Norway – Walking in The Fjords; You Are All Invited to ‘The Tour Guide’s Tour’…

‘Why don’t they ever let us Tour Guides actually design the trips?’

How many times have I sat at bars, around lunch tables, stood in lines, waited at airports and heard this lament from fellow tour guides, tour leaders, tour managers or whichever particular job title they have us assuming for that tour? ‘They’ being the agencies or tour operators for whom we are often asked to perform virtually the impossible, often the logistically infeasible and even on occasions the down-right stupid.

Back to my Roots - May Sees my Return to Norway...

Back to my Roots – May Sees my Return to Norway…

I have marvelled time and again at what must be itineraries put together with the only thought seemingly, the more they see, the better or the happier they will be. Recently I was asked to take a group 500 kms from Lucerne via Pisa to Florence in time for dinner.

On google maps, in a far away Office on a another country, it probably looks great.

The upshot ‘on the ground’, following bus driving restrictions, ‘technical stops’ – as a guide friend of mine calls them – the need for humans to eat and the fact that we are not the only vehicle on the roads of Europe in July, was 25 minutes in Pisa… for them barely enough time for a photo holding the Tower up, for me a Campari in good company.

Kudu Travel - My New Employer

Kudu Travel – My New Employer

Well, no more. Here it is, the trip designed by a Guide and to boot, the guide that will actually be leading it – myself. The admittedly somewhat cumbersome title; Norway: Walking in the Fjords, with the Bergen Festival and Opera in Oslo, pretty much sums up what the small party I’ll by leading to this stunning country in May are in for.

This year, I was extremely fortunate to send a letter enquiring about the prospects of work to a small UK-based Tour Operator called Kudu Travel (I know; it means small East African antelope-like critter that only travels in small groups). Telling the tale of how fourteen years ago in my first season I lost my entire group within an hour of them arriving, the letter struck a chord and after an interview – where it was revealed a lot more is required than a capacity for losing ones clients – I have now been a Tour Guide on three of their trips.

Bryggen in Bergen - Where I Once Studied...

Bryggen in Bergen – Where I Once Studied…

The difference? Well there are a few, but for a guide who has more than a decade of leading other peoples’ trips, the key one; they actually do listen to us! Most agencies bend over backwards to listen to client feedback and change things accordingly. Of course Kudu takes on board everything clients say, but as we as ‘holidayers’ are statistically three times more likely to feedback a complaint rather than something which went well, this feedback can be disproportionate. With Kudu, perhaps uniquely everyone from owner to office staff, leads trips and knows what it is like to be on the road. It shows.

With Kudu, in the unlikely event of me finding a restaurant not up to standards (things do change after all) or a hotel, perhaps a new an interesting museum has opened up, or an opera is creating certain buzz, I can suggest removing or adding it as appropriate and chances are, they make the change. This was epitomised by me being asked to create a tour to the land of my ancestors. Kudu have not run a trip to the fjords for a while. I studied for a year in Bergen and know the country well. The past two weeks have been spent putting together the kind of holiday I, as a guide, but more importantly as someone on holiday would love to go on.

Why Oh Why Don't They Listen to us Guides?

Why Oh Why Don’t They Listen to us Guides?

As a next step in my career, it is extremely rewarding and I was admittedly quite proud to see the link on-line (now we just need people to sign up). The result is a nine day trip taking in Stavanger, beautiful Bergen, the Hardanger Fjord, one of the most beautiful train journeys anywhere in the world as well as topping it all off with excellent music and opera; you are all invited. It is not cheap. Norway is not cheap. However you very much get what you pay for.

My clients often make comments such as ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ Or ‘you are wasted on this’ (as if somehow taking 40 people on holiday to three or four different countries is a ‘waste’) or ‘with your language skills, you could do anything’. It is funny that there is always an underlying assumption that what we do as guides must be temporary, somehow detached from the real world. Well, the answer to the first question may well be – continue to design and lead tours for Kudu Travel.


‘My’ Tour – Walking in the Fjords of Norway, with the Bergen Festival and Opera in Oslo is available through Kudu Travel. The dates are 23-31 May 2014. Please tell all your friends – it will be a Tour Guide’s kind of trip.

~ by 2ndcupoftea on August 27, 2013.

6 Responses to “Norway – Walking in The Fjords; You Are All Invited to ‘The Tour Guide’s Tour’…”

  1. Sounds enticing. Most of us would have gladly passed up Pisa, but you’ll have to admit it was meant to be. Thanks for being the ultimate tour guide. Hope we get to travel together again. I’ll be sure to pass this item on.

    • Hi Linda… Well at the time I certainly also believed it was destiny, however now? Hmmm. Oh well, at lest you got to see Miracle Square. Thanks heaps for the comment and for passing on the details of my Norway trip. Heaps of hugs. T

  2. It’s wonderful and so rare today to hear someone talking about something they love doing and it’s their actual job as well! Had a wonderful time on the Italian Lakes made so much more interesting by a brilliant guide. Kudu are obviously very discerning employers. Have a great trip to Norway.

    • Dear Kay… Thanks so much for your kind comments. It is equally rare that anyone takes the time to write – I am so glad you had a great time. Off to the Lake again tomorrow, but really looking forward to Norway next year. Hugs T

  3. Hi Thomas, 
    I fall in love with the places in the photos (as you said when you saw The Asclepion in Pergamum). 
    Absolutely stunning panoramas… Amazing places…

    Love to meet you again in other beautiful places…

  4. Hey Sevengul – amazing; I literally just finished an Ephesus page where I added your details – did you see it? What a coincidence… Hope to see you again soon, somewhere beautiful. Many many hugs T

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