Hi from Rick: Scotland, Here I Come
This week I've been putting together my personal trip schedule for 2013 — mostly a busy mix of TV production and guidebook research. I'll spend two months around the Mediterranean this spring, followed by two summer months north of the Alps.
For the past few years, apart from all the work, I've been giving myself an annual treat — a seat on one of our tours. Like so many of you, I look forward to browsing through our tour offerings, and signing up for whatever tickles my traveler's fancy. And this year I fancy the Best of Scotland in 10 Days tour.
As I've done before, I signed up for my summer tour using a pseudonym. It's fun. I get to see how our business works from a consumer's point of view. I even get nice letters from myself.
Why Scotland? Was it the breathtaking Highlands views in Skyfall and Downton Abbey? No. Truth is, I signed up because it's a corner of Europe I'm not properly excited about. I've always "liked" Ireland better. But, if I'm honest, that's only because I know Ireland better. I want to know Scotland better so I'll appreciate it better.
Throughout my travel teaching career, I've learned that if I'm not excited about a place, it's probably because I don't know it well enough yet. That was the case for me with France, Portugal, Ireland, Sicily, Croatia — and now I'm primed to add Scotland to the list of places I newly appreciate.
For me, touring is the way to do that. For 25 years I led our tours, but now my guiding staff has evolved to the point where it's obvious to me: I belong on the receiving end of all that expert guiding.
When I settle into one of our tours, I like the contented sigh that sweeps across my traveling soul on about day three: I'm relaxed. We're driving and I'm not paying attention to the road. I may not know exactly what we're doing after lunch, but I'm confident it'll create a life-long memory, a few laughs, and a better understanding of where I am. At the end of the day, there's a good hotel waiting for me. For dinner, along with good local food, I'll be enjoying the company of a gang of new friends who are sharing this experience with me.
I feel I'm already enjoying my summer Rick Steves tour, just by looking forward to it. Be careful: this month's Tour News may have the same effect on you, as you read about the great guides and touring thrills we have to offer in Scotland, Ireland and England. We've even created a chart to help you efficiently schedule a couple of these tours back-to-back. You'll also learn the latest about our new Rick Steves Tours Facebook page, the fast-approaching deadline for our annual online tour scrapbook contest — and a few departures we've just put on sale (while they last).
As they say in Scotland, A hae tae gang. I must be going.