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...

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...

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...

Leon Hochman's travel room, with a world map, his ITN Travel Awards and souvenirs of his travels.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 549th issue of your monthly worldwide travel magazine, the original travelers’ forum.

I’ve been meaning to share with you the achievement of one of your fellow ITN subscribers, (Samuel) Leon Hochman of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He proudly informed us he had earned his ITN “Been There, Done That! All Sovereign Nations Award,” then sent us a photo of all of his ITN Travel Awards on...

Banana Blossom Salad ready to serve.

There are not many positive aspects of the COVID pandemic. However, being stuck in the house for extended periods has given me time to go through my travel notes and triage what I don’t need. This also gave me the opportunity to rediscover and remember the many wonderful times I had traveling.

For example, I ran across a cookbook I received in February 2009 when my late husband, John, and I took a lesson in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at a cooking school that, unfortunately, is...


Below are some of the questions and issues we should individually consider when thinking of undertaking international group travel while COVID is still in our midst. Bear in mind that this column was written in late October 2021, and COVID realities can change quickly.

Personal health awareness

Are you are fully vaccinated? If so, does this include a booster shot?

Have you had a physical recently? How strong is your immune system? How is your stamina quotient? Do you...

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...

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...