I think a lot about that Tapas Tour Mary and I and David and Margie took in Madrid last winter.
The preparation that guide had put into it.
In short, the composition – and the execution. The execution because it’s not enough to just have the idea – not enough to know what you’re doing – he also had to be able to make it happen.
For starters – some starters – the three hours a day he’d logged for years listening to those Speak English podcasts put out by that Spanish “institution”, that guy from Arkansas – of all places – who’d driftwooded to Spain years ago and “came up with an idea”.
Ever wonder why they all speak English with an Arakansas accent – well, now you know.
But the point is the guide’s English was excellent. Excellent because he’d paid his dues.
Goes without saying of course there was the matter of fashioning his route, picking his restaurants, and selecting from the menu for each of them. And getting the restaurants on board, getting them lined up, up to speed. To say nothing of getting the timing right for our particular night, our particular tour.
What floored me most of all, though, was that he had persuaded the restaurants to keep – in their wine cellars – a few bottles of his, the guide’s wine. Had talked them into that because he, the guide, is an oenophiliac (always wanted to use that word) – a wine aficionado – has his own wine cellar and wanted us to drink certain very special wines with each tapas tantalizer. Without it being ruinously expensive.
He. Talked. The. Restaurants. Into. That.
Think about that for a minute. Restaurants make their money on the vino. He’d talked them into foregoing that. I asked him about it. He said, “yes, it took some doing – they were very resistant.” But he did it. That’s care, that’s preparation.
And in the event, as counter-intuitive as it was it worked, because we went back to two of those restaurants on subsequent nights.
Okay, that’s a Madridleano guide. For a follow-up – tomorrow – let’s segue to London.
(Part Two will be posted tomorrow)
A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.