With Rolf Jung, our groups have a friend on the Rhine...
While we normally feature our lead tour guides here, this month we want to celebrate the local guides who share their towns and villages with us, from Norway to Greece to Portugal. For most tour companies, hiring a local guide is pot luck: it could work well...or it could be a waste of travelers' time. Rick Steves' Europe tours enjoy close, long-term relationships with inspirational teachers and friends throughout Europe who expertly and passionately share their world with our groups. Herr Jung, the retired schoolmaster in the Rhine village of Bacharach, is a good example of our kind of local guide. He's provided magic moments to our groups for ten years. Herr Jung befriended 20 of our groups in 2003...that's about 500 Americans who now count this German as a friend. We flew Herr Jung to Seattle last February for our Tour Alum Reunion (his first time on a plane and his first time in America) and the gentle, soft-spoken retired German teacher was a big hit at the party. We wanted to share a letter we just received from our favorite Rhineland guide, Rolf Jung:
October 7, 2003
Yesterday I had my last walking tour for this year. I have quite enjoyed a collection of all your guides, because all of them became dear friends of mine and I'm looking forward to every group. Although my wife is ill, I will try to be able to do all these tours also next year. I will drop all my German tours, but keep yours. It is heartwarming and even necessary for me, to stay in contact with you and your folks, because I am always in danger to slip down into depression and it is some kind of "nutrition" for me, to be together with your groups.
Thank you another time for having invited me to come to you for your reunion last February. It was an overwhelming experience for me to come over to you, and an everlasting wonderful memory. Thanks, dear Rick! I see so often tears in the eyes of my (and your!) tourists, when I talk about my personal experiences. I quote so often sentences out of your "Postcards from Europe," (page 45/46). Because so many tourists ask me about wartime, I talk about what you wrote in your book about my personal experiences. They are so grateful. And that sentence, "A walk with Herr Jung always makes me feel good about Europe" is a sentence fit to be written at my gravestone. So often peals of laughter of your groups sound through our town, and my fellow citizens of Bacharach ask me, "What are you telling to them?" It's wonderful for me too, to be together with you folks. It is an enormous enrichment for me, to come into contact with you, and so many tourists ask me, how we came into contact to each other. I don't know, anyhow we are since 8 years, maybe. Having so beloved friends like you is like a (I don't find a word in my dictionary, maybe "railing," anyhow some kind of hand-support at the side of a staircase).
Let's stay in true and heartwarming connection as dear friends, hearty greetings to your family, your staff, and all those who shared our Rhine village. You are dear friends of mine.