This Week's Links
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by Joe Harkins - Jul 07, '99
I live a quick subway ride across the Hudson River from Manhattan, a city of endless fascination. If Paris is, as Earnest Hemingway said of its splendors, "a moveable feast," New York City is a banquet "to go."
Every time I'm there, I try to walk a path as different as possible from any I've taken before, even if it's as simple a variation as using the other side of the street. On foot I find wonders not visible any other way.
What, you may ask, has this meandering to do with our usual theme of online travel resources? Well, to start with, thanks to the guided tours you'll find on the Internet, you'll never walk alone. (I offer abject but unrepentant apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein. A pun is a terrible thing to waste.)
The web offers more walking tours of the world's cities than you could shake a walking stick at. We're going to look at only a handful for a few major urban destinations but we'll begin by telling you how to find the rest.
Go to HotBot. To capture more meaningful results and do it faster, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "text only." That will get rid of most of the ads and unwanted stuff that clogs the screen. Then click on "more search options."
Before you do anything else, bookmark that blank Super Search page. If you are using AOL or MS Explorer, make it a "favorite." That way you'll be able to return without going through those initial pages.
Click on the little down-pointing wedge next to "all the words" and change it to "the exact phrase." In the blank field to its right, type "walking tours" (no quotes.) Change the number of results from "10" to "100." Click on search.
You may use the Word Filter to focus the search before that final click. The "must include" option lets you specify a location such as Manhattan or London or Paris or Beijing and/or pages that include the word "guide" or "guided." The "must not include" field avoids such pages.
If you haven't specified a particular city, one of the first results to come up might be the Consumer.net page of walking tours through and around San Francisco. While the cable cars are an absolute must, the only way to see Chinatown and the waterfront is on foot.
San Fran's restaurant critic and wine expert GraceAnn Walden offers a four-hour tour of the famous North Beach area. In addition to behind-the-scenes visits to a brick-oven bakery and sausage maker, you'll end up at famous Enrico's sidewalk café for a multi-course lunch. Another day could find you visiting the beautiful Painted Ladies on the Victorian Home Walk.
Across the continent, for a look at Washington DC far away from the usual wedding cake buildings and monuments, visit U Street. The historic Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot, is there, too.
Fans of Anne Rice and things that go bite in the night will enjoy a feast of spooky strolls around Haunted New Orleans. In that same vein (I can't help myself) the literally ultimate (as in "final") urban tours are of your local City of the Dead.
Before we venture overseas (a word of caution to determined walkers, that part of this tour may require either an airplane or ship), let's make a brief stop at our East Coast starting point. To encounter the Manhattan that is my endless fascination, follow the self-guided tours of One Travel and on another day explore the delightfully guided insights offered at Greenwich Village.com.
New York and San Fran each have a fabulous oriental quarter but for the very best Chinatown in the whole world, nothing can beat walking through the hundreds of marketplaces in Beijing.
For history and culture at your feet, see Rome via self-guided walks through the splendors of that Eternal City.
As for Paris? You'll always have Paris if you capture it "a pied."
Here's looking at you, Keds.
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