Imagine having over a hundred European tour guides from 20 different countries fill your home with fun, laughter, and joyful energy. Plug in a mic and speaker in the living room for announcements, clean out the garage and throw down a carpet, borrow some extra chairs, hire a food truck to bring in dinner, and make sure there’s a bar downstairs to spread out the crowd…I’m still buzzing from this fun evening.
We have the most wonderful family of guides at Rick Steves’ Europe Tours. Every year, we fly them all in for a weeklong tour guide workshop here in Edmonds (just north of Seattle). Each day is full of tour-related teaching, sharing, and planning. And each evening, it’s time for bonding and social fun. For six nights, we pack various venues (and, later on, many invade a couple of bars on Main Street for after-parties).
I love our guides. They are remarkable people — big personalities with a love of culture, who embrace life with gusto, and who love to share their passion for their homelands. They also love American culture and their American travelers. Our annual summit is unique for them because they get a chance to be with all their colleagues — 140 kindred spirits.
We always try to give our guides a little dose of America during their annual visit. This year, we hired classic American school buses to shuttle the gang to a nearby Indian reservation with a casino, lots of big-box stores, an outlet mall, and Cabela’s — the gun-lover’s nirvana. (I heard one of our German guides remark, “We rode the American school bus to the gun shop. They even had pink guns for the ladies.”) That evening, the school buses headed into Seattle for swing dancing lessons in an old ballroom. And we capped the week with a 1920s-themed dance party, featuring a beer brewed especially for the occasion (“Swell Fella Amber”). Everyone dressed up like flappers and Al Capone (or the guy at the soda fountain).
Thanks to Trish Feaster (The Travelphile) for the photos in this post!