Tony Giles

Tony Giles and me in Copenhagen.

Tony Giles has been to more than 125 countries, despite being totally blind and partially deaf. I recently had the pleasure to meet up with him in Copenhagen and show him and his girlfriend around the city.

To me, the best thing about travelling is meeting people from around the globe. Actually it’s the best thing in life altogether if you ask me.

When you meet people with a different background than yourself is when you learn something new. Especially if you take your time to not just talk to them, but also listen to them.

So I was very happy when fellow Danish globetrotter Thor, from once upon a saga, posted in a Facebook group that Tony Giles was coming to Denmark and would be happy to meet up with some locals.

I got in touch with Tony. And met up with him when he arrived in Copenhagen.

Tony was not just in Copenhagen by himself. He had come with his Greek girlfriend Tatiana, who is also blind. Tatiana is an absolutely wonderful person, who hails from Ioannina in the northern part of Greece. I think she was quite happy to hear that this is my favourite part of Greece. A country that I have visited many times.

Tony Giles

Tony pausing on the way to the top of the tower of the church of our saviour.

Sightseeing is different when you can’t see anything.

I quickly learned that I had to pay attention to a few things, when showing two blind travellers around Copenhagen. When you have no vision, then smelling and touching things becomes a lot more important. It was very interesting and inspiring to explore Copenhagen through the eyes of a blind, if you can say that.

Blind people like Tony are not afraid of heights.

I am quite afraid of heights. But Tony is not. And he really wanted to climb the church tower of “church of our saviour” our saviour in Copenhagen. It’s a church tower with a serpentine spire that has a staircase on the outside of the spire. It’s super narrow. And it gets worse and worse as you are nearing the top. 

Tony was only happy to  climb the many flights of stairs to the top, 90 metres above street level. And while I was not exactly comfortable doing it, I was happy that he did. Because I would otherwise never have made it up there. So thank you to Tony Giles for forcing me to try something new.

church of our saviour copenhagen

The church of our saviour in Copenhagen, where Tony insisted on climbing the tower, all the way to the top.

Visiting Christiania and some friendly naked women.

Finally, there was another quite peculiar event that only happened because I was in the company of Tony. As we were walking around the Danish hippie commune of Christiania, Tony needed to use a toilet. One of the locals told us that he was welcome to use the bathhouse toilet. Now the bathhouse is a place that is normally not possible to access for visitors to Christiania. That is because there are showers that are shared between men and women. And they are worried that visiting tourists might think that this place is about sex, which it is not. It’s purely a place to take a shower and use the bathrooms for the locals, as many homes in Christiana do not have bathrooms installed.

As we were shown the toilet area by the friendly guy at the door, I realised that not only was the toilet right next to the shower cubicles. The majority of the people in the shower at that moment were also female. I tried to excuse myself, telling them that I had to guide my blind friend to the toilet door. They were nothing but smiles though and told me that I should just take my time to help my bind friend. One even sat down next to me and was chatting with me while I was waiting for Tony to finish.

The combination of the free hippie spirit of Christiania and being with a blind friend, certainly gave me another unusual experience that day :-).

Christiania

We also visited Christiania. This photo is taken by the entrance to Christiania.

As I am writing these lines, it has been a couple of months since I met Tony. And he is not sitting still. When I saw him off in Copenhagen, he went to Greece to stay with Tatiana for a while. One week ago, I saw a Facebook video of him dancing in Tunisia. And two days ago, he wrote a post that he was not in Libya.

I am not surprised that Nomadmania, a website for extreme travellers, gave him the “Against All Odds” traveller award a few weeks ago. No one I have ever met in my 33 years of roaming the globe has deserved that more than Tony.

If you want to follow Tony’s travels, then you can do it on his website, which is on this link. 

And should you want to support Tony with a bit of money for his upcoming trips, then he also has an account on Just Giving on this link.

2 Comments

  1. Tony sounds an amazing guy and worthy of that award (Tatiana too!) I remember reading a bit on Facebook about your experience guiding them in Copenhagen. It’s always interesting to see a city you know well through the eyes of a visitor, but it must have been so much more so when that visitor was focusing on senses other than sight to experience the place 🙂

  2. It was nice to see you travel the world again, and your photos are more beautiful, I have to say so

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