A traveler not able to travel is like a singer not allowed to sing. But the day when we are free to put our travel dreams into actual plans is coming soon. I just got my vaccination, and as that needle went into my shoulder, I thought of the tens of millions of shoulders also getting stuck…and an angry virus thinking, "My party days are numbered."
But we're not quite there yet. And as we find ways to be patient, I've noticed lately how music that celebrates a particular country is a great way to virtually travel there.
A couple of weeks ago, 8,000 households joined my musical Monday Night Travel party. It was a lot of fun to drink like Beethoven, feast like Strauss, share the bench with Europe's top pipe organist in Paris' Church of Saint-Sulpice, remember Mozart in Salzburg, and get swept away by flamenco in Spain — all topped off by a rousing performance of "Ode to Joy." I also gave a personal performance on the fine German piano I fell in love with as a teenager, tickling the ivories with a little Scarlatti, Mozart, Chopin, and Debussy to demonstrate how music held hands with the visual arts as it evolved through the ages. By sharing this little cultural lesson, I demonstrated the creative way Rick Steves guides make culture both meaningful and experiential. (If you missed the party, you can watch a recording of the entire Monday Night Travel episode. And for a more extensive symphonic journey, you can watch the original concert by that name that I produced as a public television special.)
I was in great spirits for that event — and it wasn't just the wine. A special part of the evening was enjoying the Romantic music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg fjord-side. Listening to the music of my ancestors' homeland sends me right back to my last visit to Norway: Closing my eyes, I can stand on the deck of the Sognefjord's pint-sized ferry, enjoying the bite of the breeze while the boat navigates between the towering cliffs of the fjord's narrowing and harrowing channels.
In that spirit, this month's Tour News celebrates Europe's most mountainous, scenic, and prosperous corner: Scandinavia. Take a journey through the sights of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway in a slideshow of our Best of Scandinavia tour; read our interview with Norwegian tour guide Pål Johansen; and experience the beauty of the fjords up close and personal in our video clip of the month. You can also find a variety of cultural activities to join in from home with our Guides' Marketplace picks.
While we wait for our bus tour program to start up once again, I find that a spoonful of European culture helps the pandemic blues pass. And here at Rick Steves' Europe, our staff is working as hard as ever to make sure that our website is filled with just the medicine for you and your travel dreams.
Happy virtual travels,