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.

Comments

88 Replies to “My European Top Ten Moments”

  1. I agree with your memory of Buža in Dubrovnik. It’s my favorite bar in the world. Another favorite Croatian memory is enjoying špica in Zagreb–a Saturday morning tradition in which everyone gathers near the main square to shop, socialize in cafes, and see and be seen.

  2. My favorite moment was standing on the overlook at Mont St. Michel and looking over the mudflats below. I’ve wanted to go there since I was in elementary school. It took me until age 55 to make it … and I enjoyed every minute!

  3. Sitting in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich amongst Germans and people from around the world, joining in the festive singing, dancing and local beer drinking!

  4. One of my favorite magic moments in Europe: Playing in the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest on a glorious spring day.

  5. My trip to Ireland in 2015 with my sister and her husband was a dream trip. There were many highlights, but I especially remember The Ring of Kerry with our fantastic guide D. Field who shared the rich history through humor and song. The landscapes are fantastic in the summer!

  6. My favorite European moment was during an early morning stroll in the 5th arrondissement Paris.

    Rambling with no goal, I accidentally approached the Pantheon with ever-increasing wonder as I beheld the wonderfully curved government buildings, flags flying, then statues on pedestals, and then the magnificent Pantheon building rising in its splendor as the avenue opened up majestically before me.

    Due to the time of day, the quiet of the day allowed me to take it all in in almost complete isolation. It remains a profound memory!

  7. Your photo of Ireland takes me back to September 2013. We did a week long hiking trip in Donegal – what an incredibly beautiful country.

  8. Attending a concert of Mozart’s music at Mozarteum Conservatory in Vienna; sipping wine on a terrace overlooking the Med in Ville-Franche-Sur-Mer; visiting the Vatican; seeing statue of David; hiking the Swiss Alps; seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan

  9. Wish I could send you the photo… My favorite moment is sitting across from my mom at a picnic table in Wittenburg, Germany, on Reformation Day (October 31) drinking Gluehwein when the toddler next to her grinned up at her and “clicked” his sippy cup into her mug and said, “Prost!”. (Luckily, he MORE than willingly repeated the gesture for the camera!)

  10. I have only been to Ireland, but I agree with you about Dingle. I also was swept away with how majestic the CLIFFS OF Moher are. Conor Pass is also beautiful. We named our son Conor after Conor Pass .

  11. Sitting in the town center park in Villefranche-sur-Mer having a croissant breakfast I was soon joined by a group of local older gentlemen who gather there everyday. I was soon welcomed into their group. We conversed in spite of my limited French and their limited English through gestures and smiles. I was invited back for their afternoon gathering. A truly memorable day. Forget the tourist traps, make friends with some locals.

  12. I have many moments that stand out for me. A few of the majors would be Good Friday in Rome watching the Pope at the Coliseum, Easter Sunday at the Vatican, seeing U2 in Paris this year, seeing The Last Supper, and being in the Sistine Chapel for the first time was overwhelming. Taking my daughter last year to the London Eye and Westminster was pretty great too!

  13. Lots of magical moments:
    -First time in Europe, in France at the Orange theater. It was the first time I was touching 2000 year old walls
    -Tre Cime Di Lavaredo in the Dolomites: just walking there with this breathtaking view…
    -Austria and the GrossGlockerner road. Breathtaking again
    -Provence: kayaking in the Gorges du Verdon. fantastic.
    -Kayaking in Lagos, Algarve, in Portugal
    -Walking the back alleys of Venice and not believing how gorgeous this city is
    -Rome: a gelato on Piazza Navona… What a city!
    -Climbing the active Stromboli vulcano this summer. Will never forget the moment, the view…
    -In Sevilla, having tapas, looking around. A magic city with in indescribable feel
    So many great moments… Thanks Rick

  14. Cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam on my first return to Germany 35 years after I had served there in the mid 60,s with the USAF. I can’t explain the emotion I felt, but I will never forget it!

  15. I agree with you regarding the Irish west coast. My father was from Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands off Galway.I have been there to visit and love that area of the country. Definitely one of the most beautiful spots of Europe!

  16. I have so many wonderful memories of traveling but one of my favorites was getting lost in the winding back streets of Itanbul. A local stopped us seeing that we were lost and invited us for tea. We sat and enjoyed his company for about an hour. He would nit let us pay for the tea. It’s the people in these countries that makes travel so wonderful.

