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

Gemütlichkeit: A Cozy Moment Under the Chestnut Tree

Join me now for a magic moment in the little town of Hall, Austria — just enjoying good friends, some spaetzle and dumplings, and the mellow tempo of life. The locals here have a name for this cozy feeling: Gemütlichkeit. And right now, under this chestnut tree with old friends…it’s Gemütlichkeit. 

I’ve traveled to the Alps with my crew to film three new episodes of Rick Steves’ Europeand we’re off to a great start. We’ve traveled together for decades, and I’ve never seen my cameraman Karel dance — but just look at him now. This is joyful travel. 

Oh, Baby — I’m High in the Alps!

Join me at Walderalm, a cluster of traditional family farms where 70 cows share their meadow with the clouds. We drove up to Hinterhornalm — a couple of miles above Innsbruck’s tourist crowds — and from there, it’s just a short walk to this little piece of alpine wonder.

I’m here with my TV crew, kicking off a three-episode shoot through the Austrian, Italian, Swiss, and French Alps — and this is an example of the peaceful and pristine side of the Alps that we’ll be featuring. I’d love to pack you along with me for our whole alpine adventure, so be sure to stay tuned, and invite your traveling friends along, too.

Lunchtime Thoughts on Finding Good Restaurants

I’ve spent over 30 summers in Europe, lovingly updating my guidebooks. It’s kind of funny…I just can’t stop. It’s what I do, and I find it endlessly challenging and rewarding. This year, I’ve already spent 60 days researching.

As I encourage my fellow researchers, “We need to live the book as we do our research.” And a big part of the work is finding new restaurants to recommend to our readers. I was just enjoying a place a Scottish friend told me about, and I thought I’d share a few off-the-cuff thoughts on what makes a good Rick Steves restaurant. I’m no fancy food critic. I just have a strong sense of what kind of place my readers will find enjoyable. Here’s a peek at a lunch I just enjoyed at Edinburgh’s Fishers in the City Restaurant — and why it’ll make its debut in my Rick Steves Scotland guidebook next year.

An Ohio Choir Brings Edinburgh’s St. Giles’ Cathedral to Life

Hello from Edinburgh! I’m in Scotland’s most important church: St. Giles’ Cathedral. This place is filled with Scottish history and pride — and today, it’s also filled with the sounds of a visiting choir from America (Capriccio Columbus, from Ohio).

Edinburgh is packed with tourists who all seem to stick to the touristy zones. This clip illustrates how to fill your days with fun travel memories. You just need to take a few steps away from the crowds, know the context of what you’re looking at, and take advantage of local information — so you’re there when the choir sings (or for whatever is slated to happen).

The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall: A Creaky Peek at Old York

Join me now in York, at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall — a vast half-timbered building with creaky floorboards, beautiful woodwork, and guild banners that go back centuries. My guide Alfred shares some insight into how, centuries ago, guilds brought Bible stories to the people through theater. And just imagining this place as the Old York Stock Exchange is fun.