Magic Moments: 2006
Just a few magic moments in a trip can make it a success in your mind for the rest of your life. The moon rising over the Jungfrau...being alone at your own private Stonehenge...feeling Celtic pride well up in your non-Celtic soul after hours of traditional music in an Irish pub...meeting your "Old World" relatives for the first time. Do you have a favorite magic moment from your European experience?
First trip to Italy-2005
On our first trip to Italy in 2005, we stayed with our American daughter, Heidi, Italian son-in-law, Francesco, and our 2 grandsons, ages 2 and 9 months, who live in the Abruzzo region close to the Adriatic Sea. As we headed to Rome on our last night in Italy, we drove through the majestic Gran Sasso mountains (part of the Appenine Mountain range) and the longest tunnels we had ever driven through! We were going to stay with Francesco's brother, Rafael, so we could be close to the airport for our flight back to the U.S. the next morning. That evening, we wanted to be able to see some of the sites in Rome, and needed to catch a train into the city, but didn't know how to get to the train station. Since Rafael was about to go on his evening bike ride, he decided to lead us to the station on his bike. Yes, we followed him in our car, while he manuevered through congested evening traffic for ten or fifteen minutes amidst horn honking and choice words and gestures from other drivers because of our slow speed. We never laughed so hard in our lives as we jigged and jagged through the streets and held on for dear life. We couldn't believe we actually made it to the train station in one piece, along with a tired Rafael. We had two hours to see the Trevi Fountain, eat some wonderful gelato, and see the Colliseum. Then for our train trip back at 7:30 p.m., we were crammed in the train car, standing room only, and at each stop more people would push their way into the car until I thought I was going to become one with a complete stranger. Except for my happy husband, who because he was holding our 9 month old grandson, was given a seat by a kind elderly lady and thought he had it good, until the lady's bosom ended up pressed against my embarrassed husband's face, off and on during the 30 minute ride. We still have a good laugh every time we think about it. We had the best dinner at 9:30 p.m. prepared by Rafael's wonderful wife and daughter, and my husband had his first taste of grappa made from grapes from the family's own vineyard. After numerous toasts and refills, my husband, who does not normally drink any alcohol, found the trip up the stairs to our bedroom to be quite a challenge as he tried to pretend that he was very much in control of his rubber legs. This was our best vacation ever, and yes, we are going back for more fun in April 2007!
CA USA Sun 12/31/2006
Walk around the Eibsee
As a little boy, my husband spent a lot of time at the Eibsee, a small lake at the foot of the Zugspitze outside Garmisch. We make it a point to walk around the lake, 7 kilometers, every summer and every winter. The winter walk is the best--complete stillness, frozen lake, crunching the snow with our boots. We plan to repeat this experience every year for as long as we can walk!
Pacific Grove, CA USA Mon 12/18/2006
Hi, B. That is indeed a beautiful shot of the pyramid! I liked the other photos in your Paris album as well and will be checking out your other Europe albums shortly. Thanks for the great pic. Brought back memories of my trip that ended two weeks ago. Sigh! :-)
North Little Rock, AR USA Sat 12/02/2006
I tried to add this, but it looks like it got dropped. It is a picture I took of this moment.
Burbank, CA USA Tue 11/28/2006
The Louvre at dusk
My wife and I went to Europe this summer, and our first night in Paris we went exploring. We wandered over to the Louvre about an hour or 2 before sunset. We entered from the south east entrance directly off the Pont des Arts bridge.
As soon as we entered the structure we heard this very haunting, solemn cello playing. Taking a left turn end passing the musician and stepping into the square where the pyramid rises out of the ground, we were faced with an image of the sun directly over the top of the pyramid.
The music together with this stunning visual made it a moment I will never forget as long as I live.
Burbank, CA USA Tue 11/28/2006
Two Irish Moments
I was visiting Ireland the week of my 50th birthday. Two wonderful moments among many, I could list dozens. 1. I was at the Monsterboice cemetery. It had just rained. My friend and I were looking at headstones. My friend had me stand by one to take a picture but wouldn't let me read it first. After the picture, I went around to the front and read the inscription. It said, "God Makes No Mistakes" as I turned to comment, I noticed a huge rainbow in the valley below.
2. While I was checking out at a cash register, the cashier looked at my credit card. He said my last name, which is Irish, he said, "You're Irish. Welcome home!" I walked out of the shop grinning from ear to ear. Yes, I really felt like I was home.
USA Sat 11/25/2006
Island of Iona in Scotland
My cousin and I went to Scotland, and while there decided to go to the Island of Iona. We had a long train journey through some of the most beautiful and wild scenery, then sailed to Mull, jumped on a bus which took us to the ferry to Iona. Everything was so beautiful, but when we walked along the trails to the Abbey, we were fortunate enough to be able to take part in a beautiful prayer service which was extremely moving.
Iona is wild and beautiful, but the serenity of the entire island is so wonderful to experience.
Hamilton, NJ USA Sat 11/18/2006
Baden-Baden Baths- Total Immersion Treat!
If you visit Baden-Baden,Germany, which you should do, go to the Baths of Caracalla- you will love it. I went at opening (0800) on a Sunday morning. For 12 Euro, I got 2 hours of the "water treatment", both indoor and outdoor pools. For 25 Euro more, I got a 25-minute massage. What a great way to spend 2 1/2 hours on vacation. I talked with others on holiday, and they assured me that the Roman Baths, just a few steps away, were just as good. I felt relaxed and pampered, just what I wanted in the middle of an 18 day "survey" of Europe.
