Archive: Has Travel Changed You?: 2009
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?
How cool it is to share travel with kids?
In 2008 my two kids and I met up with my husband for a three week trip in Europe. It was our first trip to Europe and we loved it. We started in Germany and took our time, not rushing from place to place.
After a week in Germany we took the overnight train (saved a hotel night) from Berlin to Paris. We got a little hotel off the beaten path and spent a wonderful week. Spending the entire week there gave us a chance to relax together and enjoy what we wanted. We didn't have to see the Louvre in two hours and got to go back to see it more than once (free on 1st Sunday) and used our museum pass to see it again. We went about three times that week for short visits each time, but didn't pay but once. Because our kids needed a break from all the hub-bub that is Paris, we even treated them to Disney. I most enjoyed getting to get my kids to appreciate history beyond that of the U.S. My older daughter was 11 at the time and started to complain about visiting so many museums. We talked about how much richer her classes at school will be when her teacher discusses the Napoleanic wars of Europe and she has that memory of seeing Paris and Napolean's tomb in person. How many U.S. kids have that experience?
Our last week we took a low cost flight to Ireland, but skipped Dublin completely and went to the west coast and stayed in Doolin. Believe it or not, this was our favorite part of the trip. Relaxing, beautiful, and great people there.
Now, thanks to the U.S. government, we have the privilege of actually living in Europe and are going to spend our time exploring places we would probably never see had we had to visit Europe as vacationers. We just went on a day trip in the middle of the week to Rothenburg - had a schneeball (had to try it, didn't taste that great), saw the nightwatchmen just walking around out of his costume (recognized him from the show). We are definitely hooked on Europe. And best of all our kids will have this experience to take with them throughout their lives and get to share it with others.
Grafenwoehr, Germany Thu 11/12/2009
First time to Europe with the help of Rick Steves
I went to Santorini (Thira) Sept 15-Sept 25 2009, and it has DEFINITELY changed my life. I'm currently researching information to go back and work so that I can truly delve into life as a local. Anyone with suggestions? please send to email@example.com... Meanwhile, I'm saving up for a trip to return next year with my mother.
Logan, WV USA Sun 10/11/2009
Rome Tour October 2-11
We took a tour to Rome, Italy, October 2-10,2009 and just wanted to say that it was amazing. Stephanie and Francisca (our guides) are very polite, professional and personable all at the same time. Always punctual and the buddies check plus sweepers, made the walking tours great fun for all. We think that Stephanie should travel first class to her office each year because she is first class! You should be very proud ( we know you are)of how your staff takes wonderful care of the people who use your tour company.
Brad & Lynn Wells
Brad & Lynn WElls
Seattle, WA USA Sat 10/10/2009
Like a million piece jigsaw puzzle, the city of Paris invites you in and asks you to discover her boulevards and alleys then, teasingly, congratulates you when you become lost. She is bipolar in a way; a busy and bustling temptress by day and a whispering sweetheart at night. She is, both, light and dark, open then secretive, boisterous and subdued, blunt and then sweetly mysterious. She is like no other---peerless, faultless and more beautiful than all the rest. To know her is to want to return to her embrace over and over again. Though you grow older she remains steadfast and everlasting and always welcomes you with open arms. She is a sanctuary for your curiosity, a warm and cozy chair for your heart and a wondrous gift that never stops giving.
It had been too long but, happily, we are in Paris once more. Walking and weaving along the Rue Cler, we come to one of our favorite restaurants, the Café du Marche. As always, it has the look of an open tin of sardines. Diners are packed so closely together it's not easy to tell who is sitting with whom or vice versa. We are greeted and shown to our table. It is round and about the size of a large pizza and is in a row with two others just like it. Ours, of course, is the one in the middle. There are now six of us occupying the square footage taken up by two back home, but-------"when in Rome"---as it were. To be honest, we would have been disappointed were it not just the way we left it about four years earlier.
We are so close to our fellow diners that it would seem a waste if it turned out we were all wearing deodorant. I and the person next to me could very easily share the same napkin. I suppose we must have looked like a dozen relatives all crowded around a reunion table for eight. We were, however, complete strangers and, to add to the enjoyment of this situation, despite being able to parlez a little, we, and our new neighbors don't speak the same language. Ah, bliss. French is a language of quiet sophistication and unlike English (American style) contains no harsh vowels that cause those of us with sensitive hearing to squirm. And, in this case, ignorance is yet another variety of bliss. Being totally naive of what your pizza table comrades are visiting about is wonderful. Who wants to hear about someone's gall bladder or someone else's "wonderful" opinion of an awful movie? We are "blissfully" ignorant.
