Archive: Has Travel Changed You?: 2007
Rick Steves wants to hear from people who had never left the country before using Rick's guidebooks or going on a Rick Steves tour. Please let us know how your worldview changed as a result of Rick's influence on your travel . Did you meet someone abroad who made a dramatic impact on your life ? Has traveling overseas changed your views on America?
He traveled in Europe before most of us. In his book Portraits and Observations, he says "In London a young artist said to me 'How wonderful it must be for an American traveling in Europe the first time; you can never be part of it, so none of the pain is yours, you will never have to endure it--yes, for you there is only the beauty."
This too true for me. I could never put my love of Europe into words. Capote just did for me.
Honolulu, HI USA Tue 12/25/2007
Yes, Europe has changed me!
My husband and I went to Europe in the fall of 2006 and can't wait to go again. We went to London, France, Italy and Spain. I fell in love with London. It was my favorite city and we are planning on going back. In fact, the day after we came back from our trip last year, we signed papers to close on the sale of our condo and purchased a house. Part of me wishes we could have stayed in our modest, inexpensive condo so I could travel more often. Owning our home is far more expensive. After visiting Europe I learned just how materialistic we can be here in the USA. In Europe, everything is so much smaller. Smaller dwellings, smaller cars, smaller meals! I don't recall seeing any "supersize it" there! LOL! I learned so much. I met wonderful people! Since I have been back, all I keep doing is finding ways TO GO BACK! Had I experienced Europe before selling our condo and buying our home, I think I would have been content in our modest condo just so I could travel more. However, I do love my home and am now considering doing a Home Exchange just so I can go back.......We'll see. But yes, visiting Europe has changed me tremendously. And, I thank Rick and his wonderful staff for the marvelous travel aides as w/o them, I am not sure I could have got along in Europe as successfully! :)
Mill Creek, WA USA Sun 12/23/2007
Yes, I'm changed...
I have to admit, even up to the last minute, I was nervous to visit Europe. All the bad publicity I seemed to hear overrode the positive encouragements I was learning. But something in RS's books and DVD's broke through. After much thought, I realized it was the fact that he had turned his passion into his vocation and shared it with us. It was like an older brother taking your hand and showing you everything is OK. Enjoy it. Learn. In the end, it opened up for me the part of life the American culture misses: enjoying quality, not quantity; the personal pleasure of unmasked hospitality; casual concern (a shop owner throwing a beagle bread scraps as the dog's owner selects the nights dinner). I saw culture without over-regulated hangups and it all felt so relaxing and real. When I returned home, I realized the imprint was there. I wrote to my fellow travelers: It was an incredible experience to be in Rome. Even though we're home, we find that our senses are still there. A whiff of exhaust, a sudden chill in the air, and suddenly the memory awakes and we're walking up the stairs opposite the hotel, heading for the Vatican wall. Exhaust fumes and the cold are not the top of the priority list for warm fuzzies, but what a blessing that they now transport us back to four inch gray squares that led us everywhere. Thank you, Rick. Next year, it's Florence.
PS - John Grabowski, San Francisco, are you the John G who worked at Digi?
San Carlos, CA USA Fri 12/21/2007
My Dream came true!!
My first experience with traveling in Europe was in June of 1994. I went to Paris with some classmates and my French Teachers. What an amazing time we had. It was then I realized that I wanted to meet and fall in love with a European man, preferably a Frenchman.
Then in April 2004, I was able to go back to Europe with some girlfriends of mine. It was this trip that changed my life. Our first city was Rome. I couldn't believe I was there. It was soo surreal. I immediately fell in love with the fast paced lifestyle. Then off to Venice, Luzern, Paris and London. The entire trip was a dream come true and I couldn't believe I had experienced such wonder and beauty. I realized how spoiled and selfish we are in the States and how we take things for granted. When I got back, the first thing I told my parents was that I want to move to Italy to live and work there.
Well, little did I know that a few years later, I would meet a great Italian man and fall in love. We met here in the States and got married in May of 2007. He is in the States on a 2 year work Visa and soon, if his contract doesn't get extended, I'll be moving to Turin, Italy (his hometown) in June of 2008. I can't wait to continue living my beautiful dream.
Arlington, TX USA Sun 12/09/2007
Traveling has made me into the person I am today. I am only 19, but directly after high school I decided to go abroad. I moved to Cork, Ireland to study abroad at UCC. After the the 6 month long semester, my 4 newly aquainted best friends and I took a 2 month long backpacking trip. We went all over Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Belgium, germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands. It was unbelievabley fun and cheap! If you are young, you can stay in hostels where everyone is under 30. It is less than 10 dollars a night. Yes, you stay in bunk beds with 4-8 people in a room, but its all young people. Its safe, and the people who work there genuinely tell you how to have the best time, the safest places to go out and party, what to see, what is a waste of time.. and unlike most expensive hotels that push tours on you, hostels helped us do everything for cheap. way cheap. If you are studying abroad, your student ID is gold! It gets you into almost every museum and sight for free, you get discounted train passes, discounts on some small flights. I had the most amazing time of my life.
I had traveled to Europe and Asia with my family before, but it was a different experience. We did alot of tours and we stayed in 5 star hotels. Going when you are young and broke with friends is the ultimate adventure. Taking the metro and walking everywhere with your backpack will take you to amazing places. Going out and seeing the nightlife is also all about traveling. When you are sight seeing you might meet others who are doing the same, but if you go out drinking or dancing then that's where you meet locals. I have made some friends that I still keep in contact with and I know I will for a long time to come. I am leaving in 1 month to study abroad again in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I will hopefully back pack around south America. I was never planning on studying abroad again, but I have a serious case of wanderlust now. Upon returning to my home town, it was hard to relate to my friends again. Their "drama" and outlooks were so different from mine now. I honestly can say that I am a more chill person after traveling. I realize there is soooo much more to life than what goes on at your school or some party. I can't see myself ever not traveling now.
