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Rick Steves’ Europe: Strolling Istanbul

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Of the great cities of Europe, four are worth a week of sightseeing: London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul. And of those, Istanbul offers the most thrills for the best price. With every visit, I simply get out and stroll.

The historic and touristic center of Istanbul between the Hagia Sophia Mosque and the Blue Mosque is virtually traffic-free, ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Ciao Chow - Italians on American Food

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When Italians sit down together for dinner, a special joy combusts from their mutual love of good eating: the flavors, the steam, the memories, the dreams ... the edible heritage. Food is a favorite topic of conversation. And it seems every Italian has an opinion about American food.

During one long Italian meal, my friend Claudia says she ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Munich - Where thirst is worse than homesickness

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Heading for the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, I mention to my Bavarian friend, Friedrich, that I’d love to give this venerable beer hall some significance in my guidebook description. Unconvinced that “significance” is worth seeking at a beer hall, he quotes Freud: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Stepping through its stubby stone arcade...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Estonia - The Song of Freedom

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

It’s amazing what a stretch of water can do. The Baltic Sea separates Estonia from Sweden and Finland. The struggles of the last couple of generations couldn’t be more different on these opposite shores. When I visited the Baltic states back in the 1980s, labor was cheaper than light bulbs. While I was touring museums, an old babushka would ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: History and mystery in Glastonbury

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Two hours west of London, Glastonbury is a mecca for seekers. It gurgles with a thought-provoking mix of history and mystery. For the views, hike up the 500-foot-tall Glastonbury Tor (a grassy, conical clay hill capped with an old church tower), and you’ll notice the remains of the labyrinth that made climbing the hill a challenge some 5,000 ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Padua - Students, saints, and Scarpette

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Nicknamed “the Brain of Veneto,” Padua is home to the prestigious university (founded in 1222) that hosted Galileo, Copernicus, Dante, and Petrarch. Pilgrims know this city for the Basilica of St. Anthony, where the faithful assemble to touch his tomb and marvel at his holy relics. It’s a great place to experience Italy: to make some new ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Pamplona - Feeling the breath of the bull on your pants

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Like a cowboy at a rodeo, I sit atop my spot on the fence. A loudspeaker declares — first in Spanish, then in English — “Do not touch the wounded. That is the responsibility of health personnel.” A line of fluorescent-green-vested police sweeps down the street, clearing away drunks and anyone not fit to run. Then the cleaning crew and ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: The high life and humble devotion on Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Leaving Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I drive south to yet another nation that emerged newly independent from the ashes of Yugoslavia: Montenegro. During my travels through this region, my punch-drunk passport has been stamped, stamped, and stamped again. While the unification of Europe has made most border crossings feel archaic, here the ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Tuscany - ‘Here begins prosciutto’

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I checked into the farmhouse inn on the Gori family estate. This is Tuscany in the rough: a working farm, not a resort — no TV, no swimming pool, lots of real culture. My host, Signora Gori, is both old-money elegant and farmhouse tough. After I settle in, she takes me on a welcome stroll.

Our first stop is a sty dominated by a giant pig. “...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: England’s Lake District - Land of great hikes and poets

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

In England’s Lake District, nature rules and humanity keeps a wide-eyed but low profile. At just about 30 miles long and 30 miles wide, the region is a lush, green playground for hikers and poets alike. William Wordsworth’s poems still shiver in its trees and ripple on its ponds. There’s a walking-stick charm about the way nature and ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: The Schilthornbahn - Bringing life to the village and the village to the Alps

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Suddenly, a bright modern cable car swooshes by with 30 tourists gawking out the windows. I’m watching the Schilthornbahn mountain lift from the terrace of a hotel in the tiny traffic-free hamlet of Gimmelwald, high in the Swiss Alps just south of Interlaken.

My friend Walter, who runs the hotel, joins me with a drink and tells me a local ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: The Camino de Santiago - A medieval pilgrimage in modern times

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

For over a thousand years, the cathedral towering over the main square of Santiago de Compostela in the far northwest corner of Spain has been the ritualistic last stop for pilgrims who’ve hiked here from churches in Paris and all over Europe. And for a thousand years, pilgrims — standing before this towering cathedral — have been overcome...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: The Church of David

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Entering Florence’s Accademia Gallery is like entering the Church of David — a temple of humanism. At the high altar stands the perfect man, Michelangelo’s colossal statue of David. Like a Renaissance Statue of Liberty, David declares, “Yes, I can.”

This 500-year-old slingshot-toting giant-slayer is the symbol of Florence. The city’...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Ducks, dung, and hay in Eastern Turkey

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I’m in Kastamonu, five hours northeast of the Turkish capital of Ankara. It’s a town that has yet to figure out the business of tourism. The business hotel where I’m staying is cheap and comfortable, but not slick. I hand a postcard to the boy at the desk, hoping he can mail it for me. He looks it over a couple of times on both sides, ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Going Dutch in Holland’s Polder Country

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Today my longtime Dutch friends Hans and Marjet are driving me through polder country. In these vast fields reclaimed from the sea, cows graze, narrow canals function as fences, and only church spires and windmills interrupt the horizon.

Hans is behind the wheel. He injects personality-plus into all he does, whether running a B&B or guiding ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Eating local with a Venetian

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

While locals celebrate their cuisine in every country, Italy is perhaps the most exuberant about their food culture. Here’s an example of how going for a simple walk with a friend from Venice can become a lesson in expert eating.

At sunset I meet my Venetian hotelier friend, Piero, and we head for his friend’s restaurant. “Such a long ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Cold War memories in Budapest

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Back in the 1980s, on a train heading for Budapest, I stood in the aisle with my elbows on the edge of an open window, enjoying the moonlit countryside rushing by. I was soon joined by a Czech woman who was doing the same thing. She told me she was on her first trip out of her country. I asked her if she was excited about visiting Budapest. She ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Lessons from a schoolmaster on the Rhine

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I’m thinking back on my favorite European memories, and my favorite Europeans, including Herr Jung, the German schoolteacher who passed away not long ago. When I close my eyes, I can still imagine Herr Jung walking me around his hometown … and I still hear his caring teacher’s voice.

When cruising down the romantic Rhine River in Germany,...Read more

 

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