Hi from Rick: German, Austrian & Swiss Adventures

Dear Traveler,

Not long ago I led two Rick Steves tour groups across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. I still replay my favorite memories from that trip, with a distinctly German accent. On the Rhine, rambling up the ramparts of a fortified town in the shadow of a once-mighty castle. In a festive Oktoberfest beer tent, opening giant radishes spiral-cut like edible Slinkies and tearing into a massive pretzel as if breaking a wishbone. In Vienna, squinting at the dazzling thousand-year-old crowns of Holy Roman Emperors. And in Füssen, biking along fields fragrant with the sweet smell of fresh-cut hay, and past Mad King Ludwig's fabled castle to a spa where naked Germans display their…expertise at relaxing.

As a traveler, I'm continually impressed by the natural beauty, cultural depth, and pride that abides in each corner of Europe. And the continent's Teutonic heart is certainly no exception. In this month's Tour News we'll take you on an ode-to-joy ride through the region with a slideshow of our Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland tour and a side-by-side comparison of five ways (on five tours) you can explore one or more of these countries with us. In addition, as a follow-up to January's big tour reunion, you'll find a slideshow of my favorite highlights from the weekend and a lively video interview with two of our very chatty Ireland guides.

Finally, if you traveled on a Rick Steves tour in 2018, February 28 is your deadline to enter our annual Tour Scrapbook Contest. Prizes will be awarded to the top four entries — and first prize is the winner's choice of a free Rick Steves tour. Those are far better odds than any lottery I can think of. (Even if you don't enter, browsing through the entries is a fun way to window-shop for your next European adventure.)

When we travel thoughtfully, we don't just see a place, we experience it. Nature, history, and culture (and learning from a great guide) all combine to shape that experience. It's fun, it's eye-opening — and it can give us a deeper understanding of our own place in this world. That's what really stokes my love of travel.

Maximizing those experiences for you is our passion at Rick Steves' Europe. I hope you can join us soon.

Happy travels,

Rick