PS - I found a program that is great to study abroad at... and it was cheaper with room, board, tuition, books, meals, paid excursions, ect. Than my home town tuition with all those things. So I plan to go every year! whoo!
Seattle, WA USA Mon 12/03/2007
I would just like to thank Rick and his staff for all the valuable information in his Italy guidebook. I had to choose one book to carry, so I carried the Italy 2007. I would like to say that I felt very safe in Italy. We used a money belt always and ATMs during the day. The hotels we stayed in from the book, all had wonderful staff that made up for sometimes minimal accomidations. I enjoyed trying to speak Italian. I would have to say my only regret of my Italian adventure was that I should have brought a German phrase book for our stay in Bolzano. What a wonderful city! We stayed here at the end of our trip and enjoyed the laid back feeling they portrayed compared to the fast pace of Rome. I became more aware of how spoiled and fortunate we are in the USA. Ice for example, I love it and truly missed it. America should learn from the Italian highway and public transportation systems. We had never traveled on a train and it was actually a good experience once we figured it out. But thats the fun of traveling right? Learning and experiencing different things. When you go, have fun, embrace the differences and remember how fortunate you are to get to experience a different culture.
Sultan, WA USA Mon 11/12/2007
My eyes were opened in regards to how the rest of the world lives, or at least the people in Italy, Austria, Germany, & Switzerland. My wife & I had always wanted to travel overseas & watching Ricks programs on PBS made it all that much worse since he always looks so relaxed & happy. February of 06 my boss asked me if I wanted to go train at our parent company just north of Venice. Of course it took me about 1/2 second to say yes. Took my wife with me & spent the entire month of april traveling as much as I could, 6000 km's in a month seemed like quite a bit to me. Anyways we really got into the culture over there, did a lot of walking, attempted to learn the language from the locals, hung out in small eateries, etc. Just from talking to people I was working with over there, watching the news programs, etc, I came away with the impression that we as Americans are full of ourselves. By that I mean we rate ourselves as being more important than we actually are. We then to think that everyone in these other countries envys us when the truth is they really don't seem to care at all about what we do or how we live. They are quite happy & content to live their lives just as their ancestors have been doing for hundreds of years.
Rio, Wi USA Sun 11/11/2007
Hooked on travel
I agree, Rick's books have become my "Bibles" and I have caught the bug! I now plan a travel budget and try to convince friends/family/coworkers to travel, too...have been to Italy, France, Belgium, London over the last 2 summers....never thought I would see those places. It is emotional and uplifting. I have never felt more alive. Some of my fondest memories are the characters I have met along the way. If I am having a bad day, I channel the pictures in my head from my trips and turn it around!
DE USA Tue 11/06/2007
Rick's influence on me
I have posted about this subject several times on this site already, but I went to Europe for the first time because of Rick Steves, and on a Rick Steves Paris city tour. (I did spend a couple of days on my own in London prior to the tour, but followed his guidebook on everything I did). Since that trip 7 years ago I have been addicted to European travel, and have spread my addiction to my family and friends. I've been on 5 more trips since then and can't wait to plan the next one. Visiting Europe and enjoying the culture of several of their great cities, learning new languages (a little), seeing sights I only used to dream of -- has enriched my life tremendously. I still think America is great, but see that other countries are great also, and I appreciate the way they do some things and wish the US was the same. I'd really like to retire to Europe and try to live there pretty much full-time and see what life there is really like.
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 11/02/2007
changes are good
I just wanted to say a huge thankyou to Rick Steves Tours who made my foray into Paris a safe journey, and because I was in London for a course, I went to Glastonbury for two days in between, and met my future husband. As a private guide, he took me to Stonehenge on my birthday,one among many sacred sites.
COQUITLAM, , B.C. CANADA Fri 09/28/2007
From the time I was a child, it had always been my dream to go to Europe. I finally had my chance in 1985, after years of saving until I qualified for a profit-sharing check. I prepared myself for months, going to the bookstore on my lunch nearly everyday and browsing through travel books. As soon as I saw the title "Europe Through the Back Door", I felt as if he really understood what I was looking to find in Europe. I bought the book amd read it over and over (back then it was a very skinny book). I even had the pleasure of attending a slide show travel presentation by Rick Steves in San Francisco. Seeing him live was a thrill. His book (ETBD) became my constant companion through my 6-week trip of Europe, along with Frommer's Europe on $40 a Day, which I relied on much less. I came back from that magical trip and really caught a very extreme case of the travel bug. I began to make arrangements for my next trip, but unable to make up my mind where to go this time around, I decided to quit my 9-5 job, take every cent of savings I had, and freewheel through Europe until my money ran out. What an experience that was! I travelled for about 4 years, and would never have been able to travel for so long without the confidence and knowledge Rick's books gave me. I still eat his books up, buying his books every year, and still travel as often as I can. Several times I have run across Rick on my travels and have often felt that it would be so great to sit and chat with him, becaue I feel like I know him so well after all these years!
