Rick Steves advocates smart independent travel. As host, writer and producer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, ...

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Rick Steves

Rick Steves

Rick Steves' Europe

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Sensory Amsterdam

Sensory Amsterdam

October 14, 2014

Good travelers travel with all their senses, taking in a place's sights, sounds, and flavors to get the full experience. So, this past summer in Amsterdam, I engaged all my senses to connect with the culture.

  • History comes alive in modern Athens

    October 7, 2014

    Once famous for its sprawl, noise, graffiti and pollution, Athens has been cleaning up its act. New driving laws, along with a marvelous subway system, have made the city less congested. While it used to turn my hanky black in a day, the air now seems much cleaner. And while before, it felt as though there was one blade of grass for each of the city's three million cars, today it's much more people-friendly, with welcoming pedestrian streets and squares filled with benches, inviting cafes and grassy parks with shade-giving trees.

  • Playful Padua

    September 30, 2014

    I'm in Padua (just half an hour from Venice, but a world away), and I really like this town. Padua's museums and churches hold their own in Italy's artistic big league; its hotels are reasonably priced and the city doesn't feel touristy.

  • When to splurge in Europe

    September 23, 2014

    I've always been a fan of budget travel tips. For 30 years I've written and lectured about ways to stowaway, picnic and get special deals to be able to afford international travel. My feeling has long been that "you experience more by spending less." While that's still true, over the years I've realized that you can also justify splurges as good values when you consider the experience gained and the time saved.

  • Exploring Frankfurt, Germany's hub

    September 16, 2014

    Though it's often avoided by tourists (who use only the city's airport), Frankfurt's modern energy makes it a unique and entertaining city. Linking the wine-and-castles stretch of the Rhine to the north with the fairy-tale Romantic Road to the south, Frankfurt is just a 12-minute train ride from its airport, and even a two- or three-hour visit can make a powerful impression.

  • Scotland's independent streak

    September 9, 2014

    My fondest memories of travels in Scotland are in the pubs with folk bands stomping the paint off the floor as locals came together with the same twinkles in their eyes. This is an example of a time when I really feel I'm in Scotland instead of Britain. Home of kilts, bagpipes, whisky, golf, and haggis, go-its-own-way Scotland boasts a culture that stands apart from the rest of its British brethren.

  • Roamin' through Roman ruins in Provence

    September 2, 2014

    Deep in the south of France, Provence offers an almost predictable palette of travel experiences: oceans of vineyards, fields of scented lavender, adorable villages, and intoxicating bouillabaisse. But the area is also crammed with ancient history -- the Roman ruins here are some of the best anywhere. Many scholars claim the best-preserved Roman buildings are not in Italy, but in France.

  • Cycling through Stockholm

    August 26, 2014

    Stockholm is one of Europe's most beautiful cities. One-third water, one-third parks, one-third city, on the sea, surrounded by woods, bubbling with energy and history, Sweden's stunning capital is green, clean, and underrated.

  • Swiss bliss: Hiking the Swiss Alps

    August 20, 2014

    This year, a highlight of my European summer was the day I spent hiking in the Berner Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. I was with a wonderful group of traveling friends, all eager for a ramble in the high country.

  • Communicating in Italy

    August 12, 2014

    I am terrible at foreign languages. Despite traveling to Europe four months a year, I can barely put a sentence together anywhere east or south of England. But with some creative communication, I manage just fine to write guidebooks, produce TV shows and simply enjoy Europe on vacation. But nowhere do I have more fun communicating than in Italy.

  • Evolving Lisbon -- trolleys, fado and Old World color

    August 5, 2014

    Portugal's capital city of Lisbon feels to me like Europe's San Francisco -- it has rattling trolleys, a famous suspension bridge, a heritage dominated by a horrific earthquake, and lots of fog. And like San Francisco, it's a charming mix of now and then.

  • Pondering Britain's stone circles

    July 29, 2014

    Grand, centuries-old cathedrals distinguish Great Britain's cities and towns, providing spiritual nourishment to those who visit. These places of worship seem ancient almost beyond imagination. But long before Gothic cathedrals, long before recorded history even, Britain's stone circles were this land's sacred spots.

  • Being spontaneous in your travels

    July 22, 2014

    Twenty years ago, I was on a train heading to Rothenburg to update the ultimate medieval town in Germany for my guidebook. I knew the town well and was anticipating a happy homecoming. The cute lanes would be filled with my readers, who cheered me on. I loved going to Rothenburg.

  • Understanding French culture

    July 15, 2014

    I love France -- it is one of Europe's most diverse, tasty, and exciting countries. It brims with the good life and a special appreciation for culture, music, art, food, and wine.

  • Tips on tipping in Europe

    July 8, 2014

    Here's a tip. Don't stress over tipping.

  • A day visiting new and old in Salzburg

    July 1, 2014

    Recently, on one busy day, I revisited highlights and found new sights in Salzburg, a Baroque showpiece. Austria's fourth-largest city -- with 150,000 residents -- is divided into old and new. The Old Town, between the Salzach River and Salzburg's mini-mountain (Monchsberg), holds nearly all the charm and most of the tourists. The New Town, across the river, has the train station, a few sights and museums, and some good accommodations.

  • Touched by history: Meeting a witness to WWI assassination

    June 24, 2014

    Sometimes history punches you right in the face, and there's no time to duck. It happened to me when I was a teenager in Vienna, accompanying my parents on a business trip. My dad's local contact -- Dr. Radler -- piled us into his Mercedes for a Sunday morning spin. We sped to a Danube village in time to see the entire population -- kids in lederhosen, sturdy moms and dads, respected grandparents -- tumbling out of the onion-domed church, across the square, and into the wine garden.

  • Aarhus: Denmark's second city

    June 17, 2014

    Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city, calls itself the "World's Smallest Big City." I'd argue it's more like the world's biggest little town: easy to handle and easy to like. A pleasant three-hour train ride from Copenhagen, Aarhus is well worth a stop.

  • The many layers of Istanbul

    June 10, 2014

    I first visited Istanbul in the 1970s. Some of my most vivid memories of that trip are of the colorful locals. Scruffy kids sold cherry juice and old men would grab huge cucumbers from wheeled carts, then peel, quarter and salt them to sell for pennies. While the 1970s magic in many places has been plowed under by modern affluence, today's Istanbul is every bit as rich and rewarding as it was back then.