In Paris, the sidewalks and the cafes seem to be as closely related to one another as are trees to leaves. One is able, while sitting at a sidewalk café, to combine two of humankind's most agreeable activities-----eating and people watching. Please believe me when I say that the Café du Marche is, to our way of thinking, the pinnacle of each.
Jabba the Hut's wife (okay, perhaps it's his sister) is sitting alone (go figure) off to my left. Try to imagine that chubby Star Wars baddy with lipstick and, well, I think you get the picture. To my right sits a group of four Parisiens (you can tell, because they're all wearing scarves despite the heat), one of whom is completely bald as well as completely thin and when he stands, he is quite tall. I have a strange feeling of déjà vu and then realize he is the living, utterly gaunt and angular restaurant critic character from the film "Ratatouille"! At this point I feel the need to tell you that I am not just you're everyday run of the mill people watcher nor am I just a voyeur. I have been practicing my craft for over 50 years and have taken my pastime to another level-----let me demonstrate. Monsieur Ratatouille walks around the table giving each of his friends what I like to call the "original" French kiss, ie., a pretend peck on each cheek, called, bisou-bisou. He then walks away. This is where my people peeping skill comes into play: He returns after about five minutes and, as I had hoped, sits a great deal closer to Ms. (Mrs.?) Hut than he had before. I smile clandestinely as I lean back to take in this new couple----the living and breathing---Jack and Mrs. Sprat.
We are experienced travelers and yet we always look forward to the unusual and unexpected. We try to avoid, whenever possible, any situation that might become an image and/or a description of one in a travel brochure. We adore our little adventures and try our best to stay away from predictability.
We tend to be a little selfish during our visits to "our" city and would prefer that other Yanks either wait until we've gone home to make their visits, or, as we do, try to speak the lingo!! The following evening we found a lovely Brasserie and looked forward to an evening of French. However, the moment we sat down we quickly came to realize that we might just as well be sitting in a restaurant back home in the Twin Cities!!!! Our ears were accosted by loud "American" English on all sides!! It was a veritable din, a racket, a cacophony and an uproar of hard a's and e's and i's. Of the approximately forty or so Americans in the room only, by my estimation, a small handful were doing what might otherwise be called listening. Mon Dieu!! Sacre Bleu!! If it hadn't been for the menu I suppose we might have gone elsewhere, but, we ordered (in French) and tried to carry on a quiet and intimate conversation like most Europeans do---like, well like the couple sitting at the table next to ours were doing. How is it possible that I can hear every word that Bob from Baltimore, who is about 30 ft. away, is saying to his buddy Pete from Pittsburgh who is two feet away; but, am unable to hear a word from the quiet couple next to us?!? Multiply the noise by----never mind. At some point, even my wife had to resort to English at a question from our waiter and the woman of the "quiet couple at the next table", leaned nearer and asked where we were from. "Minneapolis" my wife answered. The quiet couple gasped then giggled and said in unison, "We're from Duluth"!!!!!!
Upon returning to our hotel I turned on the television and discovered Monday Night Football!!! Help!
Despite this silliness, our love of "our" city is unchanged and we vow to return again and again. Like every other Francophile, we dream of a day when we might magically become French and yet, like the wrong piece of a jig saw puzzle, we can't quite become a part of the whole. We appear to be the proper size and shape, and all the little rounded appendages as well as the little places where those fit seem to be perfect, and yet-----------.
Tomorrow we fly home and once again return to the puzzle into which we do fit------c'est la vie.
Mendota Heights, Mn USA Sat 09/26/2009
Thanks for another successful trip using your books. I just returned from 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland. 3 Years ago I had no idea who this Rick Steves guy was. I was planning a 25 anniversary trip for my wife and myself to Europe beleiving the only option I would have would be a bus tour. I happened to be at the public library one day and decided to wander off to the travel section to see what information they had there.I spotted this blue and gold book. I picked it up and scanned it. I took it home and was amazed with what I had read. That bus trip I was thinking of taking quickly changed into a whole new idea after reading the Rick Steves Europe through the back door, I thought how hard could this be. I then purchased Europe through the back door as well as one for every country I was planning to visit (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy). Everything went great on that trip. Judging by what I saw on my trip, apparently everyone else was using the books as well. The information in the book was very valueable and it was easy to read and understand. I now refuse to travel without a copy in hand. So before I left on this trip , off I went to he book store to buy 3 more ( Great Britan, Ireland and London) I beleive I own 7 of the books. Thanks Rick for opening up my eyes to Europe and what you can do with a little reading and encouragement.
