Rick Steves' Travel Blog

I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick

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At Rick Steves’ Europe, we believe if more people travel, our world becomes a better and safer place. To help empower Americans who don’t have passports to experience our world, we promised to pay the $135 passport fee for our two favorite “how travel will change my life” entries in my Rick Steves, Pay for My Passport! challenge. Today (on Bastille Day in France), we announce the winners. My staff picked these eight entries. My job was to select the best two. I can’t. So… EVERYBODY GETS A FREE PASSPORT!!! Happy travels and thanks to all eight of you for your bold and determined spirit. I hope your travel dreams come true.

The eight best entries are:

Jennifer Fox: “As a kid who grew up under the poverty line, your TV show provided me a type of escapism and education that my family — no matter how much they wanted to — could not provide. Now I am an educator, serving children from diverse family backgrounds, and I’d love to see not only the wider world they come from, but the one I remember from my childhood from your show.”

Cathie Morgan: “I want to take my daughter to see the world and experience other cultures firsthand. I want her to learn empathy, acceptance, and activism to change the world for the better.”

Deb Franklin: “I have MS and dream of the day that I can travel to Europe, (even though) many obstacles are in the way for me, but sooner or later I hope I will get there. I’m hoping it will be sooner; later would be a difficult challenge. I’m hoping my husband and I can make it while I am still mobile and the EU still exists. My dream is to do a road trip through France and Italy.”

Maegan Gabrielle Holman: “I’m a single mother of two. My dream is to travel around the world with my kids and for us to experience different cultures and traditions. I want us to see all of our beautiful countries around the world. I’ve watched Rick Steves’ Europe on TV for years and I can’t get enough. Unfortunately, since I am a single mother, I don’t have a lot of money to travel. I’ve never been out of the States. I want my children to grow up and say, ‘My mom always took us on the greatest adventures and we saw the most beautiful countries.’ My children deserve the best life and that’s what I’m going to give them. Thank you, Rick!”

JennyWittJenny Witt: “Hi Rick!! I am an avid traveler, but my fiancé… he doesn’t even have a passport! We will be married in December and I would love to give my future husband the irreplaceable gift of international travel!”

Wendy Herbold Back: “In 1989 when I met my husband, we both had a love of Greek mythology and dreamed of visiting Greece someday. We started a meager savings account of $200 to save for our trip. Well, life happened, kids/unemployment/college/and so on, and our Greece account turned into a college fund for our oldest child. Still have that dream of someday visiting Europe and touring the ancient ruins.”

Amy Walters: “For a few years now I’ve been telling my husband that we should get each other passports for our anniversary. Even if we don’t have the money to travel, it would be a smidge closer to achieving the great dream of traveling abroad. Unfortunately, things seem to always come up, as things do in life. It doesn’t stop me from fantasizing, though. I’ll always be that odd kid in her bedroom watching PBS on a little garage-sale TV and dreaming of all the places I’d like to see.”

Tonia Craig: “I grew up in a super-small community of people who are all pretty much the same. I know there’s so much to see and learn about the world and I decided last year that I shouldn’t let being alone hold me back. I have my house up for sale and I hope to be traveling as much as possible before I have grandkids. I want them to look up to me and say they’re proud of all their Gam Gam saw and did one day!!”

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St. Sebastian Cemetery is a quiet oasis in Salzburg. Follow me for a little walk and enjoy a rare opportunity to drill deep into the mausoleum of a prince-bishop. All over Europe I enjoy evocative cemeteries. Do you have a favorite?


This is Day 56 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog.

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Join me as we drop in on a classic beer garden in Munich — we’re under the chestnut trees as happy locals enjoy a hot evening with cold (and very big) beers. I love Munich’s Viktualienmarkt, a lively world of produce stands and budget eateries. Imagine enjoying a nice German beer here with your favorite travel partner.


This is Day 55 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog.

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I’m in Vienna — the city of high culture — standing in front of the Opera, where the standard “walk-don’t walk” lights have been replaced by lights showing gay and lesbian couples patiently waiting when red and happily crossing when green. It’s done in a fun-loving way to make it clear that, in this city, people want to be tolerant and celebrate diversity. (As in the USA, in Austria there is a split society making political news — basically city culture vs. country culture.)


This is Day 54 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog.

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Just off Vienna’s happy-go-lucky Mariahilfer Strasse, I came upon a mighty WWII flak tower built in 1944, which still functions as a shelter for the Austrian government in times of crisis. There are several such WWII towers in Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna — all built after Hitler realized he might be defending his empire on his own turf.


This is Day 53 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog.

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This little clip features one of my favorite streets (Mariahilfer Strasse) in one of my favorite cities (Vienna), with one of my favorite guides (Wolfgang Hoefler). In a short chat we learn how the Green Party’s initiative turned a formerly congested street into a peaceful, community-building pedestrian zone. We also get some insight into the dynamics of Austrian politics (where there is also thunder on the right), and even watch members of the no-longer-fearsome Austrian army licking ice cream cones.

While there are more stately and elegant streets in Vienna’s central district, the best opportunity to simply feel the pulse of workaday Viennese life is along Mariahilfer Strasse. (If you visit, an easy plan is to ride the U-3 subway line to the Zieglergasse stop, then stroll and browse your way downhill to the MuseumsQuartier subway station.)


This is Day 52 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog.

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From time to time, we share a random video to fuel your travel dreams. In this clip from my TV episode about Paris side-trips, my friend and co-author Steve Smith is joining us, as he so often does, just in time for dinner — and we’re eating like kings.

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Just finishing up my first day of research in Vienna, kicking off my eight-week summer trip, I was struck by how you can read history into the cityscape of Vienna on nearly every corner. A good example is this old-fashioned showdown between the Old Regime concept of divine monarchy and the utilitarian view of the modern world — as seen in two diametrically opposed buildings (the Habsburg emperor’s palace and a building, now a bank, by the very-modern-in-his-day architect Adolf Loos). They were both built in the same generation around 1900. And by 1918 — the Old Regime was dead.


This is Day 51 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog.

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Stepping out of my hotel in Vienna on my first hour in Europe (clearly still a bit bleary with jet lag), I’m confronted by free culture on the street for the average Joe — it’s Puccini, a live videocast just outside where it’s being performed at the Vienna State Opera house. This is one of many ways Vienna brings culture to its people…and one of many ways this city inspires me.

By the way, with this post I kick off Part Two of my 100 posts in 100 days coverage of my travel season. For July and August I’ll be posting daily from Vienna and Munich, from our My Way Alpine Europe tour (Salzburg to Chamonix), from England (as we shoot three new TV shows) and — for a wild finale — from the Palio, Siena’s famous horse race. You and your traveling friends are welcome to stow away with me, right here on my travel blog, on what promises to be a great trip.

 

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Rick Steves’ Guide to Cuba,” a KCTS TV special based on a talk I recently gave on my Cuba adventure (from last January), is now yours to watch any time. (It is part of our extensive and growing Travel Talks library.) While it’s a simple production of my lecture, Seattle’s KCTS did a fine job, and I don’t think there’s a faster moving, more up-to-date, or more informative video out on Cuba. Play the video and join my family and me on a 40-minute trip across the island. (If you’ve traveled to Cuba, I’d love to read your thoughts on my thoughts — so many people are dreaming of taking a trip there.)

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