Cedarpines Park, CA USA Mon 11/06/2006
High Mass at Notre Dame
We happened upon a high Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Paris for the ordination of three deacons late one Sat. afternoon. The organ music and choir were stunning. We returned a week later for another High Mass at noon on Sun. Equally wonderful.
Fair Oaks, CA USA Sun 11/05/2006
Natural Stone Circle Avebury UK
The stone circle in Avebury is not to be missed. It is not fenced off and I just walked in and around the monoliths. The sheep were loose in the area, it was a natural unspoiled look at the way the circles should be. I know someday it will be less accessible like stonehenge. See it soon.
USA Fri 11/03/2006
Driving down a little village road near Stanton and came upon about 30 happy horse riders following a red coat equestrian with 3 puppy hounds following. Fox hunting is now out lawed but they have mock fox hunts still. my memory is vivid but I wish I had it on film.
USA Fri 11/03/2006
I agree, the Arc was so much more impressive than I thought. But, the two best things in Paris are the Museum D'Orsay, and leaving, to Giverny.
duh, FL USA Thu 11/02/2006
Paris in the Fall
I had so many moments in Paris! One that will stand out for me is at the Arch d Triumph! I am an avid photographer and was setting up a shot of the monument when a man stood in front of my lense. I could have been extremely mad yet, I had to "go with the flow" Turns out, the man was from Norway and on business. He and his friend escorted me to the top of the Arch and we very gracious. The one gentleman was so complementary the whole time we walked and climbed. He even kissed me on the top of the Arch while we looked down the Champs de Elysse. The day was overcast, yet my admirer was not. A very sweet memory of Paris!
Long Beach, CA USA Sun 10/29/2006
After reading all the negative comments about the taxi drivers in Prague, we where cautious to say the least. Being very tired we flagged down a taxi and aske how much. The price was right and when we got to our B&B it was still the same. Now here is the magic part, the next morning I realized I could not find my coin purse that contained my credit cards and drivers license. We told our B&B owner and while we were tearing our room apart looking for it, the taxi driver called. He remembered us and had found my coin purse. He returned it that evening!So if you are ever in Prague and in need of a taxi, be sure and call Michal Bahnik Tel. 602-341-588-261 22 17 71. And as an extra magic moment Macela the owner of Carpe Diem B&B offered to lend us money until we found it. Moment like this make travel even more special.
Albany, OR USA Fri 10/27/2006
Magic moment in Florence: Waking up on Sunday morning to the sound of church bells calling the faithful to worship.
MD USA Fri 10/27/2006
copenhagen in june/july
just got back from a summer traveling throughout europe and thanks to a good friend of mine who is from Arhus, Denmark and now lives in Copenhagen, I ended up spending a magical week in copenhagen around the end of june/start of july. its a little off the usual trek across western europe but well worth the trip for the friendly, stylish and beautiful Danes. my time in copenhagen inspired me to start up a just for fun photo project www.touristphotoproject.com to see if i could bring together some fellow travelers that were in copenhagen at that time. if you or anyone you know were in copenhagen towards the end of june and have a picture in front of the little mermaid would love to have you add it to my photos. happy travels.
new york, ny USA Thu 10/19/2006
seeing Rick in Vernazza
In May my husband and I were in the Cinque Terre. I was painting in the harbor in Vernazza and my husband was walking around planning to find one of Rick's recommended restaurants. He did find it and was told that Rick was in town. On his way back to meet me, he actually ran into Rick Steves and they spoke. Later I went over to introduce myself to Rick, chatted a few minutes, and showed Rick my watercolor paintings. I also told him how it was very difficult to "travel light" when you bring art supplies. Rick was very sweet and gracious. It was so odd to actually meet him while he was researching a town.
NY USA Wed 10/11/2006
Europe Magic Moments
Thanks to our trust Rick Steve's book (best of europe 2006) we had a blissful trip all the way around. We pretty much followed it to a tee and we won't stray from it ever again.
*Riding our bikes in the rain in Amsterdam and using our bells more than normal just to be silly.
*Gondola ride from hell; wine spilling all over my pants and trying to hide the mess from the sheister gondalier.
*Cinque Terre Monterosso al Mare. The whole place is amazing.
*A fantastic strip club in rome where the women are actually skilled in burlesque dancing. Near Villa Borghese by the Westin Hotel. A must see.
*Sunset in Tuscany with the smell of lemons in the air and lemoncello in my glass.
LA, CA USA Tue 10/10/2006
my music played
During a recent trip to Venice this summer, I had a wonderful experience. After meeting and becoming friends with the orchestra that plays daily in St. Mark's Square at Caffe' Lavena, they played one of my original music compositions titled, "The Angel in St. Mark's Square." Imagine the thrill of hearing your own music played for everyone to hear for the first time ever in such a wonderful place, by such wonderful people!
New Yo USA Thu 10/05/2006
A magic proposal
On September 21st, at Castle Colmberg in Bavaria, Germany -- just outside of Ansbach -- my sweetie of four years prorposed -- and I accepted! He could not have chosen a more romantic place - this Castle hotel dates from the 11th Century - is well maintained and staffed with gracious folks. The food is traditional and fabulous -- and this was truly a magic moment for us. WOW! A vacation to remember in more ways than one. I told him we have to go back there for an anniversary some year. It's a wonderful place.
