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Travel confessions: Topdeck Europe guide Corey Kirkham

Published November 25th, 2013

Want to know what really goes down on a Topdeck Europe tour? From playboy bunnies to 24-hour party beaches, Canadian-born Topdeck Europe Trip Leader Corey Kirkham is living the life, and out of a backpack as he makes his way around the continent showing Topdeckers the famous and infamous sites of Europe! We grill him to find out about life on the road, European food highlights and his fave European sights.

 

Corey at Oktoberfest

 

How many countries have you travelled to?

Somewhere just above 50, I think!

 

If you had to choose, which destinations would be in your top 3?

In Europe: Turkey, Switzerland, and Italy.

 

How did you become a tour guide?

I quit my job as a professional forester in Canada, and then went backpacking around the world for 8 months. I did a couple of organised tours in certain places during that time, and after chatting with the tour guides, I thought it would be something I would enjoy. So when I returned home, I did some research into job opportunities and stumbled across a backpacker tour company that did trips through the Canadian Rockies. I applied for a tour guide position and landed the job!

 

How did you end up working for Topdeck?

I eventually moved into a sales and marketing role with the Canadian backpacker tour company, but after about 5 years I missed the excitement of being on the road as a guide. I knew leading trips in Europe would be a new and different challenge, so I decided to head there. Since I worked in the industry, I had lots of contacts and was able to secure an interview with Topdeck for a Trip Leader position.

 

What attracted you to the travel industry (besides the obvious!)?

Interacting with people from all over the world, and helping them discover new cultures while also learning about theirs.

 

Best part of your job?

Eating my way around Europe!

 

And the worst part?

Taking sick clients to hospital – no one likes going to the hospital!

 

Corey hangin' at Oktoberfest

 

How often are you away from home?

What's a ‘home’? You don't have one during summer touring season. You live out of a hostel in London for the few days a month you are actually there, otherwise your home is all of Europe.

 

Standout moment on tour?

So many to choose from! As a one-off, taking a group to Monaco for the evening and bumping into Hugh Hefner and his 3 girlfriends (at the time) in a restaurant.

 

What’s your favourite tour to lead?

Topdeck Grand European.  It hits all the popular, must-see destinations in Europe plus visits lesser-known gems like Pag Island in Croatia for the 24-hour party beach, Lake Bled in Slovenia for the clear, cool waters and surrounding mountain scenery, and Ljubljana, the beautiful capital of Slovenia.

 

Best European city for food?

Florence for a Florentine steak - it must be served medium-rare to rare!

 

Your favourite European city to stay in?

Amsterdam, but not for the reasons most people assume! I like that Amsterdam is relatively small and easy to get around. It has green spaces like the Vondelpark, great culture with excellent art museums, amazing nightlife, beautiful canals, it’s bike friendly, and I really love Dutch pancakes!

 

What’s the number-one question you get asked?

‘Where are the toilets?’. Seriously.

 

Corey at the pyramids in Egypt

 

I never get sick of… showing and telling Topdeckers about the ancient sights of Rome like Trajan's Forum and the Colosseum.

 

If it’s Tuesday, I must be… off tour, because you never know what day of the week it is when you're on tour!

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.