In Europe, getting from Point A to Point B is a snap. The train system shrinks what is already a small continent, making a whirlwind or far-reaching tour a reasonable possibility for anyone. For me, trains remain the quintessentially European way to go, and the best option for romantics. However, the proliferation of extremely competitive discount airlines — and more affordable car rental options — has revolutionized European-itinerary planning: It's turned vagabonds into jetsetters.Over the years, my travel style has evolved. In the old days I used Eurail passes to go everywhere by train. But today rail passes come with more caveats — mainly that you've often got to pay extra fees to ride the fastest trains (and these trains require you to reserve your seat at least a few days in advance, cutting into the spontaneity that makes train travel a joy). Nowadays, I cobble together a mix of transit options: I buy point-to-point train tickets for one-off hops — and … [Read more...] about Rick Steves: How to get around in Europe
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I don't give much thought to petty crime when I travel abroad. I'm well aware that it happens: I've been preaching about the importance of wearing a moneybelt for decades. And for decades — probably about a total of 4,000 days of travel — I've never been hit by a thief. Well, my happy streak finally ended: I was pickpocketed in Paris this summer.It was my own fault: I wasn't wearing my moneybelt — a small pouch worn at the waist under your clothes. I lost my driver's license, credit cards, and some cash. I went back to my hotel, referred to the "in case of emergency" advice in my Paris guidebook, and set about canceling my credit cards. My experience just goes to show that, sooner or later, if you're not on guard, wearing a moneybelt — or at least keeping everything properly zipped and buttoned — you'll likely be a victim.Thieves target tourists — not because the thieves are mean, but because they're smart. We're the ones with the good stuff in our … [Read more...] about Rick Steves: I got pickpocketed in Paris!
USA TODAY Published 8:00 AM EST Jan 5, 2019 When my travel dreams drift off to Spain, they often include visions of Andalucía, the southern part of the country that feels more quintessentially Spanish than perhaps anywhere else. With a string of whitewashed hill towns, sunny skies, vibrant festivals and tempting tapas, Andalucía is the soul of Spain — almost stereotypically so. Most tourists hit Andalucía's three great cities — Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla — or the Costa del Sol. But for something more authentic, I like exploring the region's interior along the Route of the White Hill Towns (Ruta de los Pueblos Blanchos). The middle-size towns that dot this undulating route are more accessible and friendlier than the big cities, but still pack a wallop of delightfully pure Spanish culture. Whether crouching in a ravine or perched atop a hill, each town — painted white to stay cool in scorching summers — has a personality and a … [Read more...] about Rick Steves: A guide to the hill towns of Andalucía, Spain
Rick Steves Published 12:21 PM EST Feb 11, 2019 Recently I was on a massive cruise ship with 3,000 passengers blitzing the great ports of the Mediterranean – and having lots of fun. No, I'm not suddenly abandoning my independent travel principles and becoming a huge proponent of cruising. But I am impressed by the economy, efficiency and popularity of this kind of travel ... and, to be honest, I enjoy cruising. I'm the first to admit that cruising doesn't appeal to everyone. For some, it's anti-travel. For others, it's the perfect vacation. On our ship, I met people who seemed to be having a great time ... most of them veterans of many cruises. I also met lots of budget-conscious travelers who told me that a cruise (which includes transportation, lodging and food for one discounted price) is a wonderful value. The per-day base cost for mainstream cruises beats independent travel by a mile. For a weeklong European cruise, a couple can pay as little as $100 per person per … [Read more...] about Rick Steves: The pros and cons of cruising in Europe
Rick Steves Published 8:00 AM EST Feb 25, 2019 When it comes to basking in the beauty of the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre is tops for me. But there's much more to this region on the Mediterranean coast than those famous five villages. A handful of charming towns lie within an hour of the Cinque Terre, with posh ports set against rugged mountain backdrops that have drawn poets, authors and romantics over the years from Lord Byron to Elizabeth Taylor. To the north of the Cinque Terre is a trio of beach towns: Levanto, the northern gateway to the Cinque Terre; Sestri Levante, stunningly situated on a narrow peninsula flanked by two beaches; and Santa Margherita Ligure, a thriving city with an active waterfront and easy connections to yacht-happy Portofino. At the south end of the Cinque Terre is the pretty resort of Porto Venere. When most people imagine the "Italian Riviera," they're thinking of the shimmering resort towns north of the Cinque Terre, with their big, … [Read more...] about Rick Steves: The hidden gems of the Italian Riviera