My European Top Ten Moments

I was recently asked about my “top ten magic moments” in Europe. I thought I’d share them with my blog friends:

1. Hang out on the cliffs (literally) of the West Coast of Ireland — where they say, “Ahh, the next parish over is Boston.”

Cliffs in Dingle, Ireland

Dingle perches on the westernmost tip of Ireland — and Europe, for that matter.

2. Be all alone in the Pantheon early or late in the day, in the building that — more than any other — gives us a feeling for the magnificence of splendor of Rome at its zenith.

3. Play backgammon in a rough-and-tumble Istanbul suburb with handmade dice on a board with softer wood worn below the harder wood, while I’m surrounded by whiskered tea drinkers as curious about me as I am about them.

Rick Steves shaking hands with man in Istanbul while playing backgammon

Playing backgammon with new friends in Turkey.

4. Sit outside the stout walls of quiet Dubrovnik in a rustic bar sipping a local beer while cruise ships sail into the sunset.

5. Be on St. Mark’s Square late in the evening, when the orchestra seems to be playing just for fun — and only the locals and hardcore romantics remain.

6. Stand atop the glass dome of the Reichstag in Berlin, survey Germany’s capital, and marvel at how far Europe has come both in rebuilding and in weaving their economies together so that a huge inter-European war is now inconceivable.

7. Canoe down the Dordogne River in France under imposing castles, working up an appetite for foie gras, fine cheese, and full-bodied red wine.

Canoe on Dordogne River

Canoeists get a dramatic view of the French village of Beynac from the Dordogne River. 

8. Stand atop the Rock of Gibraltar looking out at Morocco and consider the strategic importance of a fort here — effectively bottling up the Mediterranean in the old days.

9. Go to a working-class neighborhood sauna in Helsinki (where people can’t afford their own private sauna) and sweat naked with blonde strangers.

10. Tight-roping for three hours on a ridge high in Switzerland’s Alps, with lakes on one side stretching all the way to Germany, and the ultimate mountain view on the other: the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau cutting like glass into the blue sky. The long, legato tones of an alphorn in the distance announce that the helicopter-stocked mountain hut is open, it’s just around the corner…and the coffee schnapps is on.

Swiss Alps

Find your own private ridge to hike in the Swiss Alps.

Do you have a favorite magic moment in Europe? I’d love to read about it here. Thanks.

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