“ Guide Friday was founded in 1975 and the first tours took place in Stratford-upon-Avon...and now does tours in many cities around the UK and Europe. „
Now I'm sure that you all know by now that I love a special offer, freebie or just generally good value for money and this one was a belter! I went to Cardiff a couple of weeks ago with Dave when he was working there for two days. I spent my first morning walking down to the bay for a look around and then wandering round the shops, but I'm not a typical woman as far as shopping is concerned and I soon got a bit bored and my legs were aching too. As I walked back towards our hotel, The Angel, which is opposite Cardiff Castle I noticed that there was a Guide Friday bus parked outside the castle with some people on board. Since I had wanted to have a look at the sights but didn't feel like doing any more walking this seemed like an ideal answer. I asked the driver how much the tour was and I was told that they were training new guides that day and wanted people to act as guinea pigs so the tour was free. As I said at the beginning of the opinion, that's my sort of price! I jumped aboard and headed upstairs to the open topped upper deck where the three trainees and their trainer were assembled together with about a dozen other passengers. The sun was shining in a clear, blue sky (and I was told that it always rains in Cardiff!) so I settled down for my tour. Guide Friday tours are available in most of the major towns and cities of the British Isles. I have been on tours with them in London, York, Whitby, Stratford, Oxford and Edinburgh. The cost in Cardiff is usually £7.00 so I made quite a saving. With any of the Guide Friday tours you purchase your ticket, which is then valid for the day, and you can get on and off any of their tour buses at any of the stops. This means that you could use Guide Friday buses as taxis to get from one landmark to another all day. Anyway, back to the tour, the trainer spoke to us first and explained that Guide Friday were the only tour company (in Cardiff at
least) who used live guides as opposed to pre-recorded tapes. I have to admit that I agreed with him when he said that they were all the better for that fact. He also told us that the complete tour would take approximately 55 minutes. We began our tour at the castle as I said earlier and we visited Cardiff Bay and the new development there, the University buildings, the Millennium Stadium, the site of the Eisteddfod and the Museums and parks of Cardiff, plus various other lesser known landmarks on the way. The guides were telling us all about the various sights as we passed them and also a lot of interesting information about Cardiff in general and the surrounding area. Even though the guides were only learning their craft the level of information given was excellent and if they missed anything the trainer was on hand to tell us what the trainee had missed. The guides were being taught to entertain the passengers as well as inform them. For instance, at one point on the tour there were a couple of builders on scaffolding at about the height of the bus and they started heckling the guide, who ignored them. The trainer took the microphone off him and said. 'As I told you Cardiff used to a market town and you can see that we retain the custom of having village idiots!'. All the Guide Friday buses are open topped, or toast racks as we used to call them, and the guide stands upstairs with a microphone. The commentary can be heard on the lower deck too, so if you don't like the breezy top deck or the weather is inclement, you can always sit downstairs and still get the benefit of the information. The only problem with this would be the fact that the view wouldn't be as good from the lower deck. The prices of the tours vary from place to place but are all between £6 and £10 per person and family tickets are available at a discounted rate. I was well pleased with my freebie and I have to admit that it wa
s so good that I would have not felt cheated had I paid for the tour! Incidentally I have already said that I have been on these tours in various towns and cities and I must just say that I have enjoyed every one so I would definitely recommend them, even when you have to pay! They have a web site at www.guidefriday.com if you want to find out more about the company and in which locations they operate. They even do one in Llandudno so I'd better go on that one as I am going to be living there soon!