  17. We saw Ireland’s cliffs, your #1 Magic Moment, from the water by ferry boat and then from atop. They are carved in my memory.

  18. Thanks to your recommendation to pay Fabrizio a visit at La Bottega dei Sapori, our quick, one night stop to Assisi was by far one of my most memorable European experiences. My husband and I enjoyed our picnic on the steps of a small church and watched a beautiful Assisi sunset. Breathing in the smell of incense, and listening to the chants of the nuns, we savored each bite of our delectable meal that Fabrizio so thoughtfully prepared, and delighted in each sip of our sumptuous wine. We watched day turn to night and slowly finished our sandwiches. Little did we know, our magical night had only just begun. We filled our cups with the rest of our wine, and set out to explore the winding and hilly streets of Assisi. We found ourselves on the steps of the basilica where we listened to the quiet strum of a guitar, and to the voices of children singing. First in Italian, then in English. “Sing a song that brings peace to the people. Sing a song that brings joy to everyone.” Assisi at night is a far different place than Assisi by day, and I am very grateful to have taken the time to spend an evening there.

    An equally memorable experience was our evening spent in Civita di Bagnoregio. A sleepy little town with very few residents, there’s wasn’t much to do here but to enjoy the town itself. After exploring all that we could, we bought some wine, claimed a spot on the church steps, and spent hours playing rounds of Go Fish and drinking our wine. The scene was so quaint, other tourists even came by to take pictures of us! We took a break from our game to enjoy filling meal at our inn, and then played several more rounds by the light of the moon.

    Lesson learned from these two experiences? Stay the night where everyone else only day trips! The memories we made by doing just that are irreplaceable!

  19. Sitting on a fallen Berlin Wall watching people bungee jump nearby from a crane in 1991. As a 10 year old i was more amazed with the bungee jumping at the time.

  20. So many…I had to pinch myself when I saw the statue of David. Also seeing three different popes on 3 different occasions. Celebrating an ordination of our Bishop at St. Peter’s…

  21. I have 2 that come to mind immediately.
    The first — running into my American ex-boyfriend in Dingle and having him whisk me off to a pub where we were able to dance Kerry Sets with actual Irish people in Ireland. (We had taken Irish dance classes in San Francisco for several years.)
    The second — standing across the lagoon from Venice for the first time and bursting into tears. (I had wanted to go to Venice since I was 7 years old and finally made it in my early 40s.)
    SharYn from Berkeley

  22. A similar experience in Switzerland- waking up in Lauterbrunen; getting the first cog wheel train of the day to Jungfraujoch- walking across the glacier to the outpost;on the way down departing the train to walk part of the way, when arriving back, driving the short distance to Trammelbach Falls- great day

  23. One of my favorite memories is looking out over the Mediterranean early one sunny morning in Vernazza. But when I think of Europe, sitting in an outdoor cafe in Paris is what starts me down memory lane.

  24. We have had many amazing moments traveling but the one that always is first to my mind is when my husband and I visited to Cape Sounion where the Temple of Poseidon is. We timed our visit to capture the experience of the sun going down. There was a very small group of students with a teacher and us. He sang a beautiful song to his class and it still sends chills and tears, it was so beautiful. The picture is on my wall. Planning our next adventure . Thank you so much for your inspiration and knowledge and passion

  25. In Santorini, first taking the bus to Akrotiri, after that, walking to Red Beach staying awhile- around noon grabbing a water taxi to Perissa Beach- get an umbrella and lounge chairs for eating lunch at a restaurant- great meal – reasonable price. Bus back to Thera, do the rim walk to Oia, bus back- (we rented a motorcycle to get to Oia for the sunset the following evening)

  26. I don’t think there will be a moment that will top the first time I saw the Grand canal of Venice. Even after 3 visits I still am amazed at its beauty. I could easily spend the rest of my days there.

  27. Dubrovnik too! Drinking Slivovitz plum brandy in a hotel bar filled with Russians singing rousing patriotic songs. Staying up too late. Then watching the Russians take a brisk dip at dawn in the bright blue sea. Early seventies memories….

  28. Staying overnight on Mont St. Michel (France); sharing a bottle of cava on the ramparts with my husband, after the tourists had departed. A peak experience. We lived in Europe for 3 years and had many adventures but Mont St. Michel (sans tourists) is the best!