Brampton, Ontari Canada Sat 09/26/2009
My wife and I just finished a 2 week vacation in Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg and Vienna. My last trip was 5 years ago to Rome, Florence and Venice, far too long. I am now resolute to travel at the very least every other year if not yearly. Besides the sheer enjoyment of art, architecture, history, food and music, I think travel as an immersion in another place and culture pulls one away from the familiar, comfortable and mundane to give you a truly fresh lens on the world around you, and more importantly how far that world extends beyond 'you'! I couldn't agree more with other writers who have pointed out how important it is to see how much people have in common when travelling in addition to how we differ.
After rafting on the Vlatva river in Krumlov, an Australian couple noticed our Rick Steves book and commented, "You American sure do love to travel with him!" Other travelers we encountered all agreed on why that is the case. His writing is lucid and informative, providing the perfect access to these places.
Cambridge, MA USA Tue 09/22/2009
To say travel has changed me is a huge understatement! I can only explain it as a passion exploding from me! I love Europe, especially France. I'm learning to speak French, cook French, and have decorated my home in country French. Also, nowadays, if I hear an accent of someone in public, I love to strike up conversations with total strangers to learn where they're from, what they plan to see here in the US, and to make them feel welcome here. I will talk about Europe with anyone who will listen! I, too, discovered travel abroad later in life (late 40's) and now our family of 4 (2 20-something kids) has been to Europe 4 times in 5 years, we're going to France in October and have another trip planned for next summer. I see the whole world through different eyes, including our country. I KNOW travel has made be a more global, understanding, compassionate and vibrant person. I wish everyone could travel. I'm a bit embarrassed when I tell my friends we're going "again", yet it's totally do-able on a budget, thanks to RS's books! I tell everyone that if they go, they, too, will be addicted. My husband and son are history buffs and they add another level of richness to our trips by sharing the details of, say, the D-day landings while we are in Normandie. I love the quaintness, charm, and "different-ness" of Europe and cannot get enough. I will travel as long as I'm able.
Sacramento, CA USA Sat 08/29/2009
students in museums
My wife and I went to Vienna this summer. A fantastic place. At the Kunsthistoriches Museum we saw quite a few groups of Austrian high school students being shown around. Being a teacher I loved seeing that although most students were well behaved, a few were slapping each other on the head with rolled up newspapers, and acting silly, pointing out the nudes and giggling. Here we were in rooms of Titians and Durers and so on, but the kids were still just kids. Kind of reassuring that they were just as goofy as our students.
Columbus, Ohio USA Tue 07/21/2009
9 country adventure
My wife and I were looking more for a traveling adventure than a holiday. We have done the beach scene, California, Hawaii, Mexico, and Australia. We decided to rent a car and drive from Calais in northern France to Greece and back to Calais. When we arrived in Calais and got into in our rental car, I said to my wife, here we go. Our first trip to Europe with no hotels booked, only the open road lay ahead. We stopped and stayed where we pleased. With our car and so many countries and cultures to experience it was an adventure. Little towns, cities, we were not confined to only tourist spots. When we first planed this trip I was a little worried about driving but I would do it all over again. The people and places will be with me forever. Can't wait to do eastern Europe next. All I can say is just DO IT. I can see why Rick Steves is hooked on Europe.
Victoria, B.C. USA Sun 07/05/2009
Visit to Spain
My wife and I just returned from a five day visit to Spain. We only were able to experience Madrid and Santiago de Compostela, but every moment was a memory to be treasured. We stayed two nights in Santiago at Hotel Costa Vella. We talked extensively with the charming and, according to my wife, very handsome, Jose. We could not resist asking him about Rick Steves, assuming that he must have met Rick. He told us that indeed he knows Steve, and he told us of meeting Steve and his interpreter at Costa Vella, when Rick stayed there two nights a couple of years ago (we couldn't quite understand if the interpreter was Steve's wife or not). Jose told us that the interpreter said that Steve was so energetic, that she could barely keep up. "He's inhuman" she had said. We got a major chuckle from that, because we tend to fill our days with a lot of exploration ourselves.