  • Travel smart with your smartphone

    June 3, 2014

    I love all the technology that makes travel easier than ever. Even when you want to get away from it all, it makes sense to take your smartphone (or tablet) with you. You can keep in touch if you want to, plus you'll have instant access to resources that can enrich your trip. I wouldn't leave home without mine.

  • Going Dutch ... in Holland's polder country

    May 27, 2014

    Today my long-time Dutch friends, Hans and Marjet, are driving me to polder country -- the vast fields reclaimed from the sea where cows graze, tiny canals function as fences, and only church spires and windmills interrupt the horizon.

  • Highlands magic

    May 20, 2014

    Years ago, I met a dear man on a deserted roadside in the Scottish Highlands. I was scrambling to make a public television show, and as if placed there by heaven's Central Casting, this tender giant of a man was bag-piping to the birds, the passing clouds and the occasional motorist. He had picked a spot that seemed intentionally miles from nowhere. We stopped, and he graciously demonstrated his pipes, giving us a tour of that fascinating symbol of Scottish culture. I've never forgotten that wonderful chance meeting.

  • Europe's oddball museums broaden perspectives

    May 13, 2014

    You could spend a lifetime in Europe's grand museums -- the Louvre, the British Museum, and many others. But I also like to take in a destination's more idiosyncratic sights, getting a bead on the quirkier side of the local culture. It's my nature as a travel writer to look for the rustic, old-fashioned, and odd bits that fall through the cracks.

  • Eating in Spain: Sustenance for the soul

    May 6, 2014

    My guide, Roberto, met me at Madrid's airport, we rented a car and minutes later we were southbound on the freeway, immersed in the vastness of La Mancha. It's a tough terrain. A windmill -- weathered into a rough little useless nub -- still capped its blustery hill.

  • Renting a car for your European trip

    April 29, 2014

    Even with Europe's super-efficient public transportation system, there are times when it makes sense to rent a car. Having your own wheels is ideal for getting to more remote or rural places (that aren't covered as well by public transportation): England's Cotswolds, Norway's fjord country, Spain's Picos de Europa mountains, France's Normandy beaches, Tuscan hill towns...

  • England's cute and cozy Cotswolds

    April 22, 2014

    England's Cotswolds villages -- while just a couple of hours' drive away from London -- feel like a world apart. This tidy little region of characteristic old towns and gentle green hills is perfect for travelers looking to balance urban Britain with some thatched cuteness.

  • Europe's powerful artistic experiences

    April 15, 2014

    My TV crew and I often enjoy the rare privilege of filming inside Europe's great museums and palaces on days when they are closed to the public. For this honor, we sign up months in advance, often pay dearly, and never regret it. While the logistics of setting up shots can sometimes be a headache, this comes with the immense joy of being all alone with magnificent art. This past year I've been alone with Klimt's sultry Kiss in Vienna; I've stood silent and solitary before the mysterious Mona Lisa in Paris; and I've marveled at Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan and Michelangelo's David in Florence.

  • Iceland, a hot destination

    April 1, 2014

    Iceland's remote location and harsh climate aren't exactly welcoming. But its striking scenery, draped with glaciers and punctuated by craggy peaks and steamy geysers -- coupled with Icelandair's fare incentives -- make this destination increasingly attractive to adventurous travelers.

  • Berlin looks to the future, remembers its past

    March 25, 2014

    When I visited Berlin last summer to update my guidebook, I also scouted locations for a new TV show. I found the city as vibrant as ever -- with massive infrastructure projects in progress all around town. The cranes speckling the horizon in every direction put an end to the idea of filming anytime soon -- but the commotion is not a problem for visitors. If anything, seeing all the changes in the works made me eager to come back soon to see the Berlin of the future.

  • Cruising the northern seas

    March 18, 2014

    Cruising in Europe's Baltic or North Sea can satisfy even an independent traveler like me. Stepping off the gangway, I'm immersed in the vivid life of a different European city each day. I've toured some of the world's top museums, taken a Scandinavian-style coffee break while people-watching from a prime sidewalk cafe, lingered on a surprisingly sunny and sandy Baltic beach, and enjoyed some of Europe's most expensive cities on the cheap from my big ship home-base.

  • Why I love eating in Italy

    March 11, 2014

    When I'm in Italy, I generally only eat Italian food. I doubt there's another country in Europe (except France) that could hold my palate's interest so easily.

  • Reims: A bubbly day trip from Paris

    March 4, 2014

    France's bustling, modern Reims greets travelers with cellar doors wide open. As the capital of the Champagne region, it features a lively center, a historic cathedral, and, of course, Champagne tasting. And thanks to France's slick, high-speed rail, it's just 45 minutes from Paris -- making it an easy day trip.

  • Rome's inspiring Baroque sights

    February 25, 2014

    Rome is a showcase of Western civilization, layered with elements of the city's 2,000-year-old history. Among the traffic-choked 20th-century boulevards, you'll find marble ruins of ancient times, early Christian churches, grand Renaissance buildings and statues, and a wealth of Europe's most sumptuous, inspiring sights -- its Baroque treasures.

  • Glasgow: Scotland's second city

    February 18, 2014

    Lately, I've really been enjoying what I consider to be the "second cities" of Europe, such as Naples in Italy, Marseille in France and Hamburg in Germany. These places often have a rough, Industrial Age heritage and a rust-belt vibe that keeps them honest, unvarnished and nonconformist. Even though Glasgow is Scotland's largest and most populated city, I consider it to be that country's second city behind Edinburgh, which wins first place for its capital status and tourism appeal.

  • Navigating European airports

    February 11, 2014

    Sometimes I wonder why I lug my bag through airports, following my own recommendation to pack light enough to carry on and avoid checking any bags on international flights. It can be a drag, dragging your bag through airports. But when scrambling with last-minute changes in flight plans, those without checked bags are far more nimble. Over the years I've learned some tricks on dealing with European airports. Here are a few of them:

  • Dazzling St. Petersburg

    February 4, 2014

    The last time I visited St. Petersburg, in the 1990s, the Russian city was gray and depressing. But during a recent visit, I found a town that sparkles.

  • What's new in Germany for 2014

    January 28, 2014

    While Germany sits in the driver's seat of Europe's economy, it doesn't take a cultural backseat either. Here are a few of the latest developments:

  • What's new in Great Britain in 2014

    January 21, 2014

    For travelers, Great Britain is a work in progress, richly rewarding those who visit with up-to-date information. Here are a few important changes to be aware of for 2014.