  29. Recently found myself alone with Michaelangelo’s Madonna and Child in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium. So very different than being with the crowds in Rome and Florence. The Old Town of the city is very beautiful itself. My most memorable moment of a three week trip.

  30. We still speak fondly of our time in Dingle Ireland visited on a RS tour in 2013. Looking forward to Greece with RS tour this spring!

  31. Visiting Christmas Markets in Berlin with local friends on cold snowy evenings – seeing the snow in the lights-magical! Riding the upper deck on the bus to view the Christmas lights when we go too cold at the market.

  32. My favorite moments all have a theme: bridges. Walking over the Chain Bridge in Budepest gives great views of the Parliment Building, the Charles Bridge in Prague is vibrant with locals and fellow tourists and the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne is crackling with busy trains and leads to the Dom or to some fresh Fruh Kolsch beer. In addition, the Eisener Steg Bridge in Frankfurt takes you from the busy Romer area to the lively Sachsenhausen neighborhood notable for their Apfelwein. Of course Paris and London are also great cities with notable bridges. I just find the combination of people watching, city sights and connections by foot from one neighborhood to the next to be an enriching experience.

  33. Waking up in Venice, in an attic room overlooking rooftops and churches, to the sound of many church bells ringing all around us. Amazing….I can still hear it!

  34. Oh – and how could I forget our visit to Skellig Michael, an island 11 miles off the coast off Ireland. The island is covered with puffins! Our visit was based on your recommendation! And now, this island will be famous as part of the latest Star Wars movie!

  35. One of my favorite European moments was waking up to the cow bells on the Alp mountainside in Immenstadt, Germany. The beautiful Alpine weather, sights, and sounds, were just like Sound of music.
    Another memorable time was walking into the small village home my father was born in, 86 years ago, in Crimea. The current owners (ethnic Crimean Tatars) were so warm and welcoming and gave us a tour. My dad had tears, as he escaped during the war in 1943 and his mom was buried there. People are people, anywhere in the world, and kindness abounds.

  36. Going in the healing waters at Lourdes last spring. I’m not Catholic or a practicing member of any religion, but I felt the sacredness of the spot. Came home and got a ‘cancer-free’ follow-up checkup with my Oncologist. It could have been spontaneous remission but I’m thinking it was the waters and the prayers.

  37. Entering Old Town Square in Prague at night, a few days before Christmas. It was my first experience with European Christmas markets, and it was magical!

  38. My first trip to Europe and first full day in Paris, late afternoon we were near the Eiffel Tower and decided to take it in. It was September and by the time we were able to ride the elevator to the observation deck the sun was starting to set. Watching the lights of Paris come on from up there was magical!

  39. One of Many- jaming on the guitar with a small group of singer/players at a corner cafe at the Palaka in Athens.
    And opening the curtains in our Athens hotel room and seeing the Parthenon lit up at night. Knocked me right over.

  40. Three of my favorite magic moments were: hearing the orchestra play in St. Marks Square in the evening, seeing the statue of David for the first time and finally, sitting in a winery on a Tuscan hilltop sipping chianti as the sun was setting.

  41. Riding in the front seat in a water taxi with my husband all the way down the Grand canal in Venice Italy. Then getting lost while slowly walking our way back to our hotel at the other end. It was my first time in Europe after dreaming my whole life of going. I was mesmerized.

  42. After a tiring couple of weeks and a platform error which put us on a train going north instead of south, we arrived in that magical time warped place called Positano. Our elevator went down from reception and we opened the doors into our room at sunset. As we threw back all the shuttered windows to take a long awaited peek at the spectacular Amalfi coast, up from the cove below floated paper lanterns! One after the other, they drifted by our windows, gently flickering in the breeze. The sky became full and we could see the water below moving in and out with the tide. The next morning we asked if it was a special event and no one knew what we were talking about………..

  43. I will never forget the older lady in Madrid, upon observing our comments (In English) about the beauty of the Holy Friday procession, asked if we spoke Spanish and described the parade, the procession of the saints, and how much it meant to the people of Madrid.

  44. Watching the sunset over Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo while a musician is playing English easy listening songs on his guitar.

  45. We were in London on a Saturday and were told we could come back to the rear of Westminster Abbey early Sunday morning and be allowed to enter to attend services. We did and it is an experience that we will never forget! Sat in the seats and just thought about all the history that has passed through the Abbey. Unbelievable!!

