Hi from Rick: Counting on the Unexpected
|Great guides deliver rich learning, happy groups and rewarding trips.|
When you dream of a future trip, it's the "wheres" and "whats" that make up 90 percent. "I've always wanted to see that work of art," or "I've heard that city is amazing." But the reality is, what you're more likely to treasure from your trip are the "people experiences" that brought the places and things to life. But how can you plan for something like that? Here's where I turn things over to John from Prescott, Arizona, who wrote this after his Best of Bulgaria tour with us last May:
"I don't usually comment on the performance of your guides, most are exceptional, but Lyuba is at the top of the category. For the record, Julie (Italy), Rolinka (Village Europe) and Iris (Turkey) also share this distinction. Lyuba's additional advantage comes from her home being the country of the tour she leads. She possesses all the traits expected of a Rick Steves guide, but she was able to add the intimacy of personal experience of the hardships, fond memories, open/honest (non-judgmental) discussion of issues and — maybe an attribute which should be mandatory — a sense of humor with no pretentiousness. There were numerous times when her extra-special touch made a measurable difference in our experience. It's not so much the tour content (primary criteria for selecting a tour) as the 'true texture and color' she added. Whether the destination, sights, food, events, knowledge, or personal attention — a little something, an unexpected extra was added. Lyuba gets the credit. At the end of the tour, she also invited us to visit her family's Bulgarian apartment-home, a very special treat. She is a natural diamond."
A great guide can reliably turn the places and things along an itinerary into exceptional, unforgettable experiences. And there is no part of Europe where this can make a bigger difference than in the east, where cultural and linguistic hurdles can frustrate even the most adventurous travelers. In this month's Tour News we are featuring a trio of Eastern Europe tours, where our great guides really shine. You'll get to know some of these guides in a selection of radio interviews you can play, and in this month's video feature on Prague.
As you read this, I'm in Italy doing my annual guidebook research and filming new TV shows. After that I'll spend two weeks riding along on one of our Best of Turkey tours (with some very surprised tour members).
It's easy to get updates about what I'm discovering along the way — just "like" me on Facebook. It works.
Let's keep in touch.