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01 outubro 2009

the naked sniper american experience

the tours

during our stay, and as mentioned before refering to NY, we took a couple of organized tours, namely, the Grey Line tour of New York (3 loops), the AirBridge tour to the Grand Canyon (south rim) and the Elie's Green Dream Tour of San Francisco. These organized tours are good because they allow us to get a glimpse of a lot of stuff and to get a better grasp of the places. However, the three were very different.

As I mentioned before, we took 3 loops of the Grey Line tour of New York. We got all three for USD 54, which was a very good deal. The tours were in double decker roofless buses with a guide in each. The guides gave us some trivia about some of the places we were passing by. Only one of them was entertaining. The other ones were an old man with a cowboy hat who didn't really say much more than the names of the famous buildings and places and a young woman who spent most of the time singing some not very appealing songs in her not very appealing voice and reminding us that tips were important for her income. I didn't gave her anything. I only tiped the entertaining guy. The good thing about these tours was that they gave a good idea about the distance between the places and what would be worthy of a longer visit

The trip to Grand Canyon was different. First, there was the matter of the price. We found brochures and people offering tours in very different prices. We ended up choosing to go to the south rim because it was more interesting although a longer trip (5 hours). The skywalk is in one of the other rims. The tour we took was advertised in the brochures for USD 189. We found it in tour companies in the city at various prices. The best deal we got was from a guy named Angel, who gave us some good advice (we realized that by comparing his talk to that of the other salesmen and to the info on the net) and got us the best price in town - USD 85!!! (the second best offer was 105). Our driver was a guy named Jeff. Very easy going fellow, humourus, and a sweet driver. Contrarily to the first tour, in this case, his talking was more important to keep us from boredom during the trip. At the canyon he just let us go and look and take pictures. On our way, we stopped at the National Greographic place where they show the imax movie about the grand canyon - very cool! A wide screen almost surround projection, that almost made us feel we were there. The movie is cool because it takes in the perspective of a helicopter driver and of a hang glider and also tells us some of the known history of the place. At the Canyon, the view is impressive, and we feel really small compared to the big hole in the ground. when I resolve some technical issues (the photos are in my wife's computer) I'll see if I manage to post some.

The last tour we took was the best. Elie's Green Dream Tour was a completly different approach. Instead of a double decker bus with dozens of people, this was in a small bus with only 14 seats. That was one of the things that made me choose this tour over the other possibilities, and also the comprehensiveness of the places we would visit. The thing about being more environmently friendly (the bus ran on biodiesel) wasn't really that importante in our choice. This allowed a much more personal thing. Elie gave us some home made info sheets about the tour and the places we would be seing/visiting, and also some info about cultural events for the week and even a list of places where we could get special discounts. Oh, and Elie memorized the names of the all 14 people, interacted with us and made us feel at home.
About the tour itself, as I said, it was very comprehensive. Elie was a very amusing and knowledgeable guide, talking to us about the atractions, and also about the history of San Francisco. The only bad thing about the tour was the f#§c&@g fog, which made it impossible to get a good view of the landscapes. But that, of course, was not Elie's fault.

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