  46. Just a few of so many magical moments in Europe.
    My wife and I taking our time walking through Ephesus in the evening after closing. Not seeing a soul for 3 hours except for a couple of guards. Just strolling along drinking wine and eating cheese.
    Having an entire bar to ourselves in Santorini that overlooks the cauldron after all the cruise ships have left.
    Camping in the Sahara desert just us our guide and our camels.

  47. After watching your shows on PBS for several years, buying guide books and purchasing Rick Steves backpacks we finally planned a 4 week trip to Europe. 15 minutes after landing in Rome, we were standing on the train platform at Fumicino and a tall guy walked over and complimented my wife on her Backpack. You guessed it, It was you Rick Steves. We still have the picture I took and the memeroy of the most poetic beginning to our first trip to Europe. We have been back 4 times. Thank You!

  48. While the posted comments bring back many pleasant memories, missing the last bus to Prague resulted in a great overnight stay in Cesky Krumlov. Tourists were gone so the town had a completely different feel. Thanks to our Prague concierge, local accommodations were quickly arranged and we could relax and enjoy the evening.

  49. My most memorable European moment: The evening of July 11, 1982, at the Piazza San Marco in Venice. As our tour group walked across the famous square, my mom and I noted how incredibly empty it was. No locals, no tourists, a vast empty space. When we reached our destination, a restaurant off the square, it was very quiet, too. It was hard to get the waiter’s attention. They all seemed to be congregated in the back of the restaurant. Suddenly a huge cheer went up, and our waiters appeared with smiles of joy on their faces. Italy had just won the World Cup in Soccer! My mom and I had no idea that important game was being played that evening. When we re-emerged onto the square, you could hardly move for all the cheering throng of happy Italians! Many were jumping into the canal in a show of exuberance. It was a memorable sight and a memorable end to our day in an remarkable city.

  50. Watching my mother become tearful, overwhelmed with joy as I walked my parents into St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time in 2010.

  51. I had many wonderful moments while finally being able to travel to Denmark, the land of my ancestors. The most moving was on a train to Kronborg Castle. A woman got on the train and she looked exactly like my dear Danish grandmother, who died twenty years ago. My grandmother helped raise me and instilled my love of all things Danish and pride in my Danish heritage. I couldn’t stop staring at the woman and was close to tears in “seeing” my beloved grandmother again.

  52. Really enjoyed thinking about this. 1. First trip to Sistine (1980)
    2. British Museum with 4 yr old (2000)
    3. Christmas Service at Westminster Abbey (2014)
    4. Easter Service at St. Paul’s 5. Chartres Light Show (2015)
    6. Walking around in Florence
    7. Fussen, Germany, especially the museum (2012)
    8. Anne Frank Huis-I had to restrain my tears because my college
    daughter doesn’t like displays of emotion (2015)
    9. Hearing cowbells when riding skilift in Alps (1980)
    10. view from our room in Santorini (2008)
    11. Concert at Sainte Chapelle (2015)

  53. I remember… the ham sandwich purchased through the train window as we crossed the border in the Italian alps from a young boy whose mother had made it that morning…I have never forgotten the taste of that bread…that sandwich! I remember the cold winds in the deep winter of Scotland and the roaring fires in the pubs where we sought refuge by 4 pm every evening! I remember my first sight of the cathedral in Cologne, Germany as the train rounded the corner and suddenly, there it was in all its grandeur and it took my breath away…this is why I travel…

  54. I love London with beautiful parks, museums ,buildings.Oh,what about the bridges,the quiet streets in Belgravia?Wonderful town !

  55. My only trip to Europe (so far) was 9 years ago and my favorite moment was on even further West Irish ground than yours: standing at the West wall of the castle ruins on Aran Islands Inish More. The weather was perfect, our local guide, Padrich, with his pony cart was knowledgeable and so friendly; just imagining all of the people and scenes of life that this amazing place had witnessed; looking West towards the U.S.; followed by tea, of course, and buying that perfect Aran Islands sweater! Although I’ve written quite a few words here, none truly capture the experience. Oh, and your guidebook was a great help!

  56. 1-Walking through the water channel of an aqueduct (Pont du Gard) where once 9 million gallons of water a day coursed.
    2-Touching the standing stones at Clava Cairns.
    3-Having lunch and buying a gorgeous home-made sweater in a hole-in-the-wall cafe in Dunquin on the Dingle Peninsula and getting to know the elderly woman who owned it. She was born not far from their. Her siblings lived within walking distance. Her grandmother died of what was probably breast cancer, because just to see a doctor, she’d have had to walk to Dingle from there. It was enchanting.