  • What's new in France in 2014

    January 14, 2014

    France is always working to show off its rich heritage in innovative ways. You'll see some impressive changes this year.

  • What's new in Italy in 2014

    January 7, 2014

    Even when it's hot, crowded, or on strike, Italy is lots of fun. More than any other Western European country, though, travelers to Italy need up-to-date information to travel smart, saving both time and money. Here are a few updates to help you make the most of Italy in 2014:

  • The intensity of Hebron, in the Palestinian Territories

    December 31, 2013

    Walking through the Hebron market, I dodged the head of a camel dangling from a chain. I love traveling through the Palestinian Territories. It's filled with vivid memories and startling moments. I had no idea the people of Hebron had a taste for camel. But I was told that people here appreciate a nice fresh camel steak because of their Bedouin heritage. And the butcher shops seem to follow that Bedouin tradition: They butcher whatever they have to sell and it hangs on their front porch until it's all gone.

  • Bethlehem's Mix of Christians and Muslims

    December 24, 2013

    This is the third article in a four-part series on Rick's recent trip to the Holy Land.

  • A pilgrimage to the Sea of Galilee

    December 17, 2013

    For years, my travels have caused me to think about organized religion. (When I got my history degree in college, one of my favorite classes was "History of the Christian Church.") And for years, I've believed that those who enjoy getting close to God should pack their spirituality along with them in their travels.

  • Fabled Jerusalem

    December 10, 2013

    Before Columbus, many maps of the world showed Jerusalem as the center of the world. Jerusalem -- holy, treasured, and long fought over by the three great monotheistic religions -- has been destroyed and rebuilt more than a dozen times. Its fabled old-town walls corral a tangle of colorful holy sites, and more than 30,000 residents -- most with a deep-seated reason to live so close to such hallowed ground.

  • Child's play in Europe

    December 3, 2013

    When parents tell me they're going to Europe and ask me where to take their kids, I'm sometimes tempted to answer, "To Grandma and Grandpa's on your way to the airport."

  • Collecting cultural souvenirs in Europe

    November 26, 2013

    With each trip I take, I make it a point to bring home cultural souvenirs -- gold nuggets of experiences I'll remember all my life. Whether it's sitting and talking with a Muslim at the Great Mosque of Granada in Spain, waving a flag at an Irish hurling match, or getting naked with Germans at a spa in Baden-Baden, it's experiences like these that give each trip that extra sparkle.

  • Chic and classy Milan

    November 19, 2013

    They say that for every church in Rome, there's a bank in Milan. The economic success of postwar Italy can be attributed, at least in part, to this city of bankers, publicists and pasta power-lunchers.

  • York, a time travel experience into old England

    November 12, 2013

    We have New York, but England has old York, one of the country's top tourist destinations outside of London. The town offers a captivating tour of historic sites mixed with an easygoing pedestrian ambience — all lassoed within its formidable medieval wall.

  • Flying Europe's low-cost airlines

    November 5, 2013

    These days "budget European travel" includes point-to-point flights within Europe. When I started traveling, no one spending their own money bought one-way air tickets within Europe. It was prohibitively expensive. Nowadays, before buying any long-distance train or bus ticket, I look into flying, and routinely, it's cheaper to fly than to make the trip on the ground — especially when you consider all the advantages of flying.

  • Warming up to Iceland

    October 29, 2013

    Iceland is trendy these days. Its powerful loneliness and mighty features can be ideal for exotic film locations — so parts of "Game of Thrones," "Batman Begins," "Prometheus," and the upcoming "Noah" were filmed here. Some of my readers have been nagging me to add it to our guidebooks and tours. But until this summer, I'd never visited.

  • Seville: A perpetual fiesta

    October 22, 2013

    Seville, the capital of Spain's southern Andalucia region, is as soulful a place as I've ever been. It's a wonderful-to-be-alive kind of town, buzzing with festivals, heat, color, guitars and castanets.

  • A three-hour joyride in a French restaurant

    October 15, 2013

    Coming from a picnicking, backpacker travel heritage, it has taken me decades to recognize the value of a fine meal. Now I can enthusiastically embrace a long, drawn-out "splurge meal" as a wonderful investment in time and money.

  • Orvieto — what an Italian hill town should be

    October 8, 2013

    Orvieto is one of the most striking, memorable and enjoyable hill towns in central Italy. Less than 90 minutes from Rome, Orvieto sits majestically high above the valley floor atop a big chunk of "tufo" volcanic stone, overlooking cypress-dotted Umbrian plains. A visit here will reward you with a delightful, perfectly preserved and virtually traffic-free world highlighted by a colorful-inside-and-out cathedral and some of Italy's best wine.

  • Portugal's Sunny Algarve

    October 1, 2013

    For some time, I've been wanting to return to the Algarve, in southern Portugal, my favorite stretch of Iberian coastline. Warm and dry, the south coast stretches for some 100 miles, with beach resorts along the water's edge and, farther inland, rolling green hills dotted with orchards. The coastline varies from lagoon estuaries in the east (the town of Tavira), to sandy beach resorts in the center (from Faro to Lagos), to rugged cliffs in the west (Sagres).

  • Spain's Toledo: A Living monument

    September 30, 2013

    On my last visit to Toledo, it seemed holier than ever: Dark El Greco clouds threatened overhead, stark against bright, clear horizons. Hail pelted the masses of people clogging the streets as they awaited the Good Friday procession.

  • What's new in Great Britain in 2013

    September 30, 2013

    Great Britain will likely be taking a deep breath (and perhaps a sigh of relief) this year as it recovers from a busy summer, when it hosted both the Olympics and Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

  • Paris when it sizzles

    September 30, 2013

    Few cities can match Paris in its rich cultural, artistic, and historic heritage. And few residents are as confident as Parisians in their expertise in good living. That uniquely French joie de vivre is especially apparent in the fine summer months, as the little joys of life are embraced by Parisians citywide.

  • What's new in France in 2013

    September 30, 2013

    Travelers to France find a rich and constantly changing palette of cultural and historic sights. Here's a review of what's new or different in la belle France for 2013:

  • A classical way to see (and hear) Europe

    September 30, 2013

    I've always taught what I loved -- and I've always loved music. I spent my high school years as a piano teacher. I'd start out my students with boogies and pop songs, and eventually get them turned on to Bach and Beethoven.

