- How many countries have you been to?
- What’s your favorite country?
- What was this Expedition 206 thing? Sounds crazy. What was it?
- So, what was it like? Really?
- How’d you get that gig anyway?
- What was 5 Takes: Pacific Rim?
- And how’d you get that gig?
- I heard that you’re a tour guide too?
This is the question I get asked the most and the one that is hardest to answer. My favorite places are all about the people that live there. Every time I’m asked this question, different places pop into my head. If, however, I was at gunpoint and someone was threatening to shoot off my pinky toe unless I answered, I think I’d choose Thailand. I just love that place, it’s character and the people. Or maybe Croatia…
What was this Expedition 206 thing? Sounds crazy. What was it?
Expedition 206 was a bat nuts crazy-amazing year. Yes, crazy-amazing, a new hyphenated word that I have created just for this experience. Coca-Cola sent three people around the globe, attempting to make it to every country in the world where Coca-Cola is sold… In just one year. 206 countries and territories total. In case you’re wondering, there are 192 UN recognized countries in the world.
We were dubbed Happiness Ambassadors and we went, armed with cameras, around the world searching for happiness. As a group, we made it to 186 countries and personally I made it to somewhere around 170. Some countries, as you can imagine, weren’t very travel friendly at the time. For instance, flying into Somalia was considered unwise and I’m really glad they didn’t make us take a boat.
Any word I use to describe the experience would be an understatement. If you want the quick version, the video above wraps up the year. Or, you can continue to the next question and I’ll try to randomly sum up.
So, what was it like? Really?
We were tasked with finding happiness and hopefully sharing it with people from almost every single culture in the world. We took over 400 flights. We also took boats, trains, rockets and planes so small, you could sit beside the pilot and talk to your friends behind you. I was kidding about the rockets part. We slept on floors, on baggage carts, at rock concerts and on cold benches outside winter train stations. We became Jedi Knights in the art of sleeping in crappy airports. We would spend two or three days straight in transit, drifting through airports as if it was normal. For us it was normal.
We randomly approached people of just about every race, religion and creed. We talked to a lot of reporters and TV stations, answering the same exact questions every day. With a smile. We didn’t travel in a straight line. We ate everything under the sun and some things that have never seen sun. We suffered when it all came back out again. We had more fun than you can imagine. We slept much less than you can imagine. We learned so much about the world, about life, about ourselves and about happiness. If it were a video game, we leveled up.
We surfed, we sang, we celebrated. We shared fantastic moments with the coolest people all around the world. We left friends across the globe, people we will always miss… until we see them again. The three of us became friends. We became more than friends. We became family. We became something more than family.
At the time, I was doing some freelance work for Lonely Planet When Coca-Cola was searching for applicants, they sent the application to Lonely Planet and asked if they knew of anyone who was qualified. Lonely Planet then sent me and a few others the application. With only three days to apply, I submitted my application and intro video at the very last second.
Coca-Cola then invited eighteen of us to Atlanta for a grueling one week interview process. From there, they chose three teams of three people. I was on one of those teams with Antonio Santiago and Kelly Ferris. We dubbed ourselves, “The Mix”. The three teams went up against each other in a worldwide internet vote and my team one. I Applied in August and was traveling by the end of December.
What was 5 Takes: Pacific Rim?
5 Takes was a Travel Channel TV show in 2006 that sent five backpackers to the Pacific Rim to travel and share their experiences while living off of $50 a day. That includes lodging. We traveled for thirteen weeks shooting twelve episodes that aired internationally while also writing daily blogs and producing weekly videos for the web. The show was edited in real time on the road and aired during our travels. The audience interacted with us on message boards and suggested things for us to do in the countries we were visiting.
The producer of the show, Michael Rosenblum, changed my life with the things he taught us before and during the trip. He told us that the future of television was one man, one camera, one laptop. He then taught us the basics of how to become self-sufficient travel filmmakers, showing us what to film, how to do it and how to tell a story with video. Meeting and learning from him was the beginning of how I got here today. After all of my experiences, I believe it needs to be expanded a bit to at least two people, two cameras, one laptop; however, the basics stay the same and the concept has gotten me this far.
And how’d you get that gig?
I saw an ad on the Travel Channel calling for people to apply with video submissions. I acted like a fool in front of my camera for a few minutes and submitted a video. Later, I was called to interview in NYC with other applicants from the area. After the interview, I was selected as one of the hosts.
I heard that you’re a tour guide too?
One of my guilty pleasures in life: Giving bike tours. You can’t imagine how much fun my groups and I have. I meet the most amazing people and instead of traveling all over the world for it, they come from all over the world to me! It’s not your average tour though, we have a damn fun time. The way I give tours is the same way I make videos… or live life for that matter. I tell a cool story. A story of this city I truly love. I try very hard to get people to feel that love. 😉
Here are some samples of what people say about me on tripadvisor from some of my tours with Mike’s Bike Tours. I want to demonstrate that people have an extraordinarily good time when I show them a city. That will translate on or off camera.