  57. 4-The string quintet concert at Sainte Chapelle.
    5-Driving through the French countryside while listening to old French music on the radio.
    6-On that same drive, having an imaginary conversation with a white cow who found my presence on her road to be quite curious.
    7-Being declared a Parisienne Ambassador by our tour guide and drinking champagne while the Eiffel Tower’s lights sparkled.
    8-Riding the train from Edinburgh to Inverness and being included in the Hen Party that had begun there.
    9-Stepping off that train to learn the news of the Paris attacks where I’d been just days before, and watching both the drama unfold and the support displayed everywhere by the Scots.
    10-Looking at the very tree and fountain that Van Gogh painted from the courtyard of the hospital where he lived.

  58. Drifting soundlessly in a balloon. a mile above Cappadocia, with olive trees and tufa formations squintingly far below and Mt. Arrarat in the distance. Most peaceful I’ve ever felt.

  59. A few epic moments come to mind-
    Most recently in a pub in Western Ireland, where we were spontaneously invited to sit in on a session and ended up making music w/ total strangers for 6 hours. (we’re both musicians- we tend to find each other!)

    Sitting in a bar in the 1st in Paris, and upon getting up and only speaking English to our daughters, having an 80yo gentleman ask us if we were American, and then thanking us for our help in WW2- his father and mother were both part of the resistance. My husband spontaneously replied thanks for help in the Revolution. We met with this gentleman several times over the course of our visit and a delightful friendship developed.

    (while not technically Europe) Visiting a village in the Russian Far East- Komsomolsk na Amuria, where we spoke few words of Russian and our friends, little English. We were invited to a home for tea and the main room was the size of our kitchen. We all crowded in, and began to make music together. We played Beethovin’s 5th Sympohony for 4 hands- 2 American, 2 Russian, playing the music of a dead German, and the common language was music. We sang, we danced, we laughed so hard we named our 2nd daughter after one of the women we met.

    Sitting in a stone circle in the Cotswolds on the Spring Equinox enjoying local cheese and beer.

  60. Loved seeing the Matterhorn peak out of the clouds after riding up the Gornergrat Cog Railroad to the summit station. Taking a leisurely hike down was so enjoyable, following the meandering paths while soaking in the 360 degree views of Switzerland’s Alps.

  61. –Seeing then Pres. candidate Obama speak in Berlin.
    –Late dinner by the small canal in Trieste.
    –Market in Florence…best tomatoes ever.
    –Actually running into a friend I hadn’t seen in years in Piazzo San Marco.
    –Walking along the Seine in early morning drizzle.
    –Chatting with locals in a cafe below Prague castle.
    –Midsummer’s eve in Stockholm.
    –London bookstores…any one of dozens.

  62. I have several moments that will be with me forever:

    1. Enjoying the peaceful quiet in the valley south of Lauterbrunnen Switzerland. No sounds of cars or other people, just the breeze and sound of bells from sheep in the nearby meadow.

    2. Watching the sunset from a terrace in San Gimignano long after all of the tourist hoardes had left. We felt like we had the town to ourselves!

    3. Our first day in Venice… constantly amazed that the city was real and how it’s so unlike anywhere we’d ever been.

    4. Driving deserted mountain roads in Switzerland and the Dolomites… and losing count of the switchbacks.

    5. Our disastrous attempted trip to Pompeii – thanks to a rail strike, we got stuck on a train that was halted outside of Naples. It was hot, sweaty, and smelly. But the best part was the crazy old Italian man sitting across from us banging his cane and complaining in Italian. The whole episode was so bizarre and we never got to see Pompeii, but the experience was one we won’t soon forget!

  63. After a living in Germany for most of my adult life, there are many Euro moments. A few of my favorites…getting married in a Danish courtroom. Giving birth to my youngest in an Army hospital in Heidelberg. Watching my oldest walk away from me to buy her own train ticket and have her own unique adventures. Discovering Amarone on the banks of the Grand Canal in Venice and foie gras in Alsace. Hearing a single violin playing from someone’s apartment on a Christmas morning in the town square as I walked down an empty street. The middle-aged Italian lady who made everyone laugh in the very long line for the bathroom at Cafe Tazza D’oro in Rome when she said she had been waiting in the line since she was 16. Traffic jams that involve sheep. The night sky filled with stars, framed by big fir trees in my backyard and my nice German neighbor who loves my dog.