Denver, CO USA Sun 10/01/2006
Lost and Found In Rome Airport
This event is not exactly what this site intended, but we felt this was about a truly majic moment. When we flew into the Rome Airport we carried our $990 in train tickets and travel documents in a portfolio rather than risk losing them with our baggage. After visting restrooms, my wife and I reached the van that was to take us to Tuscany only to find our portfolio was not there. We unsuccessfully checked the restrooms and got a woman at the transportation window to translate to the van driver what was our problem. He took us to the customs security for naught and with another trip back to the translator I explained I needed to get a police report to be able to collect on our rail ticket insurance. The driver then took us upstairs to a police substation. The officer on duty was told our story. He went over to a desk and and returned with the portfolio with all of the contents in place! All of this took no longer than 25 minutes. I don't know where the lost was found but was very impressed with the results and generously tipped the driver for his efforts.
Stone Mountain, GA USA Sat 09/30/2006
The Magical Beauty of Prague
My husband and I just returned from our first trip to Prague. As chance would have it, we walked into the Old Town Square on a beautiful September evening. The beauty of the twilight on the indescribably beautiful buildings lining the square literally stopped us in our tracks. Fortunately, it was a portent of things to come, for over the next few days we were continually awed by the beauty of this architecturally diverse city.
Atlantic, IA USA Sat 09/23/2006
Driving in Southern Tuscany
Cruising through the small towns of Southern Tuscany in a rented Mercedes...Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino...the only patrons in a little tratorria on a back street, with superb homemade ravioli...two lane roads, perfect weather, blue skies, green fields, no traffic, no tourists except us...absolutely transcendent.
San Diego, CA USA Sun 09/10/2006
First Orsay visit
My little office is decorated with four Monet copies of copies of copies bought from the trunk of someone's car, two for $35.00. One has purple irises; it's my favorite. On my first visit to the Orsay, I arrived when it opened and headed to the third floor. I went through several smaller rooms before stepping in to the first of the larger exhibit halls. The first painting I saw was of purple irises, the original of the copy of the copy of the copy hanging on my office wall.
Dallas, Texas USA Sat 09/09/2006
listening to a harp playing Scottish storyteller... gazing upon the prehistoric Dun Aonghus ruins surrounded by green fields, cattle, and rock walls, while listening to a young Irish lad sing a plaintive ballad...
Wirtz, VA USA Sat 08/26/2006
sometimes in paris at night the effiel tower will be lit up its really pretty and cool
USA Fri 08/18/2006
A somber moment in Scotland...
A couple years ago we were traveling by car from Cambridge to Stirling, Scotland and found ourselves lost in "who-knows-where" Scotland. We had pulled over to consult the map just outside a tiny town. When we looked up, the entire town, dressed totally in black, was walking behind a horse-drawn hearse down the main road through the town. We sat in silence and respect to the moment - I could not even bring myself to take a picture of it. It was so sweet and old-fashioned and innocent...we'll never forget that scene. Sometimes the best things happen while you are lost.
CO USA Tue 08/08/2006
Irish Hospitality and then some
I was driving on the west coast of Ireland a few years ago and the roads are very windy and narrow. We were somewhat lost due to the road we were on being flooded out and we had to detour. We were in the middle of nowhere when we happened upon a farm with the older farmer outside. So we stopped and asked him for directions to town. ( I think it was Doolin) and in the thickest accent I have ever heard he was telling us where to go. Now, mind you both my parents are from Ireland so I am used to hearing thick accents, but this was one was something. Anyway, he could see we were puzzled so he jestered to us to wait. He got in his car and we followed him to town, which was only a few miles away. We offered to buy him a drink at the pub to show thanks. Of course he took us up on our offer. We closed the place with about 3 full pints in front of us. He told all his friends how he rescued these two American girls from being lost in the Irish country side. We had so much fun talking with all the people in the pub. This was truly an Irish pub, the local place where not a lot of Americans go to. We are from Boston so the assumption was that we know everyone who ever emmigrated from Ireland to Boston. Everyone was asking us if we knew this one or that one. We talked about all kinds of things that night. Well since it was about 11pm and we were drunk, we realized we had never found a place to stay. So the gentleman who showed us the way (Seamus) invited us to stay with him and the wife. We were a little skeptical at first but we took him up on it. Of course we left the car in town and he drove us back to his place. He knew those roads so well that even drunk he found his way. I AM NOT USUALLY SOMEONE WHO WILL DRIVE WITH SOMEONE IN THAT CONDITION. We woke up the next morning to his wife (Fiona) cooking up the best irish breakfast and telling us how glad she was to have us there. He drove us back to town and we thanked him for all of his help. We tried to offer him money but he would not take it. We still hear from Seamus and Fiona via Christmas cards etc. Their hospitality and help was something I had never experienced before or since. True what they say about the irish being friendly.
Boston, MA USA Tue 08/08/2006
Humor as a magic moment?
Sometimes a magic moment can simply just be a tremendously funny one. Back in the mid 70's I was travelling through Spain and France. That particular day, I was travelling from Carcassonne to Sitges outside of Barcelona. Route: via Tour de Carol, up in the Pyrenees. We arrived at Tour de Carol and had to pass through Spanish customs and integration there. FYI - this is not the most used border crossing!
Ther were 6 people to be checked through: 2 Spaniards, 2 American college students with backpacks, and the 2 of us- more Americans, but in mid to late 30's with suitcases. The 2 Spaniards went through in a flash. The 2 college students were subjected to an intense baggage search. The officials found a mysterious bag of white powder; the students tried to explain what it was. Nothing worked, so finally one of the inspectors tasted it. Guess what? It was laundry soap. Much digust from the inspector - gestures, spitting it out, etc. But, they were eventually let through. My friend and I went through about as rapidly as the Spaniards had. Then everyone laughed, including the inspectors.
This was still Franco's Spain, incidentally.
Sometimes the most memorable moments are the funniest ones.
