Program 319: European Rail; American Comfort Food; Open Phones: More Travel Reports

Release Date: 03-23-2013

On Air Description

An expert who advises American travelers on how to best use the passenger rail lines in Europe, offers tips for when rail passes are a bargain, and how they work. Jane and Michael Stern discuss trends in hometown "comfort food" restaurants in America, including a few eateries where the local atmosphere made their day. And listeners check in with travel reports on what made their trips extra-special when they visited France, Spain, Poland, and Italy. From taking the night train, to breakfast in America, our adventures take us near and far on the next Travel with Rick Steves.


  • Alan Wissenberg, proprietor of Euraide rail info services at the Munich and Berlin train stations
  • Jane Stern and Michael Stern, authors of "Road Food"

Related Links

  • Information about Alan Wissenberg's EurAide rail info service.
  • The Sterns have an interactive website where you can add in your own road food recommendations at
  • The Sterns' classic guide to more than 700 road food establishments around the USA is called "Road Food," and is in its 7th edition.  
  • Buford Highway is an area of suburban Atlanta known for its proliferation of ethinc restaurants and stores.
  • Information about the Boquería and Saint Catherine's markets in Barcelona.
  • Salone Internazionale del Gusto is the Slow Food Conference held in Turin, Italy every-other October.


  • As a fan of the Sterns since the late 70's, "I'd like your take on what makes for the best authentic American road food. Character behind the counter? Regional specialties? A passion for the quick, cheap, and tasty?" (Syd in Atlanta)
  • Took their two dogs to France last summer. "On previous trips, we'd found the French friendly but reserved. This time, with our two dogs, it showed a very different side of the French, leading to many interesting encounters throughout our first European month with dogs in tow!" (Deb in Jay, New York)
  • Since first visiting Poland four years ago, has returned every year. "I've been four times now and am in love with Poland, and especially Warsaw." (Earl in Dowling Park, Florida)
  • "Our favorite vacation was a week in Barcelona. A friend rented us her apartment in the Bari Gotic for a week. My wife's sister flew in from Canada and my brother came down from Belgium. We really enjoyed walking all over town and eating great food and drinking good coffee. We especially enjoyed a classical guitar concert in a Gothic church." (Patrick in Indiantown, Florida)
  • Reports on attending a biennial slow food conference and exhibition that was opened to the public for the first time in Turino, Italy in October 2012.  (Barbara in Mill Valley, California)

Incidental Music

  • David Fray, with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, "Keyboard Concerto in A major - Allegro (J. S. Bach)," J S Bach Keyboard Concertos / Virgin Classics
  • Campbell Brothers, "Morning Train," None But the Righteous: Masters of Sacred Steel (collection) / Rope A Dope Records
  • Hermann Baumann, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pinchus Zukerman, cond., "Horn concerto, K 495, Rondo-allegro vivace (W. A. Mozart)," The Horn Concertos / Claves Records (Switzerland)
  • Yello, "Night Train," Zebra / 4th & Broadway-Island Records
  • * Pat Metheney Group, "Last Train Home," Still Life (Talking) / Geffen
  • Alison Brown, "Deep Gap," Americana (collection) / Putumayo
  • Laurence Jeffcote and Workhouse Children, "Food Glorious Food," Oliver! 2009 London Cast Recording / First Night Records
  • Fats Waller, "All That Meat and No Potatos," If You Got To Ask, You Ain't Got It / Bluebird-Legacy
  • * Henry Mancini, "'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Theme," Greatest Hits / RCA
  • Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Gavin Sutherland, cond., "Giocoso (Albert Cazabon)," English String Miniatures, 5 / Naxos
  • Guiomar Novaes, "Waltz for piano No. 6 in D flat major ('Dog Waltz'), Op. 64-1, B 164-1 (Chopin)," Chopin Favorites / Vox Allegretto
  • Christopher Parkening, "'Spanish Dance No. 1' from 'La Vida Breve' (Manuel de Falla, trans. Pujol)," The Great Recordings / EMI Classics
  • Ms. Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class, "Mill Valley," Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class / Abrams-Transtone

Dated References

  • In his segment A open, Rick compares using a rail pass to flying on a discount airline "that's so popular in Europe these days."
  • At 8:25, Alan explains how you can spend up to a month on a rail pass, which allows the user to include stops along the route. He adds, at 9:55, that high speed rail lines can get you from Munich to Berlin in less than four and a half hours.
  • At 11:20, Rick asks about the trend with some rail lines to require reservations in addition to using a pass. Alan responds that a rail pass is not useful for up to 25% of travelers.
  • At 13:33, they discuss panoramic trains on scenic routes, and Alan advises getting a rail pass in June or July remains a challenge, due to demand.
  • At 14:30, Alan cautions against buying rail passes from an unauthorized distributor, since it may be a forgery. Rick adds you need to retain the cover for the pass now, too.
  • At 32:33, Rick says he was "just on a road trip from Seattle to Tallahassee" and notes the lack of local restaurants in small towns, particularly, he observes, in the Southeast. He and caller Syd, at 34:30, discuss how Atlanta appears to have preserved few of its older buildings. Syd recommends Buford Highway as a destination for new ethnic restaurants.
  • At 36:04, Michael notes that food trucks have blossomed in Portland, Oregon in recent years. At 36:38, he adds there is a trend toward very spicy food, and cites a type of spicy fried chicken popular in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Rick suggests at 50:34 that Barcelona's Boquería market is getting touristy, and recommends St. Catherine's market as an alternative.

Program Extras

Pgm 318 Railroad Tips extra - Rick and Alan Wissenberg talk about recent changes to make passenger rail service more efficient in Europe, with a new "pass-through" station recently opened in Berlin, and new central train stations planned for Vienna by 2014, and for Stuttgart in another ten years. (runs 2:35)

Pgm 319 Road Food extra - Rick asks Jane and Michael Stern to compare the "time-warp" places they enjoy eating at, with new road food restaurant finds that still have "soul." (runs 2:23)