by Whitney Eden, Contributing Writer
Nearly halfway into January, our post-holiday glows have definitely faded away. We waited all year for this blissful break, be it a tropical trek or quality time with the family, and it only left us wanting more. So if what are the options if you’ve used up all your vacation days? In the words of Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscape, but in having new eyes.” We’d like to reveal some gems that exist in your own backyard, but we aren’t talking your usual walking tour. Ever want to explore the seedy underbelly of Berlin? What about the vibrant Gospel scene in Harlem? You can do all this and more, without spending beaucoup bucks or valuable vacation days.
With one of most utilized public transit systems in the nation, San Francisco locals often view their city from bus, train or simply from the sidewalk. Want to kick it up a notch? Try checking out the city from the back of a motorcycle. The Kan Brothers offer individualized tours through the city and there’s nothing like the wind whipping through your hair to make even the most jaded SF local feel giddy.
Even the most jaded New Yorker will feel enlivened by Harlem’s vibrant Gospel scene. Prepare yourself for singing, dancing and soul-stirring sermons. Carolyn, a Harlem native, will be your guide through this vibrant experience, ending with a tasty brunch at a authentic local eatery. Bonus: if you want to explore more of what Harlem has to offer, check out Carolyn’s Harlem Guide iPhone App
Whenever someone says “Los Angeles”, our minds naturally go to gridlock, Beverly Hills and ceaseless sunshine. However, Erik opened our eyes to the bohemian side of version of this spirited city. Check out vintage shops, hip bars and cool cafes; it’s like living in your own personal version of Swingers.
A far cry from the traditional tour bus, a running tour through Shanghai might be just the thing for you endorphin junkies. Your fearless leader, Kyle, has 5 marathons under belt, Shanghai street cred and a shared wanderlust. With the aid of a running buddy and an adventurous attitude, Shanghai reveals even more of its vibrant, eclectic allure.
Most tours intentionally keep you away from the more “colorful” parts of town, but Luckie isn’t your normal tour guide. A native Berliner and former taxi driver, he’ll take you through the city’s seedy underbelly, where junkies, punks and squatters frequent, all from the safety of his car.
Without wheels, most of Rio’s most stunning features are often of reach. However, with Stewart’s know-how and motorcycle, you can explore Rio’s coastal roads, active urban areas and dense jungle trails; the only requisites are an adventurous spirit and good weather.