Denver, CO USA Mon 08/07/2006
Fireworks in Paris
We travelled for one month all over Europe...luckily we were able to be in Paris for Bastille Day, we spent the day picnicing in front of the Eiffel Tower and topped the day off with the most amazing fireworks I have ever seen...we sat with hundreds of other people, listening while Mozart was played and the fireworks exploded above the Tower...it was a surreal and magic moment during our trip!!!
Glassboro, NJ USA Tue 08/01/2006
Missed the Magic
While reading "magic moments" in this section of the graffiti wall, I recognized places I had visited and then considered the possibility those magic times had been there for me too, but missed perhaps because I was not looking to find them. So, I stepped outside to look for the moon in the midnight Texas sky and experienced a magic moment - right there at home.
Pearland, Tx USA Mon 07/31/2006
Above Monterosso, Italy
A favorite moment of my recent trip to Europe happened on the hiking trail between the five towns of the Cinque Terre in Italy. After climbing the seemingly endless stairs up from Monterosso, we were enjoying a beautiful shaded section of trail that meandered through the woods when we came upon an elderly Italian man sitting beside the trail with a basket full of lemons and bottles of water. When hikers stopped, he would have them open a bottle of water and take a drink, and then he would cut open a lemon and squeeze the juice of an entire fruit into the bottle. The result was the most refreshing drink my daughter and I could have asked for on a hot July day. And the experience was one of those unexpected delights that keeps me traveling.
St.Louis, MO USA Sun 07/30/2006
Le Marais, Paris
Looking back on 6 trips to Europe, one of my favorite experiences was at a little park we stumbled on in the Marais area in Paris. It was lunch time in May and everyone was enjoying picnics on the grass. My back had been killing me for days and there happened to be a guy giving chair massages. I thought I would feel like a fool, but my back hurt so much I swallowed my pride and shelled out 15 euros for 10 minutes. Just as I sat down a group of students from the music school next door came out and started playing the most beautiful classical music. Between the massage and the music, I had 10 minutes of bliss in the midst of an otherwise hectic trip! My advice - stop and savor these unexpected moments instead of sticking to a strict schedule and budget. You never know when the little things will really "make" your trip.
Bend, OR USA Tue 07/25/2006
Assisi at sunset
I went to Italy with my family a few years ago and was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon and evening in Assisi. What I would have thought to be a reserved (and maybe boring!) village after dark instead was one of the most charming places to just hang out and mingle with very friendly local people! There was an unmistakable feeling of fun and contentment in the air, as the sun went down and the residents (including several nuns) ventured out for an evening "walkabout" around town. I would never have known... if you have the chance to spend a few evening hours here, perhaps with a bottle of wine and a wedge of cheese, do!
San Bernardino, CA USA Mon 07/24/2006
I was at the Roman Forums alone, as my traveling buddies were still asleep and they didn't have much interest in going. As I wandered among the ruins, I noticed a crowd was gathering around a tour guide about to begin. I figured I'd slip in and hear what he had to say. At the end of the tour, I began to slip off and all of a sudden I hear a chorus of voices behind me saying "oh no shes leaving!" and "don't you want to hear about the Coliseum??" It turns out the "random crowd" i had slipped into was a tour group that had been traveling together for weeks! So much for inconspicuous! For the rest of the tour, the women made me feel so welcome, sharing their own travel experiences and asking about mine. They even invited me to join them for their tour of the Catacombs later in the afternoon!
FL USA Thu 07/13/2006
Italian Lessons and Sing Alongs
We were exploring our temporary home-away-from home in tiny Montisi (Tuscany). It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. We stopped for a glass of wine at the bar/grocery/movie theater (yes, it was all in one small building). At first, the place was deserted except for the woman working there. My Italian is slightly beyond beginner thanks to the Pimsleur series, but I had not managed much conversation at that point of the trip. I plunged into the language void and managed to tell the woman where we were from and, when her 9 year old daughter stopped to visit after school, the daughter became our new best friend. She laughed (nicely)at my Italian, laughed more at my friend and gave us spontaneous pronunciation lessons. My friend, Mark, pulled out his phrase book (yes, Rick's) and asked for a reading of the tongue twisters at the back. This attracted three more women and an older man who wanted to join in with the tongue twisters and with teaching me better Italian. When the little girl started singing Volare for us (and our new friends poo-pooed the Sinatra version), I knew we were having one of those moments that will never be forgotten. And I was right!
Kirkland, WA USA Tue 07/11/2006
Paris in the sunshine
I have many great memories from my travels, but one in particular stand out in my mind from my trip to Paris last winter. My good friend and I were visiting the city for the week and had dashed around to many of the sites. Exhausted from the coming and going, we woke up late one morning feeling upset we had slept away a good portion of the day. Not wanting to waste time on breakfast on this unusually warm and sunny january day, we stopped at a small vendor and both got banana and nutella crepes. We went across the street and sat in the sunshine on a curb infront of a magnificent church. Although so simple, there was nothing better than the beautiful architecture and sparkling sunlight, the quiet murruring from nearby conversation, the warm food and my good friend- It's a memory that always lifts my spirits and brings a smile to my face.
