Starting now, visitors to New Orleans may enjoy a free-of-charge, two-hiour walking tour of the city's highlights, conducted by an historian of that town's exotic history. Instead of introducing you to what are probably inaccurate and untrue tales of ghosts and vampires, New Orleans' new walking tour is a serious but highly entertaining exploration of the actual events that resulted in the most interesting city in America.
The free-of-charge walking tour has, for several years now, been a frequent opportunity for tourists in Europe's major cities (and, on occasion, in New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco). People can enjoy such tours without charge, paying either nothing or only what they themselves decide the tour is worth. Because the tours carry no forbidding price, more people than usual sign up for such an excursion and the person leading the group occasionally earns more than they normally would.
At least that's the theory that has led to numerous such walking tours, of which the most frequent are offered by a company called "Sandemans" in more than a dozen European cities. Any search engine will reveal the major locations, including several start-ups in the United States.
David G. Hedges, a New Orleans historian, playwright and artist, began operating "NolaTourGuy" (2726 N. Claiborne Avenue, New Orleans 70117, phone 504/300-9489) some two years ago, offering free walking tours of New Orleans' French Quarter and Garden District on Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. He embarked on that course based on his conviction that no one could truly understand or appreciate New Orleans in the course of a crowded motorcoach tour or on a streetcar. A walking tour, usually of about six persons and without the dollar sign attached, was the better answer, he felt. The tour was to be one on which David simply received tips of a size determined by each participant.
The rakishly-bearded and long-haired Hedges is an official licensed tour guide of New Orleans, and takes pride in the serious and historically-accurate content of his tour commentaries. He requires that you make an advance reservation by phoning or texting the above number, and that you gather for the start of each tour at La Divina Gelateria at 621 St. Peter for the French Quarter tour, or at the corner of Prytania and Washington (outsideThe Rink) for the Garden District tour. Go to NolaTourGuy.com for further details.