Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, July 2011 -- Page 59

by Rick Steves

Tracking down decent public toilets in Europe can be frustrating. I once dropped off a tour group in a town for a potty stop, and when I picked them up 20 minutes later, no one had had any luck. Most European countries are short on public restrooms, but I can teach you how to sniff out a biffy in a jiffy.

If you ask for a “restroom” or “bathroom,” you’ll get no relief. Instead, say “toilet” or “WC” (short for “water closet”). These terms are direct, simple and...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, April 2011 -- Page 64

After graduating from high school, I took my first trip to Europe without my parents or much money. I subsisted entirely on jam, baguettes and Fanta. When I returned home, my doctor declared me “chronically undernourished.” I’ve never had a jam sandwich or Fanta since.

In fact, one of my biggest passions these days is to find great restaurants in Europe. Whether it’s Wiener schnitzel in Vienna, salade Niçoise in Nice or wurst in Würzburg, a country’s high cuisine is as culturally...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, March 2011 -- Page 64

Despite the economic downturn, France and Spain spent millions of euros last year to upgrade their public spaces and technology for visitors.

In Paris, FRANCE, the top floor of the Orsay, containing its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist rooms, is slated to reopen this spring after a yearlong renovation. Until then, many of the displaced masterpieces are being displayed on the museum’s ground floor.

At the Louvre, the pre-Classical Greek section is closed until spring 2012....

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, February 2011 -- Page 66

Some travelers are surprised when I tell them to consider biking in Europe. I explain that it’s not only a cheap way to travel but it gets you close to the ground and close to the people. Whether you rent a bicycle for a day in a bike-friendly city like Copenhagen or decide to pedal across France for a month, you’ll experience a more local side of Europe that many travelers rarely see.

While my schedule usually won’t allow a week-long pedal in the Loire Valley, I’ll often do day...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, January 2011 -- Page 67

My own travel style has evolved over the years. In the past I generally bought one big, fat, wonderful railpass for my entire trip. These days, I cobble together a few cheap flights within Europe, some rail trips and a modest car rental (which I find is becoming a better value than rail).

Renting a car in Europe is generally more expensive and more complicated than in the United States but worth it for the freedom to explore Europe at your own speed.

First decide, though, if...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, December 2010 -- Page 58
Some train ticket machines in Western Europe work only if your credit card has an embedded microchip, but, at this point, essentially no US banks are issuing these “smartcards.” Photo: Steves

If you’re bound for Europe, be warned: your US credit card won’t always work. Thanks to new technological advances, old-fashioned tax evasion and merchants’ disgust with fees, your US credit card is not nearly as welcome as cash.

Much of Europe has started implementing a chip-and-PIN system, using credit cards that are embedded with a microchip and require a Personal Identification Number (PIN code) for transactions. What this means for Americans is that your...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, November 2010 -- Page 58

Many savvy travelers tunnel their way through Europe’s big cities by subway, popping up from below like gophers on a golf course. True, subways are a cheap and efficient way to get around, but by staying at street level on public buses and trams, you get amazing views and the chance to really cozy up to a city. And they still get you where you want to go, for cheap.

One of my favorite experiences in Paris is a ride on bus number 69. Running from the Eiffel Tower to Père...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, October 2010 -- Page 62

When people ask me about the scariest situation I’ve ever been in, I think back to a taxi ride I took to the Moscow airport in the early ’90s. A no-neck guy who looked like a classic Russian mafia thug picked me up in a beat-up old car and drove for an hour down puddle-filled alleys and past derelict apartment buildings. All I could think about were those movie scenes where the good guy is taken down to the riverbank to be shot. Instead, the no-neck pulled up to the airport, shook my hand...

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