Woodstock, VT USA Mon 07/10/2006
Europe as I've always imagined it
It's hard to understand why this is a magic moment if you weren't there, or maybe if you're not me. But in Vienna last visit (April) we were headed back to our hotel late at night. Instead of taking the direct street way (there was construction and scaffolding blocking the sidewalk) we detoured down a side alley. Don't know what the name of this street was but I wish now that I did. Trading my straight and level route for a curvy and hilly path, we rounded a turn and in front of me was an alley of cafes, filled with people, everything looking beautiful under the street lamps. Everyone was animated and chatting, the cobblestone road curved to the left and out of sight, and several old non-touristy restaurants were serving huge, happy crowds. It just felt like a classic Europe moment--timeless, social, and carefree. I told my wife we weren't going right back to the hotel--we were stopping here for a coffee. We'd just had our evening cappucinos somewhere else and really didn't "need" another, but I wanted to savor this moment.
Oakland, CA USA Sun 07/09/2006
My husband I were sitting on our balcony (with a grand view of the entire town of Monterosso & the ocean), listening to the Italian crowds cheer/yell in the pubs below as the world cup games took place---the cherry on top was hearing a street act play Andrea Bocelli's "Con Ti Partiro" in the background. Just one of those "wow, I'm in Italy" moments.
Houston, Texas USA Fri 07/07/2006
Found parking at dusk just outside the castle in Old Town Dubrovnik. As we passed the medival gates and made our way onto the main walkway. Thousands of swallows swooped overhead. Church bells chimed and the dim lights gradually grew a little brighter with each passing moment. I felt transported to another time and place. In three trips to Europe, have not had this feeling before.
Edmonds, WA USA Mon 07/03/2006
More on Dutch Train Conductors
The story below made me think of the kindness of a Dutch train conductor I encountered on my first trip to Europe, many years ago. My friend and I had spent the day in Amsterdam, and were taking a night train to Milano. For some reason, we lost track of time, and didn't leave ourselves enough time to pick up provisions for the trip, as we usually would (a bottle of wine, some cheese and bread, you know - dinner). About an hour into the trip, we asked the conductor if there was a dining car, and he told us that there was not. 10 minutes later he showed up at our compartment with 2 cheese and butter sandwiches, and a couple cans (room temp) of Heinekin. I had many wonderful meals on that trip, and the trips that followed it, but I will always remember that meal with great fondness.
Lexington, KY USA Fri 06/30/2006
Dutch Train Conductors
When I was on the train to Den Hague from Amsterdam, I discovered that the ticket seller had given me the wrong ticket! The train conductor who was checking tickets told me that it was an upgrade to first class rather than the roundtrip ticket I thought I had purchased. The ticket was written in Dutch so I didn't know what was printed on it, I just assumed that the ticket seller had given me the correct ticket. Though the conductor was polite, I'm pretty sure that he thought I was either a scammer or I had bought the ticket from a scammer as he kept asking me where I bought the ticket (from the ticket window at Station Centraal). I was very distressed as I am a grad student on a budget and did not want to pay for another ticket. Well, he said that he would call the station in Amsterdam but by the time we arrived at my stop, he told me that he couldn't contact the lady who sold me my ticket because she was on break and that he could nothing more for me. He said that perhaps I could try the Stationhall in Den Hague and they might be able to do something for me. Well, I was not happy and I marched straight away to the ticket window in the Stationhall. I am standing in line and five minutes later, I am surprised to find the train conductor at my elbow! He said that the ticket station in Amsterdam had called him back and that the lady did give me the wrong ticket. He said that he would wait in line with me and talk to the ticket seller to help me get another ticket. I was simply dumbfounded that this person would go out of his way to look for me and then wait in line with me to get another ticket for me! I asked him, "Um, don't you have to be on the train?" He said that he had a twenty minute break, and that he had hoped he would be able to find me so that he could help me get another ticket. I was just so surprised that this gentleman would make the extra effort to help me out. I think that in the US, most people would not even bother to look for me and just let me figure it out myself. But I was really touched by his helpfulness. Dutch train conductor, wherever you are, I send you good karma!
The Midwest, USA Fri 06/16/2006
The Magic of London Cabbies
My wife and I arrived late in to London from Boston with our two children, ages 5 and 7. We needed to get a quick dinner (it was about 10:00pm locally) and turned to Rick's book and found Pizza Express. We stayed at the London Marriott County Hall (which we loved) and hailed a cab to bring us to Trafalgar Square and Pizza Express. The London cabbie was unsure of the location (a rarity), but dropped us off within a couple of blocks of the restaurant. He was truly bothered by not being able to find the restaurant so much, he looped back around the block and got out of his cab and gave us exact walking directions because he had just driven by it. My wife, kids and I were left with a great memory of how much small things matter and how much different London cabbies are from New York!
Boston, MA USA Sun 06/11/2006
On the tail end of an EXHAUSTING two-week tour with about 32 students, our wonderful guide took us to his own hometown (Caito?) on the beach. Apparently there, one can hang out in a beachside taverna's chairs all day long. Heaven - blue sky, beautiful water, the freshest calamari EVER, and a day for my poor tired students to rest and play in the water like little dolphins. When I think of Greece now, I think of that beach and that day.
Houston, TX USA Sat 06/10/2006
Italy is a big country!
The beautiful thing about Italy is that there are many beautiful areas not in his books that you are free to explore on your own. Rick Steves himself encourages travelers to branch out and find their own back doors after learning the basics from his travel books and tours. You may find it overcrowded and filled with RS book-toting travelers but don't begrudge others the opportunity to see the beautiful Cinque Terre region - instead use it as a starting point to find your own special places. That's what we do anyway! Happy travels...
CO USA Thu 06/08/2006
Reply to Mr. Perry
In reply to Mr. Perry, I was told of Cinque Terre by a friend whose family is from Italy. I never implied that I was the only one allowed in this region, nor did I state that other Americans should not go there. What I said is that it is a shame that this beautiful area is now overcrowded. Please don't pick fights. That is not what the "Graffiti Wall" is for. Thank you.