Concord, Calif USA Sun 09/23/2007
Expat in UK...my take
My time in Europe has definitely changed me. I go home on Sept 17th after being here 6 months. Lived in UK (Marlow England) which gave me narrow boats floating slowly down the historical River Thames. Floating to Windsor and to Henley. Regattas. SwanUpping. Marlow's Compleat Angler Wine Dinners. London: Theatre, walking tours, Parliament, Big Bend, Patricia Rutledge (SHE ROCKED in the play Office Suite), Wicked, We Will Rock You! The Queen/Phillip, Charles, Camilla, William and all at the rest at the Trooping of the Colour in June. Windsor's Long Walk. Windsor Castle Pub (after the long walk..it's a must) Windermere Lakes District - Beatrix Potter Land, Wordsworth, sheep and more sheep, hiking the countryside in the Spring (did I mention thousands of little lambs!) Scotland: Women's British Open at St. Andrews-witnessed a major Historical Event. Balmoral, Glenfeddich and Glenlevit mmmm. Harry Potter Train from Ft. Williams to Malliag. Can you tell I loved Scotland? Lochs and Lochs. Italy: got a full throttle big brain-on here regarding history- Rome/Florence/Venice (will need to go back). Paris is a well oiled machine. Best Subway, best city (London has some work to do in this category). Loved the Eiffel tower twinkling. Best Bridges are in Paris. Salzburg--what can I say that you don't already know. Favorite part was the view from the Castle. Strolling the town was wonderful. All things Mozart. Germany: Experiencing the Rhine between Bacharach and St. Goar= castles and vineyards all beautiful. Countryside beautiful, people (locals not transplants --loved Liddy) are passive -- definitely feel the war. The bad times. They still carry it like anvils around their necks. Understandable. Munich = surprisingly fun, HB beer hall very entertaining .very. Maize Germany (reminder there is more than one station for Maize (make sure you go to Maize HB). Any other and you are hosed and get a feeling that the Third Reich is watching your major mistake by getting off at wrong station. Cost me 10 Euros to get to the right station. Pay ATTENTION! Ireland: Cliffs of Moar, Doolin (lovely best town to sleep I think and drink--- music was awesome so were locals). Dingle and all were so touristy, but beautiful. Drove from Top to bottom of the country. It's all good. They love America. It was refreshing. Belfast= interesting. People were real, busy and moving forward. Eating in pubs that were bombed as near back as 90's was on your mind. Crown Bar, Europa Hotel, Fish Art on Wharf (Historical) Titanic built here. In transition. Northern Ireland: Best Kept secret -Giants Causeway and rope bridge, Ballintoy so quaint. Switzerland - Berner Oberland amazing-Thanks Rick for that tip! Alps hiking is the deal. Surprised at the LACK of wildlife. I'm a Colorado advocate...and there's no comparison with the abundant wildlife in Colorado. Again, people (local natives) no level of enthusiasm, but lovely country that's what I wanted to see. Global warming is number one on their minds as well. After speaking with a shop owner (of course she asked where I was from--- Texas) the topic of Global W. and President GW was brought up in conversation by her. She expressed her concern with Bush and his ties to oil. We saw eye-to-eye as human beings at that moment. Moving on for now. Zermatt = Matterhorn...got to see it (touch and go on the clouds tho..timing is everything). Lausanne boats/castle was so beautiful. Gentle reminder if you are updating your bank on your whereabouts remind them that while in Switzerland a part of your trip you may be boating to France for the day (Evian)...my bank got confused when I showed up in France. Just a note to self ;)Montreux: Chateau de Chillion- I want to live in this castle, best ever. Tribute to Freddie Mercury statue nice to see - made me happy. All in all I'm a changed person living in the UK. My reality is that I love America. I've learned that there are a lot of things we could adapt in the US that already exist in Europe to make a difference globally ( i.e. cars that offer better gas mileage hello GM ((Vauxhall)) and FORD...you can do it in Europe why not in the States duh?). Bottom line...the best folks in the world are Americans, and that's a part of what makes the world go around. My Europe experience rocked (especially my wallet). Train Tip: when you get on the wrong train (going the wrong way-as I did in Gruyeres, Switzerland and Germany. You just need to stop at the very next station (prob. remote -have to let the conductor know by pushing button to stop too) and get off. Push any button you see on the station wall outside and then wait. If you don't, you will sit there and watch the next train dash right by w/o stopping. BTW: It doesn't tell you anywhere in English to push the button, just German and French ;) Safe and Happy Traveling!
Dallas, Texas USA Mon 09/10/2007
travel is something i have done most of my life. my dad was a traveler so we went Everywhere. my sister and i continue the tradition as do my children. Road trip!!! is all it takes to get them packing and they are all adults now. i normally do not post on any sites or blogs but something that has become dear to my heart has me involved today. i read this article. http://www.aftenposten.no/english/business/article1088191.ece one of my favorite things about Norway is that you Can drink the water. You cannot "see" the air either. how weird is that? the most simple solution for the people of iveland is that people stop drinking voss water. the smallest things make the biggest impact.
stigler, ok USA Wed 08/29/2007
A wonderful sea of change
My wife and I visited Britain in 2003 as our introduction to Europe and we fell madly in love with Britain, travel and so many other things. It certainly changed our lives in an extraordinary and positive way, and it has made us discover so many things about the world and ourselves that I couldn't possilby overemphasize the importance of seeing as many places as you can. In 2005 we went to France and Germany with the same result: increased desire for travel, history and the arts, and of returning to our favourite spots in Western Europe. Now we've actually moved to Britain because we loved it so much, and although we miss many things about living in the States, it'll be hard to limit ourselves to spending most of our lives based solely on one side of the pond. We are forever grateful to Rick Steves and his crew for opening our world to, well...the world!
Battle Creek, MI USA Sat 08/25/2007
First Time to Europe
I went to Paris, UK, and Ireland in June this year. I'd never been to Europe before, but thanks to RS shows, guidebooks, I caught the travel bug! The trip was amazing, transforming even. Many parts were stressful - just feeling stupid, lost (always lost, ha), but along the way I realized that being out of my comfort zone was a good thing. Met wonderful people all along the way. Parisians are great - warm, funny, helpful. Dingle, Ireland was beautiful beyond words. I would never have undertaken a trip like this on my own without Rick Steves' books - they were my bibles! The memories I cherish most now are all the locals we met, and all those times we felt stupid and lost - they all turned out fine in the end.
Port Orchard, WA USA Sun 08/19/2007
How Europe is changing
Just thought I'd post a link to an interesting and relevant article I found on the Washington Post's website. Food for thought:
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 08/07/2007
I agree with Two Homes (John Green). Not about Egypt but about the subtle change made in one by becoming so very familar with another place, another culture. It changes your view of the world and of yourself permanently. I first went to Roma in 1951 and it changed by life. I still go there almost every year but it isn't the fact that it is Roma so much as it is a change in me. My outlook is broader and deeper by becoming so familar with another world. I am still trying to get to Egypt too. Something always seems to come up. Last time it was a quadruple bypass. But some day .....
