Hi from Rick: I Work For Tips
In a Madrid bar this past spring, guide Federico Garcia Barroso shares his tapas tips.
The other day I saw a street musician with a sign that said, "I work for tips." You could say that about me, too. I work — relentlessly — to get travel tips to share with my readers. That's the focus of this month's Travel News, with articles, a video, and travelers' helpline comments to help get your next trip off to a smarter start.
Each travel season I get to hang out with European guides who lead our bus tours. Many of my favorite, most practical travel tips have come from just soaking up their local expertise.
Earlier this year, I learned that the long lines for crème torts at the most famous bakeries in Portugal are not because of some secret recipe. It's because a line tells locals that the turn-over at that bakery is fast, ensuring that their torts will be hot out of the oven.
In Spain, when you order your first drink at a bar, don't order food yet. This way the barista will automatically include a first, free tapa. Enjoy that delicious little plate of calamari or shrimp (or maybe even a fried pigeon egg) with your drink. Then order more food.
In Venice, a tip from a guide led me to a new historical insight. Centuries ago, every big shot with a palace needed a little den of iniquity in the center of Venice — a little house — literally a casino. The term originated here (though gambling was probably the tamest activity going on in these places). Husbands and wives generally each had their own. Men entertained for business networking. Women hosted free spirits, such as entertainers, writers and artists. While there were about a hundred casinos in Venice in the 18th century, only one survives. Thanks to my guide, I found it.
I'm heading back to Europe, and I've already got local friends lined up along the way to help me work for tips. I can't wait to learn new ways to get more out of every day in Europe, try them out myself, and share them with you. Stay tuned to my blog or "like me" on Facebook for the latest.