The French province of Alsace stands like a flower-child referee between Germany and France. Bounded by the Rhine River on the east and the Vosges Mountains on the west, this is a green region of Hansel-and-Gretel villages, ambitious vineyards, and vibrant cities. Food and wine are the primary industry, topic of conversation, and perfect excuse ...Read more
I'll never forget my first trip to Europe. I was a gangly 14-year-old, dragged to the old country by a conspiracy of grandparents and parents solely to visit Norwegian relatives. I didn't want to go. It just didn't make sense.
Jet lag wasn't the problem. It was teen culture-shock: No Fanta. No hamburgers. But after a few days I was wild about ...Read more
The grandeur of a big European city can get drowned out quickly by the hubbub of humanity and cacophony of cars. Happily, you'll find places to stroll, bike, and people-watch in parks and gardens all over Europe. Here are a few of my favorite urban spaces in Paris, London, and Barcelona.
PARIS: On my trip to Paris this summer, I was struck by ...Read more
Several years ago at Versailles, just outside of Paris, I was unable to avoid lumbering through the palace on one of the most crowded days of the year -- a Tuesday in July. A steady crush of visitors shuffled through the muggy one-way route leading to the payoff: the magnificent Hall of Mirrors. Sights like these are a thrill and worth every ...Read more
The Alps, Europe's highest mountain range, arc from Vienna, Austria to Marseilles, France. They include stretches in eight countries, each with a unique taste of alpine culture.
Of the 750 miles of peaks, the Swiss Alps are a traveler's alpine dream come true. With majestic snow-capped summits, waterfall-laced cliffs, and picturesque lakes, ...Read more
British royalty has been calling Windsor Castle home since the days of William the Conqueror -- almost a thousand years ago -- and it's still a favored castle of the current Queen Elizabeth. And while commoners can't stay at her digs, the town of Windsor is a cozy spot for a peaceful and charming last night in England before flying out of London...Read more
In the gorgeously preserved Tuscan hill town of Siena, Italy, the Middle Ages seem to survive in the architecture and in the civic spirit. The city is known both for its pride and for its independent attitude. And twice a year, that spirit shows itself in a crazy horse race, as it has for five centuries.
That world-famous race, the Palio di ...Read more
Horror stories about driving in Europe abound. They're fun to tell, but driving is really only a problem for those who make it one. If you know what to expect, your drive can be a highlight rather than harrowing. Here are a few tips to know before you get behind the wheel.
RESEARCH YOUR RENTAL. Most European rental cars use stick shift (...Read more
The Empty PulpitSandra Arrants
Fourteen year old Sherman Thompson has stumbled upon the body of his pastor. Laid out, dead, on the front lawn of the parsonage, Reverend Archibald Temple had a voice of thunder that has been rendered silent forever. Sherman and his sister Grace are determined to find out who killed him and ...
For a chance to experience the mystery of the medieval church through statues, glass, and relics, France's Chartres Cathedral, just an hour from Paris by train, is ideal. The towering Gothic cathedral, marking the center of the town of Chartres, somehow captures the spirit of the 13th century -- the so-called Age of Faith -- in the 21st century....Read more
One of the great joys of European travel is to journey back in time thanks to its many open-air folk museums. You'll find these sprawling collections of historic buildings mostly north of the Alps, from Britain to Finland, and from Switzerland to Romania.
Usually located in spacious parks near big cities, open-air museums imitate a historic ...Read more
While Dublin beckons with reminders of its stirring modern history on nearly every street corner, the best place to commune with the ancient soul of Ireland is its lush countryside. Iron Age monuments pepper the landscape, and while most sights are little more than rock piles, just standing next to a megalith that predates the pharaohs is ...Read more
Wedged between Florence and Rome, Tuscany offers the quintessential Italian experience: sun-soaked hill towns, green and rolling screensaver hills, romantically fortified farms and cypress trees marching single file up lonely ridges. We go to Italy to experience the finesse of Florence, the splish-splash of Venice and the grandeur of Rome, but ...Read more
The island of Hydra -- less than two hours south of Athens by ferry -- offers the ideal Greek island experience, without a long journey across the Aegean.
It has one real town, no real roads, no cars and not even any bikes. Water taxis whisk travelers from the quaint little harbor to isolated beaches and tavernas. Donkeys are the main way to ...Read more
Biking and wine tasting may not seem like natural partners when traveling through France. But if you like biking and wine, mixing the two can actually be a highlight of your next French journey. One of the best places to bike and imbibe is Burgundy, which is famous for its peaceful lanes lacing together cute towns and venerable vineyards.
Imagine being a teenager forced to spend your summer vacation with robo-tourist Rick Steves (a.k.a. "Dad"). My kids, Jackie and Andy, now in their 20s, did that a while ago. I had to think hard about what would make our trip to England educational and fun for travel partners who dubbed the Beatles tour in Liverpool the "most boring" one on our ...Read more
A few years ago in Greece, I noticed flags flying at half-staff, and wondered who had died. Then I remembered it was Good Friday -- marking the day of Jesus' crucifixion.
I was initially disoriented because I had actually celebrated Easter before arriving in Greece. The date for Easter depends in part on phases of the moon, but ...Read more
When I was 18, I took my first independent trip to Europe. During that trip, I toured "Mad" King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany -- a medieval castle dream. Then, just over the border in Austria, I found the Ehrenberg ruins -- a medieval castle reality. Decades later, I'm still enthralled by the striking contrast between these two ...Read more