  64. My very first visit to Italy was, hands down, my favorite moment….I went with 3 friends and we took a vaporetto from the airport to the island of Venice….I will always remember the joy of approaching the city. We are all feeling the spray of the water, laughing and filled with such anticipation. I have been to Italy now, more than five times, but, that time, the very first time, with good friends, was just filled with laughter and pure joy. We awoke each day, with such savor, for what was to come. My very favorite country, evermore, is Italy.
    As Robert Browning said..”.if you were to open my heart, you would see one word…Italy, engraved upon it.”

  65. Of all our trips one time stands way out. We were in the Stubai Valley in Austria. We noticed a path along a glacial stream and followed it. We climbed up through trees along the path until we were above the tree line. We continued to climb. The higher mountains created a backdrop to one side, a powerful waterfall, another, and the beautiful Alpine Valley lay before us. There were flowers and peace. We never saw another soul. It never occurred to me that i could twist an ankle or worse and no one knew that Jim and I were up here in this heavenly place.

  66. Traveling alone in Milano and scoring a great box for a concert at La Scala. I wept like a baby for the pure joy of it.

  67. We didn’t think we could afford to take the whole family to Europe, but seeing my children discover the joy of travel, talk to locals, and see history come alive made it the best money we ever spent. I relive the magic every time I hear them recall those wonderful memories, even 20 years later.

  68. One of my favorite moments was when my then 16 year old daughter and I hiked into the Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrenees, France in early June and we could hear the rushing water below the glacier as we walked!

  69. Inside the tomb at Newgrange in Ireland when we saw the light come flooding down the tomb entrance tunnel.
    Walking the causeway to Mont St Michele.
    Feeling the eons of time in the empty Cathedral at Bourges.
    Having a Parisian couple insist we try a piece of their dessert at Angelina’s by Luxembourg Garden.
    Iona.
    A stroll along the cliffside in Murren with the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau etched against the blue sky.
    Bouche de Noel window shopping in Paris.
    Seeing the Scottish Highlands rugged beauty.
    Michelangelo’s David – I burst into tears upon seeing it – so beautiful.
    Picnicking on the walls of Orvieto and seeing its duomo.
    Climbing the campanile in Florence and having the bells deafen us.
    I could go on and on. My next travels are to St. Augustine, FL for 2 months, where I will proudly wear the “Keep on Travelin'” T shirt I just bought. Happy New Year, Rick!

  70. Spent two glorious weeks in Switzerland this summer on a Country Roads of Switzerland Tour. It was an absolutely wonderful Tour which included not only the cities and the beautiful little villages but the mountains, the lakes and the beautiful countryside with hospitality second to none.

  71. Rick….we loved the Cinque Terra that you turned us onto….Mont St Michel at night ( actually any time of day) is also special…sipping wine and “people” watching in Paris, Nice and Budapest can’t be beat…

  72. Some of my most wonderful European memories:
    – Sitting on the top level of the Pont du Gard in southern France in 1984 and leaning over the edge to take one of my favorite photos from my first European adventure;
    – Sitting on a bench outside the walls of Dubrovnik overlooking the Adriatic Sea, with whitecaps sparkling like diamonds;
    – Meeting cookbook author Patricia Wells and her husband at an unplanned stop in Vaison-la-Romaine, France during their annual Soup Festival, where locals compete and visitors get free samples;
    – Hiking in Austria and staying at a remote mountain hut, eating the most delicious chicken soup and kaiserschmarren;
    – Sunbathing on one of the huge flat rocks at the harbor in Hydra, Greece with just the sound of the waves for company.

    Tess

  73. My moment was when I climbed the hill to the Parthenon above Athens with a bad knee and cane. Made it to the top and the crowds just seems to evaporate and left me to wander around the ancient building almost by myself. Looking out over the city and imagining what it all looked like so many years ago gave me such a sense of belonging to an ongoing world.

  74. Most of our family’s favorite memories involve churches and sacred destinations. For instance I remember that when our tour/pilgrimage group had Mass at a side altar at St. Peter’s Basilica, there was a grille in the middle of the altar, suggesting perhaps that the remains of a saint were interred there; but since nothing had been said about it, no one thought much of it. It only was a few months later after I had returned home that I found out that not only were the relics of a saint interred in that altar, but those of two very important saints, the Apostles Simon and Jude!

