Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, October 2019 -- Page 43
Travelers can hop on and off Germany’s sleek InterCity Express trains easily with either a Eurail Global Pass or a German Rail Pass. Photo by Rick Steves

Once an economical and easy way to allow travel around Europe, railpasses over the years had become more of a headache-inducing puzzle. But in 2019, Europe’s railpasses underwent some sweeping changes that have made them an affordable option again and much less confusing to shop for, making me nostalgic for their glory days.

As of this year, “Select Passes” — where you could mix and match countries as you liked to suit your itinerary — are gone....

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2019
A walk along Dublin’s O’Connell Street median is filled with history, though the 400-foot spike in the center — called The Spire — is a memorial to nothing.

A walk through the heart of north Dublin recalls Ireland's long fight for independence, and makes a fine introduction to the historical lay of the land.

Start at the O'Connell Bridge, which spans the River Liffey. The river has long divided the wealthy south side of town from the working-class north side. From the bridge, you can see modern Dublin evolving: A forest of cranes marks building sites all over town.

Leading from the...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2019
According to tradition, the colors of these Maltese fishing boats represent a fisherman’s home village. CREDIT: Gretchen Strauch, Rick Steves’ Europe.

Sailing into the stony harbor of the island of Malta, surrounded by ramparts and turrets, you realize that this strategic and much fought-over rock midway between Sicily and Africa has had a long and difficult history. But its parade of foreign rulers (Phoenician, Roman, Greek, Arab, Norman, Sicilian and British -- to name a few) make it a fascinating place to explore today.

The imposing capital city of Valletta is a monument to this hard-...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2019
Travelers can hop on and off Germany’s sleek InterCity Express trains easily with either a Eurail Global Pass or a German Rail Pass.

Once an economical and easy way to travel around Europe, rail passes over the years had become more of a headache-inducing puzzle. But in 2019, Europe's rail passes underwent some sweeping changes that have made them an affordable option again, and much less confusing to shop for -- and made me nostalgic for their glory days.

As of this year, "Select Passes" -- where you could mix and match countries as you like to suit your itinerary -- are gone....

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, September 2019
Lace makers on the Venetian island of Burano are proud of their craft tradition.

Long a city of aristocrats, luxury goods, and trade, Venice has an amazing culture. Its fantasy-world atmosphere of elegant decay is like nowhere else in Europe. But with souvenir hawkers everywhere pushing cheap masks, glassy baubles, and lacy doilies, it can come across as a tacky tourist trap. Look behind those tired clichés, though, and you'll get glimpses of Venice's history.

MASKS

Venice's ubiquitous, ornately decorated...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, September 2019 -- Page 40
The Douro’s hillsides are lined with stepped terraces, built over the centuries, and more modern large, smooth terraces, with vines planted in vertical rows. Photos by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

An endearing slice of Portugal is the Douro River Valley, the winding, terraced region that produces the country’s beloved port wine. This is Portugal’s answer to Germany’s romantic Rhine River Valley. But, unlike the Rhine, the Douro was never a strategic military location, so, rather than castles and stony ramparts, visitors encounter farms and sleepy villages. The only thing fortified here… is the wine.

The Douro region, where port is produced,...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, August 2019
Kutna Hora’s Gothic cathedral was funded by the town’s once-lucrative silver mining and minting industry.

Few cities can match Prague's over-the-top romance, evocative Old World charm ... and tourist crowds. To escape the masses and experience more of the real Czech Republic, take a bus or train ride outside of the city to see a rich medieval town, a sobering concentration camp memorial, or a grand Czech castle.

Kutna Hora, a beautifully preserved and down-to-earth town, is just a one-hour direct train ride from Prague. With a current population of just 20,...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, August 2019
Coimbra University’s King Joao’s Library, in Portugal, has a spectacular ceiling and is one of Europe’s best surviving Baroque libraries.

When touring any city, it's fun to drop in on the local university. But in Europe, universities can be essential sightseeing, as some are home to great architectural, artistic, and cultural treasures.

One of Europe's top university sights is the Book of Kells, tucked away in the library of the venerable Trinity College in Dublin. This famous illuminated manuscript is a 1,200-year-old version of the four gospels, elaborately inked and meticulously...

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