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

A Visit to St. George’s Market, Belfast

It was a rainy day on the Emerald Isle, and I was somewhere I had never been before: St. George’s Market. Join me and my guide Jackie there now in this little clip.

Here’s how I wrote this place up for our Rick Steves Ireland guidebook:

St. George’s Market was the largest covered Victorian produce market in Ireland. Today, the farmers are gone and everyone else, it seems, has moved in. Three days a week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, about 9:00-15:00), St. George’s Market becomes a thriving artisan, crafts and flea market with a few fish and produce stalls to round things out. With a diverse array of street food and homemade goodies added to the mix, it’s a fun place for lunch (5 blocks east of City Hall, at the corner of Oxford and East Bridge streets, tel. 028/9043-5704).

A Memorial Garden in Belfast

I have always believed that no trip to the Emerald Isle is complete without a visit to Northern Ireland. And I recently spent a few days there, after a stop in Dublin, researching the next edition of our Rick Steves Ireland guidebook.

In Belfast, I spent a fascinating 90 minutes with Tucker, a guide from Cab Tours Belfast — a taxi tour company that is made up of both Catholic and Protestant driver guides who are committed to giving unbiased, dual-narrative tours. On Bombay Street, we stopped at the Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden. Join us there now.

Rick Goes to Congress

I just enjoyed a very busy day on Capitol Hill, meeting with key members of Congress and advocating for an end to the federal prohibition on marijuana.

My host for the day was Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, and we packed a lot into our schedule. Take a peek here as we work with lawmakers to find a path forward for marijuana legalization, I join forces with Bread for the World — and even bump into Jon Stewart.

I had breakfast this morning with some of my friends from NORML, and we were marveling at how dramatically the national mood on marijuana has shifted. These days, virtually every leader in the Democratic Party understands the need for change — and many Republicans also see the wisdom in ending prohibition. It’s exciting to see democracy in action.

A Gimmelwald Stroll

Enjoy a quiet moment with me in Gimmelwald, a little traffic-free village in Switzerland surrounded by alpine splendor. It was the evening magic hour, and I was just poking around the village, in perfect peace. The sun sets early when the sky is squeezed between mountains.

BTW, it was a handful of discoveries like Gimmelwald back in the late 1970s that I called my “Back Doors.” And these gems were the special destinations upon which I established my business, which back then was called “Europe Through the Back Door.” I’ve noticed that I’m kind of sentimental when I visit now — and when they still tickle my wanderlust, it makes me unspeakably happy.

Good Morning from Gimmelwald

I just had to share this little moment with you from Gimmelwald — a cliff-hanging village high in the Swiss Alps. I’ve been visiting since I was a kid, and its appeal is timeless. Join me from the deck of my B&B as the sun peeks out from behind the peaks.