Plymouth, MI USA Wed 06/07/2006
I'd like to ask Rachel in Plymouth, MI how she hears about Cinque Terra? Did she discover it in Rick Steves' guides? Is she the only one allowed to relish the region? Are other Americans allowed to spend their money in the area?
Louisville, KY USA Wed 06/07/2006
Unfortunately, what should have been a "magical time" in Cinque Terre, Italy was ruined by it being overcrowded. This beautiful area is overrun by people all carrying the Rick Steves book. Shame on you Mr. Steves for shining a spotlight on this area. And believe me the local people of the towns feel the same! They wish that Rick Steves had never come to visit. Their quiet little hideaway is no longer quiet!
Plymouth, MI USA Wed 06/07/2006
My mother was spontaneously asked by a man to photograph a surprise marriage proposal, complete with velvet boxed ring and bended knee on the steps of the Trevi Fountain in Rome. My mother and the future bride both said "YES". Afterward, applause rang out around the fountain.
Overijse BE, BE Mon 06/05/2006
Art in Dubrovnic
While trying to avoid the throngs of overfed American tourists in Dubrovnic, I stumbled into many art galleries and one was holding an exhibition: "Women War Photographers" It was both beautiful & sobering. The fee is 4 euros. It will be up until July 30, 2006. The address is Antuninska 6 (old town) Dubrovnik. If you are facing Ivan's tower, it is midway and on the left. The cafe just up the steps is a friendly local coffee bar, too!
Englewood, CO USA Wed 05/31/2006
France wins the world cup!
I'll never forget that special July evening in Biarritz, France, in the summer of 2003! France won the world cup and the whole town went crazy-- we Americans were embraced by our French brothers and sisters (and vice versa!). It was a gorgeous evening out on the Grande Plage. Many many rounds of cocktails were served that evening...
Atlanta, GA USA Fri 05/26/2006
Great music in St. Mark's Square in Venice
We just spent a week in Venice. Make sure to go to Cafe Laverna in St. Mark's Square to hear the orchestra with the female violinist, Daniella. The orchestras alternate and play all day and until midnight, but this group far surpassed the other groups. We were so impressed with the one group!They were all from Romania and only one could speak English. But they would go out of their way to look through their music books to find a song if you wanted to hear it. The other groups played but didn't go out of their way like they did. Do yourself a favor. Sit down at a table, pay the E 4.5 cover for the music, have a drink and enjoy this group. The week we were there they played every afternoon and every night from 9 to 12. There is nothing better than having front row seats to a fantastic concert, sitting with the person you love, drinking wine, and being under the stars in St. Mark's Square
NY USA Tue 05/16/2006
Le Mont St. Michel at night
During the day, the personification of a tourist trap... although an impressive one, none-the-less. At night, most of the crowds are gone. The rock transforms into a serene, beautfully lit beacon of spirituality. Had I not been tired from exploring Normandy during the day, I could have spent all night slowly strolling the ramparts.
Broomall, PA USA Sun 05/07/2006
Not wanting the group to interrupt mass at a Catholic church in Heiligenblut, Austria, our tour guide asked us not to enter the church. Later, when church was over, a group of the locals in their traditional dress gathered at a cafe. A group of us on the tour asked them if we could take their picture. They responded yes and then asked if we would like to hear a song. They proceeded to sing for us in German. Their voices were so beautiful, several of the ladies on the tour cried. My most magic moment in three trips to Europe.
USA Thu 04/27/2006
When in Prague
It was a WOW moment I'll take to my grave. After an incredible night of fun and debauchery in Prague's lesser quarter I began an early morning walk back to my rented flat in the old quarter. Part of the route included crossing the Vltava river on the Charles Bridge. It was late, or early depending on how you look at it, and the bridge was deserted. In the quiet of the early morning I walked and listened to the river below, felt the cobblestones under my feet, the moonlight guiding me homeward. I hesitated at the bridge's mid-point, looked up at the stone saints, and thought about all the generations that had taken the same route over the ages. I looked up the hill to the castle, still lit up like a wedding cake, and felt truely blessed to be on that bridge, at that moment, in the moment.
AZ USA Thu 04/20/2006
Oh so many!
My Husband and I had so many over our trips to Europe:
The first time I stepped out of the terminal in Venice. It was approaching twilight and the sky was silver and lavender and a light mist began as we began our trip down the canal. Just incredible a Disneyland for adults.
Another time at Carnival when we dressed in costumes and while I was posing on one of the little bridges and heard some people saying Isn't she beautiful - just like I belonged there in olden times.
Flying into Shannon and seeing all of that green. And like my uncle before me telling my husband I feel like I've finally come home.
The drive along the Amalfi coast
The sight of the temples at Agrigento all lit up at night, from our hotel window
Walking through the Santa Croce district In Sevilla and hearing gypsy singing
Walking into the Mesquita in Cordoba and seeing all those rows of pillars. Simply gorgeous.
Tucson, AZ USA Sat 04/15/2006
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
This week I was moved to tears as I stood at Place de la Bastille and watched thousands upon thousands of young people marching and chanting in support of their beliefs. I think it is difficult for Americans to relate to what is going on in France right now as our labor laws do not give us the protections that the French have. I found it wonderful to see young people standing up for their beliefs and making the effort to make a difference. This was my magic moment. Ironically, people here at home are asking me about the "riots" in France.
FL USA Sat 04/08/2006
As I walked up to the door of The Curia in the Forum, a young women tourist started singing opera into the buliding. She had a beautiful voice and it gently echoed into the building. All the tuorists were silent and there wasn't a dry eye when she was finished.