  • Taking Europe slow, with limited mobility

    September 30, 2013

    Let's face it: Compared to the United States, Europe is not very accessible to those with limited mobility. In fact, many of my favorite sights -- castles and hill towns -- were actually designed to be inaccessible. But I'm inspired by the fact that wherever I go in Europe I see people with limited mobility having a wonderful time on the streets, in the museums, in the restaurants, and on the trains.

  • What's new in Italy for 2013

    September 30, 2013

    Italy has more of Europe's cultural heritage than any other country -- and the Italians are doing a fine job of sharing it with their visitors. Here is the latest, gleaned from my guidebook research for 2013:

  • Denmark beyond Copenhagen

    September 30, 2013

    Copenhagen is a thriving metropolis and the main attraction in Denmark. But a trip here isn't complete without a swing through the cute Danish countryside. In less than two hours, you can time-travel from modern Copenhagen to a 10th-century Viking ship, 17th-century castle, or 19th-century fairy tale.

  • Germany's ultimate Christmas market: Nutcracker sweet

    September 30, 2013

    Cradling a cup of hot-spiced wine as a hand warmer, I stroll through Nurnberg's main square. All around me are bundled-up shoppers and kids sampling fresh gingerbread, riding the carousel, listening to roving brass quintets, and marveling at the newest toys.

  • Going local: It's easier than you think

    September 30, 2013

    I'm not naturally a wild-and-crazy kind of guy. But when I'm shy and quiet, things don't happen, and that's a bad rut to travel in. The meek may inherit the earth, but they won't enjoy it.

  • A royal treat: Chateaux-hopping near Paris

    September 30, 2013

    Last summer, I felt like a king while exploring the splendid chateaux near Paris. One of the highlights was climbing under centuries-old exposed timbers through the attic of Vaux-le-Vicomte before popping out on the rooftop to a view of the spectacular garden.

  • Time travel on Rome's ancient Appian Way

    September 30, 2013

    The Appian Way -- Rome's gateway to the East -- was Europe's first super highway and the wonder of its day. Built in 312 B.C., it connected Rome with Capua (near Naples), running in a straight line for much of the way. Eventually it stretched 400 miles to Brindisi, from where Roman ships sailed to Greece and Egypt.

  • Germany's Rhine River: Raging with history

    September 30, 2013

    Jostling through crowds of Germans and tourists in the Rhine River village of Bacharach, I climb to the sun deck of the ferry and grab a chair. With the last passenger barely aboard, the gangplank is dragged in and the river pulls us away.

  • Vibrant Vienna

    September 30, 2013

    Vienna ranks right at the top of my list of elegant European cities. Once the capital of the mighty Habsburg Empire, this imperial city has an enduring grandeur and an easy livability that I admire.

  • European art beyond museum walls

    September 30, 2013

    Europeans love to dress up the settings of everyday life, from their piazzas to their back lanes -- and they've been doing it for centuries. Climbing the Acropolis, communing with the druids at Stonehenge, strolling the Croatian shore in the shadow of Emperor Diocletian's palace in Split, tracing the intricate carvings on Trajan's Column in Rome -- the remnants of Europe's distant past are everywhere you look.

  • Italy's undiscovered alpine retreat

    September 30, 2013

    Located in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites have been called the most beautiful mountains on earth, and certainly they are among the most dramatic. They offer some of the best alpine thrills in Europe, whether you want to stay firmly planted on the ground or soar high above the valley floor.

  • Alsace: Europe's cultural hybrid

    September 30, 2013

    Alsace is France with a German accent. Its unique mix of cultures offers enchanting cobbled villages, scenic vineyards, gourmet cuisine and art that is as vibrant as the medieval day it was painted.

  • Italy's Cinque Terre, hit by flash flooding, digs out

    September 30, 2013

    Thirty-two years ago, I met two American college girls while hitchhiking in Switzerland. They were studying in Florence, and I asked them their favorite place in Italy. They surprised me by naming a place I had never heard of before: the Cinque Terre. Curious, I headed south and discovered a humble string of five villages along Italy's Riviera coast with almost no tourism -- and, it seemed, almost no contact with the modern world. I fell in love with this stretch of Mediterranean coastline and have returned almost every year since.

  • What's new in Italy? Doors closing, doors opening

    September 30, 2013

    What doesn't change about Italy is that it's always changing. In 2012 some long-closed doors are opening again. Historic sights, newly scrubbed and restored, are coming out from behind scaffolding. A few more monuments are still under wraps, but getting closer to completion. Italy is revealing itself anew (or molting).

  • El Salvador: Lunch in the barrio, dinner at the mall

    September 30, 2013

    While Europe is my passion and the focus of my work, Latin America has long held a fascination for me. I took my first trip to the region (to Nicaragua and El Salvador) in 1988, during El Salvador's civil war. I returned to both countries in 1991, after the war ended, and again to El Salvador in 2005. Here are some impressions I brought back from my most recent visit last Christmas.

  • Finding help when you get sick in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    There's an old travelers' adage that says, "When you get sick overseas, get on the first plane out and fly home for quality health care." Those days are long gone. Based on my own experiences -- and those of the many Europeans and travelers I've met -- it seems that if you're traveling in Europe and need medical help, you're generally in capable hands.

  • Leipzig: How one city tore down the Iron Curtain

    September 30, 2013

    Once trapped in communist East Germany, bustling Leipzig is now a city of business and culture. It's also a city of great history -- Martin Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Wagner, Angela Merkel, and many other German VIPs have spent time here.

  • The bright side of Greece: Lower prices, fewer tourists

    September 30, 2013

    I keep getting asked if Greece is "safe" for travelers -- a question that feels absurd the instant you arrive there. Ask anyone who's been to Greece recently, and you'll learn that safety concerns have been played up by both Greek and international media outlets.

  • Hotel hunting in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    A major expense of any European vacation is the cost of accommodations. No matter where you go -- whether a bustling city like Madrid or a midsized destination like Sevilla -- the neighborhood and hotel you choose help shape your experience. But you don't have to spend a fortune to find a nice, comfortable place to rest your head every night.

  • Pubs, Parades, and St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

    September 30, 2013

    Several years ago, I served as the Grand Marshal for Seattle's St. Patrick's Day parade. That year, the visiting dignitary was Noel Dempsey, then the Irish minister for communications. Noel explained to me that each St. Patrick's Day, the demand for Irish dignitaries empties their country of politicians as they fan out to festivals around the world, bringing Irish cheer to all corners of the globe.