    I have five favorite Europe moments besides this, however. They do not have a specific order.

    1. The year before we travelled to Italy, we travelled to Spain. There is a chapel behind the famous Black Madonna statue at the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat near Barcelona. I decided as I gazed around at its stained glass windows, marble walls, and statues that it was the most beautiful sacred space I had ever seen. Two churches we visited in Rome the soon tied with that chapel for that distinction:

    2. Near Piazza Navona is the semi-obscure Renaissance church of Sant’Agostino (St. Augustine). The interior consists of many side chapels (one of which contains the tomb of St. Augustine’s mother, St. Monica), as well as a few works of art by famous artists and a blue starry ceiling.

    3. On Piazza Navona itself is the much recognizable church of Sant’Agnese in Agone (St. Agnes). While many people just see its outside, the beauty of the interior is very much worth stepping inside. The church itself is small and intimate, with only a few side altars with marble reliefs, a main altar and sanctuary, a small choir loft complete with organ, and even a small frescoed dome.

    4. In the Umbrian town of Montefalco we found a hidden jewel. Just outside the medieval city wall is a semi-austere basilica dedicated to the memory of the obscure St. Clare of Montefalco, an Augustian nun and mystic much like the more famous St. Rita. I remember the awe and reverence that filled me as I prayed while viewing St. Clare’s incorrupt and fully robed body. Both God and St. Clare truly touched my heart and brought me joy at that moment.

    5. The following day, after a rushed and only partially enjoyable tour of Siena, our group traveled to a very, very obscure Augustinian monastery. We probably were the nuns’ only foreign visitors in a month or two. I remember the hospitality they showed us as they showed us around their home that was lost in time. There were (romantically) damaged medieval frescoes and chapels (one proudly displaying a gift Pope Paul VI had given the monastery – his shoes). Finally, we had Mass in the main chapel of the monastery’s chapel. The nuns sang for us, and their voices sounded like those of angels.

  75. Having done #1, #4 and #5, I can completely agree that these are terrific moments. I’d add hiking with husky puppies in Finnish Lapland and eating out in small-town Italy, in towns where little to no English is spoken and the food is so incredibly delicious that you’re bound to shed a tear or joy or two over it.

  76. Well, Well, finally able to send you some info! I am directly employed in the tourist industry, in Ireland. Contrary to your guidelines; ‘Tipping’ is expected and at a rate of 10-18%
    best regards,
    John.

  77. One of my favorite moments was visiting DaVinci’s “Last Supper” in Milan. It was raining that morning so taxis were not available and we had to walk from the hotel. My wife had made reservations for an English speaking tour. As the appointed time approached, we waited in the anteroom and expected the other tour members to arrive at any time. However, only one other lady showed up. Our very charming guide led the three of us into the decontamination room, and when the doors opened into the darkened chapel, not only was it an awe inspiring experience to be practically alone in the presence of a masterpiece but we had what was essentially a private viewing of the painting! It just goes to show that magical moments can come very unexpectedly when you are traveling.

  78. Visiting Casablanca in November we made a stop at Hassan II mosque and tower. As I was standing there taking in the vastness of the space a group of about 50 young men dressed in blue and white T-shirts, approached near me. They were chanting and waving banners that represented their favorite soccer team that was competing that evening. I signaled for one of them to hold up his banner so I could take a picture, then he took my camera, gave me the banner and took my picture. At this moment I was then surrounded by all of them, chanting, someone put a team scarf around my neck, I joined in the chanting. It was an exhilarating, laughter-filled moment of cross-cultural fun. (I am a 76 year old, white-haired woman.)

  79. 1. Viewing the Old Town Square in Prague from the top of the Astronomical Clock Tower – at sunset such a beautiful view.
    2. Walking across the bridge in Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower lights twinkling as I walk toward it, was magical!
    3. Seeing the store windows at Christmastime on Oxford Street in London with their creative displays and lovely lights is a memory I have from a fun, memorable trip.
    4. Attending a performance of Rigoletto at the Vienna Opera House was an amazing experience!
    5. The first time I walked into the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna I was knocked over by the stunning architecture of the building itself before I even went in to the galleries to view the masterpieces of art there.
    6. Seeing the Berlin Wall for the first time! So much history and culture in Europe, I can’t wait to go on another trip. I’m scheduled for 17 days in Italy in October, can’t wait!

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