Charles M. Luther
Katy, Texas USA Tue 08/07/2007
I concur with the idea that a guide to Egypt is needed, but I think it should be through the back door. I've heard too many people talk about the annoying practices (constant harassment) of the tourist wranglers at places like the Pyramids. There are so many other things to see in Cairo besides ancient Pharaonic monuments. Cairo is densely packed with thousands of historic sites, and there are many guidebooks. One pleasant place to go where you are almost sure to meet people is the large zoo. There is a lively night life, a vast area that is covered with famous medieval Islamic monuments, and there are many other more modern structures that belong to the legacies of the British and the French. The city is polyglot--there are almost always people nearby who speak English. I go there 3 times a year and really can't get enough of it. It feels like a second home to me. Travel has given me a sense that I belong in more than one place, and that I can make myself at home anywhere. That's a big change for me!
Ann Arbor, MI USA Sun 08/05/2007
It's Your Life...
Rick's books & tapes started me out on an amazing life-long journey. My self directed travels have included Italy in 2000, Paris in 2002, Spain & London in 2004, Australia in 2005 and now, Egypt. I have gone with my husband, my husband + my 85-year-old mother, and now, 3 of my colleagues from work. We are heading out to Cairo and the Nile October 9th. What a wonderful way to learn & explore the cultures with which we share this small world. Better than a big house, a new car, or anything else - it's worth the sacrifices! Go, before you can't. Thank you Steve & all your employees. Now get busy and write a guide for Egypt!
Seattle, WA USA Tue 07/17/2007
Life Changing Travels
My husband and I started travelling to Europe 11 years ago. Rick's books and videos led us through our baby steps and we now feel confident in our research and travel skills to travel happily to places for which he has no guidebook. We returned from Spain eliminating butter from our diets - it's olive oil on our toast now! After Ialy, we bought an espresso machine - we use it every morning. We've learned that the world does not revolve around the USA and that not everyone envies us for living here! We pay attention to international news as much as local news. We are patient with those at home who do not speak English fluently. Having been helped numerous times by kindly Europeans in many different ways, we try to do the same for travellers in our own country. We're off to Sicily and Greece in August.
Roseville, CA USA Sat 07/07/2007
I am 53 and travel alone. I just visited Switzerland and Austria. I don't want to be responsible for anyone's happiness or security. I really don't want to hear any whining or complaining. I move slow but manage to get in many sites.
Atlanta, GA USA Thu 07/05/2007
Classical music in Europe
I agree with the remarks about classical music. When you think that Britain alone publishes not one, but *three* monthly magazines devoted to classical music, you know that it's a whole different world musically. I think part of the credit goes to the tradition of cathedral boys'choirs (and also more and more girls' choirs these days), where countless children each year enjoy superb musical experiences and are spared the ridiculous American notion that classical music is somehow unmasculine.
Minneapolis, MN USA Wed 07/04/2007
Classical music in Europe
It's a real discovery, a joyous one, to see how classical music is treated by most of the music stores in Europe.
Growing up in the U.S. and loving classical music as I do, I was (and am) always dismayed to see the genre shoved to the back of the store, or downstairs in the dank basement, or anywhere else the management doesn't care about. Classical here is an afterthought--if it's considered at all. As a child I was picked on, laughed at, and even beat up for loving classical music when everyone around me rocked to Journey, Led Zep and AC/DC. I wasn't "cool." I'm still not, at least in the USA.
In Europe I found classical music in the front windows of most music stores, in big fancy displays. Department stores have whole classical sections--huge ones, too. And I mean *real* classical--Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Mahler, Shostakovich, Chopin, Bartok, Stravinsky, Berg--not pop music made over as classical or "Greatest Hits" albums. There are huge posters of all the big stars, but even obscure musicians and works are represented. Clerks are educated about the music, and the customers include everyone from gray-haired old ladies to young kids in designer jeans with backpacks. In some stores you can listen to anything--just break open the shrink wrap! People spend hours in there opening CD after Cd, and the only time the clerk bothers you is to remove the piles of shrink wrap accumulating at your feet. Music students come and go, studying their scores as they listen to performances of the works they are practicing. Posters advertising concerts and musicians are all over the city squares, and conductors and solists are local heroes. How many Americans can name the conductor of their hometown orchestra, if indeed they have an orchestra in their hometown? Tell an American youngerster today that once upon a time the conductors of Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Chicago were as well-known as ball team stars and you get a look of non-comprehension. And PBS has failed miserably in their responsibility to classical music. If it doesn't happen in Lincoln Center and doesn't involve Andrea Bocelli or Andre Rieu, they're not interested anymore.
I understand this is "not our" music and will always be more popular in Europe. Still, it would do Americans good to get acquainted with something beyond dinosaur revival bands and this year's American Idol winner. Europe brings a whole new perspective to music and art, and makes us realize just how provincial we are in the USA.
San , CA USA Sun 06/17/2007
How Travel Changed Me
I've truly fallen in love with Paris. I took my mother on a brief trip to London, Amsterdam,Lucerne and Paris for her 74th birthday. Of all the places, we both fell in love with Paris. The people were warm and friendly; they even tolerated my high school level French.I'm trying to adopt more of a European lifestyle-more walking, using a market bag, cooking with the best local ingredients.Vive la France!
Norfolk, VA USA Thu 06/14/2007
Keeping it simple
Travel has opened my eyes a great deal. Most importantly, it has shown me that the American dream of a big house, two-car garage and a lot of property are important. Not at all. Countless Europeans have lived in the same small house for generations and don't aspire to those material goals, yet they remain happy and upbeat. I try to be the same way.
Phoenix, AZ USA Wed 05/23/2007
Biggest change in me after my first trip abroad? I am less fearful and more trusting. We faced no scams, no pickpockets, no taxi "hustlers" only helpful people in Greece. Some say Greece is only to be done after other "easier" countries like UK, etc. I don't agree.
