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
You Shall Know Our Names (The Judah Halevi Journals) (Volume 1)Ezekiel Nieto Benzion
When Ezekiel Benzion's grandfather handed him the dusty journals written by Doctor Judah Halevi Nieto, he begged, "Before I die, tell me why our family protected these for two hundred years. Who were these men? And why were they revered?" The search for answers led to ...
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
Getting close to one of the big icons of Western civilization -- the Acropolis, the palace of Versailles, the Colosseum -- can be the spine-tingling high point of a European trip. But don't paper over Europe's "smaller" achievements. Many of Europe's lasting cultural contributions are captured on dusty sheets of vellum or parchment. Paging ...Read more
Still haunted by the legend of a vampire count and the legacy of a communist dictator, Romania is complex -- with an epic history, a multifaceted ethnic mix, and an unusually rich cultural heritage. It may not be the easiest place to travel, but for adventurous souls, it's exceptionally rewarding.
If you go, start in Romania's capital, ...Read more
The best travelers aren't those with the fattest wallets, but those who take planning seriously. Jack might jet off to Europe as a free spirit, with no real itinerary -- and return home full of complaints about how expensive and stressful it all was. Jill, who travels with good information and a detailed day-to-day plan, returns home with rich ...Read more
London, one of the world's busiest and biggest cities, bubbles with top-notch entertainment seven nights a week. It's also ever-changing and expensive, so it can be challenging to winnow down your options and stretch your dollars.
To get up to speed on goings-on, I like to pick up an entertainment guide such as "What's On" or "Time Out" at the ...Read more
Krakow is easily Poland's most popular destination, located in the southern region of perhaps Europe's most underappreciated country. It's a charming, old-fashioned city buzzing with quirky history, unforgettable sights, and fun-loving college students. Even though the country's capital moved to Warsaw 400 years ago, Krakow remains Poland's ...Read more
With my intense travel schedule, I savor detours where I put away the schedule and notes and simply enjoy the moment. And for me, there's no better detour in Europe than visiting a public bath or spa for a relaxing, good soak.
Some Americans are prudish when it comes to enjoying public baths in Europe -- especially when the dress code is just a...Read more
When I travel, I make it a habit to collect only one thing: memories. The most treasured keepsake of any trip I take is the journal I bring home, filled with descriptions and observations of the people I've met, the places I've seen, and the experiences I've had.
Thinking back, it seems I've always had a desire to capture my discoveries and ...Read more
I'm going to be brutally frank: Many Americans' trips to Europe suffer because they're treated like "ugly tourists." But those who are treated like ugly tourists are treated that way because they are ugly tourists. They aren't bad people, just ethnocentric (and there are plenty of tourists from other countries who also qualify as "ugly").
Even ...Read more