Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, November 2018 -- Page 52
Taking an educational tour often means you’ll visit a struggling part of the world and engage with the locals, like these schoolchildren in El Salvador. Photos by Rick Steves

Honolulu or Havana? The world is full of travel opportunities that are more than enjoyable; they can be transformational. By getting out of your comfort zone, you realize that different people find different truths to be self-evident and God-given. You gain empathy for the other 96 percent of humanity, and in many ways you can learn a lot about your own country by viewing it from afar.

While many extremely rewarding destinations are not on the typical bucket list, they can be...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, October 2018
Wandering the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall is a highlight in northern England.

I'm so glad borders and walls are out of fashion in Europe. The continent's many proud nations don't always get along, but they have learned to respect each other -- making it possible for peace to flourish.

Historically, though, Europe has a rich past when it comes to wall building. At one point or another, most of Europe's great cities -- Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Vienna and...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, October 2018
A mannequin holding 1940s communication gear sits inside Fortress Furigen, a decommis-sioned bunker near Luzern that provides a peek at Switzerland’s hidden defense system.

Mountainous Switzerland is well-known for its cows, chocolate, and stunning scenery -- but there's more to enjoy. Here are some lesser-known Swiss travel treats.

Experience Swiss military readiness. To protect its prized neutrality in the tumultuous 20th century, Switzerland wired its roads, bridges, and tunnels so they could be destroyed with the push of a button. They tried to make the whole country an impenetrable mountain fortress. Most of these military...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, October 2018
Helsinki grew up around its busy harbor, overlooked by the gleaming white Lutheran Cathedral.

Helsinki -- Europe's youngest and northernmost capital city -- feels like an outpost of Europe. While it lacks the cutesy cobbles of Copenhagen, the aristocratic setting of Stockholm, or the futuristic vibe of Oslo, Helsinki holds its own among Nordic capitals with its creative spirit, zest for architecture and design, and a steamy love of saunas.

Perhaps the best way to understand Helsinki's origins is to take the...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, October 2018
Do your research on the big aggregator sites, but then book directly with a family-run hotel — like this one in Prague — for a glimpse into the local culture.

I used to travel with absolutely no hotel reservations. Europe 30 years ago was relatively ramshackle, things were cheaper and because fewer people could afford to travel for fun, there was much less competition for budget rooms. I could make decisions on the go, show up in a new town and improvise my accommodations. But the tourism boom and rise of the Internet have changed everything. Today, booking hotels in advance is a critical part of trip planning -- and a fun way to...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2018
You can see prime examples of fascist-era architecture in Mussolini’s E.U.R. suburb just south of Rome.

The sweeping impact of fascism in the 20th century can be felt to this day in the many monuments and memorials across Europe that remind us of those horrific years.

You can trace fascism's roots to the turbulent aftermath of World War I, where masses of angry people rose up, and their charismatic leaders manipulated that anger. Both Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Germany turned fringe movements claiming to be...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2018
The abbey structures at Fontenay have remained virtually untouched by the outer world.

The French countryside is littered with medieval monasteries -- stony, quiet and atmospheric. Some are in a state of ruin; others are still home to peaceful monks or sisters going about their religious work. Still others are intact but now open only as museums. A little history can help visitors breathe life into these serenely remote monuments.

Monasteries arose in Europe as refuges from the dark chaos that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire. In many ways,...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2018
A bike ride between Levanto and the sleepy village of Bonassola offers up views of the Italian Riviera’s stunning coastline.

When it comes to basking in the beauty of Italy's Riviera, the Cinque Terre is tops for me. But there's much more to this region on the Mediterranean coast than those famous five villages.

A handful of charming towns lie within an hour of the Cinque Terre, with posh ports set against rugged mountain backdrops that have drawn poets, authors and romantics over the years from Lord Byron to Elizabeth Taylor.

To the north of the Cinque Terre is a trio of beach...

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