  • Antwerp: A plunge into funky, homegrown urbanity

    September 30, 2013

    Belgium falls through the cracks. It's a little country, not big enough for people to find on a map sometimes. But it's one of Europe's great secrets. While its capital, Brussels, has become overly international, the port city to the north -- Antwerp -- has more of a local identity. It's an honest, what-you-see-is-what-you-get place, perhaps because it's in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium called Flanders.

  • A cheap day out in London

    September 30, 2013

    It was the final day of a two-month trip to Europe. I was in London, and with all of my work behind me, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. So I decided to test my five free London audio tours in a citywide blitz spanning two neighborhoods, one church, and two museums. It ended up being a very entertaining and cheap day, proving that you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a fulfilling experience in this pricey city.

  • On a roll with European breakfasts

    September 30, 2013

    Like travel in general, breakfast gets you out of your routine and throws you a cultural curve that can add to the memories of your trip. Not long ago, I grabbed breakfast at a hotel in southern Spain. The only cereal available was a local version of frosted corn flakes. As there was no "mature" option, I indulged in a bowl of my childhood favorite. But the cereal milk was heated -- apparently standard in this part of Spain. My poor frosted flakes immediately turned to mush. Not so grrrrrrreat.

  • Foreign but familiar: Getting oriented in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    Whether tackling big cities or quaint villages in Europe, you don't want to feel like a stranger in a strange land, even though that's exactly what you are. Getting oriented is especially important in big cities, which, for many travelers, are the most intimidating part of a European trip.

  • Hamburg: Germany at its modern best

    September 30, 2013

    Hamburg is Germany's second-largest city and its most important port. Like other great European "second cities" -- such as Marseille, Glasgow, and Barcelona -- this northern port city has a special pride. Popular with Germans (but a rare stop for Americans), Hamburg has a real feel and edgy charm -- and an honest grip on where it came from and where it's going.

  • Seeking roots in Europe's emigration museums

    September 30, 2013

    When traveling to Europe, I sometimes crank up the voice of my grandmother telling stories of her journey from Norway to Canada. The boat ride was miserable. The only thing she could keep down was beer -- she became a teetotaler the day she saw the Statue of Liberty. Having entered North America like a bad traveler -- not speaking the language, packing too much luggage and not enough money -- she navigated the immigrants' road to Edmonton, Alberta, where she eventually met her Norwegian husband.

  • Changes spice up northern Europe in 2012

    September 30, 2013

    While the countries of southern Europe struggle with financial instability, those living in northern Europe are in stronger shape, thanks to their ability to produce more while consuming less. It remains to be seen to what degree they will continue to bail out their less fiscally responsible neighbors. But one thing's certain: Travelers to Germany, Switzerland, and Scandinavia will encounter their share of renovations, red tape, and reinvigorated neighborhoods and sights this year.

  • Enjoying Europe on a big-bus tour

    September 30, 2013

    In my early days, I earned my plane ticket to Europe by working as an escort for a bus tour company. On one tour, I was paired with German guide Monica, a hardened, chain-smoking woman in her 50s who plotted potty breaks as if on a military campaign. She could sense the pain in your bladder even before you got the nerve to raise your hand. Clenching the mic, she'd splice in a terse "cross your legs" midway through a lecture on Mad King Ludwig. Thanks to Monica, I developed an appreciation of tour guide charm -- and what a good tour should be.

  • Digital maps make navigating Europe a breeze

    September 30, 2013

    Whether joy-riding through the French countryside or navigating an urban jungle like Paris, maps are indispensable tools while traveling. A good map can save endless time and frustration. But what once was a solely paper medium is quickly going digital. Though my paper map remains my constant back-pocket companion, technology is making it easier than ever to navigate Europe.

  • Despite changes, Venice still charms

    September 30, 2013

    I've been traveling to Venice for more than 30 years. On my most recent trip to film two television shows and research my guidebook, the city felt different. While still one of Europe's most romantic and distinctive destinations, globalization and modern life are changing Venice -- for better or worse.

  • Tips for riding Europe's subways and buses

    September 30, 2013

    Europe's public-transportation systems are so good that many urban Europeans go through life never learning to drive. Their wheels are trains, subways, trams, and buses (plus the occasional taxi). By riding with the locals, you too can take advantage of Europe's convenient network of buses and rails.

  • Belgium's Bruges: Incredible edibles in a city of bells

    September 30, 2013

    The medieval Belgian town of Bruges attracts hordes of day-trippers -- but don't let that keep you away. While the ultimate sight is the quaint town itself, the city also entertains with an infectious passion for good living. It hides some sweet surprises.

  • Bath: England at its elegant and frivolous best

    September 30, 2013

    Two hundred and 50 years ago, Bath was the Hollywood of Britain. Today, this former trendsetter of Georgian England invites you to take a 90-minute train ride from London and sample its aristocratic charms.

  • European beer basics

    September 30, 2013

    When I'm far from home, I become a cultural chameleon. I eat and drink regional specialties with gusto, feasting on steak and red wine in Tuscany and stuffing down tapas at midnight in Spain. So when I travel to countries that are known for their beer, I morph into the best beer aficionado I can be.

  • Britain's royal birthplaces

    September 30, 2013

    Although their kings and queens don't come cheap and are today only figureheads, most Brits seem to thoroughly enjoy having a royal family. Right now the country is eagerly awaiting the birth of William and Catherine's baby, who is in line to become the country's 43rd monarch since the Norman Conquest. As a bonus, the sluggish British economy is expected to get a $380 million boost from the sales of baby souvenirs.

  • Planning a European itinerary

    September 30, 2013

    During my college years, I traveled to Europe every summer. Back then, I'd start hatching my plans in spring: First I'd determine how much time I could get away for, and then I'd buy a cheap plane ticket to Europe. After that, I'd figure out where I'd actually go.

  • Germany's fairy-tale dream town: Rothenburg

    September 30, 2013

    Thirty years ago, I fell in love with the picturesque village of Rothenburg, in Germany's Franconian heartland. At that time, the town still fed a few farm animals within its medieval walls. Today its barns are hotels, its livestock are tourists and Rothenburg is well on its way to becoming a medieval theme park.

