Originally hailing from the small city of Petrópolis in the Rio de Janeiro state of Brazil, Evan Evans tour guide Monica Mello now resides in London, taking visitors on tours across the country she’s come to know so well.
Having covered some of England’s most iconic cities and landmarks, each telling a story of the country’s fascinating past, Monica gives us tips on what to see and do during your trip to London.
Evan Evans: What made you want to become a tour guide?
Monica Mello: “It was the opportunity to visit different places and also to meet different people that first appealed to me. I guided for a year in the USA before coming to the UK, and I’ve now been here for three years – although I’ve been working in the Tourism industry for the past 18 years.”
What do you find most satisfying about leading tours?
“As well as being able to visit all of these amazing places, I like to show other people the places I love so much, while telling them the stories behind each place.”
Where do you lead tours?
“With Evan Evans, I take people on day trips from London to see the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge, which many people combine with a visit to Bath, where they can visit the city’s famous Roman baths. I lead tours around Oxford, the historic university town, and Warwick, which is the setting for a medieval castle. I like taking people to Stratford upon Avon to tell them about its connection with Shakespeare and to the beautiful city of Canterbury, where we take a look around the cathedral. Dover is another place I take tour groups to; the White Cliffs of Dover are very impressive.”
Do you have a favourite place?
“For me, it has to be Oxford. The history of the university there really is wonderful, and the city itself is gorgeous.”
Tell us something we might not know about Oxford.
“You might not know that the project of the world-famous Oxford English Dictionary was actually first presented to Cambridge University Press because the members of the Philological Society of London were former Cambridge students and professors. However, Cambridge turned it down.”
What would you recommend a visitor to the UK should eat and drink while they’re here?
“You should definitely try the classic English dish of fish and Chips. Get it the traditional way, too, wrapped in layers of newspaper. You should try Pimm’s during the summer, served with sliced cucumber, strawberries, and plenty of ice. You should get a pint of draft beer all year round in a traditional British pub.”
Where should people visit before leaving the country?
“Of course, you can’t leave without first spending time in London; you can experience the whole world in this one city. You can climb the London Underground to see the city’s major sites. And you must visit Oxford – my favourite place in the country.”