Aug 11, 2014

Check out Global Greeters for a free tour

Global Greeter Network,, is a
wonderful way to find a free person-to-person tour.  Greeters are volunteers who love their city so much they volunteer to give free two-hour tours. They take visitors to parks, shopping, or lesser known neighborhoods. Greeters are not professional guides so Greeters do not take their guests to museums leaving that to professional guides. 

Big Apple Greeters in New York City started the first program of its kind in 1992. They offer tours of many neighborhoods in all five boroughs.  Several years ago we signed up and had a wonderful walking tour of the heart of New York City.  The guide explained fascinating details about the buildings and their architecture.  On my next visit I’d like to explore DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, an area that was once a hub of industry in Brooklyn. 

Big Apple Greeters was our first Greeter experience since then we
have enjoyed meeting Greeters in Chicago, Adelaide (Australia), and Buenos Aires (Argentina). In Buenos Aires we asked Alberto Levin, our guide, to take us to places associated with Eva Peron of “Evita” fame. Sr. Levin was a real help because we had dropped our camera and he took us to a Pentex repair place that would have been impossible to find without his help. 

On our recent trip to China we signed up for a Greeter tour in Chongqing. We wanted to learn about hot pot and other street food.  When we were in Beijing in the 1990s we had hot pot and loved it. The broth was on the table and we went to a buffet to pick out what we wanted to put in the pot. When we were in Chengdu, China a few years ago we went into a traditional hot pot restaurant thinking we would know what to do but hot pot has modernized. The tables now have a recessed hot plate for the hot pot and guests choose what they
want from a menu.  The menu was in Chinese and even though the staff was very helpful we did not share a common language so we never quite figured out the fine points of eating hot pot modern-style.  Nick, our Chongqing Greeter, arrived at our hotel, the InterContinental, with two young ladies.  We were the first to sign up with the Chongqing Greeter Program so I think they were unsure what to expect and there is safety in numbers.  They were all college students and proficient in English.  

The InterContinental is located on a pedestrian street lined with high-end shops but they knew exactly where to find a traditional food court.  It was just down the street but we would not have found it on our own. Like all malls there was a variety of food from grilled corn to dim sum.  The hot pot table had a recessed area for the hot pot which was divided into spicy and mild broth – the ying and yang of hot pot. The menu of items to cook in the hot pot was in
Chinese so Nick ordered for us. We preferred vegetables but they preferred the organ meats. With hot pot everyone gets to eat what they prefer because the items are served on a plate and diners dunk the items in the preferred broth. When it is cooked it is time to enjoy it.  Another great Greeter experience.