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Off Beat Tours

Whenever we travel we look for, well actually, seek out off-beat tours and attractions. Sure, if you’re in Paris, a visit to the Louvre is de rigueur as is the Tower in London or any other major historical or cultural attraction. But there is so much more to exploring new environs than just hitting the traditional places.

In another blog we discussed the fun and insight (not to mention the travel savings) to be had by going grocery shopping to stock the fridge in your next home swap vacation home. But once you’re settled in, it’s time to explore. Now, we’ve always been a bit off of plumb. 

Finding places like the Dewa Museum in Chester, England can be a real treat, both aesthetically and intellectually. Sure, you can go to the British Museum in London and spend hours viewing artifacts from the periods of Roman occupation and beyond. They are wonderfully catalogued and very informative. By the same token, while there is the thrill of actually being in the presence of world renowned artifacts, they are probably the same things you’ve seen in book illustrations on the topic.

With the Dewa, on the other hand, the tour starts before you even get to the museum. Entering Chester, one passes through the curtain wall gates built by the legionnaires. The museum itself houses several wonderful ‘common day’ artifacts. One can leisurely peruse the exhibits without pressing crowds. There are also ‘experiential’ exhibits such as the inside of a Roman galley complete with sounds of the oceans, the beater who kept time for the oarsmen, and more.

Or, if you happen to arrange a vacation home exchange in the Seattle Metro area, consider taking the “Underground Tour”. It’s both amusing and very informative.  You’d be amazed to learn what history lurks beneath the busy streets of this Northwest city, and why it’s there. The pre tour talk will take you through time from the founding of the settlement to the Alaskan Gold Rush days. It’ll also explain why there were so many ‘seamstresses’ in Seattle and what they were really putting together.  It’s a light and charming guided tour which goes up and down staircases behind these mysterious locked alley way doors.

Every city has these kinds of ‘off the beaten path’ kinds of experiences. They are all staffed by passionate and interesting locals who are eager to share their pride in and knowledge of their communities. We’ll be visiting San Francisco in the coming weeks and plan to take a self-guided tour powered by a mobile device app. That should be interesting and we’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. (and if there are more apps for other interesting locales where you might make an exclusive home swap.

The point here is that, seeking out the unusual, the off-beat, and the just plain strange can be richly rewarding and very entertaining. It will certainly enrich your travel experience and provide you with more interesting stories and comments than, “Yes. We waited in line three hours to see the Mona Lisa and it…..”
Happy travels!
Thank you to the writing team that is MA Scott.

Mona Lisa - Pinterest
Roman bottle -

Underground passage -


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