Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2021
My dinner with Franklin: <i>Indimenticabile</i>. Photo by Rick Steves

When I'm not in Europe, I like to recall my favorite meals on the road. I especially love the way Italians enjoy their food.

I’m sitting down for a meal with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants, Enoteca Cangrande in Verona. Eating in a little restaurant like this one, you have contact with the chef. We were here a year ago and chef Giuliano remembers us. Once we’re comfortably seated, he consults with us. As is our tradition, we encourage him to bring us...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2021
Helsinki’s Lutheran Cathedral. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

There’s a definite energy on the streets of Helsinki tonight. My friend Hanne explains, “We call Wednesday our ‘little Friday.’”

People are filling up the city’s main boulevard. There are so many people that I wonder if it’s some kind of demonstration. Then I see their robes and sheets of music and realize that these are choral groups, each represented by a placard. From all corners of the country, some 800 singers converge on the massive...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2021
An elegant pool at the Caracalla Thermal Baths. Photo by Sandra Hundacker.

Relaxing at the spa resort of Baden-Baden in southern Germany’s Black Forest, I see more naked people in two hours than many Americans see in their entire lives.

Ever since the Roman emperor Caracalla bathed in the mineral waters here, Baden-Baden has welcomed those in need of a good soak. In the 19th century, the town was Germany’s ultimate spa resort, and even today, the name Baden-Baden is synonymous with relaxation in a land where the government still pays for its...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, December 2021 -- Page 25
To explore both the country and the barn, think of the cheese course as a tour of France. Photo by Rick Steves

Because I come from a backpacker travel heritage, where a good picnic is the answer to a prayer, it’s taken me decades to recognize the value of a fine meal. Now I can enthusiastically embrace a long, drawn-out dinner splurge as a wonderful investment of both time and money. Nowhere is this truer than in France.

My friend and coauthor Steve Smith and I head to a fine restaurant in Amboise, in the midst of France’s château-rich Loire...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, November 2021
Market Square in Haarlem. Photo by Rick Steves.

I’m hanging out in the living room of my B&B in the Amsterdam suburb of Haarlem with my hosts Hans and Marjet.

Staying in a B&B saves money. As a bonus, I find that B&B hosts are often great students of intercultural human nature and love to share their findings. They give me an intimate glimpse of a culture I couldn’t get from the front desk of a hotel.

This is certainly true of Hans and Marjet, who encourage guests to make themselves thoroughly at home...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, November 2021
As a boy (right), I met an eyewitness (left) to the start of World War I. Photo by Rick Steves.

Here are some thoughts about how and why one of the most rewarding aspects of my travels is connecting with people — old friends and guides who actually lived through the local history and make it real for me.

On one of my earliest trips to Europe when I was just 14 years old, a family friend in a dusty village on the border of Austria and Hungary introduced me to a sage old man. I remember thinking he was a caricature of a classic old Austrian, with a handlebar moustache, a...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, November 2021
Romantic lakeside dining in Varenna. Photo by Cameron Hewitt.

Stretched over two chairs atop the skinny passenger deck of a 10-car ferry as it shuttles across Lago di Como, I look south into the haze of Italy. I’m savoring the best of my favorite country with none of the chaos and intensity that are generally part of the Italian experience. Looking north, into a crisp alpine breeze, I see snowcapped Alps.

I’m just minutes from Switzerland ... but it’s clear I’m in Italy. The ferry workers are Italian, with that annoying...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, November 2021
“Forgive, but never forget.” Photo by Rick Steves.

En route to Dachau’s infamous concentration camp, I sit next to an old German woman on the city bus. I smile at her weakly as if to say, “I don’t hold your people’s genocidal atrocities against you.”

She glances at me and sneers down at my camera. Suddenly, surprising me with her crusty but fluent English, she rips into me. “You tourists come here not to learn but to hate,” she seethes.

Pulling the loose skin down from a long-ago strong...

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