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....

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-...

The Hartland Covered Bridge, built in 1901 and covered in 1921, is the world’s longest covered bridge, stretching 1,282 feet over the Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 523rd issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine. This is the public forum where you can send in your travel experiences, observations and opinions to be printed alongside those of your fellow subscribers. Unlike in online-only forums, however, in this public space the material undergoes fact-checking before being published.

Also, travel companies about whom complaints are written are each given an opportunity to provide a response....

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,...

Our group enjoyed a picnic under an argan tree in Tafraout, Morocco. Photo by Randy Keck
This is part three of a three part series. Read part one here. Read part two here.

In the second part of this series, I described the first half of my hosted April 2019 journey around Morocco with the small-group adventure-tour operator ElderTreks. This month, I’ll share highlights from the second part of our trek, from the dunes of the Sahara back to Casablanca. First, however, I wish to share a few thoughts about shopping in Morocco.

Morocco shopping mania


Ancient ruins on Scotland’s Orkney Islands include these 5,000-year-old homes at Skara Brae.

On a recent trip to Great Britain, I decided at the last minute to snip two days off from my time in London and go somewhere I've never been before: the Orkney Islands. Perched just an hour's ferry ride north of the Scottish mainland, these islands are remote, historic, and -- for the right traveler -- well worth the effort.

Orkney has two draws unmatched elsewhere in Scotland: some of the finest prehistoric sites in northern Europe,...

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...

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,...