Dublin, Ohio USA Thu 04/06/2006
Of all of my traveling, Venice is by far the most enchanting, shivers-up-your-spine beautiful city, especially by night.
IN USA Wed 04/05/2006
St. John's Day in Spain
The coolest thing I did in Spain was jump over a fire. On St. John's Day, villages make huge bonfires and jump over them that night. It was the most wonderful fun.
IN USA Wed 04/05/2006
MARCH 24,2006, STANDING INSIDE THE "INNER CHAMBER" AND THINKING ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND THE CIVILIZATION THAT BUILT THIS MONUMENT. NEED I SAY MORE.
TUCSON, AZ USA Tue 04/04/2006
When we took our daughter on her first European trip we were lucky to be in Salzburg Austria for the opening of Festival. She had just begun to take violin lessons. As we walked around Old Town after dinner, we heard music. The national symphony orchestra from Checkosovokia was givng a free concert. We were able to sit on the side of a hill just above the center of town and listen to lovely music. It was the best moment ever. She was 11 at the time and is 27 now and she still talks about it.
Charlotte, NC USA Sat 04/01/2006
A glass of Rochefort 11. A plate of mussels. Aah.. Need I say more?
Morehead, KY USA Sat 04/01/2006
Great music in Tuscany, intimate flair
When in Florence or Siena (Italy, Tuscany)
Enjoy great music that makes you feel really there. When in Florence or Siena, don't miss the concerts of Franz and his soprano and tenor friends. Franz Moser, concert pianist of Vienna, Austria, has started a beautiful initiative. During the months of April - November he invites to Italian Music, (great arias of famous musicians like Puccini and Verdi and Piano exploits by Chopin and ...). His wife Ilse has delicious cakes and drinks to help you through the interval. And you will enjoy the setting: In Florence it's St. Mark's English Church, a 15th century vault once owned by famous prince Macchiavelli right in the centre of town. As it is now a church, the place can only be visited for the concerts. What we liked is the intimate atmosphere. Great artists love what they do for you and welcome you and some two or three dozens visitors, (the place not holding more) to the great heritage of Italian music thus trally getting you in tune with where you are. Don't miss!
? > > Information: www.concertoclassico.info and contact:
Rheinau, BW Germany Sun 03/26/2006
Opera in Taormina, Sicily
My daughter noticed posters for Madame Butterfly coinciding with our stay, and suggested getting tickets to experience the ampitheater instead of just walking around it by day. Beginning with getting swept up in the crowd (no lines in Sicily!), all really dressed up, and then the orchestra trying to come through, also, and women in high heels eating gelato....finding our straw- covered seats, the full summer moon overhead and the lights on the water behind the stage set- Japanese! With everyone speaking Italian. And- the impeccibly dressed elderly gentleman who leaned forward at the beginning of the opera and never moved once for the next three- and- a -half hours, mouthing the words. And- the man in front of us, using the light of his cell phone to illuminate the script he had with him! The passionate enjoyment of the crowd will stay with me always- it was truly magical!
USA Sat 03/11/2006
Image Theater in Prague
After seeing Rick's show on Prague, featuring the Image Theater performance, I wanted to see a performance. They were playing "Black Box" when I was there on 22nd February, not "Fiction" as was shown in Rick's Prague show. They do have about four other shows on a rotating basis. I managed to sit about twenty rows from the stage, in order to experience the visual effects of the black light and fluorescent costumes and props. Although there is a bar in the Image Theater, I did manage to get a good meal at my hotel before coming to the theater.
The show started with the main actor dressed as a policeman, pantomiming to a prerecorded voice in Czech, English and German, not to use video cameras or other photography, and even not to use cellphones using nonverbal gestures which made every one laugh.
I prefer not to give away the plot of "Black Box", other than it alternates between a regular pantomime play, and a blacklight dance with interesting fluorescent colors.
It is possible to reserve a ticket online and pick it up the day before the performance instead of having to wait in line to buy the ticket. Only cash in Czech Crowns are accepted. At the time I went, it was 400 CK.
You will really enjoy the Image Theater, whichever show is playing.
Frisco, TX USA Sun 03/05/2006
A few more:
Watching the dogs watch the cats watch the fishermen watch the fish on the Coast of Sorrento Italy.
Snowball fight with family in the empty snowfilled streets of Fussen after dinner one week before Christmas.
October bikeride with family down the Mosel River (Cochem to Bellstein)-- riding through the Autumn colored vineyards then stopping for ice cream on the way back.
Overijse, Overijse BE Mon 02/27/2006
Sleigh Ride in Bavaria
The week before Christmas, we visited Bavaria, S. Germany. Wanting desperately to take an authentic sleigh ride in the snow, we arranged for one with a local family. It was a magical event -- silent and pristine snow on the fields and lanes, two famous castles in the hills around us. We heard only the clopping of the horses and the sounds of ourselves gasping at the view.
Overijse, Overijse BE Mon 02/27/2006
Rainbows over Bay of Naples
We arrived in Sorrento a late February afternoon after leaving a cold and snowy Belgian landscape. Just outside of town, it began to rain a bit. Suddenly, we looked out and saw not one but TWO beautiful fully developed rainbows, side by side, diving in to the Bay of Naples. We pulled over the car (no small feat here) and stepped out to a warm early Spring afternoon. It was like healing to the soul not to mention a great photo op.