We were safer in downtown Athens (and Santorini and Crete) at 10pm than in downtown Seattle (not that I'd ever leave Seattle permanently).
People on the street really say hi (well, Yasas or kaln mera :) Anyway, wow! My eyes are open to the good in people now.
Seattle, USA Tue 05/15/2007
Change is Good
Travel has truly broadened my horizons. By traveling I am "stepping out of the box" - opening my mind to learn about a new place & culture. There's the challenge of figuring out the currency & trying to pick up some of the language. In my experience it is always appreciated by the locals. A smile & kind word will truly open many doors. I love meeting people from other parts of the US & from around the world often sharing a laugh & a smile. I have met so many wonderful people & learned so much about our amazing world. It's such a thrill of seeing the "real" thing/place.& not some imitation (like Las Vegas or Disney World). And to have history brought to life. It's just amazing to realize the sights I've seen date centuries before my homeland was even discovered. It's always nice to run into American's & say "hi" & take a minute to talk about where we're from, where we've been & where we are going. Travel is like a fine banquet with amazing food, companionship, traditions, entertainment & all the experiences that go with it. Returning home is like stepping away from the table & loosening your belt. It takes awhile to digest the whole feast. For quite some time I feel like I'm on the ultimate high from the whole experience. Stories of the trip seem to be endless & many are eager to hear all about my adventures.
Travel is a kind of a feeding frenzy. Trying new foods & enjoying some of the best food & wines in the world. I thought I knew cheese until I walked by a fromagerie in Paris. What an amazing scent sensation! Just drinking in the whole experience like the best wines & beers in the world. In Europe they're like nothing here in the USA. Pasta in Italy is a whole experience. I thought I new pasta.but nothing like this. Save the McDonald's & Starbucks for home. experience the food in the lands you travel.
Louisville, KY USA Tue 05/08/2007
Wow Linda, visiting a church where your ancestors were married! Awesome. I had an emotional moment at the Scottish War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. The Rolls of Honor list the names of Scottish War dead, each regiment with a book. I was curious to see if my Scottish name would be in one of the regimental books, only to realize that my name would appear alongside my 15 year old son's name over and over again in these books, most from World War I. Then I saw my son standing next to an inscription that reads "Their name lives on". I pray for the day when no more names are added to these hallowed books.
CA USA Sat 04/07/2007
You're never too young!
My husband and I traveled with two friends around the UK 9/06 - what an absolutely fabulous time we had! I was excited for the trip before hand and spent many hours reading Rick's UK book and planing our vacation itinerary - but my expectations were far exceeded upon actually being there. In addition visiting many of the recommended sights, we visited a church my ancestors were married in and given a personal tour - WOW!
Prior to this trip my husband was insistent that we should only take such vacations once we're retired (we are 37 yrs old). He has done an about face since our UK trip - we're taking a London/Paris vacation 10/07 and going to Italy in 2008. And who knows where after that! :)
Littleton, CO USA Tue 04/03/2007
travel has changed me
Last October, my husband and I toured Italy for 2 and 1/2 weeks and we used Rick Steve's Italy book for the first time and we also attended a couple of his travel classes in Edmonds before we left. I felt his book was wonderful and it saved us so much money and time. I am still using his book presently. My life has changed because of travel and I happen to be writing this from Italy as my husband is working here temporarily for a large company from the Seattle area and I was fortunate to tag along. I am so busy when I am home in the Seattle area with a job and a long commute to that job. I am always in a rush and I have lists a mile long that have to be accomplished in a short week-end and I am in my car rushing to Costco and loading huge amounts of stuff into my car and then back into my house. While in Europe I walk everywhere and I feel so relaxed. I want to move somewhere when I get back to the Seattle area where I can walk places and have a shorter commute. I also want to leave a smaller foot print on the earth. Of course, I want to travel more while I can.
Indianola, Wa USA Tue 04/03/2007
first time in europe
i decided about five years ago that i wanted to go to italy. i saved and finally went last october. i spent 11 days and went to venice, florence and rome with my 15 year old niece. it was the most amazing time. i have not been able to stop thinking about it and all i want to do now is travel. i am planning my next trip in about four years to london and paris with my then 11 year old daughter and a friend. i had no idea before i went that travel would really get under my skin. now i want a job that is travel but i haven't found it yet. for now i will settle for awesome vacations every few years.
murphys, ca USA Wed 03/28/2007
Travel to Europe has changed my family
My very firstr trip to Europe was in 1975, I got accepted in the Nursing program outside of London. I left for United States two years later. I met my future husband who is a world traveler. We have been traveling together every summer. We took our children back to Europe twice so far and will return again. Europe is a gigantic museum, it is full of history. I love the pace of life there, people stop and smell the roses, they enjoy their cups of cappucino in real ceramic with saucers outside the cafe, engaging interesting conversations, sometimes with strangers, it is what the social interaction I mostly miss in this country.
My children have not stopped talking about Europe. Our son was 5 when he first saw Eiffel Tower, he is now 12, longing to going back again and again. We wiill return again in two years. Our daughter takes French in high school, and she was able to practice her French with her cousins in Paris last summer. Using Rick Steves guidebooks have helped tremendously for us traveling in Europe. We will return again in a couple of years with our two children.
Novato, ca USA Sat 03/24/2007
First Trip to Europe
For Christmas 2005, our daughter and her hubby gave us, and his folks, a 2-week trip to Europe in the spring of '06. The 6 of us spent time in Amsterdam, Rome, Florence, and a day each in Pompeii and Bologna. The 'kids' had been to Italy before, the rest of us had never been to Europe. As my hubby is an artist, we had our own built-in tour guide for many attractions, but we used RS guide books for finding hotels, restaurants, etc. We came back wishing the USA had better public transportation, and GELATO! :) We found some Europeans to be very friendly and helpful, and some to be nasty and thieving, just like here at home. (Some things never change.) We learned that water w/o ice cubes is just fine. We learned that many Americans, including ourselves, have too much 'stuff'. It was a dream trip, and I think about it almost every day. In fact, Hubby and I are planning to return to Amsterdam in a year, and then go on to England, Ireland, Scotland the next year! We'd like to take a RS tour someday.