Jose went on to tell us that he really loves the type of travelers that are inspired by Rick Steves, as they tend to be interested in understanding the local culture and don't expect the world to revolve around them.
So I just wanted Steve to know that he is truly appreciated, not just by the many travelers who have chose to travel in the smooth and simple style of coming in the "Back Door", but by the inn keepers as well.
Miamisburg, OH USA Sat 07/04/2009
For me travel is much more than just an annual two week vacation to relax. I could never be content with just a getaway where you lay around on a tropical beach for a week with umbrella drinks. Such a romantic scene would surely be wasted on me.
I discovered travel much later on in life. I never studied abroad nor travelled independently as a student. But when I returned from my first trip to Europe a number of years ago, I knew that life would be different. It was so much more than just a "trip". It was an educational and cultural eye-opening metamorphosis. It made me realize how little I know about the world around me and how much I wanted to know these things. It also made me enjoy and love life that much more. When you are constantly in a day dream of where you want to go next, scenes from movies/pictures/books that have sparked your fancy, nostalgia for places you've been, there just seems to be so much more to look forward to and get you through the day. The interesting thing is, even when I go into the City for a night out with friends or just to have a cup of coffee, I try to see it through the eyes of tourist, I treat every little jaunt like a micro-trip, even though it's close to home. It's made life a lot more interesting and exciting.
San Leandro, CA USA Wed 06/10/2009
After reading about Ricks's recent experience with the choir, I want to share my experience at the Louvre. There was a beautiful lady, white hair tied in a bun, teaching a group of 3 & 4 year old kids about stained glass. Can you imagine what would have happened to me if I had been exposed to such things at that age? It was so special, I could not disrupt it by taking a photo. It stays in my heart.
Dallas, TX USA Tue 06/09/2009
When our plane landed at Fiumicino, I knew life would never be the same. The very air I breathed whispered change, subtle but definite change. I found my mind absorbing everything in its path. The same thought kept repeating; I'm seeing life in real mode. Materialism is in check, love of family and friends takes precedence, work equals pride.
One week on the RS tour felt like three. After our return, my husband was amazed how meals were now a pallet of simple creativity, the house was "relieved" of stuff, and shopping was only for necessities. Time with family and friends increased. And though the "job" was still necessary to survive, the art brushes were dusted off and the notes and outlines for stories were pulled out of the bottom drawer and revived.
What I saw as life in Europe crystallized how I, and many around me, live in America. Though my circle of influence is small, the grassroots of change grows in our apartment, and people see it.
Thanks Rick for leading us into the world's classroom and teaching us the lessons we needed to learn.
San Carlos, CA USA Fri 06/05/2009
8 things travelling the Rick Steve's way has taught me:
1) No matter how far we travel, we are all human, we worry about our children and our parents, we need friends, we have bills to pay, jobs to work, we fall in-love and we have our hearts broken. 2) Every country and culture has something to teach us, even if it's what "not to do." 3) Our access to information and viewpoints is always limited, no matter how "free" our culture is, and only by experiencing another culture can we get a different perspective. (Yes, even in America there is propaganda.) 4) There is no "one right way" to live for everyone. 5) Americans don't value our families, elderly and friends nearly enough. 6) We are so very blessed in this country, home ownership is an accessible dream, anyone (even a high school dropout) can go to college, you can choose your career and change your mind later, we can go to just about any country we want to with little trouble, no one tells us what we can name our children, even if it's offensive or strange, and we have the right to criticize our government and leaders even rudely on TV if we choose to. 7) We don't appreciate the benefits of being an American nearly enough. 8) We work too hard and live too little.
Denver, CO USA Mon 06/01/2009
I grew up very poor and abused. travel was a "dream for dreamers". I couldn't go to all the places that could take me away from it all. I started to believe what those horrible people where telling me. Then I discovered Rick Steves; his PBS shows were like "OZ", could it be possible to travel?? could this be the place that I could hide?? YES!! Rick gave me hope. I was able to escape the horrible life I had. no more abuse. but the mental baggage haunted me. I found that dreaming,reading about and planning to travel has saved me. I am going to Europe this summer for three weeks. a healing for me that no one could understand. Being a dreamer is ok, chasing that dream is better. Thank you Rick Steves you truily are the mighty "OZ".