Overijse, Overijse BE Mon 02/27/2006
Traveling with a local (dog)
While visiting Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast of Italy for a week, our family ( w/ two kids) noticed many "stray" dogs hanging around the city and train stations. Most of them were a bit haggard but had collars and seemed at home there, dodging cars like the rest of us. One day, a cute doggie followed us down the street, to the station, under the tracks and then ONTO the train. He then lied down on the train and proceeded to enjoy a belly rub from my daughter. Suddenly, the train doors shut. The doggie gets up with a worried look and walks to the nearest door. Finding them shut, he paces around with a look of "I'm not supposed to be on this train". At the next stop, he promptly gets off (as if he had planned it). We were a little worried about him all day. Would he find his way "HOME" ? At the end of the day, we returned to Sorrento. Upon exiting the train station, there was the doggie, panhandling for belly rubs from other locals and tourists. We still wonder if he walked back or caught the next train back. My kids loved having a doggie ride the train with them. It was an amusing highlight.
Overijse, Overijse BE Mon 02/27/2006
Kindness of a Stranger
On a budget flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen I was sitting next to the window and the stewardess was selling food. I was quite hungry so I ordered a sandwich which she handed over to me and I gave her a 50 Euro bill to pay for it. She said she couldn't make change and handed back the bill so I handed back the sandwich. A moment later a hand reaches over to me with half a sandwhich in a container. The gentleman in the aisle seat had observed my dilemma and so he gave me half of what he had purchased! I was so grateful and amazed at the spontaneous act of kindness. This led to some nice conversation in the plane and later at the airport as he helped me negotiate Copenhagen's airport and transportation links. I don't remember his name, but I will never forget him and his gesture from the heart. These are the moments that make travel magical for me.
Bellingham, WA USA Wed 02/22/2006
Live concert in Siena
I have found a treat in Siena. Live concerts of classical music by Franz Moser of www.concertoclassico.com. the performance of instruments and vocals is delightful.
Hawi, Hawaii USA Wed 02/22/2006
A few years ago, my brother and I were traveling with our Swedish friends through Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium. In Luxembourg City, we visited the American military cemetery where our uncle, who was killed shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, was buried, to place flowers on his grave. The cemetery's caretaker was wonderfully kind, guiding us personally to the grave site. All of the graves are marked with pure white crosses, with names and dates carved into the stone. The guide brought a bucket of wet sand with him, which we were curious about, until he took a handful of sand and spread it across the carving on the cross, carefully removing the excess, to outline our uncle's name on the cross so we would be able to see it in our pictures. He went on to explain that the sand was from Omaha Beach. Although our uncle had been killed long before either of us were born, we were still very moved. While we toured the rest of the cemetery, this wonderful guide conducted research through his history archives and was able to give us details about our uncle's death, which had been only generally communicated to my dad and his siblings by the army. I'll never forget that day.
San Francisco, CA USA Mon 02/20/2006
The Silent Snow Of Munich
One night last November, I got off the Munich U-Bahn right next to St. Paul's Cathedral. As I rode the escalator up to the street, snow was spiraling down out of the dark sky and gently covering St. Paul's in a fine, white glaze. This calming image was made even more dramatic by the large floodlights which had been set up to illuminate St. Paul's massive facade. Standing there in the cold Munich night and watching an endless cascade of snow drift down around an old gothic cathedral was truly zen-like.
CA USA Wed 02/15/2006
Walking down the tree lined path, which opens up to Warwick Castle. We added it to our itinerary the day before we left for London. It was beautiful and romantic.
Duncan, OK USA Fri 02/10/2006
A beautiful place
While we were in Austria, we came upon a small town called Halstatt. After parking the car, we looked toward the lake and realized we could see the entire town and mountains behind it. The bed and breakfast Inn was Pension Tauchergasthof Hallbeg, where the inn keepers gave us a history lesson from WW 2. We stayed for 2 nights, saw everything, just relaxed while watching the water. What a great find!
Wellington, fl USA Thu 01/26/2006
When in Michelstown, Cork
When in Cork, I was at a pub in Michelstown. I was with my Irish friends but the only "yank" there. Some (very old) man came up and asked me for my name. I said, "Nora" He said, "Where are you from Nora?" I said, "Phoenix, Arizona" Then he took my hand and started singing this old popular love song titled "Nora" I was so embarrassed I was turing about 50 shades of red. I knew it was a compliment but I was dying!!! Later on another man came up and asked me a question (mind you they have a VERY thick brogue there in Cork!!) I kept saying, "Pardon?" because I couldn't understand him! After about 5 attempts of this poor man trying to talk to me and me not understanding a word he was saying, I did manage to hear his final words to me as he walked off..."Bloody hell, woman!"
Surprise, AZ USA Tue 01/24/2006
I love Tuscany
I was in a small Tuscan town (Arezzo?) chatting with some other American tourists outside a small cafe when it started to pour. Most people either had umbrellas and left, or went inside. Finally, I realized there was an older Italian couple stuck under a table which had an umbrella overhead -- but they didn't have an umbrella of their own. So I went over with my umbrella and took each of them into the cafe. When I went to get my next cappucinno, the man who made it had put a smiley face on it!
Boston, MA USA Thu 01/19/2006
About two years ago, I traveled alone to France at the age of fiteen to stay with a family that spoke no English and lived in Biarritz. Their eldest son was a boy scout (pronounced "scoot") and it was the end of the school year, so there was an outdoor celebration dinner out in the country near Espelette, in a grassy clearing. It had just rained, so everything was dripping and fresh, and the sunset was gorgeous. But even more striking than the country around me was the fact that I understood every single word of French I heard that night. I fell hoplessly in love with France.
San Francisco, CA USA Sun 01/15/2006