Columns

Colmar, a French town with German flair. Photo by Rick Steves

Biking down a newly paved but skinny one-lane service road through lush vineyards, I notice how the hills seem to be blanketed in green corduroy.

My Alsatian friend hollers at me, “Germany believes the correct border is the mountains behind us. And we French believe the Rhine — you can almost see it ahead — is the proper border. That’s why Alsace changes sides with each war. That’s why we are a mix of France and Germany.”

I yell back, “...

CONTINUE READING »
Mostar and its famous bridge, rebuilt after the war. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

The Bosnian city of Mostar lies at a crossroads of cultures: just inland from the Adriatic coast, in the southern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mostar’s inhabitants are a mix of Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Muslim Bosniaks who lived in seeming harmony before the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, then suffered horribly when warring neighborhoods turned the city into a killing zone. The persistent reminders of the war make my visit emotionally draining, but I’m hopeful that...

CONTINUE READING »
At <i>cicchetti</i> bars, you can assemble a meal. Photo by Rick Steves

One of my favorite European memories is the joy of a pub crawl in Venice — a reminder of the fun that awaits in this popular destination.

Venice entertains millions of visitors during a normal year. It’s particularly crowded with day-trippers when several cruise ships are in port. On a trip a few years ago, I was told by a Venetian friend that these days, almost every restaurant caters to the tourists. Then, with a sly smile, he added, “But there are still the...

CONTINUE READING »
The night watchman signals “All’s well.” Photo by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

The walled town of Rothenburg, midway between Frankfurt and Munich, offers the best look possible at medieval Germany. And in this theme park of a town, the best ride is the night watchman’s town walk. Each night during the tourist season, with his eyebrows frozen in a raised position, the night watchman listens to the clock tower clang nine times. Then he winks, picks up his hellebarde (long-poled ax), and lights his lantern. Welcoming the English-speaking group gathered in 15th-...

CONTINUE READING »
Coffeeshops in Amsterdam sell marijuana. Photo by Rick Steves

Amsterdam is a laboratory of progressive living, bottled inside Europe’s finest 17th-century city. Like Venice, this city is a patchwork quilt of elegant architecture and canal-bordered islands anchored upon millions of wooden pilings. But unlike its dwelling-in-the-past, canal-filled cousin, Amsterdam sees itself as a city of the future, built on good living, cozy cafés, great art, street-corner jazz ... and a persistent spirit of live-and-let-live.

During its Golden Age in the...

CONTINUE READING »
Spa? Hammock? Tough choices at Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts in French Polynesia.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 545th issue of your monthly worldwide travel magazine — not cowed by COVID, still in publication.

In my last column, I provided information on many countries’ and nonsovereign territories’ COVID-related entry requirements for American leisure travelers, or, rather, those that were in place on May 14, 2021, according to the US Department of State’s travel website travel.state.gov/...

CONTINUE READING »
Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey — London. Photo by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

As we’ve had to postpone our travels because of the pandemic, I believe an occasional dose of travel dreaming can be good medicine. Here’s one of my favorite European memories from London — a reminder of the fun that awaits us at the other end of this crisis.

Wearing a red robe and a warm smile, Eddie works as a verger at London’s Westminster Abbey. As a church official, he keeps order in this space, which is both very...

CONTINUE READING »

Sometimes I happen across a title or phrase which sticks in my mind as though it is trying to convey a personal message. That happened while I was trying to think of a topic for this month’s column. When my mind free-floats in this manner, I typically just follow along to see where it leads. What began to play repeatedly this time was the phrase “up the down staircase.”

“Up the Down Staircase” is the title of a novel published in 1964 that was released as...

CONTINUE READING »