The time to return to Europe is getting closer and closer. And, while I'm determined to stay patient for now, I can't wait to re-launch Rick Steves' Europe tours and get us all back to what we love: packing maximum experience into every mile, minute, and dollar.
One experience just about everyone craves is discovering new taste treats on the road. Travelers who discover new dishes abroad come home with a broader palate — like a painter with more colors — and their lives are enriched. I love to eat — thanks largely to the amazing cuisine lessons our tour guides have shared with me over the years. I gobble up those insights, and I'm so impressed by how beautifully our guides share them with our tour members.
Since last fall, I've been hosting a weekly virtual travel party called Monday Night Travel — and sharing favorite taste treats has become a big part of the fun. As thousands of stuck-at-home travelers gather (via Zoom) in my living room, we've explored a wide range of edible souvenirs: dipping pita bread in tzatziki and baba ganoush, attacking a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with a potato peeler for an explosive complement to tomatoes and olive oil, savoring spicy Vienna sausages that are a tasty reminder of the diversity of the former Habsburg Empire, dunking biscotti into vin santo (Italian fortified dessert wine), and creating a stunning array of open-faced sandwiches pegged with tiny Danish flags. (My favorites are the ones with sweet, brown Nordic goat cheese.) If you're dying for a taste of Europe but haven't joined us yet, don't worry: We'll be continuing Monday Night Travel every week through (at least) this summer; April 19 is Europe's Best Markets. It's free and fun — don't miss the party!
As we look ahead to touring Europe non-virtually, I've been thinking through the highlights of all 47 of our itineraries. I'm impressed by how each one is studded with these kinds of culinary epiphanies. And if you're looking to experience one of my favorite food cultures in Europe, our Basque Country tour is a winner. This proud region, on the border between Spain and France, is famous for having the best tapas in Spain. You can experience more of this vibrant "nation without a state" in this month's Tour News: Hit the beach in San Sebastián, explore the region from Bayonne to Bilbao with a slideshow of our Basque Country of Spain & France tour, and get an insider's look at Basque life with one of our talented tour guides. You can also browse our Guides' Marketplace for virtual Basque experiences to enjoy.
On a recent Saturday morning, I got my second vaccine shot (along with a record 4 million Americans). As a society, we're finally on track to control this pandemic. And soon, when we're free to travel safely again, you can trust that all 100 of us here at Rick Steves' Europe are ready and eager to help you enjoy the trip of a lifetime.