Hi from Rick: Slovenian Taste-Test
|Tour guides Tina Hiti and Cameron Hewitt lead the way, as our TV cameraman and producer try to keep up.|
I love involving our tour guides in the filming of my TV shows. Not only are they articulate, 'walking encyclopedias' of a region's history — they also shed light on the cultural quirks.
A couple of weeks ago, my crew and I were in Slovenia, filming a new show to air in fall, 2010. Tina Hiti, a Slovenian friend who leads many of our tours in this part of Europe, joined us to help out. At a lunch stop in the Julian Alps, we Yanks (actually two Yanks and a Kiwi) automatically began passing our plates around the table to share the local specialties.
Normally laid-back Tina got visibly anxious. Then she confessed that the most stressful thing in her first year leading our tours was being surrounded by Americans who shared their dishes in restaurants.
"The plates would arrive and immediately...it's a tasting festival!" Tina said she wanted to build a shield around her plate with a sign saying, "Keep away. I ordered this dish and it's not to share. That's how we Slovenians eat."
In between tours, just for fun, Tina tried American-style plate-sharing with her own Slovene friends...and they all became similarly uptight about their 'food territory.'
Will you want to travel halfway around the world just to experience this cultural quirk? Of course not. But having a guide who happily goes beyond art and history to get you into the mindsets of local cultures can really carbonate your travel experience. And that's a key ingredient of all our Eastern European tours.
In this month's Tour News we're featuring our five culturally eye-opening Eastern Europe itineraries, from St. Petersburg to Prague to Dresden to Dubrovnik. I've experienced first-hand what a great year this is to visit the eastern edge of Europe, and we have a bunch of articles lined up to help show you why. We'll also give you a first sneak-peek at our 2010 tour program...by telling you what you'll miss if you don't go in 2009! I hope you can join us.
If you're lucky enough to take a tour with Tina, have fun joking about the plate-sharing. But you'd better not touch her lunch.