USA Sat 05/09/2009
A passion for European Travel
Travel has changed me in so many ways. I am the type of person that actually needs to see what I am reading about.Its one thing to pick up and read a Rick Steve's Guidebook but it is another feeling to actually be there in the moment.
The more trips overseas the better. What better way to wake up in Paris take a nice walk and have a leisurely breakfast in a cafe before touring a museum. I try to become a local as much as possible.
Europe is my playground. A fresh Baguette along with some exotic cheeses, yogurt drinks, Fanta Orange Soda, and good wine are my staple meals in Paris.
Even a simple meal in a cafe with the street life going by beats sitting in traffic on the freeway back in America. In fact I forget that I even live in America when I'm in Europe. I live the moment to its fullest.
When I return its back to the computer I go to research my next destination.
So yes travel has changed me for the better.
Saratoga, CA USA Thu 04/16/2009
I think traveling makes one see how small the world really is and for how different we are, we are still the same.
I'm always engrossed by the history of a place whether it's Gettysburg or the Tower of London. But equally engrossing is considering what it would be like to live in the place I'm visiting.
I tell folks I know that if I ever disappear it's because I've started over in Santorini.
San Francisco, CA USA Wed 04/08/2009
Travel not only changed my life, it defines my life.
To say that traveling has changed my life would be quite an understatement. I always had the desire to travel when I was growing up in Ohio, but no one in my family had ever been abroad.
In the mid-90s when I was in my early teenage years, I discovered Rick Steves' television shows on PBS. I watched as often as possible and even borrowed every episode I could find from the local library. As my passion grew, I discussed the possibility of becoming an exchange student with my parents.
In 1997 at the age of 16, I achieved my goal and spent one year in Finland as part of an exchange program. It was the greatest year of my whole life as I not only got to know Finland but also traveled throughout Scandinavia, St. Peterburg, and went on an exchange student bus tour around western Europe. This taste of Europe motivated me more than I could ever imagine.
Back in Ohio, I spent my senior year of high school grinding out hours in a pizza shop to save for a two month backpacking trip around Europe that summer. I would spend the next five summers, and even some Christmas breaks, in Europe all from pizza delivery money and still going to college at the same time. I also studied for a semester in Prague and worked for half of a year in London at the Westminster Abbey bookshop as part of the BUNAC work study program.
Europe would change my life once and for all in 2003 when I met a Romanian girl at a festival in Sighisoara who would become my wife in 2004. At this time, I also started to travel more outside of Europe to places like Egypt, China, Tibet, Uzbekistan, and a two week trek to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
In 2008, I finally accomplished my life's dream of moving to Europe. My wife got a job in Switzerland for one of the big pharmaceuticals companies and we now live in gorgeous Luzern. Still umemployed (and only half-looking), I now spend nearly everyday discovering different parts of Switzerland.
In conclusion, I am 27 years old, have seen 51 countries, have a lovely wife, and live in the perfection that is Switzerland. I owe it all to traveling and quite a bit also to Rick Steves who inspired me from a young age.
Luzern, Switzerland (from Akron, Ohio), USA Fri 03/27/2009
Inspired by Europe
I grew up in a small rural town and I knew there was such a huge world out there left to explore I could not wait to leave my hometown. I got a degree in Travel & Tourism and Hospitality, I'm working on a degree in History & Anthropology and also a degree in Film & Video Communications. I finally, in the Summer of 2008, got the chance to go to Europe for the first time in my life and I could not have been more excited. Now I cannot wait to be back there and explore some more and am trying to figure out how to make this my life and career.
Europe has inspired me in beautiful and varied ways.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 03/27/2009
Rick's books guided my wife and I through five trips. We've never recovered. Beyond the beauty and culture, we discovered what should have been an obvious truth. Stability and love for the family drives the soul. They love their country and human compassion knows all languages. Our wonderful hotel clerk in Paris left his desk, ran out in the middle of the street and stopped a cab for us. If that is Parisian rudeness, then count me in. Thanks Rick, you have truly inspired these journeys.