USA Sun 03/18/2007
I have been visiting and living in Hawaii yearly since 1984. Something that someone from Seattle (think RAIN!) can get use to very quickly.
Six years ago, at age 55, I took my first RS tour, and will be taking my 5th this Aug/Sept. What life changing experiences. You bet, sitting here on the beach is great, but, it is mostly the same day after day. Going to Europe is a different experience every day and a real eye-opener. Sorry I did not get to RS years ago, but I will try to "keep on traveling" to Europe every year as long as I can!!
Honolulu, HI USA Tue 03/13/2007
Great travel changes
I think Dan's comments were wonderful. His whole family seems involved in travelling. I hope the best for all of them. In my own experience I have to say my husband has been marvelous. We went to France a few months ago because of his job, but then we went to see my pen pal from high school. It was amazing how little had changed in nineteen years. She put out a beautiful feast, the children played in the inflatable swimming pool, we drank pastis, without enjoying it, we ate her husband's over char-grilled potatoes, wherin he was persecuted by Frenchies and Americans alike, and drank box wine, and then a nice bottle of Rose, followed by very nice Champagne. My husband, not speaking any French, managed to make great friends with my friend's husband and their neighbor- Who knew ZZ-Top was so big in France? Anyway, my point is, Europe is great fun for those who explore. Once, in England, my husband and I had to pass through a furniture store on a hike through England. The map led us that way and the employees were very kind. They had intercepted hikers before, but never anyone outside of England.They found us a curiousity, but it was great fun. Travel has changed me. Now, I am waiting for it to change everyone else.
Houston, Texas USA Fri 03/09/2007
Travel Changed Us
We took a trip of a lifetime (so-called at the time) to Ireland Oct 2006. My wife and I took my Parents for 11 wonderous days. The highlight was when my Father was able to stand in the Church-yard, near where his Grandfather left as a 9-year old lad in 1851 as a result of the "Famine". His baptismal records are still at that Church. Our family's ancestory hunt has come to a dead end there, a foundation left from a Catholic Church that was burned by the British in the 1700's. Along with the Church, most likely our family records; the Church kept such records prior to 1850, and the government thereafter.
We all felt a certain "connection" with this historic country, as my wife had ancestors also from Ireland, which we intend to research soon. It indeed only whet our appetite for a return visit. It's doubtful my Parents will return, but we definitely will. Had planned to do so in 2 years, and now we are not sure we can wait that long. There is not a day goes by that I don't think about our great trip in 06, and day dream about the next one. I guess this is considered a life changing experience!
WA USA Fri 03/02/2007
Captivated by Europe
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed below by Mr. Woolley and Paul n Sara. I'm planning another trip to Europe this September -- my 6th since 2001. I truly cannot stop going there either, particularly to Paris, where I've been 4 times already. The Parisian way of life & the people are amazing. Whoops -- It's not Mr. Woolley, but RB I agree with. Woolley is part of the name of his city!
San Francisco, USA Fri 03/02/2007
I Know I Know Nothing...
I learned that I don't know myself as much as I thought I did. I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my ife and what I loved but spending time with myself on my solo backpacking trip to Europe made me realize I knew nothing about myself. It was life changing.
Puyallup, USA Mon 02/26/2007
The Humanity and Grace of Europe
What an eye opener travel to Europe has been. I bought some of Rick's books years ago and was hooked on the first trip. I go for a month or more every year and will return again in September. What magic to discover a place where people love to engage each other in meaningful, intelligent conversation. Wow, people with depth and attention spans! How fulfilling and deeply entertaining it is to sit in a sidewalk cafe and be surrounded by animated people enjoying each other. Real social interaction! And to travel from place to place on wonderful public transportation systems. Cars are optional! What a lesson it is to interact with people who consume less and live more simply, but raditate more contentment and joy. I found something precious in Europe that somehow we lost in our headlong rush to just where I really don't know (the next SuperSale?). To walk the vibrant streets of Amsterdam, Madrid, Copenhagen, Paris, Istanbul, etc. listening to the music, enjoying the street theater, people watching, and just relaxing into the whole amazing cultural carnival feeds my spirit. I truly need it. I go home, start saving, and return again for another magical adventure.
Sedro Woolley, WA USA Thu 02/22/2007
We can't get enough of Europe.
Please, somebody stop us before we run out of money!!!!!
Paul n Sara
USA Wed 02/21/2007
Travel has definitely changed us!
Last summer, my then 10 year old son and I flew to London, our first stop for a month backpacking in Europe.
From there we went to Bayeaux, France ("Pardon" has an entirely new meaning to us now.) to see the D-Day beaches. I work at a Veterans Administration hospital and I have heard the D-Day stories from many veterans. To actually see where they fought was very moving. You can watch all the WWII movies you want, but to actually walk on Omaha Beach or stroll along the white crossed in the cemetery where over 9,000 Americans are buried brings it all home.
We saw Paris, Zurich, Innsbruk (where I passed a kidney stone and the health care was excellent), Florence, Rome, Athens, then went to Sofia, Bulgaria. I took my son there for a life lesson. Sofia looks like the stereotypical communist city with the high rise apartments, the enormous smoke stacks belching out pollution and the overall melancholy mood of the city and her people. Sofia had a tremendous impact on my son and though we saw some of the great sights in Europe, my son still asks me questions about communism and freedom.
The World Cup found us in Budapest in one of Maria & Istevan's apartments (thanks for the recommendation Mr. Steves!). Since rail travel west was choked, we spent several days in Budapest and we fell in love with the city. If you have never had real goulash, then I recommend that you go to Hungary just for that.
I could not help but smile the other day when there was a commericial on TV that showed the Colosseum in Rome and my son said, "Hm - been there and it was really cool."
