Hi from Rick: We've Come a Long Way, Baby
|Thanks to better hotel plumbing today, we can laugh about shocking showers from the past.|
Our hotels have always been a memorable part of our tours. Today those memories are sure to be happy ones. Years ago, I couldn't always say that.
When I started our tour company back in the 1970s, I had a desire to broaden the perspectives of our travelers by inflicting "memorable hotels" on them. Our standard stop in Paris was extremely so...
We used a classic one-star hotel that proudly advertised "hot and cold water in every room!" Each of those rooms had a sink, decorated with a plastic cup, tiny bar of soap, and maybe shampoo in an unrippable packet.
If you wanted to do more than splash water on your face, the showers and toilets were tiny detours off the spiral staircase between floors, their plumbing strung together by a single pipe dating from the First World War. The lights came on only when the bathroom door was bolted. The shower was a hand-held nozzle connected to the wall by a frail length of rubber hose. Water spun from its base and sputtered out onto your skin. Never able to count on hot water, I'd start with the "hot" tap on full, scrubbing myself quickly, counting the seconds it took for warm to become room temperature and then worse. Still, this was far better than one of our Venice hotels, which featured a small hole where the hot water tap should be (the manager would hand you the tap to plug in...if you begged).
The rooms in these tall, narrow hotels were sometimes bizarrely-shaped. I remember finishing a tour in Paris with a particularly fun and hearty group. Gary was a favorite traveler from those days when I packed Valium to calm my customers after room assignments. He took me into his room and, as if defeated, admitted that he couldn't handle a room in which nothing was square. Knowing that a good man breaking-down can set off an entire tour group, I found him one with ninety-degree corners.
Since then, we've learned that broadening our perspectives through travel can be accomplished from the springboard of a comfortable hotel. But sometimes I miss those old "back door wonders." Did I ever tell you about the time...
In this month's Tour News, we'll show you what it's like to experience Paris on our tours today, and let you listen to podcast versions of my recent radio show on Paris and my new audio walking tours of the Louvre, Orsay and Versailles. In addition, we'll give you tips on finding good walking shoes, the lowdown on credit card fees, and more. You can also browse our entire lineup of just-released 2007 tours, and uncover some great seats that still remain for 2006.
With broader perspectives — and better plumbing — than ever, we look forward to traveling with you soon.