  • O'er the ramparts: Castles in Great Britain

    September 30, 2013

    For centuries, Great Britain's castles were the literal and political high points of their communities. Designed to keep people out, today these formidable structures are wide open to visitors and appreciated for their romantic allure. Adults and kids alike love a good castle -- who can resist the appeal of drawbridges, secret passageways, and pointy turrets towering over a moat?

  • Impressions of Italy

    September 30, 2013

    I'm lucky that my work allows me to spend a good part of the year in Italy. Here, lifelong travel memories are like low-hanging fruit: They're yours to harvest. Even after 30 years, Italy continues to pelt me with experiences and delight me with new memories and insights.

  • Torture museums in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    You may think that the endless security lines at the airport are torturous -- but they are child's play compared with what heretics and criminals faced in the Middle Ages. Medieval torture was used both to extract confessions and to punish the convicted prior to execution. Torturers had a huge toolkit with which to practice their bleak black art.

  • Avoiding scams and pickpockets

    September 30, 2013

    The Louvre is Europe's oldest, biggest, greatest and second-most-crowded museum (after the Vatican). It is home to Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Michelangelo statues and paintings by the greatest artists from the Renaissance to the Romantics. Lately it is also home to groups of pickpockets. It got so bad that last April the museum staff walked out in protest. The Louvre had to close for a day, and the management finally beefed up police patrols.

  • The joy of first-time cruising

    September 30, 2013

    Sailing away from our port of embarkation, I join my fellow cruisers on deck to wave goodbye to Barcelona. As we gracefully float by a Disney ship docked at the next berth, its passengers wave happily to us. Insinuating that we're envious of not being on a Magic Kingdom cruise ourselves, that ship's thunderous horn gloats to the tune of "When You Wish Upon a Star."

  • Undiscovered Erfurt

    September 30, 2013

    Long ago I gave up looking for an untouristy, half-timbered medieval German town, but recently, I stumbled upon it in the sleepy town of Erfurt.

  • Budget tips for 20-something travelers (and vagabonds of any age)

    September 30, 2013

    When I was 18, I wrote a postcard to my grandmother from Austria, describing how I slept for free on the porch of a hostel in Innsbruck. While I wouldn't do that now, it's fun to reminisce about my backpacking days. Back then, bars were inundated with smoke, currency changes were required after each border crossing, and it took about nine hours to travel from London to Paris. Yet despite the changes, the adventure and thrills of good, old-fashioned vagabonding survive.

  • After the flood: The Cinque Terre revisited

    September 30, 2013

    A year ago, a freak rainstorm hit the Cinque Terre, an idyllic string of five Italian Riviera towns. Within four hours, the region got 22 inches of rain -- a third of an average year's total. While three of the towns went virtually undamaged, the other two -- Monterosso and Vernazza -- were devastated. Buried under nearly 10 feet of mud that slid down from the hillsides, the towns were left without water, electricity, or phone connections. It was a day residents will talk about for the rest of their lives.

  • Czech byways

    September 30, 2013

    Wedged between Germany and Austria, the Czech Republic is one of the most comfortable and easy-to-explore countries of the former Warsaw Pact. And if you venture into towns and villages away from Prague, you'll find undiscovered historic districts, authentic cuisine and a simple joy of life.

  • Berlin reborn

    September 30, 2013

    More than any other place in Europe, Berlin is a work in progress. Over the last two decades, ripped-up tracks and a canopy of cranes have signaled its rebirth as a great city. If you haven't been here lately, you won't recognize the place.

  • Preparing for your European adventure

    September 30, 2013

    Going to Europe is exciting, but it can be stressful, too. By arranging a few things while you're still at home, you'll greatly increase your chances of having a smooth, enjoyable European vacation.

  • Cheers to Britain's oldest university towns

    September 30, 2013

    Ever since the first homework was assigned at the University of Oxford in 1167, the stellar graduates of British universities have influenced Western civilization. But that doesn't mean that Britain's three oldest college towns are stodgy. Although you may see professors in their traditional black robes, Cambridge, Oxford, and St. Andrews are fun, youthful towns, filled with lots of shopping, cheap eats around every corner, and rowdy, rollicking pubs.

  • Join in the festival fun

    September 30, 2013

    I was in the Tuscan town of Orvieto, doing my best to stay in my hotel room and finish some writing. But there was a Pentecost festival going on outside -- I could hear it out my window. I couldn't resist, so I joined the multitude that had gathered on the square in front of the cathedral -- just as the citizens of Orvieto have done for generations.

  • Going Dutch on a day trip from Amsterdam

    September 30, 2013

    When researching my guidebooks, almost by definition I have to revisit the same places. But I also like to take a few day trips here and there to scout out new destinations -- both for future editions and for future TV shows. On my last visit to Europe, I explored many places, including the lush lowlands of Holland.

  • Europe in bloom

    September 30, 2013

    I head to Europe every spring, ready to start afresh on a new season of travel. It's an exciting time, as I dive into exhausting days of nonstop guidebook research and travel show filming. With age and wisdom, I've learned to take some of my own advice: on any trip, I slow down and smell the roses -- or tulips.

  • Eating Well in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    One of the great joys of European travel is eating. If you let yourself tune in to the experience, a meal is a travel thrill in itself -- as inspiring as visiting an art gallery and as stimulating as a good massage.

  • Eating on the cheap in Europe's expensive cities

    September 30, 2013

    Oslo recently overtook Tokyo as the most expensive city in the world. That doesn't surprise me in the least. The last time I was in Oslo, a plain cup of coffee cost $4. Beer, while very good, was $8 a glass.

  • Visiting Vesuvius and Pompeii

    September 30, 2013

    The ancient city of Pompeii -- famously ruined in A.D. 79 when mighty Mount Vesuvius blew its top -- is one of Italy's most popular tourist attractions. Few visitors make it to the top of the towering volcano, but those who do enjoy a commanding view.

  • In 2012, big events will bring big crowds to Britain and Ireland

    September 30, 2013

    From the summer Olympics to the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, several major events will make the British Isles a popular destination in 2012.

  • What's new in France and Spain for 2012

    September 30, 2013

    While their economies may be undergoing turbulence in 2012, positive changes in France and Spain are also in the air -- making this year a good time to touch down in these essential European destinations.

