As a kid, my treehouse was my castle: no parents reining me in, a ladder that pulled up, and nails sticking down through the ceiling -- just long enough to keep out bullies taller than me. With my sliding tongue-in-groove panels, I could see who was coming. My refuge was the envy of other little kings.
The treehouse is long gone, but I can ...Read more
While it's nothing to brag about, I am a miserable linguist. I got into the University of Washington, which required two years of a foreign language, thanks to an intensive summer French class at a local community college.
It was probably the worst month of my life. The eight ways the French pronounce "uh" pretty much broke my spirit. But I ...Read more
If you're planning your first trip to Europe, congratulations! Learning about the world through travel is the best thing that ever happened to me.
Things are different in Europe -- that's why you go. But every first-timer has concerns about getting along in an unfamiliar place. Travelers are worried or curious about everything from bed sizes ...Read more
Portsmouth is the famed home of Britain's Royal Navy. But as Britain's military shrinks, the port is pumping up its tourism. Many travelers pass through this major port on England's south coast, busy with ferries heading for France's Brittany. And there are plenty of excuses to stop here. The city has amazing maritime history on display, and ...Read more
I have an affinity for Bulgaria -- so overlooked and underappreciated ... and yet so charming in a Slavic way. In my student days I spent lots of time exploring Bulgaria and its capital city Sofia: playing chess in the park, watching paranoid people huddled on street corners talking sports (and wishing they could talk politics), seeing locals ...Read more
We all know that Belgians are connoisseurs of fine chocolate, and Italy's gelato is an edible art form. In France, travelers look for tempting "patisseries" where they can indulge in eclairs, fruit tarts and macaroons. Americans in Germany expect to try the famous Black Forest cake, a mouthwatering concoction with alternating layers of schnapps-...Read more
Westminster Abbey, the Eiffel Tower, the Sistine Chapel -- these are some of the reasons you came to Europe. They're also why millions of other tourists are here as well. Nothing kills a sightseeing buzz like waiting in line for hours to see a popular sight or being crammed shoulder to shoulder as you squint up at Michelangelo's masterpiece.
Life in Barcelona is a distinctive mix of Madrid-style love of life and Parisian elegance and taste. Spain's second-biggest city is one of the hottest tourist destinations in Europe these days, with more than 7.5 million visitors a year, so its popular pedestrian boulevards can become human traffic jams.
In spite of what can be horrible crowds,...Read more
Fenton's DeathS. Elizabeth
Emm and Francine grew up with Fenton. He was their neighbor, best friend and big brother all in one. Fenton thought he loved both his friends equally but one day as a young man he realized he had to make a choice. But what would his choice do to the 3. And then...Fenton died. Fenton's Death ...
Located in the hills of central Italy, Assisi is the hometown of St. Francis. It's where he was born, lived and worked -- and where he died. Today tourists flock to this town, which sits atop a hill just outside of Tuscany in neighboring Umbria, to visit the basilica that's dedicated to him and to celebrate his teachings: chastity, obedience, ...Read more
Just as I was an expert picnicker as a young backpacker, I'm now an older backpacker -- who is packing a little extra taste and money -- so I find myself seeking out "foodie" meals these days. For those of us who are no longer a fill-your-tank type of traveler, Lisbon is a great foodie destination. Perched on the sunny Atlantic coast of Portugal...Read more
Sometimes I wonder why I lug my bag through airports, following my own recommendation to pack light enough to carry it on. It can be a drag, dragging your bag through airports. But once in a while I'm reminded of the joy of having everything with you -- like the time I avoided a long layover by hopping on an earlier flight from Copenhagen to ...Read more
Years ago, I met a dear man on a deserted roadside in the Scottish Highlands. I was scrambling to make a TV show about the area, and as if placed there by heaven's Central Casting, this tender giant of a man was bagpiping to the birds, the passing clouds, and the occasional motorist. He had picked a spot that seemed intentionally miles from ...Read more
I've always felt that taxis are underrated, scenic timesavers that can zip you effortlessly from one sight to the next -- except during rush-hour traffic, when they're stuck like everyone else. In the past, cabs were expensive for a lone budget traveler, but a good deal for a group of three or four. Now with the advent of ride-sharing services ...Read more
When I need a break from dimly lit cathedrals and musty museums, I connect with European culture by watching local sports. I get double the pleasure when I join in -- and the great news is -- you don't need to be an athlete.
Several years ago in southern England, I joined a neighborhood gang for a lesson in cricket. The point, they told me, is ...Read more
As a guidebook author and TV host, I do most of my work in Europe during the day. But after hours, I love to get out and see what's happening, especially after dark. And I'm always impressed by how much travelers who hide away in their hotel rooms miss.
For example, each summer night when darkness falls in the Champagne-making town of Reims, ...Read more
The English countryside is studded with all manner of manors, castles and palaces. Many of these stately homes, as the English call them, were built in Victorian times by ridiculously rich nobles and aristocrats. To maintain these lavish mansions and grounds, which have been crippled by taxes on both income and inheritances, many have opened ...Read more
Europe is rich in history, but the splendid castles, antique churches and age-old ruins tell only part of the story. To dig even deeper in time -- much deeper -- visit a cave. Some of my favorites, in France and Slovenia, showcase 17-foot-long bulls drawn by our ancient forebears and 100-foot-high stalagmites sculpted by nature.
The world's ...Read more