This series, two years in the making, transports us vividly into Europe's villages and countryside as never before. It's as if you're right there — slurping escargot in Burgundy, wandering through Salvador Dali's home as if he just stepped out and left you the keys, and hopping a zippy water taxi to the desolate side of a Greek isle for the perfect hike, beach, and sunset. We walk with geese in a land where foie gras is almost a religion, commune with Viking ghosts on Denmark's "ship-in-a-bottle" isle, and scamper through Delphi's dramatic ruins at the very spot that Zeus considered the center of the world.
Episode 501: Burgundy: Profoundly French
Episode 502: France's Dordogne
Episode 503: Barcelona and Catalunya
Episode 504: Little Europe: Five Micro-Countries
Episode 505: Switzerland's Great Cities
Episode 506: Vienna and the Danube
Episode 507: The Czech Republic Beyond Prague
Burgundy: Profoundly French (30-minutes) #501
Burgundy is a calm and cultivated corner of France, where fine living is intimately tied to nature and traditions run strong. We'll slow down to enjoy the region's edible, drinkable, scenic, and floatable delights. We'll travel on a canal barge, visit a medieval hospice and a modern monastery, build a barrel, appreciate fine Burgundy wine, slurp escargot, and eat very, very well. If you're looking for quintessential French culture, you'll find it in Burgundy.
France's Dordogne (30-minutes) #502
The Dordogne River Valley — with its dramatic castles, evocative cave paintings, and prized cuisine — is an unforgettable blend of man-made and natural beauty. We'll take an idyllic canoe ride, and then visit a goose farm and savor the foie gras. We'll also wander through a lamp-lit castle, enjoy a country market, and visit the Sistine Chapel of the prehistoric world. Then we head south to Albi, home of Toulouse-Lautrec, and the imposing fortress city of Carcassonne.
Barcelona and Catalunya (30-minutes) #503
The creative spirit of Spain's Catalunya — the land of Picasso, Gaudí, and Salvador Dalí — is on a roll. We'll get caught up in the festivity of Barcelona, enjoying the vibrant street scenes, tasty tapas, and pedestrian-friendly Gothic Quarter. Then we'll take a scenic side trip to mountaintop Montserrat, and finish with an artist's pilgrimage along the Costa Brava to Salvador Dalí country. In seaside Cadaques, we'll visit Dalí's home, and in nearby Figueres, we'll experience his playfully surreal mausoleum/museum.
Little Europe: Five Micro-Countries (30-minutes) #504
Don't blink as we blitz through Europe's tiniest countries: Vatican City, the world's smallest country, comes with the planet's biggest church. The fairytale princedom of Monaco lures visitors with its fancy casino and glamorous views. Italy's last independent hill town of San Marino still looks formidable, as does the castle-guarded principality of Liechtenstein. And tiny Andorra entertains shoppers and hikers alike, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Pyrenees.
Switzerland's Great Cities (30-minutes) #505
In this episode, we’ll focus on the often-overlooked cities of Switzerland—Luzern, Bern, Zurich, and Lausanne, enjoy the country’s urban charms, get some exercise, enjoy eye-opening art, and ponder a few Swiss innovations, all before a backdrop of stunning natural beauty.
Vienna and the Danube (30-minutes) #506
For centuries, Vienna was the crown jewel of the rich and powerful Habsburg Empire. A century after that empire's fall, the Viennese appreciate their imperial legacy as a cultural wellspring — and an excuse to live in style. We'll take in the city's wealth of elegant gardens, great art and fine music. Then we'll explore the city's surroundings, with a trip along the romantic Danube River and a hike through the breathtakingly Baroque Melk Abbey.
The Czech Republic Beyond Prague (30-minutes) #507
Few travelers venture beyond Prague to experience the Czech Republic's many cultural riches and offbeat delights. We'll get started with a whirlwind of Art Nouveau, local pub music, stinky-cheese tasting, river rafting, and peat bathing in places like Olomouc, Moravský Krumlov, Třeboň, and Konopiště. We'll also tour a remarkable memorial to the Holocaust in Terezín, and the charming castle town of Český Krumlov.
Athens and Side Trips (30-minutes) #508
The thriving capital of Greece sprawls out from the foot of its magnificent Acropolis. We'll tour the must-sees of ancient Athens: the Parthenon, Agora, and amazing National Archaeological Museum. We'll take the fast-paced pulse of the modern city, but waste no time getting to Rick’s favorite side-trip destinations: the ruins of the mystical oracle at Delphi and a fast boat to the romantic, traffic-free isle of Hydra.
Greece's Peloponnese (30-minutes) #509
After enjoying Greece's charming old port town of Nafplio, we'll time-trip through the ruins of Olympia, take center stage at the remarkably preserved theater at Epidavros, and explore the ancient capital of Mycenae. Then we'll wander off the beaten path along the rustic, rough-and-tumble Mani Peninsula, relax in the idyllic beach town of Kardamyli, and marvel at Greece's Rock of Gibraltar: the fortress town of Monemvasia.
Copenhagen (30-minutes) #510
As we get to know Copenhagen, we'll discover reminders of its Viking history and see reflections today of its proudly independent ways. We'll stroll down Europe's first great pedestrian boulevard, ogle crown jewels in the palace treasury, and take a bike ride through an inspirational hippie squatter community, finishing at Copenhagen's full-time carnival, Tivoli Gardens.
Denmark Beyond Copenhagen (30-minutes) #511
Using Copenhagen as a springboard, we'll visit the very best of Denmark. Aarhus welcomes us with its ruddy affluence, charming open-air museum, and eerily well-preserved ancient bog man. Roskilde impresses visitors with its royal burial church and the best Viking-ship museum anywhere. And the delightfully quaint isle of Ærø comes with half-timbered cottages, ships in bottles, and cobbled alleyways that remind us of the world of Hans Christian Andersen.
Istanbul (30-minutes) #512
In Istanbul, we'll lose our way in the Grand Bazaar and munch our way through the famously fragrant Spice Market. We'll follow the fall of the ancient capital of Byzantium and the rise of Islam at the city's ancient wall, and wander among the treasures of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapı Palace. To escape the city bustle, we'll cruise the churning waters of the Bosphorus, make friends over backgammon, and try a traditional Turkish bath.
Iran: Tehran and Side Trips (30-minutes) #513
As he's done with previous programs on Israel, Egypt, and Eastern Turkey, Rick takes us beyond Europe to a place that's rich with history...and mystery. In this first of two half-hour shows on Iran, Rick dodges traffic in Tehran, enjoys the tranquility of a nearby village, and encounters both anti-American propaganda and a warm welcome from everyday Iranians.
Iran: Historic Capitals (30-minutes) #514
Iran's rich history goes back millennia, to the days when Persepolis was home to the "king of kings." In this episode, we explore three historic capitals of Iran: Persepolis, with its splendid monuments; Shiraz, with the tombs of Iran's most beloved poets; and Isfahan, with its extraordinary mosques and endearing people.