We left our hearts in Europe and we will definitely return and this time Dad will join us.
I think the greatest impact our trip had on me is that I think America should take lessons from Europe with the mass transportation, economy cars, etc and become more thrify. I know since my return I "think green" more than I used to.
Pearl, MS USA Tue 02/20/2007
Can't live without travel
My first trip overseas was to Russia (then the USSR) in 1974 - I was in college and my major was Russian. Talk about an eye opener! Watched all the time, restrictions on everything you did and said. After 4 weeks traveling in country, we went to Prague. Talk about a change! We were warned NOT to speak Russian and the invasion was still fresh in their minds.
In 1976 I got engaged to be married and my husband's dream was to tour Europe. We toured by ourselves with Fodor's Europe on $5 a day for 4 weeks. And yep...it was $5 a day back then. We started out with $1000, and came home with $400. Eurail passes and youth hostels.
It was 20 years before we could return. We took a bike trip to France, returned 5 years later for a bike trip in Italy, and have been going back every 2 years since then.
For my daughter's college graduation, all she wanted was a trip to Europe, so we sent her...she'd been to Israel her junior year in high school. She had the bug.
My son went to Spain for a month while in high school for a language immersion program. He talks all the time now about going back to see England or some other country - I know he will.
Travel is important for all ages.
Travel is the most wonderful gift you can give yourself, or someone else. It opens the world to you. It's important to see how other cultures interact with us. It's important to see what is becoming of our world, the pollution, the crime, and the wonderful pieces of art.
Travel is life changing and I for one cannot live with out it now. It's my escape from my everyday world, it's my chance to be a person of the world, not just my hometown.
CO USA Tue 02/20/2007
Has travel changed you?
Travel changed me as child, as my blue collar family always made it a point to see the USA, and later other parts of the world when they had more money. My wife did not travel at all until we married. For many years, she would be on vacation and want to return home, saying she was homesick. Last year we spent 3 weeks in Europe with an aggresive schedule that took us to 8 countries and 14 cities. She was hooked! We are now going back for 4 weeks this summer! To see someone else intoxicated with seeing the world, is for me, priceless.
Hughson, CA USA Mon 02/19/2007
Travel has influenced my life
I took my first trip to Europe as a teenager with my family a few decades ago, and it made me aware of issues of urban planning and transportation as no book or article could have. (No, really! I much prefer the look of European towns and cities to American sprawlburbia.) This awareness was only heightened when I lived in Japan during graduate school. Since then I've tried as much as possible to live within walking distance of essential stores and services and to take public transit as much as possible.
Minneapolis, MN USA Fri 02/16/2007
Travel, back door style
I love back door experiences when I travel. About a half hour outside of Salzburg, there's a small town few visit: Oberndorf, Austria. On a cold winter's night over 100 years ago, the pastor, faced with a broken organ, picked up his guitar and introduced the world to his newly composed song: Silent Night.
I was there one winter, sitting in the back pew of their small country church. One of the ladies of that city got up from one of the front pews, and as she left, smiled at me and said "Schone Kirke" (beautiful church). At that moment, humble though it be, it had all the architectural awe of Notre Dame in Paris.
Brea, CA USA Fri 02/09/2007
I took my first trip to Europe in the fall of 2004. I landed in Dusseldorf and headed to London the very next day to meet a tattoo artist. From there I traveled to Interlaken, London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Cinque Terre (where I stayed in the wonderful town of Rio Maggiore for 9 days. Meet some of the best people there. There is a wonderful lady who runs the cafe-tobacco shop, please stop by and see her) From there is was on to Nice, Monaco/Monte Carlo, London, Dublin, Belfast, Derry, London and finally back to Dusseldorf to catch my flight home. All in all I was in Europe for 2 months. I regret ever leaving. The feeling that I had while traveling and still have just talking about it with people is undescribable. It is so hard to put it in words. You learn so much about yourself. Since then I have been back twice for week long trips with friends, but there was nothing like the experience of doing it by my self. The European way of life is so wonderful that I plan on living there full time one day, if ever given the chance. I hope that your travels are safe and prosperous, and may you all find what you are looking for...
Atlantic Beach, Florid USA Sat 02/03/2007
Month long trip to Europe
My husband and I decided to take our 18 year old daughter and 2 of her friends to Europe and Britain for a month last fall. I used your 2006 travel guidebooks to plan the entire trip. Starting in London,we then went on to Bath,Newcastle, Aviemoor, Edinburgh, Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Avignon and ending in Paris. It was an amazing experience for all of us but seeing these places through the eyes of 3 teenagers was the best part. It was unexpectedly easy, though time consuming, to arrange all our flights, trains, and accommodations by using your guidebooks. We were never disappointed and often spellbound at the beauty and diversity we experienced. Our favourite place was the Cinque Terre and we all definately want to return there one day. Travelling with 3 lovely young ladies was a bit of a concern to me at first, but I never felt unsafe or worried about their safety when they spent the day on their own. Europe is much more geared to travellers than we are here in Canada and everywhere we went we felt welcome and amazed. Thank you Rick for the wonderful advice you have in your guidebooks. We all commented on how many people we noticed were using your books everywhere we went. It made for instant friends and valuable pointers along the way. Thanks again. We all hope to return to Europe in the near future.
vernon, BC canada Mon 01/29/2007
Travel has helped me feel more connected to my own ethnic roots. Like most of us third generation European-Americans, I was raised with almost no 'old world' tradition. To me, my (partial) Italian lineage has meant little more than a vowel-laden last name that no one seems to be able to pronounce. After visiting Italy a few times though I now feel somewhat connected to my own past. I have learned some of the language. I have seen beautiful works of art and architecture. I have enjoyed the natural beauty and great culinary tradition of that wonderful country - and marvelled at it's often cruel yet fascinating history. Most of all though, I have some sense of my own history.