Frisco, Texas USA Fri 03/06/2009
My experience does not actually fit with the premise of this site, as I had traveled extensively before becoming aware of Rick Steves some years ago. However, I have traveled quite a bit since then, and would divide my total traveling experience into BR and AR (that's Before Rick and After Rick) Travels BR were primarily to see the famous sights; travels AR have been more involved with taking in the local culture and interacting with the people. It has been a much richer and rewarding experience. "It's not the destination, it's the journey" has become my creed. I carry the appropriate Rick Steve's guidebook whenever possible, and when traveling somewhere his books don't cover I still carry the philosophy.
Thanks, Rick, for helping so many people on their way to becoming 'citizens of the world'.
Tulsa, OK USA Sun 02/15/2009
How Travel has changed Me
I had travelled to Europe 4 times before having even heard of Rick Steves. When my wife and I travelled together for the first time in 2001, we relied on Rick's books for the Germany and Austria legs of the trip and they proved o be invaluable. The value I derived from the book was not just in locating things to do and see and the like, but to appreciate Rick's philosophy of traveling like a local. Traveling like a local has changed my outlook on travel in general and has made me understand that the US is not the center of the universe after all. Finally, it has changed my teaching (I teach world history at the HS level). I try to pass on to my students the idea that there is more out there than we might realize at first and that we can truly become citizens of the world through travel.
Beacon, NY USA Sun 01/18/2009
Travel and personal growth
Through travel I have learned a few important lessons for lifethat I may not have learned otherwise: that people are far more alike than they are different, to name just one. These lessons can be applied to many of life's situations. For example, when I read the Graffiti Wall I often read how a simple trip to Italy is capable of effecting people to adjust their lifestyle and personal expectations to gain greater personal satisfaction from their lives. This is what travel has done for me. It has been a process. At first I was a tourist taking photos to document my presence at historic/noteworthy sites, from there I focused on attempting to understand the historic events that took place and the meaning that these events may still have for people today. Now I realize that while I travel I have the opportunity to enjoy life in all of it's elements in a place that allows me to view my life from a fresh perspective. It is the changes that takes place in my thinking during these times that allows me to return to my daily life eager to make changes that will enhance my experience of life. Few events in life have this power. Travel is one and Rick Steves offers a map to some of the places where this process can occur.
USA Wed 01/14/2009
Joy of Travel
Greetings, The Rick Steves guide books gave me the courage to take on European travel... solo style! I didn't have anyone to go with. But I decided life was too short to wait. I considered myself an open minded person and traveling around just confirmed to me that people are the same the world over. We all have the same needs and problems. We just try different ways to solve them. Even relationships are the same. My Mom and myself had a delighful evening enjoying dinner in Paris beside another Mother and daughter. Anyone on the street would have thought that we were old friends. In fact, I loved Paris so much I decided to move my photography business over there. Thank you Rick for spreading the joy of travel.
Destin, FL USA Wed 01/07/2009
How Travel Changes Some
I am not the stereotypical first time traveler or the typical jaded pleasure traveler. My comments about my 2 week May 2008 Rick Steves Tour of Spain and Portugal are focused not so much on sights or food or even culture. Having traveled around the world from Australia to Austria independently on business trips, it was a revelation to be "on a tour" with 25 other people. I enjoyed these folks as much or more than the tour itself but did find myself working hard simply because I was in proximity to these nice people (just as if I were on a business trip). Tours, I feel, are for those who: want companionship; want the security that comes with numbers of other people; want guaranteed transportation and lodging accommodations; want to know about (almost) every museum and church and cork tree; and like to socialize frequently. I think Rick Steves delivers on those things. In fact our guide, Helen Inman, will probably go down in my history book as the personification of a travel guide muse. I have hosted demanding business people for many years which is very hard work. But Helen is "on" and "up" 24/7 - when yours truly would sometimes rather be reading a book and having a drink in a hammock on a beach. So be prepared for an informative, exciting, challenging trip if you take an RS Tour (you may want to adopt your guide just to help you get through it.) But one of the more enjoyable parts of the trip for me was getting to know our fellow travelers and talking to local guides and residents about how they feel about their countries and visitors and lifestyles. Now that you have plowed through all my rhetoric, I will tell you that I only have one regret and that is that I did not thoroughly research the RS web site including Graffiti Wall before I took the trip. It's very well done, insightful and provides realistic assessments of the pluses and minuses of travel with Rick Steves' company. And if you are lucky enough to get Helen Inman as a guide, take a stimulant before you set off on your tour.
Pendleton, SC USA Fri 01/02/2009