Cyrus loves cycling and he loves tacos, and when he combines these two passions he creates this - a personal, unique, off-the-beaten-track food tour including the best Mexican grub in the Bay Area. And bikes. Actually, I was only visiting town so I didn't have a bike, but that wasn't a problem; we walked around Fruitvale and devoured tacos (pollo, carnitas, carne asada, lengua...) seafood tostadas and Salvadorian pupusas. Fruitvale rocks. Cyrus is a super-nice, enthusiastic guy; a well-travelled tech journalist with tons of diverse interests (and a healthy appreciation of British satire), and a great person to spend a couple of hours with.
When it comes to food in Flushing, Joe's the man. His knowledge of Chinese food is encyclopedic, and Flushing boasts the best Chinese restaurants I've ever seen outside of Asia. While all the food was excellent, the Muslim lamb chops were an earlier candidate for best dish of 2013.
I loved Heidi's busking tour of the NYC subway. It was fascinating hearing about her experiences of performing underground, her thoughts on the structure and regulation of busking, and about the feeling of community and comradery amongst Manhattan's regular performers. Unfortunately I left too early to see Heidi perform, but it was a joy to see her fellow buskers sing - there's so much talent underground. It's a fascinating insight into a completely different part of the entertainment business.
I went on an early version of this experience which I have blogged about at http://blog.vayable.com/2012/12/08/the-worlds-first-toilet-tour/ It's a really unusual and informative experience. Rachel is friendly, fun, reliable and armed with plenty of loo-related tales from London history. And there's so much more to the tour than just toilets - there's history, politics, architecture, theatre and a cocktail at the end too. Of course, you'll get most out of the tour if you use the facilities along the way, so carry a bottle of water...
Any evening that begins with Papalote chips + salsa and ends with Humphry Slocombe breakfast ice cream is going to be a great evening. And with Samir as your guide, a man who knows the Mission, knows his food, and knows the people making the food - you're guaranteed to get the best stuff around. This was such a fun evening - great company and great food on one of the best eating streets in North America.
I've been visiting San Francisco for years and I've long been intrigued by the Tenderloin, an area right next to Union Square where the poverty is very visible and often discomforting. It was so interesting to get Milton's take on why the Tenderloin is this way; it's a product of containment, he says, a long-term policy of keeping poverty controlled and limited to one area rather than trying to solve the problem. This is a tour about homelessness, drug abuse, charity and mental illness - and it's also very much a tour about Milton, a charismatic and mysterious guide who will answer all your questions, while also generating lots of new ones.
I was lucky enough to be on Alexandra's inaugural tour and it was such a fun experience. This is a beautiful part of the city boasting stunning views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, incredible artwork (Andy Goldsworthy's tree art is amazing), fascinating history, humongous millionaires' houses, and great trails for easy hiking. Alexandra is a fantastic guide - she's not only passionate and knowledgeable, but she's great company and it's a pleasure spending time with her.
Let me confirm that when Ryan promises dives, he really means dives. And this, of course, guarantees a wonderful evening full of the unexpected. These bars are rock 'n' roll in the truest sense: barmen with stories you'll hardly believe, Nashville's finest (and least finest) voices on the karaoke, cheap-as-chips beers, smoke-filled rooms (hey, it adds to the atmosphere), classic bar burgers even the East Nashville hipsters haven't yet discovered, and the chance to spend an evening talking to one of the nicest and most interesting people you'll meet in America's friendliest and most interesting city. Book it!
Amanda crams a huge amount of information, trivia, surprises and humour into her tour. She really knows her stuff - she'll take you to places most Chicagoans don't know, and she'll be able to answer all your questions. There are some beautiful spots on the tour (the Holy Trinity church is a real treat) and a few unexpected surprises. The inclusion of iPads full of photos and video (nice to see Studs Terkel having his say) is a neat interactive touch. Note: the tour is operated by Chicago Detours, Amanda's company, so it's a bit different to most other Vayable offerings.
There's nowhere in North America quite like Quebec City, the only city with fortified walls in North America, and the only city where almost everybody speaks French. The best thing about my trip was meeting Paule and going on her custom-made tour. She showed me the old city, the charming small streets and some of Quebec City's best views - and she introduced me to some of the local cuisine, a super-sweet pancake, a tremendously tasty meat pie, and one of the best poutines I've ever tried. Paule is great company and so much fun to be with - a highly recommended tour.
My time in Iceland would have been so much less enjoyable if I hadn't booked Sam's coffee tour. He's an excellent guide - funny, generous, intelligent, and an unapologetic history nerd who knows a huge amount about Iceland's culture, society and history. The coffee was fantastic, of course - we drank lattes, espressos and filter coffees until we were shaking with caffeine. But the tour was just the start, and this is why Sam is such a credit to Vayable. I drank beer, ate food, bathed in thermal pools, explored art galleries and toured southern Iceland with Sam, his girlfriend, or people I met through them. Great guy, great tour.