  • Great sights and new insights in Dresden

    September 30, 2013

    At exactly 10:15 a.m. in the courtyard of the Zwinger palace complex in Dresden, 40 Meissen porcelain bells began a sweet three-minute melody. I left the shelter of my guide's umbrella to get a closer look at the glockenspiel. Squinting into a mist, I could just see the porcelain bells vibrate when hit. I was mesmerized by this little royal trick.

  • Nice: Capital City of the French Riviera

    September 30, 2013

    A hundred years ago, bigwigs from London to Moscow began flocking south to the French Riviera and the sun-drenched city of Nice. They came to socialize, gamble, and escape the dreary weather at home, and ended up creating Europe's first tourist boom. Today, this classy resort town is a popular fun-in-the-sun destination that caters to everyone.

  • Europe in the fast lane

    September 30, 2013

    Driving in Europe can be scary -- a video game for keeps, and you only get one quarter. European drivers can be aggressive. They drive fast and tailgate as if it were required. They pass where Americans are taught not to -- on blind corners and just before tunnels.

  • Europe's cafe theater

    September 30, 2013

    I'm not the cocktails-at-happy-hour type of traveler. But this summer, I savored a peaceful moment in Siena's great square, Il Campo, sipping a glass of "vin santo" as the early evening light bathed the red-brick stone. My five-euro drink gave me a front-row seat at the best table on the square, and for a leisurely hour I soaked up the promenading action that nightly turns Il Campo into "Il Italian Fashion Show."

  • Walk across Prague

    September 30, 2013

    Known as the "Golden City of 100 Spires," Prague boasts a fairytale medieval Old Town, historic churches and synagogues, and perhaps Europe's largest castle. A good way to introduce yourself to the city, its layered past, and its resilient people is with a walk across town, starting on lively, urban Wenceslas Square, weaving through the atmospheric Old Town, and ending at the picturesque Charles Bridge.

  • International communication goes beyond words

    September 30, 2013

    The language barrier used to be a big problem for American travelers. I remember leading tour groups through France and was constantly impressed at how Americans expected the French to speak English. People would go to the post office in some little town and be frustrated because there was no help in English and the people weren't friendly. I had to explain to them that small-town French postal clerks are every bit as speedy, cheery, and multilingual as they are here in the USA.

  • Siena: Italy's medieval heart and soul

    September 30, 2013

    Stretched across a Tuscan hill, Siena offers Italy's best medieval city experience. With red-brick lanes tumbling every which way, the town is an architectural time warp, where pedestrians rule and the present feels like the past.

  • Mixing cruising with independent travel

    September 30, 2013

    I used to think there were independent travelers and cruise passengers -- two mutually exclusive categories. But now, with cruising shedding its newlywed and geriatric stereotypes, all kinds of tourists are finding shipboard travel to be appealing.

  • The Queen's English: Brilliant and baffling

    September 30, 2013

    Oscar Wilde once said, "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language" -- and it's still true. On your first trip to Britain, you'll find plenty of linguistic surprises. I'll never forget checking into a small-town bed-and-breakfast as a teenager on my first solo European adventure. The landlady cheerily asked me, "And what time would you like to be knocked up in the morning?" I looked over at her husband, who winked, "Would a fry at half-eight be suitable?" The next morning I got a rap on the door at 8 a.m. and a huge British breakfast a half-hour later.

  • Sleeping alternatives: Bunking with the locals

    September 30, 2013

    These days, when I travel to Europe, I usually sleep in hotel rooms or bed-and-breakfasts. But in my early travel days, I routinely found places where I could sleep for free or very cheap. In Austria, I had "dear parents" who were actually the parents of my sister's ski instructor. In London, my hosts were friends of my uncle. Neither relationship was terribly close -- until I visited. Now we are friends for life.

  • East London: Early winner in the Olympics

    September 30, 2013

    One look at London's skyline and it's clear that the city is shifting east. Once a run-down wasteland, East London now glistens with gardens, greenery, and state-of-the-art construction. Skyscrapers punctuate the skyline while a tangle of new Tube lines makes it a quick and easy trip from the center of town.

  • European train travel: Fast and fun

    September 30, 2013

    Great European train stations stir my wanderlust. In Munich, about to catch a train, I stand under the station's towering steel and glass rooftop and study the big schedule board. It lists a dozen departures. Every few minutes, the letters and numbers on each line change as, one by one, cities and departure times work their way to the top and then disappear. I'm surrounded by Europeans on the move -- businessmen in tight neckties, giddy teenagers, families, porters pushing handcarts.

  • 'Road Trip, Road Trip' -- in Europe!

    September 30, 2013

    There's plenty to know before you drive a car in Europe, where road signs, fuel names, and hidden traffic cameras can be intimidating to tourists. But driving in Europe is really only a problem for those who make it one.

  • What's New in Germany, Hungary, and Austria for 2013

    September 30, 2013

    Three countries with a rich heritage -- Germany, Hungary, and Austria -- each have a constantly evolving sightseeing scene. Here's the latest:

  • The best and worst of Europe

    September 30, 2013

    Americans get the shortest vacations in the industrial world. With so little time, the pressure is on to make all the right choices when planning a trip. But how to select the right destination? It ultimately depends on your interests and your tastes -- and what your experienced travel writer tells you.

  • Another golden age for Amsterdam

    September 30, 2013

    Amsterdam is a laboratory of progressive living and tolerance, bottled inside Europe's most 17th-century city. Like Venice, this city is a patchwork quilt of canal-bordered islands, anchored upon millions of wooden pilings. But unlike its dwelling-in-the-past cousin, Amsterdam sees itself as a city of the future. And after years of reshuffling and rebuilding, Amsterdam is coming together -- 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for finally completing several ambitious projects.

  • Languedoc: France's Hidden Corner

    September 30, 2013

    Sunny, out-of-the-way Languedoc is an intoxicating part of the world. Stretching from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees in southwest France, it shares a balmy climate, winter wind, grapevines, and the sea with Provence, its better-known neighbor. But to me, Languedoc somehow feels more real.

  • Congratulations, Europe, on winning the Nobel Peace Price

    September 30, 2013

    To all my European friends -- from Portugal to Germany to Finland, and from Bulgaria to Slovenia to Ireland -- I'd just like to say: Nice job!

  • European bed and breakfasts provide a place to call home

    September 30, 2013

    Staying at a European bed-and-breakfast is a bit like having your own temporary mother while you travel. In the morning, your hostess might help plan your day, tipping you off to the best places for lunch and about the live folk music in the village pub that evening. She then sends you out the door with a smile, handing you an umbrella -- just in case it rains. The best B and Bs ooze warmth and local color, making these some of my favorite accommodations in Europe.