Our tour guide Tony was the best tour guide I have ever had in any city and any tour, hands down! –Paul D
I have traveled abroad quite a bit and can honestly say, it was one of the BEST travel experiences I have EVER had!! Our tour guide, Tony…what can you say about Tony!!??? His energy was contagious and we laughed through the whole tour. He is also extremely knowledgeable so we learned quite a bit too!! It was this energy and fun that made our group, an eclectic group of all ages, decide that after the tour was over, we would move on to the Hofbrau house and then continued on to other places until 1 o’clock in the morning!!! All of us!! –acneuville
My two friends and I had an EXCEPTIONALLY great time touring the city of Munich with Tony the tour guide. –MLE_C_11
I’ve been all over Europe for a month and this is the most exciting activity I have yet to do. We had Tony run our tour ands we felt as if we’ve known him forever. Such an interesting guide with a passion for his job. He was so interactive and entertaining I would do it again in a heart beat. He took us on the coolest tour and it’s one I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Thank you Tony!!! –Susans91
My wife and I started our honeymoon in Munich and taking MIke’s Bike tour in Munich with Tony was one of the highlights of our trip and we even got rained on! It was still a good time.
Other people have covered the tour and all the good things are true but I wanted to add our thoughts about Tony our guide. I’m sure all the guides are good but Tony is what made our experience great. He was friendly, knowledgeable and had a real love for the city of Munich and it showed. –EvanKRob
Our children (ages 9 and 11) especially enjoyed our tour guide Tony who made the outing extra fun for them and the other kids too. We all had a great time and would highly recommend this tour! –4littlebirdies
Tony, our crazy american guide got us to select our bikes. He said that the right one would “call” to us. From that point on it was a fun packed tour. Even though it rained a little during the tour, we didn’t really notice. Tony kept the mood light which is quite an achievement given the weather, the size and various ages of the people in the group (from 8 to 50). –Ric118
Despite the rain and cold weather our awesome guide, Tony took us around to see the city of Munich. Very knowledgeable about the city and genuinely loves the place and what he’s doing. –Simoni23
Tony was hilarious and informative. I don’t think there was one person on our tour who didn’t walk away smiling from one of his jokes, and I learned a lot about Munich that I wouldn’t have been able to if I didn’t get that first-hand impression from someone who lives there. –TheOzExplorer
Our guide, Tony (guy with the cool afro), was a wonderful, informative, and up-beat individual. –paisa624
There was a bit of everything: Culture, history, street life, exercise, and jokes. I never thought I would get to see Munich so well as with Tony from DC. And I live here… –Monicakeck
Tony was my guide and he made the trip outstanding. This is not your typical bike tour they take you to what you want to see and make it an interactive experience. He didn’t drone on about things that didn’t interest us he made the tour fun and definitely something I would recommend to anybody who wants to see Munich. One of the most fun things I’ve ever done. And I highly highly recommend not only the tour itself but Tony specifically.-Wdr91
Just made the start in time at 11:30am with a banging hangover from the beer the night before! Tony the guide said he had a cure for that…………….hmmmm
Tony was THE coolest guy in Munich, kept us all laughing and a genuinely nice guy. We were a couple of 40 something Brits from Northern England and there were 9 other people on the tour all from various parts of USA and we had a blast……..it was soooo good we all went for beers after the tour as it was young Jenni’s 24th birthday, followed by my 44th birthday at midnight………..by 2am after drinking a Mexican bar clean out of Tequilla we called it time on an utterly amazing day………….cheers guys
Oh and the hangover cure?
Tony had the whole lot of us floating half a mile down the coldest fast flowing river ever in just our underwear followed by a walk back through the Englischer Park in my totally see-through underpants to the amusement of all the locals………..I’m still grinning 2 weeks on.
the best 24euro’s ever spent
Tony, you’re a star, dood 😉 –igdude
“Tony is THE MAN!!!!!!”
Just go on Mike’s Bikes. You will love it. Its well, well worth every penny!
Tony was our tour guide, and I couldn’t imagine a better tour guide. He took everyone to the coolest spots around town. Gave cool information, but didn’t bore you with details. He knew the area very well and gave great tips on what to see and what to skip. He was very entertaining, interesting, enthusiastic and hilarious.
It was easily in the top 3 favorite things I did in my three week vacation in Europe. You will love this tour and ask for Tony! –7dmatto
“Tony made the Bike Tour!”
We loved Mike’s Bike Tour! It was a great, fun way to see the city and we learned some interesting facts as well! Tony, originally from DC really made the tour! He was so much fun, and we had a group of teenagers, so he kept them completely entertained as well. Highly recommend the bike tour as a way to start in Munich, and definitely request Tony!! –deutchland9
Our guide Tony in particular was overly energetic which I initially thought would spoil the tour but it only enhanced it. Great sense of humour, connection to the group and an upbeat way of conveying great knowledge of the area. –mortar2k
You can check the authenticity or find complete quotes from any of these reviews by visiting the reviews page for Mike’s Bike Tours at tripadvisor. Or you can click the names of those who left the quotes instead to head straight to their profile.
If you have any other questions that aren’t covered in the F.A.Q., feel free to comment here or email me at alfonzo.johnson[at]gmail.com.