Jamie Blair Gould has been guiding tours for Europe Through the Back Door for many years, and uses his extensive food and wine expertise to bring our Italy tours the knowledge every tour member is craving.
How did you get involved in guiding?
I've guided all my life. I have my own company as well called Papillon tours. After university I traveled around the world for seven years. After I got back there was nothing else I could do, so I went into tourism. We bought a hotel barge and lead tours that way. I've known Steve Smith (co-author of Rick Steves' guidebook to France) for a very long time. Steve suggested that I come on board and help lead Rick's tours. So now every year I guide 12 weeks for Rick and 12 weeks for my own company. My wife, Nina, also leads tours for Rick now, so we're all in the family.
What do you enjoy about leading Rick Steves' tours?
I like the people very much. I'm always surprised by how nice everyone is. I enjoy the flexibility Rick offers. He does allow us to tailor the tour somewhat. We have the ability to show it off based on our own strengths. I appreciate the ease and the looseness of the tour. It's very relaxed.
What is your favorite country, besides Italy?
France. I love the Mediterranean countries. I enjoy the regional diversity and the history. And of course, food and wine is a large part of why I love the country.
Where do you live?
I live in Italy, in a town called Lucca in Tuscany. Lucca has about 100,000 residents, and I live about ten minutes outside of town. I moved with my family from Bath, England. We decided it was a time for a change from where we'd lived all of our lives. Now we spend our days outside instead of inside in rainy old England.