I do quite a bit of travelling and I see quite a few different towns and cities that way. When I'm in London I am the driver and the tourguide, which means I have to tell people all about that great city. When I'm in Rome, I have someone else tell the people and occasionally I manage to go along as well.
When guiding through London I will not talk about the date the buildings were built. First of all I can't get that in my head and secondly: there are books for that. I talk about Winnie the Pooh, smog and giant men buried in the garden of the Bank. I will give the anecdotes and stories (I hope) with an occasional nod to dated history. When I was in Rome last year, walking behind our Dutch tourguide who was telling us all about the history of the city and the buildings: when, where and who. As a proper tourguide should know!
So, where did she and do I get my information from? First of all: the books you can buy on every streetcorner in a major tourist area. Because you can talk until the cows come home, but if you don't know what a building looks like, you can't point it out to visitors. And those books are usually filled with the best photos, far better than I could make! After that you try and get other books to try and get the (basic) history, you read, you search the net and slowly you start making your own story.
The one thing you always have to do though when giving a tour in whatever part of the world: talk about what you know and stay true to yourself (oh, that's two). Talking about the Irish Potato Famine and not knowing how it came about is a definite no-no: you will only get yourself in trouble as soon as your first guest asks a question. And if something doesn't interest you, it will be extremely hard to make it sound as if you do, no matter how good an actor/actress you might be!
For more R words from across the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!