Hi from Rick: Your Guide as a Window
I've just wrapped up a trip through Spain and Portugal to update my guidebooks for that wonderful corner of Europe. I especially enjoyed spending time with the local guides we recommend. It occurred to me that a guide should not only be a fine teacher, but also a window into how the locals think and communicate.
For instance, as I was exploring a tiny Algarve village with my guide, I commented that anyone who lives here must know what everyone else is up to. He said, "Yes, when you kick one person in this village, everyone limps." Later, sitting down to a nice plate of sardines and salad, I kept asking questions. Finally, the guide interrupted: "My mamma said when we eat we fight against death. So let's stop talking and eat!" In Portugal, on a popular beach, I heard a local refer to the sun-burned English travelers as "steaks." Did I hear right? "Yes, steaks! We call them 'beefs' too. The English get very burned in the sun."
Opening these little windows into other cultures are some of the delights of travel that you can never really plan for — but they are guaranteed to happen when you travel as an extrovert, and find ways to connect with people along the way. Great local guides — like the ones in my books and on my tours — can help make that happen.
For this month's Travel News, let me be your guide. I'll share my tips on enjoying a cheap day out in London, the best day trips from Amsterdam, eating well and finding good hotels in Europe, readers' rants (and a few raves) about cobblestones, and my video introduction to the wonders of the British Museum.
Like that amazing museum, any trip to Europe is sure to be filled with "wow" moments of art and history. But when you connect with a good guide, you also get to nibble on the little things — the bits that make Europe so endlessly tasty for me.