Home of Daaaa Bears, IL USA Tue 01/23/2007
Changed by Travel
Oh, yes! I first traveled to Europe in 2000 at the age of 46. I traveled with a friend who had never been to Europe either. We read "Europe Through the Back Door" before we left even though we were going on a guided tour (If it's Tuesday it must be Belguim. We took Rick's advice to use the tour as an inexpensive way to travel and skip the "pre-arranged" events and be independent.
We loved it so much we that in 2002 we spent a week in London and a week in Paris; in 2004 we spent a month in Italy (and drove) and in 2006 we spent 3 weeks in England(and drove). In 2007 we'll be in Paris for a week and after that who knows....
After the first trip we've booked all our hotels over the Internet and have been very satisfied.
Travel has confirmed for me that there are many ways to get to the same solution.
On our first trip I was surprised by the graffiti...intellectually I knew graffiti had started in Europe, but I thought they had more sense. I was also surprised by the smoking, cell phones, 1950's store hours and the marvelous public transportation.
Travel has been a marvelous and eye-opening experience and my only regret is I didn't travel abroad when I was younger.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 01/21/2007
How travel changed me
My first trip abroad started in London and then went to Paris. Everyone gave me "tips" on what to do and not do. The worst of which was "don't talk to strangers in London, they hate it and will look at you oddly." Yet the best discussions I had were with random people I encountered. A great conversation with on older gentleman started when I was looking at the plaque that marked Eisenhower's headquarters. Another started in Hyde Park with a family looking for the restrooms. One asked me how long I had lived in London! I guess I just felt so at ease there it must have shown. In Paris I had my best experiences in the morning, when I was on my own (my travelling companions were not morning people). I talked with the newspaper vendor, the woman who ran the bakery, the kids at the little market where I got yogurt. This continued when I ventured to Amsterdam and to Belgium. Really, the nicest people I have met in my travels have been Europeans
Travel challenged all of my preconcieved notions about people from other countries; of the "cold" British; the "snobby" Parisians, the fast and loose Dutch - all were thrown out the window. It was a gentle reminder that we are individuals first and members of a nation second. It made me rethink many of my prejudices and made me realize many of my hidden prejudices. I think it also made me look at the world in a less nationalistic light.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 01/10/2007
Thanks Rick for My Free Tickets
My first trip to Europe was in 1998 and was actually a business trip for my wife to The Netherlands and Germany. I tagged along and saw some sights while she was working (I did feel a little guilty about that but I have managed to live with it. :) That trip was all it took for us to want to go back to Europe again and again. After that trip I happened to catch one of Rick Steves "Travels in Europe" programs on TV and became such a fan that I think I have seen every program he has made since and some before. I will say that I wish he still had his old "Travels in Europe" theme song and his lead in to each program with "Raise your travel dreams to their upright and locked postions. Join us now as we discover the ins and outs of Travels in Europe". I miss that.
In 2000 we went back as a college graduation present for my daughter. We visited Belgium, France and Switzerland. In 2004 Another business/personal trip to The Netherlands, Germany and Austria with my first experience driving on the Autobahn. I loved it. We will be returning in May 2007 to visit Germany and Italy for 3 weeks.
In March 2004 we saw Rick Steves live speaking for a local PBS station in the Atlanta area. Lufthansa was giving away two round trip tickets to Europe. At the end of Rick's talk there was a drawing to see who had the lucky ticket and I was pleasantly surprised when mine was the winning ticket. What made it more special was that Rick himself was the one who drew the winning ticket for me. I shall always be indebted to Rick Steves for drawing that particular ticket. We used the free tickets in June 2004 and had a great time. From that first trip in 1998 until now we have grown so much in our knowledge of Europe, the people, cultures, geography and the "ins and outs" of European travel. We always plan our own trips and use Rick Steve's TV shows and guide books as our main planning guide. By using his book we have received discounts on purchases as well as rooms.
We have great memories of our travels, meeting people and taking photo's of places we only saw or read about prior to our travels and I must say the experience of actually having traveled to Europe far exceeds that of only reading and looking at pictures in books and magazines.
Learning more about other countries, their people and culture has truly been a positive changing expereince for my wife and I.
Mansfield, GA USA Fri 01/05/2007
Travel has changed me
I must say this is now one of my favorite quotes: "Travel is more than the seeing of sights..it is the change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." Very true to me. I must say that after my month trip to Europe this summer I have a travel bug. I want to do and see more and more. I went half with my best friend backpacking, and half with a student travel company called CONTIKI.I think the best part of the entire experience was seeing everything with 44 amazing people who I met from all over America. I have life long friends and unbelievable memories..the CONTIKI was great because it was so hassle free that all I had to worry about was having the time of my life. I can't imagine not going. check out the website if you want..because this trip made such an impact on me. www.contiki.com
tampa, FL USA Fri 01/05/2007
Using Rick Steves' Consulting Services and Books
After 5 trips to Europe in 7 years with our now almost-adult child, I have to say absolutely yes - every trip makes me want to return and to travel even more, both in Europe and throughout the US. We have used Rick Steves' consulting services in planning 3 of our trips (helping plan our itinerary and getting basic guidance, such as not to even consider driving in Rome (oops, ignored that, big mistake!!), have used his language books to learn how to be polite (saying hello, asking for directions, ordering in restaurants, etc.) in Italian, French, and German, have purchased his maps, and have purchased a new guidebook for the last 4 trips. (We purchased the 2006 guidebook for the UK for our Christmas 2006 trip even though it was our 2nd trip there because it was WELL worth the money on all of our other trips.) We travel frugally - no 5 star hotels (heck, we're lucky if we're in 3 star hotels). We usually reserve places with at least a refrigerator so we can eat at least one meal at "at home." In the US, we often camp. Most of my friends in their 40s-60s have never been to Europe because they think it's expensive. Yes, the airfare is pricey in the summer, but otherwise, it's no more expensive than traveling in the US (and less expensive than NYC). The information we've received from Rick Steves' advisors and books has been invaluable.
San Jose, CA USA Mon 01/01/2007