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Hi from Rick: When Travel Dreaming Turns to Travel Planning

Dear Traveler,

Once I was in the Italian university town of Padua, having dinner with a local student on a floodlit piazza. I poured some olive oil into a little dish, seasoned it with salt and pepper, ripped a long strip from the rustic bread, and dipped it into the oil. The student, nodding with approval, explained that I was making the scarpette: "the little shoes."

That's what I miss about Europe — not the big sights, but those intimate, insightful, everyday connections with new European friends. This one happened to take place a few days after September 11, and thinking about those scarpette helped inspire me through that challenging time. Now that we're finally nearing the end of another challenging time, I can't wait to make the scarpette once again.

The time to travel is getting closer and closer. Right now, Europe is sorting out exactly when and how vaccinated Americans can return. And after a very quiet year, my office is a hive of activity, too. We're making final preparations to announce our 2022 tour season — hopefully sometime in the next few weeks.

As travel dreaming turns to travel planning, we're expecting our 2022 tours to sell like hotcakes once they're released. Now's the time to sort through your options, choose itineraries and timeframes that appeal to you, and get ready to book.

From old favorites like Italy, France, Britain, Germany, and Spain, to "fringe" destinations like Portugal, Bulgaria, Sicily, Poland, and Turkey — and everything in between — Europe is more tempting than ever before. It really feels like the sky's the limit…as long as we're willing to wait patiently, just a little longer.

What about 2021? For now, we're holding off on deciding whether to run tours later this year — we won't take groups to Europe until we're confident Europe is ready for us. However, if you book a 2022 seat, you'll be able to apply your deposit to any 2021 tour that might open up. (Regardless, we're making deposits for 2022 tours fully refundable through the end of this year.)

We'll let you know when our 2022 dates are available to book. In the meantime…get planning! To help you sort through some options, this month's Tour News focuses on a country that's a perennial favorite of travelers: Italy. Time-travel back to ancient Greece at Sicily's Valley of the Temples, take a day-by-day look at our popular Best of Venice, Florence & Rome tour, check out our interview with Italy guide Karin Kibby, and read a helpful article comparing our various tours in Italy.

While we're not quite at the finish line, it's becoming easier to imagine returning to Europe. It's hard to be confident about anything these days. But one thing I know for sure is that sometime in 2022 — if not sooner — I'll be making the scarpette on some floodlit Italian piazza once again.

Happy travels,



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