  • Beyond Barcelona

    September 30, 2013

    It's hard to top Barcelona, Spain's most cosmopolitan and fun city. I love the place, but I'm not alone. Every year, 10 million visitors swoop into town, rambling the Ramblas, touring hidden corners of the Old City, and marveling at playful Modernista architecture.

  • The allure of Cordoba

    September 30, 2013

    Tucked into a bend of its river, the Andalusian town of Cordoba has a glorious Moorish past. While its old wall evokes the history of a long-ago empire, its elegant cityscape and convivial squares show a modern pride. Typical of southern Spain, it's a people-friendly place filled with energy and color.

  • Brussels: The would-be capital of Europe

    September 30, 2013

    Last October, the Nobel Peace Prize was given to 500 million people who have, for the last 65 years, made a conscious decision to live together in peace and harmony: the European Union (EU). In the words of the Nobel Committee, "The EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace."

  • Thrill-seeking in Europe

    September 30, 2013

    Adventure travel continues to be a major trend in the tourism industry, and while I'm not going to suggest you drop everything to climb the Matterhorn, Europe has plenty of thrills and chills to carbonate a stodgy vacation.

  • From Hadrian's Wall to Holy Island to Durham, England's past comes alive

    September 30, 2013

    While southern England gets most of the glory -- and the tourists -- the country's far northeastern corner harbors some of the best historical sites. Hadrian's Wall serves as a reminder that this was once an important Roman colony, while nearby Holy Island is where Christianity gained its first toehold in Britain. And both can be reached from the town of Durham, home to England's greatest Norman church.

  • The cobbled charms of Cesky Krumlov

    September 30, 2013

    Lassoed by its river and dominated by its castle, Cesky Krumlov feels lost in a time warp. Nearly four hours south of Prague, this fairy-tale town of 15,000 is buried in the hills of the southern Czech Republic, an area much appreciated for its pastoral countryside. With its delightfully cobbled Old Town, rare Baroque theater, and colorful castle, Cesky Krumlov is an absolute treat.

  • Burgundy: Wine, Barging, and Beyond

    September 30, 2013

    My favorite corner of France is Burgundy, a region overflowing with edible, drinkable, scenic, and floatable delights. Its rolling hills and a handful of sleepy villages have given birth to the superior wines and fine cuisine that say "French."

  • Avoiding Lines: The Long and the Short of It

    September 30, 2013

    As far as I'm concerned, there are two IQs for travelers: those who queue ... and those who don't. If you plan ahead, you can avoid nearly every line that tourists suffer through (except for security checks).

  • Croatia's past lives on in modern-day Split

    September 30, 2013

    While most of Croatia's coastal towns seem tailor-made for tourism, Split is real and vibrant. Lounging alongside the Adriatic Sea on the famed Dalmatian Coast, Split is Croatia's second-largest city (after capital Zagreb), making it a bustling metropolis, serious port city, major transit hub, and top sightseeing destination, all rolled into one.

  • Italy's Civita di Bagnoregio: Jewel on the hill

    September 30, 2013

    Of all the Italian hill towns, Civita di Bagnoregio is my favorite. Less well-known than Siena or Assisi, this stunning little gem has escaped the modern age mostly because of topography.

  • Making the most of your trip

    September 30, 2013

    My work is all about Europe. But more fundamentally, it's about living with abandon through travel. I love to take life by the horns and make it an adventure. By being open to differences and staying flexible, I have a better time in Europe -- and so can you. It's not what you spend or pack that makes your trip memorable; it's the state of mind you bring.

  • Finding great art in Europe's smaller museums

    September 30, 2013

    For many travelers, a visit to one of the great treasure-chest museums -- Paris' Louvre, London's British Museum, Rome's Vatican -- is the highlight of a European trip. But sometimes a march through endless galleries dense with other tourists can be a mood killer, as you battle the throngs to scratch yet another biggie off your to-do list.

  • Italy's alluring Amalfi Coast

    September 30, 2013

    Italy's Amalfi Coast is one of those places with a "must-see" reputation. Staggeringly picturesque and maddeningly touristy, if can be both rewarding and frustrating. As if an antidote to intense Naples (just an hour to the north), it is the perfect place for a romantic break, if done right and if you can afford it. These towns are the big three sights of the Amalfi Coast: Positano is like a living Gucci ad, Amalfi evokes a day when small towns with big fleets were powerhouses on the Mediterranean and Ravello is fun for that peasant-in-a-palace feeling.

  • Mykonos: A Greek island treasure

    September 30, 2013

    Mykonos is the classic Greek-island stop and, along with Santorini, it's the most touristy. But being on Mykonos recently reminded me how enduringly charming the Greek islands are -- even when they're extremely crowded.

  • Pack light, even for a cruise

    September 30, 2013

    When I put my luggage into a taxi at the start of my first-ever cruise trip, it was a shock. I'd never packed so much before: deck wear, nicer evening wear, and rugged travel clothing to use on land. I'd even brought four pairs of shoes ... if you count my flip-flops.

  • Europe distilled: From bottled moonshine to sunshine

    September 30, 2013

    Finishing dinner at Rome's Ristorante da Fortunato, my friend Stefano explains that his greatest joy is an after-dinner drink called grappa. I try my best to enjoy the local firewater and fail. Sipping the grappa, Stefano instructs me: "You must not be in a hurry when taking a grappa!" He savors it carefully, sniffing the aroma and lingering over every taste. He then tells me that his ultimate joy is to have a glass of grappa -- and a Tuscan cigar -- while cruising on his sailboat to Corsica.

  • A blitz tour of Madrid

    September 30, 2013

    I'm standing on a tiny balcony overlooking the Times Square of all of Spain, Madrid's Puerta del Sol. Within a 10-minute walk I can visit Madrid's Royal Palace, one of the greatest palaces in Europe; Plaza Mayor, the ultimate town square; or the Prado Museum, which has my favorite collection of paintings under any one roof in Europe.

  • 10 great seaside escapes

    September 30, 2013

    With all the intensity in our domestic and political worlds lately, it's a fine time for an escape -- sunset glinting through the drink in your hand. Let's fantasize about the 10 best seaside bars in Europe.

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