After a couple years taking visitors around Old Town, we’ve discovered a few ways to make your stroll more enjoyable.
Hydration is key. It can get pretty hot and humid in Alexandria over the summer months and the number one thing that could ruin your tour is dehydration. Guides try to stay in the shade as much as possible, but while you can hide from the sun, you can’t hide from the humidity. One of my guests said she heard locals refer to summertime humidity as “the weather you can wear.” I don’t entirely disagree, but I find that if I stop to take a couple sips of water throughout the tour, the heat and humidity are not a big problem for me. The Visitor’s Center has a water cooler for guests where you can hydrate before the tour. If you think you need to stop for water along the way, don’t hesitate to tell your guide—he or she will know exactly where to stop.
Comfortable shoes. I’ve seen it happen too many times…the uneven sidewalks always win. I learned this lesson, and continue to learn it, the hard way. When I started touring around Old Town I wore flip flops or regular flats. At the end of the tours my back would hurt, I might have tripped once or twice along the way, and my feet ached. I finally gave up my more fashionable footwear for supportive, comfortable shoes and now I feel like I can walk for days. When you go on the tour, avoid strappy sandals and heels if possible. Sneakers or supportive sandals are the best footwear for navigating all of the uneven sidewalks you encounter in a town built in 1749.
Keep the bugs away. Mosquitoes are only nuisances mid-late summer and early fall, usually in the evenings. The blood sucking monsters strike most often on evening ghost tours in August and September. A couple squirts of bug spray on your legs and arms make a world of difference and will save you the scratching when you wake up the morning after your tour.
Ask questions along the way. Curiosity killed the cat, not the tour-goer. If you see something that intrigues you or want to know more information on a location, ask your guide. Guides are constantly learning new history about Old Town and its inhabitants and they appreciate when you actively engage them with questions throughout the tour. There is a chance that someone else on the tour is wondering the same think you are. Ask away!
Enjoy the local cuisine. There is nothing better than walking off a big meal, or enjoying one after the tour. Old Town has countless delicious restaurants you’ll enjoy. Ask your guide for recommendations or stumble in somewhere spontaneously. Chances are that you won’t be disappointed dining in Alexandria.
Get some exercise for your furry friend. Dogs are allowed on most of the Discover Alexandria tours except the pub crawl and sweet history tours. There is no better way to burn off some doggy energy than a walking tour around town. Your four-legged friend will enjoy the new sites and smells on their adventure through Old Town.
by Ashley V., owner of Discover Alexandria