Guide at a Glance
Lisbon, Sintra, Tangier, Morocco, Portugal
Car Tour, Dolphin Tour, Food Tour, Heritage-History Tour, Lifestyle, Nature, Nature Tour, Private Tour, Sightseeing, Wine Tour
English, German, Portuguese, Spanish
TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellency 2016 & 2017/ Viator Top Rated 2016 & 2017 / Luxury Travel Guide 2017
Setúbal Wine-Tasting Tour
Get to Know Portugal Guide João Dickmann
I took tourism management as a university degree, but then I went to work in a bank. I loved it, but lots of things changed with banks in 2007/2008; lots of lives changed. Mine also changed. Then I started my own company, Takinguthere. That started out of a hobby. Since I was 18, I had a four-wheel drive, and I was travelling all over the place to get to know places you cannot get to by car. Then one thing led to another — I started to organize trips and then started adventuring to Africa and South Africa. As the banking business was getting rougher each year, my friends told me, why not turn that hobby into a career?
What does a typical day look like for you?
In Portugal, it’s wine tours, cultural tours, gastronomical tours, photography tours, nature tours — you name it, we make it. … But it’s not just to go to Lisbon and say I’ve been here and there and have a checklist and tick it off. It’s to know the country, the people, the places, the culture and the history.
Do you have a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?
We don’t have a timetable; we have a route. … If you have a wish list we’ll work with it and complement it with other things you might not think about. I had a couple who booked for two weeks around Portugal and had a programme of wine tasting. On the third day, I wanted to take them to a cellar and they told me … they don’t like wine, but they liked the route itself, so we changed everything immediately and we’re still friends. You have to listen to the client and understand it’s a joint venture.
It’s meeting different people from around the world — different countries, different cultures. You might have preconceived ideas of a country or culture; being with these different people opens up your mind. It’s very rewarding. We want our fellow travellers to go home and say they had an experience, not that they just went to the tourist spots.
Ever had any odd requests from clients?
In Morocco when people want beer — it’s a Muslim country.
Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you aren’t keen on?
The tough part is when the weather doesn’t (cooperate) … not just raining, also heat. Sometimes it’s even worse than too much rain. If the tour is 70 per cent outdoors, you can do it up until a certain (point), but if it’s more cultural or historical, you can make (the tour) more indoors so if it’s 40 degrees it’s not a problem.
The benefits of hiring a guide are taking people to places they wouldn’t normally find themselves, little corners or streets that have surprises, or information not just about the monuments. When we are with a group, even if we make a one-day tour, we make them comfortable. If anything happens to them, they can call us 24×7 and we try always to help. That’s what a guidebook doesn’t give you.
In your view, what makes a good tour guide?
Reading between the lines and having the confidence to give them want they want. We also leave a few things out (of the itinerary), so there are a few surprises. So it’s not a checklist and you can adapt to the customer — no two tours are alike, even if you take the same route because the people different.
Do you have any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?
If you want something specific, look around to see what everyone is offering. Don’t just go to TripAdvisor and look at the first ones. Don’t look just at the money, look at the quality of the tours. When we are with one group, we are with that group the (entire) day — there is no hurry, no timetable. Look at what is included in detail; they sometimes don’t put what’s excluded.
Founder of TakingUThere, New Travel Experiences. Born in Portugal, but of German nationality, lived in different countries during his youth (England, Spain and Germany), although always having Portugal in his heart. Being an off-road driver for over 25 years, he knows Portugal and Morocco inside out, literally “off the beaten track”, making friends along the way and getting to know their culture. All this led him to organize journeys for friends and family, taking them to remote places in different countries that are not normally seen, but are of extreme beauty.
All this together with a passion for developing quality tours and journeys with focus on flexibility and professionalism led to the foundation of TakingUThere, a travel experience company that can take people to parts of Portugal and Morocco left unseen.
He and his team members put their heart and soul into each tour and journey and want to take you beyond the destination, away from the usual touristic hustle.
Let us worry about TakingUThere!