the streets of St. John’s on a ‘Legends and Lores of Antigua‘ walking tour which I took during a recent 14 night cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse.
The short, on-line tour description invites us to “Step back in time on this historic walking tour of Antigua specially designed by the Historical Society of the Museum of Antigua“…
In line with the ‘what to wear/bring’ instruction, I am kitted out in comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunglasses and I’m carrying a water bottle. Not only am I looking forward to exploring St. John’s more closely, I am also looking forward to clocking up a few thousand *smug* FitBit steps in the process. You’ll do close to 7,500 by the way.
Enter Rowan, our guide, who meets us at the wharf – and in no time, we are off!
This is the first time I have experienced a ‘whisper guide radio system’, and I must admit I was VERY impressed! Rowan, (who kept any under-cover ‘health and safety’ officials happy by wearing a high visibility T.Shirt) handed out the pre-set ear piece radios, gave us an efficient brief on how they worked – and then led the charge.
Now, what normally happens in a walking group, or at least where my own personal experience is concerned, is that there is a lot of pressure on passengers to get to the front so as to stay close to the guide and not miss any of the pertinent info being shared. Often this results in a bit of *polite* pushing and shoving, as passengers struggle to hear what is being said, whilst trying to take at least one decent photie, all the while keeping an eye on the traffic.
Soon to be a thing of the past it seems…
Say hello to the ‘whisper guide system’ and wave goodbye to polite ‘pushing and shoving’!
Brilliant. Really. I would urge every tour operator the world over to invest in this system for their walking tours!
What a fab little gadget.
Tucking easily over one ear, it doesn’t disrupt the awareness of your surroundings as you can hear everything going on around you. Including traffic. Albeit ‘quiet traffic’ as in this case it was Good Friday.
It wasn’t just the technical and safety side that impressed me, our guide Rowan really knew his stuff. Great dialogue and diction throughout. Gotta love a professional! Which is why I always recommend taking a tour through your cruise line.
Now, whilst I agree wholeheartedly that this is a walking tour and not a hike, I’m not sure I’d rate it as ‘mild’ and would personally go as far as to grade this one as ‘moderate’.
There were a lot of uneven pavements and pot holes to navigate – along with some quite high steps that might just prove a challenge for the ‘stiff hip brigade’. So best check with the shore excursion team, either on-line or on board, before booking this one and please be honest about your personal fitness level.
We followed behind ‘High Vis Rowan’ the guide – snaking behind him in a semi-organised conga line as he stopped to share his knowledge at various points of interest along the way. Easily recognisable by Rowan’s T. shirt, our nerdy ear pieces and touristy ruck sacks, we were greeted warmly by everyone we met – before coming to a stand still at one of the most prominent stops on the tour, the statue of Mr. Bird.
Actually, that’s Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr. to you and I.
Rowan shared quite a story about this incredible man and it was evident how much respect he and his fellow country man have for him.
I was curious to learn what other visitors thought about Mr Bird (as he is fondly known) and so checked on Trip Advisor to find out. It was actually quite sad to read the comments indicating how many people visit the statue, but how few knew the story of the great man behind it. Saying only that it was a nice looking statue and admitting they hadn’t a clue who he was or what it stood for. A few locals have replied to the comments and tried to put the record straight by sharing the low down on what a hugely respected man Mr. Bird is and was – Father of the Nation, no less.
But the truth is that it takes a great local guide to really bring these important points to life. Rowan shared so many personal stories and anecdotes during our walking tour that I now see St. John’s through completely different eyes.
I really enjoyed my walk around St. John’s – and was very pleased to discover a new *for me* historical side to this charming port. A side that I was previously quite unaware of.
The museum was a delight. Nothing modern, touch-screen, hi-tech, fancy lighting stuff, mind you (and perhaps all the better for it) – but full, none the less, of cultural treasures and links to a history that seems yet to be discovered by many. I actually felt quite privileged..
I would say that even those of who have visited St. John’s before, even on several occasions, would be pleasantly surprised by this info packed 2,5 hr walking tour which I can highly recommend.
A good, all ’round healthy option on the shore excursion menu!