Hi from Rick: My Travel Appetite

Dear Traveler,

I've been on the road in Spain and Portugal the past couple of weeks as I kick off another summer of book research, TV filming, and traveling just for fun. Today I'm in Barcelona, where I'm sprucing up my new city guidebook on this festive and fascinating city. A trip to Barcelona always comes with lots of learning for me, whether it's getting up to speed on Catalunya's independence movement, wondering what's in the water around here that helped spawn artists like Gaudi, Picasso, Miro, and Dali — or savoring the hottest dining and drinking trends.

Food tours are a big thing across Europe right now. For about the cost of a splurge dinner, you get a mobile feast with several stops to sample a variety of local flavors, all thoughtfully explained by a guide. In Barcelona, a food tour showed me how "vermouth bars" are all the rage. I snapped a quick photo to show how a refreshing glass of vermouth can be complemented by a plate of local taste treats. Especially in Spain, whether accompanied by vermouth, sangria, or a glass of full-bodied red, this informal tapas style of eating and drinking makes for great memories and maximum cultural experience.

In this month's Travel News we'll help you celebrate Spain with my article on the Camino de Santiago and our featured video on Basque Guernica. In addition you'll find pickpocket precautions, plus fresh new articles about eating in Italy, riding Europe's subways and buses, and cruising the northern seas.

You can follow my travels over the next few weeks on my blog and Facebook page. See what I'm up to as I film a new TV show in Italy's Cinque Terre, and then hop on a tour that traces my favorite three-week route through Europe, connecting the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France.

The feeling on the streets here is one of confidence and embracing life. And on this trip, as always, Europe delights me daily with its ever-changing blend of old and new. Come on over.

Happy travels,