It's been more than a year since I set foot in Europe. (I haven't been able to say that since 1972!) But I'm still connected to my European friends. Every morning during my treadmill workout, I call a different corner of Europe to catch up with tour guides, hoteliers, and other friends. Like us, they're hunkered down, determined to be patient and still standing when we come out of this crisis. As all travelers surely are, we're hopeful for a vaccine and gradual reopening in 2021.
One of the things I miss most about traveling is bumping into our tour groups everywhere I go. Our tour members are always so happy, engaged, and energized by Europe. And the overwhelming sentiment is how much they love their tour guide. Our amazing team includes more than 150 guides — each so smart, energetic, and passionate about Europe. They've taught me so much about Europe. And, like all of us, they've seen their lives turned upside-down this year.
Until we're back on the road with our tour buses, they're staying busy, exercising their creativity and teaching skills, and scraping together some income. That's why we created the Rick Steves' Guides Marketplace — designed to connect our tour members with our guides during these challenging times. On our Guides' Marketplace, you can find links to the blogs of many of your favorite guides — Carlos and Torben in Berlin, Lisa in Italy, Mark in Britain, Tina in Slovenia — and watch video updates from Pål in Norway, Anna in Siena, Stefan in Bulgaria, and more.
The Marketplace also provides creative inspiration for passing these winter months. You can sign up for language classes with Ellen in Holland or Véronique in Paris, cooking classes with Alfredo in Naples or Dafni in Greece, or a virtual tour with Federico in Madrid or Rafael in Portugal. Check out Stacy's art (in Venice) and James' photography (in Scotland). And, for those of you whose circumstances allow you to travel in Europe already, several of our guides are offering trip-planning help and renting accommodations.
While we wait patiently to restart our tour program, this month's Tour News provides some inspiration for travel dreaming, with a focus on Spain's Andalucía region: Take a day-by-day journey through our Best of Andalucía tour, read our interview with Memphis native — and now local sevillano — Robert Wright, explore the history of Córdoba's magnificent Mezquita, and more. I'm also excited to announce that Season 11 of my TV show is now airing on public television stations across the country, taking viewers from the Alps to Egypt. (Check your local listings.)
At Rick Steves' Europe, we're confident that we'll be traveling together again before long. In the meantime, let's stay connected with each other — and with our European guides. Even if we're separated by an ocean, we'll get through this…together.
Happy travels — even if you're staying home for now.